Weigh Your Options: IBDP Programme vs A Levels vs Canadian Cert

So you’ve decided you want your children to have a quality pre-university experience but you’re unsure of where to enrol them. Why wouldn’t you be?

Different places offer different programmes. IB schools offer one, private colleges offer another and so on. It is important that you do your research to know exactly what your child gains with each programme.

Let’s break down some of the programmes found in Malaysia and what it means for your child.

International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP)

So, you think your child is well-rounded, highly curious and enjoys taking on challenges?

Then this might be the most suitable programme for them. 

The IBDP programme is a pre-university programme that is recognised by over 100 countries worldwide. Despite being considered more challenging than A-Levels, it is widely viewed as more balanced and well-rounded. As it is, only certified IB schools can offer this programme. 

As a bonus for any interested parent, IB schools also cater education for children as young as three years old.

In Malaysia, it is typically the forward thinking parents who opt for the IBDP for their kids because it encourages its students to develop skills of independent enquiry, self-management skills, an open mind and a global outlook and workplace skills instead of titular textbook knowledge. It balances between teaching students about real-world issues and everyday problems.

There are numerous IB schools in Malaysia that offer the IBDP, namely Fairview International School, IGB International School, Mont’Kiara International School and Nexus International School Malaysia to name a few. 


Dubbed the “UK’s STPM”, the A-Levels is a popular option for pre-university studies administered by two examination boards, the Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) and Edexcel, with Malaysian colleges primarily offering the A-Levels from the Cambridge Board.

In Malaysia especially, the A-levels are commonly regarded as the golden ticket to the UK, despite being recognised by a myriad of best universities from across the world like in the US, Australia, Canada and Singapore.

Aside from its familiar 100% exam based grading system based on the UK’s education system, the fact that the A-Levels cater more towards STEM and related subjects is a contributing factor to its popularity as a pre-u programme in Malaysia, as they are the preferred area of study for children by many parents.

There are many places in Malaysia that facilitate this programme, like Brickfields Asia College, Taylor’s College, UCSI University and many more.

Canadian International Matriculation Programme (CIMP)

Despite not being well-known in Malaysia, this next programme could be perfect for your child if they thrive in collaborative environments and have a slew of interests. 

Also called the Canadian Pre-University (CPU) programme, this programme is similar to the Malaysian STPM and Matriculation programmes. 

Like most higher education systems, the CIMP focuses on interactive learning with continuous assessment throughout the programme. Most students typically take on around six subjects which are delivered modularly, with a varying set of subjects each semester. 

The CIMP programme leads to an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD), which is recognised by colleges worldwide and even some of the best local private universities. 

Many people are unaware about this programme as it is not as widely provided as the A-Levels or IBDP. Regardless, it has highly respected names like Sunway College, Stradford International College and President College and more that do offer them.

When choosing a programme, it is important to prioritise your child’s interests and find one that helps accommodate them. As changing between programmes can be stressful and draining for both children and parents, researching before committing is integral. 

With all that’s said and done, have you decided which path your child should take?

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