Exams to Study in Malaysia: IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, CAE and others

Malaysia is becoming a more popular study location for international students due to its strong worldwide reputation and education system. The Malaysian government has made a concerted effort to ensure that education in Malaysia meets international standards.

The well-structured higher education system of Malaysia allows students to seek an internationally recognised, prestigious, and affordable qualification. The top universities in Malaysia have fewer eligibility requirements as compared to those in other countries. It is also comparatively easy to get a Malaysia student visa. Lets look into the details of exams to study in Malaysia:

English Proficiency Exams to Study in Malaysia

Owing to its multicultural society, Malaysia has no shortage of linguistic diversity, with people speaking Malay, English, Mandarin and even Indian languages like Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam. That being said, most educational and professional institutions use English as the medium of instruction, so unless you are a native speaker of English, you will need to prove your proficiency in the language. For this purpose, there are a number of exams to study in Malaysia like IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, etc.

For certain programs, you do not need to take any of these tests if you have completed your education in the English medium. At some universities, like the Universiti Putra Malaysia, Indian nationals are exempted from having to meet the proficiency requirements.

University IELTS Score TOEFL iBT Score MUET Score
University of Malaya 5.5-6.5 80 3
Universiti Sains Malaysia 5.0 42 3
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia 5.5 46 3
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia 6.0 80 4
Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS 5.0-6.0 60 4


Accepted by over 10,000 institutions worldwide, International English Language Testing System, commonly known as IELTS Academic is the preferred English test at most universities in Malaysia. It costs INR 14,000 to sit the exam, as a result of which you will receive an IELTS score that is valid for two years. You will achieve the score on a band of 1-9 in each of the four sections of the test, that is Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking, and the overall average will be taken as your score.


Test of English as a Foreign Language or TOEFL is an equally good alternative to IELTS for applying to study in Malaysia. This test costs around INR 13,617 though it is also valid for two years. There are three possible methods to take TOEFL, which are CBT (computer-based test), TOEFl-pBT (paper-based test) and iBT (internet-based test), of which the last one is the most popular. It consists of the same four sections as IELTS, except here each section is scored on a scale of 1-30, making the maximum overall score 120.


Although quite popular if you want to study in countries like the US and UK, this test is not as well-known in Malaysia. Still, Pearson Test of English or PTE is accepted as proof of English proficiency by some universities, like

It costs INR 13,300 to sit the PTE Academic exam, which consists of three sections - Speaking & Writing, Reading, and Listening.


Cambridge Assessment English or CAE tests are available in various levels, but the following are more accepted qualifications for university-level courses:

  • C1 Advanced, previously known as Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
  • C2 Proficiency, previously known as Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)

They can be taken either on paper or computer for a fee of INR 6,000-7,000, and the scores have lifetime validity.


The Malaysian Examinations Council administers Malaysian University English Test or MUET specifically for students entering into university-level courses in Malaysia, but it can also be used to study in Singapore. The exam consists of the standard four sections of Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Students are evaluated on a band of 1-6, and most universities ask for at least a Band 3, while some courses like medicine and engineering ask for a Band 4. The test costs INR 1,812 to take.

Admission Requirements to Study in Malaysia

Higher education in Malaysia is done through public or private universities, and polytechnics. If you are planning to pursue your studies in Malaysia, ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria for the specific type of course:

Course Type Eligibility Minimum Age Course Duration
Certificate Course Secondary School qualification like SPM 17 1-1.5 Years
Pre-university/Foundation Course Secondary School qualification like SPM 17 1-1.5 Years
Diploma Course Secondary School qualification like SPM 17 2-3 Years
Bachelors Course Pre-university and post-secondary qualification like GCE-A level and STPM 19 3-5 Years
Masters Course Bachelor’s Degree Any age 1-3 Years
Research Course Master’s Degree Any age 3-5 Years

The Pre-university or Foundation course, which is not present in India, is a preparatory course before starting a professional or semi-professional degree course. Some of the popular preparatory courses are pre-MBA, pre-law and pre-medicine. There are also English Language courses available in case a student has been unable to take one of the tests mentioned above.

Malaysia is a popular study location mostly because it hosts many Foreign University Branch Campuses (FUBC) like that of:

  • Monash University
  • Curtin University
  • The University of Nottingham
  • Swinburne University of Technology
  • Newcastle University Medicine
  • University of Southampton
  • Heriot-Watt University
  • University of Reading
  • Xiamen University
  • Royal College of Surgeons In Ireland

Many international students prefer going to the Malaysian campus of these high-ranking universities because it is cheaper than studying in the UK or in Australia. The public universities in Malaysia are not too bad either, and many Asian students in fact prefer to do an MBA in Malaysia due to its fast-developing economy.


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