The Tempinis diaries

October 25, 2007

What to do after SPM/STPM?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — toru @ 3:15 pm

Most of my posts have been either about food or on my recent navel gazing depression.  A few days ago I decided to write on something positive instead.  So here goes.  I remember the last time I felt seriously depressed was when I was going to school in Malaysia – it was a time when I was uncertain about my future and whether I would make it to university.  Those were hellish days when I would work so hard not knowing whether I would (or could) make something of myself.  It certainly didn’t help being a Type A over-achiever only to have one’s confidence being shattered by the STPM.  Being a non-Bumiputra nothing less than 5 As would suffice to get into the course I wanted (even then it was not a guarantee).    More than 16 years have passed since those dark days and things have worked out for me wonderfully.  This post is meant to share my experience with anyone who is the same position.  You are not alone.  And things will work out for you or get better.  Trust me.


 If you are like me and your parents do not have the money to send you to a university overseas, please seriously consider studying in Singapore.  While I know many Malaysians have negative impressions of Singapore, the fact of the matter is that the education system here is way more superior than what is found in Malaysia.  There are a lot of things wrong with this small city state, but the bottom line is this –  this is a city where you can make something out of yourself if you are a bright and hungry young man or woman.   The qualifications that you get here will enable you to work in Singapore or branch out in this region.  There are so many Malaysians in Singapore who have done very well for themselves. 

If you have not taken your STPM or A-levels, do consider applying for the Asean scholarship.  The Asean scholarship provides an excellent foundation for tertiary education.  A common refrain that I often hear is how the STPM is the hardest exam in the world.  In fact, I was guilty of repeating this when I was a student.  On reflection, this sentiment is just complete rubbish.  STPM is a very difficult exam because in Malaysia we did not have good teachers nor good lab equipment (my teachers were nice people but they were not very good teachers).  No wonder STPM was so hard!   The junior colleges in Singapore are really excellent.  Two fine examples of the Asean scholarship alumni are Tony Pua and Kian Ming of   I found a student writing about her recent experience here

If you are a student who has taken your STPM or A-levels and did pretty well, you can apply to the three universities in Singapore, NUS ( ), NTU (  or SMU ( ).   All three universities are head and shoulders over any university that you might find in Malaysia.   Just go to any faculty in these universities and compare the qualifications and publication lists of the lecturers with the equivalent faculty members in a Malaysian university.  You will see that the faculty members in Singapore all have PhD qualifications from top universities and a good publication record in international journals.  There are also many opportunities offered in Singapore universities like exchange programmes which are simply not offered by universities in Malaysia.   The Singapore universities are very well funded by the Singaporean government whereas the Malaysian ones are not.  This makes a huge difference in terms of quality of faculty members, research and other facilities. 

It breaks my heart every year to read about news of top students (usually Chinese and Indians) with brilliant grades being rejected by Malaysian universities.  But what further puzzles me is why these students would eventually settle for courses like forestry in UPM or engineering in some unknown university in Trengganu.  Why?  Why?  If you have pretty decent grades, try applying to the three universities in Singapore.  You will have a much brighter future after graduation than studying in an unknown tertiary institution in Malaysia or pursuing some obscure course.

A final word on finances.  Yes – studying in Singapore is expensive.  But it is not prohibitively so.  All students are entitled to borrow (interest free) 80 % of their tuition fees from local banks.  The banks only start charging interest upon graduation.  Also, many of the tertiary students make ends meet by giving private tuition.  Surprisingly, a lot of students can actually support themselves financially (but of course you have to work very hard in balancing your school work and work). 

 I would be happy to provide any assistance in the comments box below to anyone who is thinking of studying in Singapore.


  1. luckily I passed my STPM with so so result, and successful got my degree in my favourite course in IT….

    Comment by maria — October 25, 2007 @ 5:12 pm

  2. Try to look out for resources at the
    as well.

    It has plentiful of contacts for adventurous ppl who want to seek out for oversea universities and the possibilties of scholarships and contacts.


    Comment by tomatoinc — October 25, 2007 @ 5:21 pm

  3. […] previous blogpost on furthering one’s education in Singapore after SPM or STPM.   See here  There are a lot of reasons why some students in Malaysia have a lot of hesitation in furthering […]

    Pingback by Studying in Singapore « The Tempinis diaries — October 28, 2007 @ 6:44 am

  4. […] a continuation of my blog posts on studying in Singapore that can be found at the following links and […]

    Pingback by Twinning degrees vs. Singaporean Universities « The Tempinis diaries — November 2, 2007 @ 1:54 pm

  5. Segt. you are from? This is … !

    Comment by Al — November 16, 2007 @ 5:44 am

  6. […] been getting a steady stream of hits everyday based on the keyword search of the phrase ”what to do after spm“.  Someone told me my previous post might have painted a too rosy picture of studying in […]

    Pingback by Asean Scholarship: A Compilation of Personal Accounts « The Tempinis diaries — December 3, 2007 @ 2:39 pm

  7. […] malaysia — tempinis @ 4:10 am I have been getting consistent hits on my post  “What to do after SPM/STPM?” that I thought I would write a follow up on it.  One of the most important thing that you can do […]

    Pingback by Advice for the STPM or SPM student « The Tempinis diaries — January 20, 2008 @ 4:10 am

  8. Hi I am a father of a 10 years old girl, and I am currently working in Singapore. I am contemplating of sending my child to study here. She is now studying in Primary 5 in Malaysia but is offered a place in Singapore studying P4.

    I don’t mind her repeating the p4 but my worries are the following of which I hope you can provide some insight:

    – Is there really great difference between here and Malaysia?
    – Is it true that the environment here create a more learning and enrichment setting better than Malaysia?
    – She is going to take Malay as her mother tongue, is the Malay education here comparable to those in Malaysia?
    – Would she still able to experience the multi-cultural-ness in the school as comparable to those in Malaysia?
    – Is the exposure here better than those in Malaysia?
    – Would you send your kid here given a choice?

    Thx in advance for looking this. Pls send comment to

    Comment by Chris Kong — February 15, 2008 @ 2:00 am

  9. I am so sorry I don’t have any experience with primary education in Singapore. The only experience I have is pre-university and university level so I can’t really help with your queries.

    Comment by tempinis — February 15, 2008 @ 5:07 am

  10. I’m a SPM student who got 9As and 1B3 in Moral. What should I do? Should I get a diploma here and go overseas to study or is it better just to take up Form 6?

    Comment by HopeGrace — April 1, 2008 @ 2:33 am

  11. HopeGrace – congratulations on your excellent results! What do you want to study? What is the diploma you are considering? Is money a problem for you to further your education overseas?

    Once I know more – I can give you my two cents worth.

    Comment by tempinis — April 1, 2008 @ 2:39 am

  12. I have finished my SPM and now i’m confusing about my future.
    In my SPM, i took science stream and i studied physics, chemistry and biology but not account. And now, i am willing to take accounting course, what should i do now?
    Will study form 6 helps me?

    Comment by Shayne — April 2, 2008 @ 8:16 am

  13. Hi Shayne, How’s your results? Are you interested in a career in accounting? Do you want to study locally or overseas? Is funding an issue? I need to know this before I can make suggestions.

    Comment by tempinis — April 2, 2008 @ 12:17 pm

  14. So sorry for late reply =)
    Btw, my result was 7A4B…
    And I’ve decided to study form 6. I heard that if someone has no plan bout their future, entering form 6 is the best solution. Is this correct?

    Comment by Shayne — April 7, 2008 @ 6:43 am

  15. Shayne – it’s very hard for me to help you if you don’t know what you want. Anyway, good luck and try to make up your mind soon.

    Comment by tempinis — April 7, 2008 @ 12:06 pm

  16. help!!!!!
    i juz received my spm result n it was 9a’s n 1b3 in moral…what should i do next? i was thinking of persuing my studies in singapore…but how?? can any1 help me?? plsss…….

    i’m interested in science n multimedias…..but i would really like to persue medicine..

    Comment by Liew — April 8, 2008 @ 3:04 am

  17. Congrats on your good results!

    A couple of comments: (1) you need to brush up your English. It’s ‘pursue’ not ‘persue’; (2) you shouldn’t expect people to spoon feed you with knowledge. See below for the ASEAN Scholarship. Email the Ministry of Education to find out more.

    Hope you are not upset with the comments above. They are given as constructive comments.

    Comment by tempinis — April 8, 2008 @ 3:21 am

  18. ok thx!!that was really helpful!!! errmmm…..i have another question by the way…if i were to pursue my pre-u in singapore…would it be easier for me to enter nus’s medical programme??

    and thx for ur comments..heehe….i think i’ve been smsing 2 much lately….sry again 4 the mistake…

    Comment by Liew — April 10, 2008 @ 4:44 am

  19. If you do your A-levels in Singapore, you would have a chance to get into medicine at the NUS. But medicine is extremely competitive. You would need at least 4As and very strong CCAs. There is also an interview process as well. See here for more information . The fees are also very expensive although I think they have loans and bursaries.

    Of course, it is also very difficult to get into medicine in Malaysia. But I think the Medicine faculty at NUS is much better than any medical faculties in Malaysia.

    Comment by tempinis — April 10, 2008 @ 4:49 am

  20. u hav any msn?? i would really like to ask u some questions directly…if u dun mind

    Comment by Liew — April 10, 2008 @ 5:00 am

  21. sorry I dont use msn or any instant messaging. What do you want to know? Alternatively, you can surf around for Asean scholarship students’ blog and ask them questions.

    Comment by tempinis — April 10, 2008 @ 5:04 am

  22. ok…ermmm… i went to the website to apply but it was closed!!!so wat should i do?? n is the percentage higher to get in to the medical programme in nus if i were to take my pre-u in singapore than in malaysia??

    Comment by Liew — April 10, 2008 @ 5:07 am

  23. Liew, what is closed? Do you know how to use google? I did a simple google search and came up with the links below? If you continue with this attitude of asking people all the time without doing any research, you are not going to get very far in life.

    Comment by tempinis — April 10, 2008 @ 5:16 am

  24. well…sry…is juz that i saw lots n lots of post saying this n its kinda hard to know which 1 to believe….very sry…..errmmm…i meant the application for the asean pre-u scholarship is closed….hehe

    Comment by Liew — April 10, 2008 @ 5:19 am

  25. Well if you let the deadline slip, then it’s too bad for you. One possibility is to write in to MOE and ask them whether they will still consider your application if you send in your application late.

    Comment by tempinis — April 10, 2008 @ 5:22 am

  26. thx 4 ur help…i’ll try my bez….!!!!

    Comment by Liew — April 10, 2008 @ 5:46 am

  27. Ok good luck! I must be getting old – but I think you should cut out the SMS speak. Writing well is very important.

    Comment by tempinis — April 10, 2008 @ 5:49 am

  28. Hello and good day =)
    May i know that, if i want to take actuarial science after STPM, is that normal? Or i don’t have to take STPM?
    Well, i’ve just got my SPM result and finished my National Service.

    Comment by Walzy — April 14, 2008 @ 11:23 am

  29. sorry for the late reply. I don’t understand your question about whether being an actuarial scientist being normal. Maybe you can refer to my post on actuarial scientist – there are some helpful links there.

    Comment by tempinis — April 20, 2008 @ 7:10 am

  30. I am 17 and will sitting for SPM this year. I dont know what to do after SPM, please help…

    Comment by lee — April 29, 2008 @ 7:07 am

  31. […] grades to go to another university which values your talent, energy and brains. Here’s how. Looking back at those dark days when I was in a similar position, I would say that I have achieved […]

    Pingback by Rejected for Matrikulasi?: It Might Work Out Well in the End « The Tempinis diaries — May 4, 2008 @ 1:22 pm

  32. Hello, well, from what I know getting the ASEAN Scholarship is pretty tough.
    *for not an outstanding student like me* I highly doubt I will get the chance to study in their Junior College.
    Therefore, I’m interested to study in Polytechnic School in correspondence to the course I intend to study. *Hospitality and Tourism Management*
    I’m just wondering if a Poly graduate has a better standing in Singapore University?
    I was also wondering if Singapore Universities actually do offer Hospitality and Tourism Management.


    Comment by Venus — May 7, 2008 @ 12:41 pm

  33. Hi Venus

    Temasek Polytechnic offers such a course

    Shatec has a course as well

    I do not know much about their programmes though.

    Comment by tempinis — May 7, 2008 @ 1:45 pm

  34. i m 18 years old,currently doin alevel on sci subs..but i m in a dilemma on choosin a suitable course aafter my a u knw any couses dat offered jobs which r highly paid?

    Comment by chiyee — June 15, 2008 @ 6:46 am

  35. do u think business wil earn more den science field in d future?

    Comment by chiyee — June 15, 2008 @ 6:57 am

  36. Hi Chiyee, I don’t think money should be the main motivation for choosing a particular course. If you are not interested in the course, you won’t do well. It is as simple as that.

    Comment by toru — June 16, 2008 @ 1:07 am

  37. huh..but nw i m havin lecturer prob in my alvl course..jz bcz i dunoe wat is my interest,so i jz follow other ppl advice to take alvl..i gt 8A1,2A2 in my spm 2007..they said dat it wil b veri wasted if i din take alvl since i hv d result..but nw i m ald started my course abt 1 mnth..i dunoe d prob lies on d lecturer or myself,jz dun feel like to continue study..i used to b depend so much on tuition during my secondary skol life(i hv many tuitions,which i thnk d tuit teachers do help me a lot),n end up doing quite well in my skol exams..but nw its impossible 4 me to find alvl tuit since i hv paid so much on my colleges fees..
    p/s:i cant figure out wat is my interest,dats killing a result,i jz keep on follow oter ppl..pls help..thx..

    Comment by Chiyee — June 16, 2008 @ 2:11 pm

  38. Hi Chiyee

    No one can help you if you don’t know what you are interested in. You have to figure this out by yourself.

    And just a word of advice – you should try spelling out your words properly. Writing well is important.

    Comment by toru — June 16, 2008 @ 3:10 pm

  39. Ok..basically,i think i like add maths the most during my secondary school friend said that i have a very strong passion on something to do with i am doing a-level in science subjects which are chemistry,biology and maths..did i make a right move?besides,i got A2 in biology for spm..Is this prove that i’m not good enough in biology.then,I’m not suppose to take this subject in my A-level?..i used to be not really like biology during my secondary school..

    Comment by Chiyee — June 17, 2008 @ 8:59 am

  40. Hi Chiyee

    Thanks – you can write properly!

    Your subject combination seems fine. With this subject combination you have maximum flexibility and go for either medicine, science, business, arts, law etc.

    If you like maths, how about engineering or actuarial science? You can do a search on my blog on actuarial science – I have some useful links here

    Comment by toru — June 17, 2008 @ 1:47 pm

  41. well,i can see that actuarial science is nothing to do with biology and chemistry.if I have decided to take actuarial science for my degree,then can i do my foundation in business,instead of continue studying in A-Level?

    Comment by Chiyee — June 17, 2008 @ 3:20 pm

  42. […] Tags: education, foundation programme, malaysia — toru @ 2:58 pm A commentator of this post, Chiyee, asked me for my views about giving up his or her A-levels course to take up a foundation […]

    Pingback by Why Foundation Programmes are Usually a Bad Decision « The Tempinis diaries — June 18, 2008 @ 2:59 pm

  43. Chiyee – see answer in my latest post – hope this helps.

    Comment by toru — June 18, 2008 @ 3:02 pm

  44. I agreed with you

    Comment by ragWhery — August 3, 2008 @ 12:23 am

  45. I’m sitting spm this year..
    n I desperate to study in singapore..
    Besides well mastering of english..
    what result should I get to get qualified for singapore’s scholarship??

    Comment by Danzel — September 6, 2008 @ 3:17 pm

  46. Why don’t you check out this posts and the links found here

    Comment by toru — September 6, 2008 @ 3:34 pm

  47. in my opinion ..nothing is for sure unless you try it first..plz consider what local university can do to us

    Comment by mamamia — October 20, 2008 @ 6:39 am

  48. I am zchen, from malaysia. I’m a student that has taken my STPM (A-level). the result are so so, but not really sure that Singapore’s university would accept me o not….. worryyy….woorrrryyy…. now working and worriying my future. T.T

    Comment by Dissapointed man — December 15, 2008 @ 1:05 pm

  49. […] For SPM students Filed under: Uncategorized — toru @ 1:24 pm What an absolutely brilliant idea! To publish a book on different routes which people took after spm. My own modest contribution is found here. […]

    Pingback by For SPM students « The Tempinis diaries — March 2, 2009 @ 1:24 pm

  50. How to apply ASEAN scholarships?I think i will be taking form 6.But i m not sure.If you could tell me how to apply ,it would be easier for me to choose.after u send my reply,can you mail to me that you have send me a reply.Please.Thank you.

    Comment by vassanty — March 11, 2009 @ 5:12 am

  51. Hi Vassanty

    Don’t you know how to use google? You can’t expect people to spoon feed you all the time.

    Comment by toru — March 11, 2009 @ 6:42 am

  52. hey i applied for both nus and ntu. i just fin my stpm. got 4A’s and am interested in actuarial science. the thing is, what is the exact name for actuarial science offered in ntu n nus? i wonder what is mathematics and economics. is it actuarial science? seems not.. so, which degree should i choose in ntu n nus to pursue actuarial science? the dateline is just around the corner, pls help me.

    Comment by erin — March 23, 2009 @ 2:57 pm

  53. Hi Erin – congrats on your excellent results!

    Dont young people know how to use google and do their own research nowadays? Everybody comes to this blog and expects to be spoon fed!

    The NTU programme

    The SMU programme

    The NUS/ANU programme

    Comment by toru — March 23, 2009 @ 4:34 pm

  54. hello
    in your opinion, is asean scholarship or stpm a better option?
    does asean scholars have better chanses of getting into singapore universties than stpm holder?
    is it worthy to spend 2 years through asean scholarship?

    what are the differents between finance and acturial science?

    i got 7a1, 2a2, 3b in spm 2008.
    i would like to get into green technology ,any advise?

    Comment by sugan — April 12, 2009 @ 4:13 pm

  55. Hi sugan

    This is a very difficult question to answer. I would say Asean scholarship is better but some would disagree. Google my blog for differing opinions. Also, read this blog about this person’s experience who really hated and regretted coming to Singapore.

    I dont know much about finance and actuarial science. Perhaps, you can google and read about it. Re green technologies, how about enviromental engineering? See here

    Comment by toru — April 13, 2009 @ 2:30 am

  56. what you’ve written is so so true ..i obtained 4A’s in stpm last 2 years and i was offered the same course by NUS and MU.eventually i decided to stay in local university due to financial reason and etc.. but i started to regret after one semester .. now struggling everyday because of the “awful” education system in local uni .. btw i’m studying engineering course in MU here .. and find that 90percents of the so-called-professionals in local universities here are ridiculous and worst of all.. the students here are arrogant,thinking they’re the brainies of this country but actually they’re just being lucky . it’s a tragedy in this country .. anyway , i’d try to work oversea, whether singapore,europe or the states.i can’t stay at this place no more..though it’s hard for me to let go .
    .listen to me people, going singapore is much more better than staying in the local uni.

    Comment by heroes of earth — June 10, 2009 @ 7:19 am

  57. Hello,I Just finished sitting for my SPM and i would really like to study medicine.In your opinion,should I take STPM or A-Levels if I’m trying to get a scholarship.

    Comment by Shaun — December 15, 2009 @ 7:32 pm

  58. Hey…I am from Malaysia .
    Now waiting for the SPM’s result.
    I am act stream student.
    Now I am thinking about wanna study form 6 or not…
    Study Form 6 is it better than take foundation in any University College in Malaysia?
    I wanna know about if after STPM i go SG to study ,how about the qualification and how to apply ?
    I am interesting in accounting …
    Please help me and give me some suggestion !!!!
    Thank You So Much !!!

    Comment by LOO — January 13, 2010 @ 6:30 pm

  59. I’m going to take STPM (science stream) this year,2010 … Can I go to local University if I had only scored Maths and PA …I mean for Actuarial science ????

    Comment by Hussin — February 2, 2010 @ 6:59 am

  60. hi, stpm results juz announced, i scored 4flats, after reading the posts, im considering apply for NUS- pharmacy. But can anyone here guide me?? What’s the procedure? And is it free to apply? Do they cover all the fee or i have to pay? I need a selfless senior o anyone who can help. I am ridiculously clueless in this case. So excited for future but anxiety is haunting me..

    Comment by thomson — February 27, 2010 @ 1:30 pm

  61. congrats on your excellent results. Pharmacy is a really tough course to get in. But there is no harm in trying. All the info you need should be found on this website. Good luck!

    Comment by toru — February 27, 2010 @ 3:54 pm

  62. – admissions page found here

    HKU has a pharmacy department also –

    Comment by toru — February 27, 2010 @ 4:01 pm

  63. […] have neglected this blog for quite some time. But I noticed a spike in readership especially on my post on what to do after STPM. Another year has passed and we have a fresh crop of bright young things […]

    Pingback by STPM 2010 And Studying in Hong Kong « The Tempinis diaries — February 28, 2010 @ 2:58 pm

  64. pretty funny to read those comments. students (people) with bright results but unable to think straight. not to mention “do not know how to use google thing”. However, keep up your good work. 🙂

    Comment by jessy — May 5, 2010 @ 12:00 am

  65. A very nice blog..but i think i know why some bright students eventually settled down in unknown uni or colleges,I myself is a straight A’s student,currently studying in lower me,none of my friends in my school is offered with a proper scholarship,and I’m talking about straight A’s student with at least 8A+..In times like this,it’s really very difficult to think rationally anymore,as everyone discourages us to study STPM.That’s when bad decisions are made,all they wanna do is to graduate in a simple and easy way.Therefore,they chose matriculation(stuck in this country studying in lousy local U)

    Comment by Vaen — June 22, 2011 @ 6:49 am

  66. My sister just finish her SPM in Malaysia but she want to be a teacher in malaysia… can anyone tell mi in wat way can i help her??????? Thanks……………….

    Comment by Jason — December 5, 2011 @ 7:37 am

  67. Actually i am wondering is there any condition i should fulfill before i can apply to school in Singapore?? i mean what kind of results will only be accepted by Singapore universities .

    Comment by Franklen — December 22, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

  68. hello there!
    i just finished my spm and of c0urse, were waiting f0r the result..
    in trial i g0t straight a’s ( i.e 3 a+ n 7 a’s)
    i’ve made up my mind t0 take up medicine and preferably, in local unis.
    s0 i’ve applied f0r matric and upu, but n0w i’m l0oking f0rwrd t0 studying in singap0re.
    just as a c0nfirmati0n, d0nt sing unis take in th0se wh0 t0ok up matric, cause i’m kinda budget-tight
    and a-level is certainly n0t a g0od ch0ice while i may 0nly waste 2 years in stpm as i’m sincerely n0t a bright student.. s0 what d0 u think is best f0r me?
    0r sh0uld i just further my studies in msia??

    Comment by amani — January 3, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

  69. My child will go to primary 1 next year.I’m still hesitate wether send him to local or Singapore school.It’s anyone can advise me?

    Comment by Yap — March 2, 2012 @ 4:37 am

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