IF you are looking for a qualification that offers admission into local and international degree programmes, as well as an opportunity to join the civil service, then consider taking Form Six.
It is offered to qualified Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) school leavers in schools nationwide.
Known as Form Six Centres, they are categorised under three modes — Mode One comprising 12 classes of Form Six students only, who are taught specifically by Form Six teachers; Mode Two, where schools have at least 12 classes operating as part of mainstream schools; and, Mode Three, where schools have fewer than 12 classes. They are usually located in rural areas.
Education director-general Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim said Form Six is in line with other pre-university options, but conducted in a school environment.
The academic structure comprises a three-semester (1½ year) modular system that offers a university-like learning approach.
“Upon completion, students will be awarded the Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) by the Malaysian Examinations Council.
“The certificate is accredited by the Public Service Department, allowing STPM holders to get government jobs with a special pay scale. STPM is also accredited internationally by Cambridge Assessment in the United Kingdom.”
Habibah said Form Six admission is direct for SPM school leavers who obtained at least a distinction in Bahasa Malaysia, and aged between 17 and 20 in the current year of admission.
There are two streams, which are STEM (Science, technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and social sciences, each having their own requirements.
There are 21 subjects and STPM is an open-listed examination, which means students can choose their own combination of subjects.
“However, to be considered for local university admission, students must take the Pengajian Am (General Studies) paper and at least three other subjects.
“Under the new modular system, students are allowed to take up to five subjects, including General Studies. As local universities require that subject, students are strongly encouraged to take it,” said Habibah.
All science and mathematics subjects (Mathematics Management, Mathematics Technical, Information and Communications Technology, Physics, Chemistry and Biology) use English and Bahasa Malaysia as the medium of instruction.
Other subjects, other than languages, are taught in Bahasa Malaysia.
The assessment consists of four components — curriculum and common examination practices, school-based projects, practical experiments and open-book tests.
“About 20 to 40 per cent of the overall STPM results are based on assignments, projects and other forms of assessment. Another 60 to 80 per cent would depend on the final examination.
“Students are allowed to repeat Semester 1 and Semester 2 examinations only if they are not satisfied with their results,” she said, adding that school-based assessments (SBA) cannot be repeated, and students are required to sit for an alternative paper.
To enter public universities, the weightage is based on 90 per cent of the students’ final examination and 10 per cent of their co-curricular achievements.
Therefore, it is important for students to get involved in school activities, such as clubs and associations, sports and games, and uniformed organisations.
Habibah said the cost of studying Form Six is very affordable.
“Examination fees for four or/and five subjects is free for government school candidates. However, for private schools and individual candidates, the fee for each subject is RM90 for the whole duration of study, while the basic fee to sit for the examination is RM120.”
Last year’s SPM school leavers can check if they are qualified to enter the 2020/2021 academic session through the Education Ministry’s Sistem Aplikasi Semakan Tingkatan Enam (SST6) web portal beginning April 16 to May 14.
Qualified students who want to enrol must print their offer letter and bring it to their designated Form Six Centres during registration day on May 4.
There are 23 Mode One Form Six Centres (also known as Form Six Colleges), 91 Mode Two centres and 480 Mode Three centres nationwide.
“Students are given the opportunity to study in Form Six centres nearest to their place of residence. Schools that offer Form Six are available nationwide, including rural areas,” said Habibah.
Azwanatulimra Abd Rahim, a senior assistant at SMK Tunku Sulong in Jeniang, Kedah, said the main advantage of studying Form Six is the low teacher to student ratio.
“With a smaller number of students in class, teachers can focus on individuals. Indirectly, the student-teacher relationship is much closer and personal,” she said.
On the prospects, Azwanatulimra said from her experience, more than 50 per cent of her students will go on to university.
“But there are cases where students chose to join the workforce due to financial and family problems. Lastly, there are students who do not perform well and are not qualified to enter university.”
Azwanatulimra said there is an upward trend in Form Six enrolments in her school.
“The success stories in our school, together with a dedicated line of teachers, make Form Six even more appealing. Being a rural school, when one student achieves a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 4.00, it is celebrated among the local community and increases the popularity of Form Six,” she said.
For Khairul Azman Ahmad, 22, although getting five As in SPM had qualified him to apply for a diploma or matriculation programme, he missed the opportunity because of financial constraints.
“My family is not well off and I felt that I needed to help my mother in her food business at home. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study at that time. So, after taking into account factors like cost and distance, I decided to take Form Six at SMK Bedong, which is near my house,” said the Kedahan.
It turned out to be the best decision for him.
“I truly enjoyed my Form Six years. The rapport between teachers and students had helped us tremendously in our studies. The teachers were always available to teach and coach, even after school. The curriculum system in Form Six is similar to university, so I was able to adapt well when I started my degree programme,” he said.
Khairul Azman is studying economics in Universiti Malaya and his ex-schoolmate, Kee Yi Xiang, 21, agrees with his experience.
“STPM is a stepping stone to university life. Apart from coursework and co-curricular activities, the university syllabus is pretty detailed.
“This is an advantage because what I learned in Form Six has made it easy to master some of the topics in university,” said the lass, who is also studying economics in Universiti Malaya.
“I do recommend Form Six for SPM school leavers. Although it took 1½ years, in another perspective, it gave me time to think about which course I wanted to focus on and pursue in university,” she said.