Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia

The Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM), or the Malaysian Certificate of Education, is a national examination taken by all fifth-form secondary school students in Malaysia. It is the equivalent to the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland; Nationals 4/5 in Scotland; and GCE Ordinary Level in the Commonwealth of Nations. It is the leaving examination of the eleventh grade of schooling.

SPM is the penultimate examination sat by secondary school students before entry into sixth form or technical education. The examination is set and examined by the Malaysian Examinations Syndicate (Lembaga Peperiksaan Malaysia). For those who attend international schools, the equivalent exam they sit for is the International General Certificate of Secondary Education exam. On the other hand, the Unified Examinations Certificate is equivalent to Advanced Level.


The SPM is equivalent to the British GCSE, and provides the opportunity for Malaysians to continue their studies to pre-university level. Up to 1978, the examination was handled by UCLES, which still advises the Malaysian Examinations Syndicate on standards. The English paper is separately graded by the national examination board and UCLES, and both grades will be displayed on the statement slip. On the actual certificate, only the national examination board's grade is listed. The minimum requirements to obtain the certificate is to pass both Malay language and History.

Generally, the SPM is taken at the age of 17, though students who attended pre-secondary school class would take it at the age of 18. Previously, students who successfully passed their Penilaian Tahap Satu (PTS) examination at Primary Three and chose to skip a year of primary school education would take their SPM a year earlier, at the age of 16. This was discontinued in 2000. Students who are home schooled generally take the SPM at the end of their secondary education as well.


Compulsory subjects

Certain subjects are made compulsory for students. These are:[1][2]

Code Subject (Official name) Subject (English name) Examination language
1103 Bahasa Melayu Malay Language Malay
1119 Bahasa Inggeris English Language English
1223 Pendidikan Islam[a] Islamic Studies Malay
1225 Pendidikan Moral[b] Moral Education Malay
1249 Sejarah History Malay
1449 Mathematics Mathematics English or Malay
1511 Science[c] Science English or Malay
a Compulsory for all Muslim students except for students in Islamic Science stream, who are required to take their respective electives in lieu of this subject.
b Compulsory for all non-Muslim students.
c Compulsory for students in the Commerce, Literature and Arts streams only. Students in the Pure Science, Islamic Science, and Humanities Science streams are required to take their respective Science electives in lieu of this subject.

Elective subjects

Science and Mathematics

Code Subject (Official name) Subject (English name) Examination language
3472 Additional Mathematics Additional Mathematics English or Malay
4531 Physics Physics English or Malay
4541 Chemistry Chemistry English or Malay
4551 Biology Biology English or Malay
4561 Additional Science Additional Science English or Malay
3765 Information and Communication Technology Information and Communication Technology English or Malay

In 2003, the medium of instruction for the science and mathematics subjects was switched from Malay to English. Due to this transition, students taking science and mathematics subjects can choose to respond in the examinations in either English or Malay.

Languages and Literature

Code Subject (Official name) Subject (English name) Examination language
2205 Literature in English Literature in English English
2215 Kesusasteraan Melayu Malay Literature Malay
2361 Bahasa Arab Arabic Language Arabic
6351 Bahasa Cina Chinese Language Standard Chinese
6354 Bahasa Tamil Tamil Language Tamil
6355 English for Science and Technology English for Science and Technology English
6356 Bahasa Iban Iban Language Iban
6357 Bahasa Kadazandusun Kadazandusun Language Kadazandusun
9216 Kesusasteraan Cina Chinese Literature Standard Chinese
9217 Kesusasteraan Tamil Tamil Literature Tamil
9303 Bahasa Perancis French Language French
9378 Bahasa Punjabi Punjabi Language Punjabi

Economics & Business

Code Subject (Official name) Subject (English name) Examination language
3754 Pengajian Keusahawanan Entrepreneurial Studies Malay
3766 Perdagangan Commerce Malay
3756 Prinsip Perakaunan Principles of Accounting Malay
3767 Ekonomi Economics Malay

Social Sciences & Religion

Code Subject (Official name) Subject (English name) Examination language
2280 Geografi Geography Malay
5226 Tasawwur Islam Islamic Worldviews Malay
5227 Pendidikan Al-Quran dan As-Sunnah Al-Quran and As-Sunnah Education Malay
5228 Pendidikan Syariah Islamiah Syariah Islamiah Education Malay
9221 Bible Knowledge Bible Knowledge English

Arts and Health

Code Subject (Official name) Subject (English name) Examination language
2611 Pendidikan Seni Visual Visual Arts Education Malay
2621 Pendidikan Muzik Music Education Malay
4572 Sains Sukan Sports Science Knowledge Malay

Technical and Vocational

Code Subject (Official name) Subject (English name) Examination language
3729 Pertanian Agricultural Science Malay
3769 Sains Rumah Tangga Home Science Malay
3770 Sains Komputer Computer Science Malay
3771 Grafik Komunikasi Teknikal Engineering Drawing Malay
3760 Pengajian Kejuruteraan Mekanikal Mechanical Engineering Studies English or Malay
3761 Pengajian Kejuruteraan Awam Civil Engineering Studies English or Malay
3762 Pengajian Kejuruteraan Elektrik dan Elektronik Electrical and Electronic Engineering Studies English or Malay
3763 Reka Cipta Invention Malay
3768 Asas Kelestarian Engineering Technology Malay
7101 Pembinaan Domestik Domestic Construction Malay
7102 Membuat Perabot Furniture Making Malay
7103 Kerja Paip Domestik Domestic Plumbing Malay
7104 Pendawaian Domestik Domestic Wiring Malay
7105 Kimpalan Arka dan Gas Arc and Gas Welding Malay
7106 Menservis Automobil Automobile Servicing Malay
7107 Menservis Motosikal Motorcycle Servicing Malay
7108 Menservis Peralatan Penyejukan dan Penyamanan Udara Air-Conditioning Servicing Malay
7109 Menservis Peralatan Elektrik Domestik Domestic Electrical Appliances Servicing Malay
7201 Rekaan dan Jahitan Pakaian Design and Tailoring Malay
7202 Katering dan Penyajian Catering Service Malay
7203 Pemprosesan Makanan Food Processing Malay
7204 Penjagaan Muka dan Dandanan Rambut Facial and Hair Care Malay
7205 Asuhan dan Pendidikan Awal Kanak-Kanak Infant Care and Early Childhood Education Malay
7206 Gerontologi Asas dan Perkhidmatan Geriatrik Geriatic Services Malay
7301 Landskap dan Nurseri Nursery and Landscape Malay
7302 Akuakultur dan Haiwan Rekreasi Aquaculture and Pets Malay
7303 Tanaman Makanan Food and Crop Cultivation Malay
7401 Seni Reka Tanda Signage Design Malay
7402 Hiasan Dalaman Asas Basic Interior Decoration Malay
7403 Produksi Multimedia Multimedia Production Malay
7404 Grafik Berkomputer Computer Graphics Malay


The evaluation scheme is fully exam-based. The examination for SPM usually takes place around November and lasts for more than 3 weeks. Papers are also scheduled in June for students who wish to resit for examinations they failed the previous year, but only for the compulsory subjects.

When releasing the results, only the letter grades (and not the actual scores) are made known to the candidates. Candidates may request a remarking (regrading) if they suspect errors in the original marking. Although no list of rankings is released to the public, the names of the top ranked students in the country and in each state are released to the press. These students may achieve the level of temporary celebrities, and may even be approached by companies to advertise their products.[3] Politicians usually visit some of these top ranked students a day before the official results to congratulate them. Because the SPM examination is the final nationally standardised examination taken by the majority of Malaysians, many scholarships are awarded based on SPM results.

Since 2010, however, the Ministry of Education has imposed a 10-subject limit on every candidate, while lowering the minimum number of subjects from 8 to 6. Students are allowed to take 2 additional subjects (comprising Arabic, Chinese, Tamil, Iban, Kadazandusun languages and Bible Knowledge) but they will not be taken into consideration for government scholarships.[4]

Prior to year 2011, the Public Service Department (JPA) scholarships are given to students who scored excellent results in the SPM examination for their studies in universities. However, at June 2011, the Public Service Department announced that starting from the year 2012 onwards they will no longer offer scholarships to SPM leavers, instead they will only offer scholarships to leavers of STPM and A-Level. Later, at 23 March 2012, the Ministry of Education of Malaysia announced that starting from the SPM 2011 batch onwards, students who obtained 9A+ or above in the SPM are eligible for bursaries given by the ministry which will cover costs for pre-university programmes such as A-Level, International Baccalaureate, etc. In addition, the top-50 SPM candidates in the whole country can still be offered the Public Service Department scholarships based on National Scholarship Programme.

Grade system

Candidates are assigned grades based on their scores in each subject. The exact grading scale used every year has never been made public.

Since 2009, grading system used has a range from A+ (the highest grade) to G (for "gagal" or fail; F is not used). The previous system assigned a grade point and a letter to each range, with 1A ("1" being the grade point and "A" the letter grade) as highest range and 9G the lowest.[5]

The table below shows the comparison between previous grade system and the current one.

2000 – 2008 From 2009 Grade Value
N/A A+ 0
A1 A 1
A2 A- 2
B3 B+ 3
B4 B 4
C5 C+ 5
C6 C 6
D7 D 7
E8 E 8
G9 G 9


  1. "Apa itu SPM?". Retrieved 22 November 2011. (in Malay)
  2. "Secondary School Subjects". Ministry of Education, Malaysia. Retrieved 22 November 2011. (in Malay)
  3. Stamp of approval
  4. "Languages and Bible Knowledge as electives". The Star Online. 25 December 2009.
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