Qian Nee boldly decided to pursue STPM after form 5 although many encouraged her not to. Her experience and thoughts on this new journey was something she did not expect. Qian Nee (second from right) having a photo session with classmates.
Heard there’s a new STPM system?
Yes. It’s called STPM Baharu.
How does STPM Baharu work?
STPM Baharu is still under ‘reengineering’ work. There are some flaws here and there due to the lack of reference books and improper guidance. They test a lot on questions out of the textbook content (PBS). It is good because the authorities are promoting students to read up on current issues happening around and testing a lot on individual perspectives, encouraging us to think outside the box and express ourselves. There are no particular books for you, which means you’ll need to buy reference books according to your syllabus yourself, exchange notes and try different publishers to get more notes and arrangements.
Is it tougher? Or easier?
It’s really just a matter on coping with each semester. STPM Baharu is now grading us semester by semester, unlike the old system which involves one exam that determines your entire performance. The standard is still as high as before but we’re having major exams every few months so you have to make sure you’re constantly revising and making sure you don’t slack off.
Is it true that STPM is tougher than A-levels?
I think it’s a little unfair to consider A-levels harder because I have never pursued A-levels, but I’m sure both have their own pros and cons. Though bear in mind that with STPM Baharu, we don’t have a fixed marking scheme or syllabus content unlike other Pre-U courses. The syllabus is confusing and our resources are limited because the teachers too, have unclear directions. We just study and learn as much as we can and hope for the best.
What if I didn’t do well for that particular semester?
With this new system, you have a choice to retake the exams. But retaking means you’ll have to pay an additional fee of RM50.00 per paper.
Does this mean I can put aside whatever I learnt?
YES. But of course, their topics are all related. You’ll still have to remember the other topics you learnt for the past semesters because you still need them to answer and understand the topics in your next semester. Under this new system, you can focus less on previous topics and focus on ones ahead, which lessens your studying burden.
Are there any must-take subjects?
Yes. It’s called MUET (Malaysian University English Test). It is divided into 4 sections in order for you to score: writing, reading, listening and speaking. Among these, the aspects of writing and reading will be more challenging. Your marks are rated based on Bands raging from Band 1 until 6 with Band 1 being the lowest and Band 6 the highest. There’s another compulsory subject – Pengajian Am. Basically Malaysian studies.
Do I still need to go for weekly Co-curriculum activities?
For your information, in order to be accepted into universities nowadays, your co-curricular achievements will be taken well into consideration just as much as your academics. So just like in form1-5, you’re required to be involved in all 3 co-curricular activities (badan beruniform, sukan dan permainan and kelab dan persatuan). Though rumours are, STPM students will soon be allowed to be excused from participating in Co-curricular activities.
Is it a waste of time?
It DEPENDS. Some already know what to do in life so they just go ahead to college in January or March. Some want to relax and start college during middle of the year and some in September. STPM starts in June. It’s just another tertiary education that only has a June intake.
Do I still have to wear school uniform?
Lucky for you, some schools allow STPM students to wear casual-formal clothes, which means nothing revealing and tight.
STPM or A-levels?
If you’re unsure and indecisive on what to do after form5, STPM might be suitable because it doesn’t incur much cost, only tuition fees if you need them. If you don’t need tuition, it would be free. STPM takes up 1 and a half years to complete. But of course, if you’re willing to spend on A-levels, why not give it a try?
STPM or Matriculation?
If you wish to enroll yourself in a public university, STPM-leavers are not guaranteed a spot in public universities even with a CGPA of 4.0. Getting into a public university is already considered lucky and to be able to get confirmation on the course you want to study is luckier. For Matriculation leavers however, all are guaranteed a spot in public universities. But it does not mean you’ll get the courses you applied for. If you do not get the choice of courses you want, you’re pretty much directionless too. Good news is some private universities are starting to accept them, but not all.
Do local/foreign private universities accept STPM?
Definitely. But not all foreign private universities accept STPM-leavers. Usually, universities from commonwealth countries will gladly accept us.
Is it recognised internationally?
Yes. But again, it depends on each university.
In a nutshell.
If you don’t want to burden your parents, this is one of the most financially friendly Pre-U education you’ll ever get. To clarify things, this is not going to be an 18 months stressful and tight journey. With the new semester-based exam implementation, life just got easier. I still had time to hang out almost every day with my friends and during the weekends. Nonetheless, nothing comes easy, hard work still plays a vital role. As long as you manage your time properly, things are going to be fine.