Starting in 2021, students taking Singapore’s Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) will no longer be scored based on how well they did relative to their peers. This is part of the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) efforts to shift away from an over-emphasis on academic results.
Under the new scoring system, each PSLE subject will be scored using 8 Achievement Levels (ALs), with AL 1 being the best. The PSLE Score is the sum of ALs across the four subjects, ranging from 4 (best) to 32.
Read also: 2021 Changes to the PSLE Scoring System
MOE tackles some frequently asked questions about the new scoring system.
Question 1: How were the indicative PSLE Score ranges for individual schools simulated?
MOE: The indicative PSLE Score ranges for the individual schools were simulated using the 2020 P6 cohort’s PSLE results and school choices.
- MOE first simulated each student’s individual subject score in AL terms, based on their raw subject scores.
- Then, we added the AL scores for each PSLE subject to form a student’s total PSLE Score.
Using these simulated PSLE Scores and students’ school choices from 2020,
- MOE simulated their posting outcomes based on the new S1 Posting System and its tie-breakers (in the order of Citizenship, Choice order of Schools and Computerised Balloting).
- The indicative PSLE Score ranges for individual secondary schools were then generated based on the PSLE Scores of the first student and the last student who would have been posted into the school under the simulation.
As the 2020 PSLE cohort had their results in T-score terms, the PSLE Score ranges are indicative only, as they were simulated using the 2020 PSLE cohort results and students’ school choices in that same year.
The actual PSLE Score range for a school for a particular year is not pre-determined, and may vary from year to year, depending on the PSLE results and school choice patterns of each P6 cohort.
Question 2: If my child meets the school’s indicative cut-off (COP) point, does that guarantee my child’s admission into the school?
MOE: Meeting the school’s indicative COP does not guarantee a child’s admission into the secondary school. The indicative COP is the PSLE Score of the last student admitted into the school, based on the PSLE Scores and school choice patterns of the 2020 PSLE cohort. Actual COPs are not pre-determined before the posting and may vary from year to year depending on students’ PSLE results and their school choices for that particular year’s S1 Posting Exercise.
In addition, if there are two or more students with the same PSLE Score vying for the last place(s) in the school, students will be tie-broken according to the tie-breakers, in the order of citizenship, school choice order and computerised balloting. Given this, it is possible for students scoring at the COP of the school to be tie-broken out.
Question 3: Based on the indicative PSLE Score ranges, why is there no school with an indicative COP of 4 or 5?
MOE: The PSLE Score range shows the PSLE Score of the first and last student admitted into a particular school and course in the previous year via the S1 Posting Exercise. The PSLE Score of the last student admitted to the school forms the indicative COP.
The indicative PSLE Score ranges were generated based on the students’ PSLE results and school choice patterns at the most recent 2020 S1 Posting Exercise. Based on our simulations, there were no schools where the last student admitted had a PSLE Score of 4 or 5, and therefore no schools with COP of 4 or 5.
The simulation is indicative and the actual PSLE Score ranges for a particular year is not pre-determined, and may vary from year to year depending on students’ PSLE results and their school choices in the previous year’s S1 Posting Exercise.
Question 4: What does MOE mean by “students have a range of schools to choose from at each PSLE Score”?
MOE: Based on the indicative PSLE Score ranges generated from the 2020 S1 Posting Exercise, there is a good spread of schools with COPs at every PSLE Score from 6 to 30. This means that students would have a range of school options at each PSLE Score and could also consider schools with COPs that do not correspond exactly to their PSLE Scores. For example, a student with a PSLE Score of 6 could choose schools with a COP of 6, 7 or higher.
We encourage parents and students to look beyond the schools’ COPs when choosing a secondary school, and to consider schools that would be a good fit for the student’s overall learning needs. This includes choosing schools based on their programmes or initiatives, Co-Curricular Activities, ethos and culture as well as home-school distance.
Question 5: Why do several schools have the same indicative COP? How do parents make school choices when the indicative COPs for many schools are the same?
MOE: With PSLE Scores being less finely differentiated under the AL system, there are now only 29 possible PSLE Scores compared to more than 200 aggregates under the previous T-score system. As a result, schools would be less differentiated by Cut-Off Points (COPs).
This means that students would generally have a wider range of secondary schools to consider when choosing schools. Similar to the T-score system, schools’ COPs for that year are not pre-determined, and may vary from year to year depending on the cohort’s PSLE results and their school choices in the previous year’s S1 Posting Exercise.
We encourage parents and students to look beyond the schools’ COPs when choosing a secondary school, and to consider schools that would be a good fit for the student’s overall learning needs. They should consider the student’s learning needs, interests, strengths and aspirations, and how the school’s culture, environment, ethos, and programmes can support the student’s development.
Parents are also encouraged to find out more about the schools’ Applied Learning Programme (ALP), Learning for Life Programme (LLP), Co-Curricular Activities (CCA), culture and proximity to their home when making their school choices. Parents should tap on the available resources such as the schools’ websites or MOE’s platforms, e.g. PSLE-FSBB microsite and SchoolFinder online portal to find out more details.
As choice order of schools will be a tie-breaker under the new S1 posting system, we encourage parents and students to give careful consideration to the choices that they indicate on the S1 Option Form and choose schools that are a good fit for the learning needs of the student.
They are also advised to consider at least 2-3 schools where the student’s PSLE Score is better than the school’s Cut-Off Point. Schools will continue to strengthen Education and Career Guidance (ECG) efforts to guide parents and students in making informed school choices.
Question 6: Will there be an increased likelihood of balloting, since there are fewer possible PSLE Scores and more schools at every score?
MOE: Students will continue to be posted based on academic merit, i.e. the student with the better PSLE Score will be admitted ahead of a student with a poorer PSLE Score. If there is more than one student with the same PSLE Score vying for the last available place in a school, tie-breakers will be applied in the following order:
- First, Citizenship (Singapore Citizen has the highest priority, then Permanent Resident, and lastly International Student)
- Second, school choice order (first choice over second choice, and so on)
- If citizenship status and school choice order are the same, then computerised balloting will be used to determine who to be admitted.
Citizenship status will be the first tie-breaker, followed by school choice order. Students will only be balloted when those vying for the last place in the same school have the same PSLE Score, citizenship and choice order of schools.
We expect that about 9 in 10 students will not need to undergo balloting. In addition, the vast majority of students will likely be successfully allocated to one of their six school choices, which is comparable under the T-score system.
Parents and students should give careful thought to the choices that they indicate since choice order of schools will be a tie-breaker, after citizenship. We encourage parents and students to look beyond schools’ PSLE Score ranges when choosing a secondary school, and to consider schools that would be a good fit for the student’s overall learning needs.
This includes finding out about various schools’ programmes or initiatives, Co-Curricular Activities, ethos and culture as well as home-school distance.