The basics
Malaysia: Applying to University - Must read

Guide to the MUET

Read our guide to the MUET test for students wishing to study in Malaysia, including a breakdown of each section and tips to help you pass.

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What is the MUET?

The Malaysian University English Test (MUET) is similar to the IELTS or TOEFL test in that universities use it to test prospective students’ English abilities prior to studying with them. However, the MUET is only used by universities in Malaysia to study at one of the country’s universities. The MUET is also a pre-requisite to study at a small number of universities in Singapore.

 

When is the MUET taken?

There are 3 opportunities in the year to take the MUET: March, July and November.

 

Who takes the MUET?

STPM candidates, matriculation students, diploma and pre-university students who wish to pursue a first degree programme in a local university.

 

How do I take the MUET?

You must register to take the test at the Malaysian Examinations Council website (they oversee the test) The MUET costs RM100.00 to take. If you are not satisfied with the result you receive, you can apply to have it checked, though this will cost RM70.00. Usually the Writing, Reading and Listening parts of the test are done on the same day, while the Speaking section will be tested on another day close to that date.

 

How is the MUET structured?

The MUET is separated into 4 different sections: Writing, Reading, Speaking and Listening. You must complete all of them.

 

Writing

Length: 90 mins

Marks worth: 90 marks

Weighting: 30%

Number of questions: 2

Types of questions: Interpreting information from a short piece of text and extensive writing task on a given topic. Texts to work from may include a report or a letter.

Tip: Complete task 2 first as this is worth more marks. Do not make “blind” statements; back up everything you write with facts.

 

Reading

Length: 90 mins

Marks worth: 120 marks

Weighting: 40%

Number of questions: 50

Types of questions: Multiple choice questions about 6 texts (e.g. newspaper article, academic text, journal article etc.)

Tip: Make sure you actually read the question and any other information given in full – it is the reading section after all! Underline words or phrases you don’t understand or recognise. When preparing for your MUET, expose yourself to a range of texts in your personal time which are well-written. These should be reputable sources such as the BBC or New York Times which use a good standard of English so you’ll broaden your vocabulary and ability to comprehend a range of texts.

 

Listening

Length: 30 mins

Marks worth: 45 marks

Weighting: 15%

Number of questions: 20

Types of questions: Multiple choice questions with short answers based on a recording of a lecture, talk, discussion, conversation or announcement, requiring students to demonstrate a number of skills such as paraphrasing and recognising fact from fiction

Tip: Practise your ability to hear selectively the most important parts of a piece of audio and note these down quickly as you listen. While the audio should feature a speaker using standard English, try listening to some regional accents so you are at least familiar with the way they may vary – it will make you more confident approaching speakers from different regions. Watch TV shows and movies in English in the weeks before your test, without subtitles in your own language.

 

Speaking

Length: 30 mins

Marks: 45 marks

Weighting: 15%

Number of questions: 20

Types of questions: Individual presentation (2mins to prepare, 2 mins to present) and group discussion with 3 other students (2 mins to prepare, 10 mins to discuss)

Tip: When preparing for your test, speak with friends and family in English to sharpen your English skills. In the discussion part of the Speaking section, keep the discussion going by asking questions. Make sure your contribution to the conversation is heard, so speak clearly and loudly; don’t let the others in your group “steal the limelight” and talk over you.

 

How is the MUET scored?

The MUET is scored out of 300 and is separated into 6 bands as follows:

Band 6 (score of 260-300): Very good user – ‘Very good command of the language. Highly expressive, fluent, accurate and appropriate language: hardly any inaccuracies. Very good understanding of language and contexts. Functions extremely well in the language.’

Band 5 (score of 220-259): Good user – ‘Good command of the language. Expressive, fluent, accurate and appropriate language but with minor inaccuracies. Good understanding of language and contexts. Functions well in the language.’

Band 4 (score of 180-219): Competent user – ‘Satisfactory command of the language. Satisfactory expressive and fluent, appropriate language but with occasional inaccuracies. Satisfactory understanding of language and contexts. Functions satisfactorily in the language.’

Band 3 (score of 140-179): Modest user – ‘Modest command of the language. Modestly expressive and fluent, appropriate language but with noticeable inaccuracies. Modest understanding of language and contexts. Able to function modestly in the language.’

Band 2 (score of 100-139): Limited user – ‘Limited command of the language. Lacks expressiveness, fluency and appropriacy: inaccurate use of the language resulting in breakdown in communication. Limited understanding of language and contexts. Limited ability to function in the language.’

Band 1 (score below 100): Extremely limited user – ‘Poor command of the language. Unable to use language to express ideas: inaccurate use of the language resulting in frequent breakdowns in communication. Little or poor understanding of language and contexts. Hardly able to function in the language.’

 

What band do I need?

Depending on the university and course you are applying to, you’ll need to aim for a certain band. Different subjects will have different band requirements, with Law and Medicine often requiring higher bands. You should try to aim for as high a band as possible, preferably in the top two bands. If you get into a band below this, you may be required to take additional English courses if you are still accepted by the university.

 

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About Author

Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.

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