Malaysian students have significantly improved PISA scores, but are still below the global average

Mean scores for science and mathematics were 438 and 440 respectively, a stark increase from the country’s first PISA participation in 2009.

Malaysian students have made significant improvements in the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), an international benchmarking study that tests how well students apply their knowledge and skills.

Based on results released by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on Tuesday (Dec 3), Malaysia showed marked improvements in the subjects of  science and mathematics.

Mean scores for the two subjects were 438 (49th place) and 440 (48th place) respectively, a stark increase from the country’s first scores of 422 and 404 when it first participated in 2009.

However, its performance in reading remained close to that in 2009, improving only by one mark to 415 (58th place).


Despite the improvements, Malaysia’s 6,111 students who participated in the exam scored lower than the OECD averages in the three domains.

The number of students attaining at least a minimum level of proficiency in each subject ranged from 54 per cent to 63 per cent – with the lowest and highest number in literacy and science respectively.

The corresponding OECD averages ranged from 76 per cent to 78 per cent.

Despite this, Malaysia’s Education Director-General Datuk Dr Amin Senin said that the education ministry aims to “position Malaysia in the top one-third countries by end of another two (PISA) cycles,” the New Straits Times (NST) reported.

The exam is conducted every three years.

Currently, Malaysia is in the middle one-third of countries, a rise from being in the bottom one-third in previous cycles.

It is also the second-best performing ASEAN member nation. The best-performing ASEAN nation was Singapore, which ranked second globally across all three subjects.

China saw a meteoric rise to the top of all three rankings, after previously ranking sixth for mathematics and below the top 10 for science and literacy in 2015.

Macau also found itself among the top this time round, ranking third for all three subjects.

Over 600,000 students from 79 participating countries took part in the exams last year.

Read Also: