Whether you’re a parent or a student, your grade should mean something to you. An A+? An A*? What does it all mean? Sijil Peperiksaan Malaysia (SPM) is the final exam we all take before we leave high school. Or is it? Some parents and their children may opt for IGCSE or International General Certificate of Secondary Education. Before you grunt off assuming that one of them is better than the other, it won’t hurt to know the difference. Maybe after this, you’ll have a change of view and of heart.
SPM and IGCSE are both final examinations taken near the end of a student’s life in high school. SPM as you all know is local. IGCSE originated from the UK and Cambridge ICGSE is the world’s most popular examination here in Malaysia according to The Edge Malaysia (2018).
#1 The Grades
In Form 5, students sit for SPM and receive grades as results. These results help determine whether the student will qualify for tertiary education such as diploma, sixth form, matriculation, or foundation. The grades awarded for subjects in SPM are A+, A, A-, B+, B, C+, C, D, E and G.
As a minimum requirement to further your studies and receive your certificate of education, every student will need to receive a minimum of grade C for their Bahasa Malaysia and History. Not only that, you will also need an extra minimum of three more ‘C’s to qualify for tertiary education.
In Cambridge IGCSE, they are awarded A*, A, B, C, D, E, F or G. That’s not all, if the examiners feel your performance is below the lowest grade (G), you will be awarded a ‘U’, which stands for ungraded. The perks of IGCSE is that though you may still need a minimum of a Grade C to further your studies, certain courses do not tie you down to passing compulsory subjects like Bahasa Malaysia and History.
#2 The Fees
We all know local education in Malaysia costs close to nothing. Sure you have school fees to pay but that’s really about it. Sitting for SPM is practically free apart from buying exercise books, stationery and offerings for prayers to make sure luck is on your side. This was and is till this day to ensure that most Malaysians would have their SPM to qualify for a better lifestyle.
In contrast, some parents would opt for the more premium choice of education. IGCSE would cost parents RM24,000 to RM100,000 annually for the upper secondary level range depending on the number of subjects they take and how many extra classes they enrol for.
Worry not, there is a cheaper alternative. Private learning centres or as Malaysians call it ‘Tuition Centre’ and home-schooling charge around RM8,400 to RM24,000 annually.
Of course, it comes with its downsides. When you enrol in a school, all the paperwork is done by the administrative team and teachers. Those going under private centres would have to register as private candidates.
Also, it is obvious that sitting for SPM is free along with the different papers that you sit for. They are free of charge. However, each IGCSE paper your child sits for may cost you from RM600 to a whopping RM2,800.
#3 The Subjects
Ask anyone who has taken SPM, there’ll be at least 7 subjects that are compulsory to take. Ask the ones that strive to be the best in their class, some might have taken a maximum of 12 subjects.
The basic compulsory subjects each child will need to take are Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Inggeris, History, Mathematics, Moral Education or Islamic Education. Now if you’re in science stream, you may need to take Chemistry and Biology/Physics or both. If you are in the arts stream, you take science.
Other popular subjects taken by students sitting for SPM include Account Principle, Basic Economy, and Business. For those in science stream, they usually have Additional Mathematics, English for Science and Technology, and Information Technology.
In IGCSE, students have a wider variety of subjects to choose from. Bear in mind, Malaysian students sitting for IGCSE will have to sit for one SPM paper. Can you guess? Bahasa Malaysia. And yes, you must score a minimum C.
So, courses in IGCSE include Bahasa Malaysia, English Language, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Business Studies, Accounting, English Literature, Accounting, History and Geography as well as Additional Mathematics.
There isn’t a minimum number of subjects but students are advised to do 6 – 8 subjects.
Hopefully, this is enough to convince you whether or not to enrol your child in IGCSE or to let them sit for SPM. If you are opting for the more costly alternative, remember to check out the school’s reputation and feedback from other parents as to ensure your child receives top notch education for the amount that you’re spending.
At I-Tuition, we ensure our students master the right skills to do well in their school whether if they are pursuing IGCSE or SPM in Malaysia.
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