On account of its premium universities, significantly lower fees, and rapidly developing industries, Malaysia has been emerging as a preferred destination for international students. The country is a terrific study-abroad destination for students due to its high inter-regional accessibility.

Bahasa Malaysia (Malay) is the country’s national language and is the first language accepted in educational institutes. However, numerous college-level programs in its universities are conducted in English. The educational structure places a heavy emphasis on English, regardless of the prevalence of Malay in daily communication and some educational environments.

This notoriety draws in students from other countries because of the higher standard of education and easier adaptation it brings. There are over a hundred universities in Malaysia, and QS Rankings feature several of these institutions amongst the globe’s finest.

However, the top-ranked majority institutes require English language proficiency to gain admission in one of their graduate and further programs. In this article, we discuss which tests are required for international students to study in Malaysia in detail.

What are the basic language requirements needed in Malaysia for International Students?

According to rules set out by the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education, there are language requirements pre-established for overseas students. These rules entail that only the applicants who received scores over a particular limit on an English Language Competency Exam are going to be permitted to enroll in the main academic course.

In the country, the English language has been set out as a standard of curriculum in universities. Students from Asia, Europe, and other areas with a significant linguistic gap must pass a language proficiency exam before enrolling at higher educational institutes in Malaysia.

Language Tests in Malaysia for International Students

Residents in Malaysia can speak a wide variety of languages, including Malay, English, Mandarin, and Hindi, attributed to the country’s culturally diverse population. However, English is used as a medium of instruction in the majority of academic establishments. This extends beyond textbook education and aids in research work, internships, and community interactions.

So, demonstrating the ability in the language is required for foreign applications except for those belonging to an English-speaking country. IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, Cambridge English Qualifications, and MUET are only a few of the many popular tests of English proficiency that are designed for international students in Malaysia to fulfill this criterion.

English Language Tests for International Students

In the provided list, we have discussed the most recognized and widely accepted English Language tests for International students to study in Malaysia.

1. IELTS – International English Language Testing System

One of the top language tests accepted in Malaysia for international students is the IELTS. The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a globally recognized benchmark for 30 years for assessing foreign candidates’ ability to communicate in and understand written and spoken English in a range of academic settings. It consists of 4 sections, speaking, listening, writing, and reading, and has two types: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Test.

There are no interruptions during the sections of the Listening, Reading, and Writing examinations, which together last 2 hours and 40 minutes. The Speaking exam may be scheduled on the same day or as much as a week before or afterward.

For study purposes in Malaysia, IELTS Academic is usually required. As a result of passing the IELTS test, students will be able to demonstrate their command of the English language to gain entrance to study in Malaysia, where English is mandatory.

The minimum IELTS score required to gain admission to an undergraduate, graduate, or further program in Malaysian universities is between 5.0 and 6.0. Some of the Malaysian universities that accept this test are as follows.

  • The University of Technology, Malaysia requires an overall IELTS band of 5.5 or above for undergraduate courses and 6.0 or above for graduate programs.
  • University Teknologi Petronas has an IELTS band requirement of 5.0 for its post-grad courses.
  • Swinburne University, Malaysia also has IELTS in its admission criteria and has a condition of 6.0 band or above for acceptance.

2. TOEFL – Test of English as a Foreign Language

TOEFL is another English Proficiency test option for easy acceptance to Malaysian advanced universities. It is a standardized exam designed to assess an applicant’s command of English in an academic context. As a result, many universities consider applicants’ TOEFL scores when making their final decision.

It is offered in two formats: the computer-based TOEFL iBT Test and the paper-based, updated TOEFL Test. Malaysia institutes generally have a prerequisite of TOEFL iBT which takes under 2 hours to complete. It also consists of 4 sections, Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening.

When applying to a university in Malaysia, a minimum TOEFL Paper-based test score of 500 and a TOEFL iBT score of between 46-93 is necessary for admission to any level of study. Listed below are some of the Malaysian universities that approve this exam.

  • For undergraduate and graduate programs at Monash University Malaysia, the minimum acceptable TOEFL paper-based score is 550, while the minimum acceptable TOEFL iBT score is 79.
  • Heriot-Watt University, Malaysia has a condition of TOEFL iBT score of 44 – 56 for Masters and a score of 72 for Bachelors courses.
  • For Xiamen University, Malaysia TOEFL Paper-based score of 550 is required for applicants to gain acceptance into undergraduate programs.

3. Pearson Test of English: (PTE) Academic

The third language proficiency test accepted in Malaysia, PTE, is also of international acceptance and acclaim. The Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education has acknowledged the Pearson Test of English Academic valid for proficiency for overseas students planning to enroll in a Malaysian university as of April 2016.

The PTE Academic exam is a computer-based examination that lasts three hours in an easily accessible testing location. The candidate’s communication, reading, and listening abilities are all put to the test through this. Each of the 20 questions in the exam has various formats, spanning from multiple-choice questions to essay writing.

To enroll in any degree program at a Malaysian institution, prospective students need to have a PTE Academic score between 51 and 60. Several universities in Malaysia accept this test for overseas students, some of which are shown here.

  • The PTE score requirement for the Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation, Malaysia varies per degree program but generally falls between 30 and 65.
  • PTE Academic score of 58 or above is required for admission to both the bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Monash University Malaysia.

Language tests are essential for overseas students to seek admission to a well-reputed Malaysian university. A variety of language proficiency tests for international students are accepted in Malaysia’s higher educational institutes. These include IELTS, PTE, and TOEFL with varying score requirements for each test to gain admission to Bachelor’s, Master’s, Ph.D., etc.


We hope this article helped you better understand the language tests needed for international students in Malaysia effectively. Don’t miss out on the countless program opportunities currently available for you by exploring these open courses! For more resources to assist you in planning your academic journey in Malaysia, make sure to visit our Study in Malaysia page!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hyun is the founder at Global Scholarships. He has received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College as well as $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for his undergraduate degree and has been offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. Read more about his scholarship journey here.

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