Tak kenal maka tak cinta. Jom Kenali Universiti Awam (UA) Malaysia.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

What the South Australian Matriculation (SAM/SACE International) is all about

Guest post by Wong Xiu Wei (Share you opinions with 50,000+ Malaysian students)

SACE International South Australian Certificate of Education
SACE International | South Australian Certificate of Education International
As a student myself who has experienced the difficulty of choosing a good Pre-University course after SPM, I would like to share with you my two cents on this particular course that I have undertaken and completed just recently in 2014 at Taylor’s College, Subang Jaya.

If I were to put it into a more succinct sentence, I would describe South Australian Matriculation (SAM)/South Australian Certificate of Education International (SACEI) as a course that is more ‘all-rounded’. In SAM, education consists of many forms besides conventional exams and classroom lessons. Needless to say, that is one of the main reasons why I chose SAM and it is also why I rather enjoyed myself throughout the course.

As a breakdown of the course component weightage, SAM/SACEI comprises of 70% coursework and 30% final exam. Note that here ‘coursework’ is a broad term that includes laboratory practical tests, report write-ups, research/investigative projects and class tests. SAM/SACEI is administered by the South Australian Board of Education, and is taken by students from South Australia, Malaysia and China. After completing this course, you would obtain an ATAR score – which is a percentile rank and is not to be interpreted the same as a CGPA. For instance, an ATAR of 80 would mean that you performed better than 80% of your peers, putting you in the top 20% of your cohort.

SAM/SACEI is accepted in most tertiary institutions worldwide in countries such as the UK, US, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and etc. However, I do recommend checking out the requirements for SAM/SACEI in your prospective university before commencing the course as some universities would require a higher ATAR score for admission. This is due to the fact that SAM/SACEI (as well as AUSMAT, for that matter) are one year courses and hence do not cover as much syllabus compared to A-levels. If you look at it from another perspective, SAM/SACEI would enable you to enter university one year earlier than if you took a longer Pre-University course. So in the end, the choice is up to you as to whether you think you could achieve the required ATAR and if it is really suitable for you as a student. As a rule of thumb, if you are keen to pursue very competitive courses such as Dentistry and Medicine particularly in the UK, you would make a wiser choice by choosing A-levels instead as it would be more favorable for the consideration of your application by the university.

As a SAM/SACEI student, I realized that a lot of people harbor misconceptions regarding the course as follows:

  1. Is SAM/SACEI only accepted in SOUTH Australia?
  2. SAM/SACEI is such a short course. Is it easier compared to other courses?

The answer to both of these questions is “No”. SAM/SACEI is accepted in the WHOLE of Australia. (Note: I have already written the list of countries that accept SAM/SACEI in bold above for your easy reference) And as for the latter, I would say that SAM/SACEI is not an easy-breezy course! A 70% in coursework indicates that you will have to be punctual in all your work/assignments and have good time management skills. In SAM/SACEI, you are graded in factors such as your ability to hold discussions with your peers, your oral abilities, investigative abilities, motor skills, learning skills and so on instead of just letting a grade on a paper denote your standing as a student. If you want to do well in SAM/SACEI, you would have to put in hard work and effort, especially if you took a pure-science combination (I took Physics, Biology, Chemistry, English as Second Language and Mathematical Studies). However, I hope what I have just said in front does not intimidate you as hard work is required for all courses apart from SAM/SACEI if you want to excel. Nothing ever comes easy in this world, no?

Another popular question would be: Is it very hard to achieve a high ATAR? My answer to that would be no IF you are a good student in the sense that you try your best for your assignments, hand up work on time and do some studying for your exams. As a very rough gauge, if you get a mixture of As and Bs in your coursework and do not do badly for your final exam, you will have no problem getting an ATAR above 90. The average grade in my class for an assignment/test is usually about an A grade to a B grade. Moderation is done in SAM/SACEI by the South Australian Board of Education, whereby each lecturer would have to submit a few of their students’ paper from every grade (A+/A/A-/B+/B and so on) in order to be reviewed to avoid cases such as favoritism and different standards. In that sense, you should have no worries regarding the marking system as it is done fairly.

Prior to commencing the course, I have come across an article titled “An Insight into the South Australian Matriculation” which is also featured on this website. The author has contributed a lengthy article that is well-written. This author has written a less favorable review regarding this course. Since my article is to the more favorable side, I thought I would share this here in order for you to get a more two-sided view for your own judgment as every person is entitled to their own opinion. However, there are some points stated by the author that I wish to clarify:
“Moderation is done in SAM. It works like to keep a consistency in the program. Let’s say you did badly for most of your tests but suddenly started to get better scores in the tests which cannot happen for SAM as consistency is maintained, so they will downgrade your mark.”
The above text is quoted from the aforementioned article. The ATAR for SAM/SACEI are calculated using 4 of your best subjects and ½ of your worst subject (a total of five subjects are taken). As every assignment/test/project counts towards your final grade, a bad grade for one assignment would naturally make the average lower. For instance, if you get mostly A’s for all assignments in a particular subject but have a few C’s it would automatically downgrade your average mark. This is a very common aspect of grade-calculation and does not represent the purpose of moderation.

In short, I have learned a lot through SAM/SACEI as a student. Not only did I learn about the importance of discipline and time-management, I have also learnt the value of learning together with friends, having the bravery to ask questions and discover new frontiers and going out of my comfort zone. In all honesty, I think that SAM/SACEI is a good course and would benefit students everywhere as it helps you grow as a person apart from knowledge from books. My teachers are also very passionate about their subject and they are always very helpful. One could always arrange consultation with teachers to ask any questions or to do any further revision. As I quote from my Physics teacher: “Teachers in SAM/SACEI choose to teach the course because they believe in the program”.

I hope this article has helped you consider your next step in life, and if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me! I’m friendly!

Xiu Wei is a girl who likes jokes, travelling, food and alpacas. She is currently selling secondhand SAM books and looking forward to her next phase in life. And yes, she still believes in being a dreamer. Comment below or contact her at [email protected] if you have any questions!
Liked this post? Subscribe now to read more post like this one!


  1. Thank you so much for sharing your positive experience on this pre-u. I was researching the right pre-u for my son and came across the negative experience of SAM. At last we decided to choose A-level instead. I'm glad that for you, SAM was not as bad as we thought.

  2. Hello, may i know where can i get the SACE/ SAM reference books ? It is very difficult to find SACE/SAM books in the market?


Malaysia Students Blog is a team blog on Malaysian major examinations, secondary, pre-university & tertiary education, scholarship Malaysia, student resources, students' thoughts and everything relating to students & undergraduates at schools, colleges & universities in Malaysia - Student Education Malaysia

Comment Policy: Comments posted at Malaysia Students blog should be on-topic, constructive and add value to the discussion. Comments that are off-topic, one-sentence, abusive or offensive will be removed. Please use proper English with correct spelling and grammar in your comment. For general questions, please post them at SPM Student Malaysia. For enquiries, please email the administrator of this blog: Student at Malaysia-Students dot com.

Join over 50,000 people who get FREE latest scholarship updates via email!

Free Scholarship Updates:   

More scholarships available at Malaysia Scholarship Information Centre

Do Not Miss Any Job Offers! Get Student Part Time Jobs via Email!