Apart from knowing that they are equivalent to each other, how much do you know about the 2 tests?
For Singapore, English is the main language for all subjects to be tested in, except languages examinations. For Malaysia, Malay is the main language the tests are in, excepts for the languages too. For some subjects, there is a choice of either Malay or English.
Age when you take the test
For Singapore, ‘O’ levels are usually taken in the 4th or 5th year of secondary education. For Malaysia, everyone takes it in their 5th year of secondary education.
You can take both tests in Malaysia but not in Singapore
In Malaysia, you can also opt to take the ‘O’ levels after taking SPM but in Singapore, there is no option of taking the SPM.
Grading of English
The SPM English Language paper is graded separately by the LPM (an examination board in Malaysia) and by UCLES, and both grades are displayed on the results slip. In Singapore, the grading is only done once by Cambridge.
This Singapore through-train programme offered to a select group allows students to bypass ‘O’ levels. These students do not have to take the national exams but just a school exam and can go up to pre-university level to just take the ‘A’ levels. There is no such scheme in Malaysia and all students have to take the SPM.
Main organizers conducting the exams
The SPM is conducted by the local examination board in Malaysia while the ‘O’ levels is a Singapore-Cambridge examination offered jointly by both countries’ examination board.
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