The journey from O-Level to SPM to UEC


Still remember “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost?

And I’m modifying it to suits my situation, I have Three Roads instead of two, and I took all three. How’s that sound? The high school that I’m attending have the choice of taking O-Level, SPM, and UEC. Yes, they are offering three paths for students to choose from.

To cut the long story short. I took all 3. Why? Because I love exams! Yes, I LOVE and ENJOY exams. I know I’m a freak. (don’t ask me about my result though)

I had O-Level in June, SPM in November the same year, and UEC in October the following year. So, I have 3 major examinations certificates when I leave high school, the O-Level cert, the SPM cert, and the UEC cert. So what’s the differences of all this three?

From O-Level to SPM
As a science stream student, I don’t really feel much difference between O-Level and SPM. The syllabus is pretty much the same, it only has one or two chapter difference. Oh yeah, the major different is that, I only have four and half months to really prepare for the SPM, especially the Sejarah and Moral. Since the teacher is focusing too much at O-Level previously, we are forced to be more self-discipline when comes to revision. We even sacrificed our ECA time and stay back after school to do revision with teachers.

From SPM to UEC
After these two exams, most of my friends left to continue A-Levels. But I choose to stay a year for UEC - Unified Examination Certificate for Independent Chinese Secondary Schools in Malaysia. That is a major transition though, because the exam is supposed to be Mandarin, even for the Maths and Science subjects! Even though some of us opt for English version, the existing teachers are more capable of teaching the subjects in Chinese. Therefore, most of the time, we have to do translation by ourselves. Even the past year papers are in Chinese!!! The most horror thing is that, UEC is equivalent to A-Level and STPM, the syllabus is tougher but we only have one year (normally students spend 3 years) to study them all. It is like taking a bullet train to catch-up the fall behind syllabus. It definitely requires a lot of self-discipline. Since we are so used to English terms, the scientific terms and the Calculus in Chinese are killing us. I know you might say Math symbols are universal. But imagine the teacher is pronouncing it in Chinese. I just can’t comprehend. It is not surprising that I get a flat C for the Sciences. Thank god I didn’t fail any of them, I used to get the lowest, 27 over 100 marks, for my Physics test.

Even though it sounds difficult (and ridiculous) to take all the exams, we still survived it. Maybe not with extremely good results, but I really enjoyed the process. Feel like challenging us too? :wink:

ps: My friends who took IGCSE had O-Level on October at Form 5, UEC on October at Form 6, and SPM on November at Form 6 too! Crazy? NO! It’s exciting!!!

ps again: My result is not that good though, no subject failed and not scoring high enough to get scholarship. That’s it. period. Now, judge me.


Walao… You really siao one…


I thought O-Level is the same as SPM too. Do you take different exams for that?


Ya lo… O-Level is same with SPM what… Y waste money?


You are not belong to earth. Go back to Pluto


For the (1) Chinese language and (2) Bahasa Malaysia, is O Level, SPM or UEC better? Which one can actually prepare the student to communicate well in each of those languages? Can you rate them from 1 to 3?


Hi @kengchoo_amir base from what I know UEC (Unified Examination Certificate) is a qualification offered by Independent Chinese Schools. The reason why this type of school was founded is simply base on the theory that students learn better in their vernacular language, in this case, Chinese. So for language mastery in Chinese, UEC qualification would be the best. According to some UEC students, the BM paper is very easy (PMR level). UEC is recognised by universities abroad and private institutions in Malaysia HOWEVER it is not recognised by our public universities. This is just fine if you have no intention to get into local public universities.

Oh did you know that PTPTN has allowed UEC holders to apply for loan? UEC students who have scored distinction in Bahasa Malaysia and 3 other subjects could qualify for admission to teacher training colleges in the country.

SPM (equivalent to O levels), on the other hand, is being offered by national public schools. With that said, you’ll probably learn BM better. It’s lower than UEC in the sense that this is not enough qualification to study overseas (you need pre-university qualification such as A levels, STPM). So I think comparing SPM with UEC is a bit impossible 'cause we’re talking two different levels.

Of course, you have the option to take language classes (this won’t affect which pre-university to take).

Let me know if you have more questions :blush: and I’d be glad to help!


Hi, I would like to ask about taking O-level as private candidates, how many compulsory subjects need to take? have completed SPM with certz but don’t have any credits… I asked a counsellor, he told to study o-level and get few credits and can go to study diploma. is it correct way? any suggestion?


You need at least 3 credits to go into most of the fields, the higher standard fields such as law would require 5 credits, whether or not you’re a private candidate


yes. I knew it. For SPM, it need to pass BM and SJ then only you can get the SPM certz, now i doubt about O-Level? is it needed to take some subjects in order to get the O-Level Certz? or can just take any 3 subject and aim for C?



just curious - what is the minimum subjects do you have to take for UEC? I know that it is higher standard - does that mean you get to choose less subjects than the usual 6-7 in O levels?