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 of the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Nationals 4/5 of Scotland, and the GCE Ordinary Level (O Level) of the Commonwealth of Nations. It is the leaving examination of the eleventh grade of schooling.

Mockup of an SPM certificate. It is handed out by the Lembaga Peperiksaan Malaysia

SPM is the penultimate examination sat by secondary school students before further studies in foundation, STPM, matriculation or diploma. The examination is set and examined by the Malaysian Examinations board (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. All SPM examination papers are considered official secrets and are protected under the Official Secrets Act 1972 of Malaysia.[1]

Starting from the year 2021, the Malaysian Ministry of Education introduced a new SPM format for the new KSSM syllabus, replacing the old SPM format for the old KBSM syllabus.[2] Also for the English subject, the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) syllabus is implemented for the English Paper and the result statement will be handed out with the SPM Certificate.[3]

Mockup of the front page of the Malay Language SPM Paper


The SPM provides the opportunity for Malaysians to continue their studies to pre-university level. Originally there is two version of SPM, one known as MCE (Malaysian Certificates of Education) taken by student studying in English school and SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) taken by student studying in national school. Both examination was introduced in 1964. The difference between SPM and MCE are SPM was conducted using the national language (Bahasa Melayu) while MCE was conducted using English language. There is also the visual difference on how the certificate would look like. The MCE would use University of Cambridge Coat of Arm while SPM would use the Malaysian Government Coat of Arm at the top of the certificate. The MCE was discontinued in 1976 when the Ministry of Education took over the examination from UCLES and merged it with SPM. The predecessor of these exam were SPPTM (Sijil Pelajaran Persekutuan Tanah Melayu. Started in 1962) and FMC (Federation of Malaya Certificate. Started on 1957) before the formation of Federation of Malaysia.[4]

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 the pre-secondary transition class (commonly known as "remove 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. They are:[5][6]

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 Education Malay
1225 Pendidikan Moral[b] Moral Education Malay
1249 Sejarah History Malay
1449 Matematik Mathematics English and Malay
1511 Sains[c] Science English and 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.

Science and Mathematics

Code Subject (Official name) Subject (English name) Examination language
3472 Matematik Tambahan Additional Mathematics English and Malay
4531 Fizik Physics English and Malay
4541 Kimia Chemistry English and Malay
4551 Biologi Biology English and Malay
4561 Sains Tambahan Additional Science English and 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 Kesusasteraan Inggeris 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
6356 Bahasa Iban Iban Language Iban
6357 Bahasa Kadazandusun Kadazandusun Language Kadazandusun
6358 Bahasa Semai Semai Language Semai
6401 Bahasa Jepun Japanese Language Japanese
6405 Bahasa Jerman German Language German
6406 Bahasa Korea Korean Language Korean
6407 Bahasa Cina Komunikasi Communicative Chinese Language Standard Chinese
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 Perniagaan Business 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
5228 Pendidikan Al-Quran dan Al-Sunnah Quran and Sunnah Studies Malay
5228 Pendidikan Syariah Islamiah Islamic Law Studies Malay
5301 Hifz Al-Quran Quran Recitation Arabic
5302 Maharat Al-Quran Quran Skills Arabic
5303 Turath Al-Quran dan Al-Sunnah Quran and Sunnah Classics Arabic
5304 Turath Dirasat Islamiah Islamic Studies Classics Arabic
5305 Turath Bahasa Arab Arabic Language Classics Arabic
5401 Usul Al-Din Foundational Islamic Theology Arabic
5402 Al-Syariah Islamic Law Arabic
5403 Al-Lughah Al-'Arabiah Al-Mu'asirah Arabic Language Arabic
5404 Manahij Al-'Ulum Al-Islamiah Islamic Logic Arabic
5405 Al-Adab Wa Al-Balaghah Arabic Literature and Rhetorics Arabic
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 Malay

Technical and Vocational

Code Subject (Official name) Subject (English name) Examination language
3729 Pertanian Agricultural Science Malay
3759 Lukisan Kejuruteraan Engineering Drawing Malay
3760 Pengajian Kejuruteraan Mekanikal Mechanical Engineering Studies Malay
3761 Pengajian Kejuruteraan Awam Civil Engineering Studies Malay
3762 Pengajian Kejuruteraan Elektrik dan Elektronik Electrical and Electronic Engineering Studies Malay
3763 Reka Cipta Invention Malay
3768 Asas Kelestarian Basics of Sustainability Malay
3769 Sains Rumah Tangga Home Science Malay
3770 Sains Komputer Computer Science Malay
3771 Grafik Komunikasi Teknikal Technical Communication Graphics 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 Penggayaan 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 Produksi Reka Tanda Signage Design Malay
7402 Hiasan Dalaman Interior Design Malay
7403 Produksi Multimedia Multimedia Production Malay
7404 Reka Bentuk Grafik Digital Digital Graphic Design Malay

Old/Terminated subjects

Due to the switch from KBSM syllabus to KSSM syllabus in 2017, some subjects have been terminated and switched to a fully new syllabus. The list does not include courses that have minor changes in name only.

Old subject name New subject name
3775 Perdagangan 3766 Perniagaan
3757 Ekonomi Asas 3767 Ekonomi
3758 Ekonomi Rumah Tangga 3769 Sains Rumah Tangga
3764 Engineering Technology 3768 Asas Kelestarian
3765 Information and Communication Technology 3770 Sains Komputer
3728 Sains Pertanian 3729 Pertanian
4571 Pengetahuan Sains Sukan 4572 Sains Sukan


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 Bahasa Melayu, Sejarah and Mathematics.

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.[7] 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.[8]

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.[9] The Kepujian (Pass-With-Credit) grade are equivalent with UK GCSE Pass-With-Credit grade as stated on the back of the certificates.

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

2000 – 2008 From 2009 Grade Value Description
N/A A+ 0 Cemerlang Tertinggi (Super Distinction) Cemerlang


A1 A 1 Cemerlang Tinggi (High Distinction)
A2 A- 2 Cemerlang (Distinction)
B3 B+ 3 Kepujian Tertinggi (Super Credit) Kepujian

Pass-With-Credit (UK GCSE Equivalent with said category)

B4 B 4 Kepujian Tinggi (High Credit)
C5 C+ 5 Kepujian Atas (Upper Credit)
C6 C 6 Kepujian (Credit)
D7 D 7 Lulus Atas (Upper Pass) Lulus


E8 E 8 Lulus (Pass)
G9 G 9 Gagal (Fail) Gagal (Fail)

Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia Ulangan (SPMU)

SPMU was introduced for students who failed or got a low passing grade in certain core subject in SPM to retake it. SPMU is usually held on July in a normal circumstances; because of this, the exam is also known as SPM July Paper. Until July 2010 there was only one July Paper; Bahasa Melayu, as it was the first and the only compulsory subject to pass in SPM to be awarded with the SPM Certificate.

Bahasa Melayu (BM) was slowly dosed into the national school system beginning from 1960 but it was only made a compulsory subject in 1970 (i.e. to pass the Malaysia Certificate Education exam, a pass in BM is a must). Furthermore, a credit in BM is essential in order to secure a seat in sixth form. One of the many problems associated with this change is that many "good" students were unable to continue their post-secondary education because of their examination result in BM. In 1972, for instance, the BM failure rate was nearly 40%. To solve this problem, the July Paper was introduced so that students would be given a second chance to retake the paper.[10]

As time passed, a lot of changes were made in education policy and from the higher education institution standpoint. In 2013, Sejarah (History) subject became the second compulsory subject to pass in SPM to be awarded with the SPM Certificate. Many universities also required students to achieve at least C in Mathematics or, in some colleges, to achieve at least Passing Grade. Because of this change and demand the Examination Syndicates announced that the Sejarah and Mathematics paper would have also been available to retake along with Bahasa Melayu paper in SPMU.[11]


  1. "Taklimat OSA" (PDF). Official Website of Legal Affairs Division of Prime Minister Department. Retrieved 9 March 2022. (in Malay)
  2. Berita Harian (in Malay) (4 March 2020). "SPM Will Use A New Format Next Year (Malay: SPM Guna Format Baharu Tahun Depan)". Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  3. "Assessment Format for English Aligned for CEFR" (PDF). Examination Syndicates, Ministry of Education, Malaysia. Retrieved 9 March 2022. (in Malay)
  4. Ministry of Education Malaysia. "Secondary School Examination, Education Standpoint (In Malay: Pendidikan Sekolah Menengah, Hala Tuju Pendidikan)". Ministry of Education Malaysia. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  5. "Apa itu SPM?". Retrieved 22 November 2011. (in Malay)
  6. "Secondary School Subjects". Ministry of Education, Malaysia. Retrieved 22 November 2011. (in Malay)
  7. Stamp of approval
  8. "Languages and Bible Knowledge as electives". The Star Online. 25 December 2009.
  9. "Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 January 2019. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
  10. Astro Awani (in Malay) (1 November 2017). "Fail BM Issue: It may hard to achieve A but is it so hard to pass? (in Malay)". Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  11. Informasi UPUOnline (in Malay) (10 May 2022). "How to Retake SPM (in Malay)". Retrieved 22 September 2022.
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