Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM)

If you are considering what's your next step after secondary school, here's what you need to know about Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM)!
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Jaideep Patel
Publisher for the Malaysia and Singapore offices of GTI Media Asia.


STPM (previously known as the Higher School Certificate or HSC) is a Malaysian pre-university programme largely considered to be equivalent to the GCE A level qualification in the UK. 

It is an open-list examination which means that you can take any combination of subjects that you are interested in, as long as the subjects are offered by your school or institution.


STPM takes 18 months to complete.


There is only 1 intake for STPM, which is May of each year. It will continue until November of the following year, with the results being released in March of the year after.

Structure & assessment

STPM features a curriculum that combines 2 forms of assessments and is consistent with the A levels format. You will undergo a school-based assessment* (between 20% to 40% of your final score) and a centralised examination** (which carries 60% to 80% of your final score).

* Consists of project work, field study and/or practical work
** Consists of multiple choice, structured and/or essay questions


STPM candidates can take a maximum of 5 subjects from the list below:

  • General Studies*
  • Malay**
  • Chinese (Bahasa Cina)
  • Tamil
  • Arabic**
  • Literature in English
  • Communicative Malay Literature**
  • Islamic Law**
  • Islamic Studies**
  • History**
  • Geography**
  • Economics**
  • Business Studies**
  • Accounting**
  • Mathematics M (Management)
  • Mathematics T (Technology)
  • Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Sports Science**
  • Visual Arts**
* Compulsory paper
** Subject taught in Bahasa Melayu

Expert tips

  • Talk to your teachers to help you decide on the right combination of subjects to take!
  • Ask if your school or institution already has a pre-set combination of subjects for each of the streams!
  • Participate in extracurricular activities if you want to apply for public universities as it makes up 10% of your total score!

It is RIGHT for you if…

  • You have a tight budget
  • You want to keep your study options wide open
  • You want to have a globally recognised pre-university qualification
  • You want to retake your papers to score better marks
  • You have your eyes on continuing with a bachelor’s degree at a local public university

It is WRONG for you if…

  • You want the fastest possible route to a university degree
  • You prefer practical and hands-on learning over exam-based learning
  • You need guaranteed entry into a course or university of your choice