The three main categories of secondary schools in Malaysia are Public Secondary Schools, Private Secondary Schools and International Schools (Secondary). Education in Public Secondary Schools and Private Secondary Schools lasts for 5 years, referred to as Form 1 to 5.
Form1 to Form 3 is known as Lower Secondary, while Form 4 and 5 are known as Upper Secondary. Most students who had completed primary education are admitted to Form 1. Students from national-type primary schools have the additional requirement to obtain a minimum C grade for the Malay subjects in UPSR, failing which they will have to attend a year-long transition class, commonly called "Remove" (Kelas Peralihan), before proceeding to Form 1.
The main types of public secondary school in Malaysia are the National Secondary Schools (Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan) and National-type Secondary Schools (Sekolah Menengah Jenis Kebangsaan, SMJK).Other types of government (public) secondary schools include Technical Schools (Sekolah Menengah Teknik), Fully Residential Schools and MARA Junior Science College (Maktab Rendah Sains MARA).These schools use Malay as the main medium of instruction. Students sit for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) or Malaysian Certificate of Education examination after completing Form 5.
Private primary schools and Private Religious Secondary Schools in Malaysia offer secondary education from Form 1 to Form 5, follow the Secondary School National Curriculum (KBSM), and prepare students for the SPM (Malaysian Certificate of Education) examination.
International Schools (Secondary) teach an international curriculum using English as a medium of instruction. The main types of international curriculum approved by the Ministry of Education are the British curriculum, the Australian curriculum, the American curriculum and the Canadian curriculum.
Although these schools mainly cater for the needs of the international community, such as the children of the staff of foreign embassies, foreign businesses and international organisations, admissions are open to Malaysian students. These schools prepare students to sit for an external international examination like IGCSE 'O' level, GCE 'A' levels, International Baccalaureate Diploma, Grade 1 to 12, etc.