Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia
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The Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM, English: Malaysian Higher School Certificate) is a pre-university examination taken by students in Malaysia. It was formerly known as the Higher School Certificate (HSC). The HSC was the precursor to the GCE A levels in the UK, and is still the name of the pre-university examination in some states in Australia.
The STPM is set and run by the Malaysian Examinations Council (Majlis Peperiksaan Malaysia) since 1982, which also runs the Malaysian University English Test (MUET)since 1999, unlike Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM, English: Malaysian Certificate of Education; taken at the end of Form 5), Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR, English: Lower Secondary Assessment Test; taken at the end of Form 3) and Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR, English: Primary School Assessment Test; taken at the end of Standard/Year 6), which are all set and examined by the Malaysian Examinations Syndicate (Lembaga Peperiksaan Malaysia), both of whom, however, are under the Ministry of Education.
STPM is one of the two major pre-university systems for admission to Malaysian public universities. The other is a one-year matriculation programme conducted by the Ministry of Education. STPM is not the only qualification accepted besides the matriculation programme and Sijil Tinggi Agama Malaysia (STAM, English: Malaysian Higher Religious Certificate; taken by religious schools' students). Candidates technically may apply for admission to degree-level courses with a variety of pre-university examinations considered equivalent with STPM, including A-Level. All those applying for universities, however, must have taken the MUET.
STPM is internationally recognised by many universities, especially those within the Commonwealth of Nations as well as the United States and the Republic of Ireland. Most universities consider STPM results equivalent to GCE A-Level results.
As the national secondary education in Malaysia consists of five grades called "forms", "Form Six" is the name given to the STPM pre-university programme. The Ministry of Education selects secondary schools it considers capable of providing Form 6 classes.
Unlike the other five forms which are year-long grades, Form 6 lasts one and a half years. Form 6 itself is divided into two levels; the first half year is known as Lower Sixth Form (Tingkatan Enam Rendah/Bawah) and the other whole year is known as Upper Sixth Form (Tingkatan Enam Atas).
Students in Form Six are called sixth formers. Sixth formers in national secondary schools are usually distinct from other students in the lower forms such as wearing different school uniforms, usually given higher posts within the school's societies, often with lax enforcement of certain school rules and regulations such as the ban on mobile phones, and sometimes even holding a separate morning assembly and recess for sixth formers.
Sixth formers in most schools generally form their own association, commonly called the Form Six Association or the Form Six Society. These associations' main annual activity is the initiation of new Lower Sixth formers during orientation.
Most Bumiputras opt for matriculation programme. Ninety percent of the places in the matriculation programme is reserved for Bumiputras while the remaining 10% are distributed among non-bumiputras. This has become a source of contention because matriculation students, who will enter university one year earlier compared with their STPM peers, are considered on equal standing with STPM only in Malaysia for the purpose of university admission though it is significantly easier than STPM with a streamed down Form 6 syllabus.
Starting 2009, some schools have changed the name of Form 6 and it is now called Pra-U or Pre-U. For lower Sixth Formers it is Pra-U Bawah and Pra-U Atas for the Upper Sixth Formers.
STPM candidates sit for no more than five subjects, all within the same examination season. All Science- and Mathematics-related subjects (Mathematics S, Mathematics T, Further Mathematics T, Computing, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology) are offered bilingually in English and Malay until 2007, when they will be offered only in English. All other exams, other than languages, are still offered only in Malay and are likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
STPM is an open-list examination; that means any combination of subjects may be taken. However, to be considered for Malaysian public university admission, students must take Pengajian Am (General Studies) and at least three other subjects. Most, if not all, schools and colleges offering STPM, however, do stream their students into science and arts (humanities).
A list of all subjects available for STPM students are:
- Pengajian Am (General Studies)
- Bahasa Melayu (Malay Language)
- Bahasa Cina (Chinese Language)
- Bahasa Tamil (Tamil Language)
- Bahasa Arab (Arabic Language)
- Literature in English
- Kesusasteraan Melayu (Malay Literature)
- Syariah (Islamic Law)
- Usuluddin (Usuluddin)
- Sejarah (History)
- Geografi (Geography)
- Ekonomi (Economics)
- Pengajian Perniagaan (Business Studies)
- Perakaunan (Accountancy)
- Mathematics S (may not be taken with Mathematics T)
- Mathematics T (may not be taken with Mathematics S)
- Further Mathematics T (may only be taken with Mathematics T)
- Computing (may only be taken at certain schools)
- Sains Sukan (Sport Science)
- Seni Visual (Visual Art)
For most non-science and sport science subjects, there are generally two papers per subject. For science subjects, there are three papers, with the third a practical paper STPM Chemistry, Physics and Biology Practicals, (though all but Computing offers a written paper as an alternative for private candidates).
Mathematics S and Mathematics T<ref>STPM Mathematics T, Mathematics S and Further Mathematics Syllabuses, share the first paper (consisting of Pure Mathematics), while with slightly different second papers, the prior with a more business mathematics approach while the latter a more science-related and statistical approach. Both subjects have both their papers graded separately on a different curve, though all questions shared between the subjects are marked with the same, secret marking scheme.
Grades and Grade Points
STPM uses a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) system. There are 11 grades, which are A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+ and D, with F as the failing grade. The grade points for each of these grades are between 4.0 and 1.0, A being 4.0 and D- being 1.0. The F grade gives a grade point of 0.
In order to pass a paper, candidate must at least score a C (2.00) or above. Having a grade between D to C- is a principal pass (lulus separa).
Each paper's grade appears on the result slip and the certificate. The subject's grade and grade point is determined by the weighted average results of all papers in that subject, where all papers must be passed, otherwise the grade and grade point would be, respectively, F and 0. The cumulative grade point average is the average of the top four subjects taken and usually rounded up to 2 decimal points. Therefore, if a student scores A in four subjects and fail in the fifth, his CGPA would be 4.0.
The actual range of scores within each grade is undisclosed and changes annually, depending on the performance of the candidates. Usually, the range of marks of science subjects is relatively higher than non-science subjects.
Cumulative and subject GPA at 2.0 and above is considered a pass with credit or principal pass. GPA below 2.0 is considered a sub-fail, and a 0 is considered a fail. Admissions to local public universities requires at least a GPA of 2.0 and above, though private universities, university colleges and colleges generally may accept student with CGPA less than 2.0.
The CGPA system in STPM poses some problems for admissions to American universities because the GPA range between 4.0 and 0 (unlike Advanced Placement range of 5.0 to 0) may understate the academic achievements of an applicant.
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