Add abilities test to PSLE score

Mr Ng Qi Siang brought up some valid reasons why the Primary School Leaving Examination may not be a true indicator of children's eventual performance in secondary school and beyond ("PSLE not reliable predictor of secondary school success"; Tuesday).

To have a more accurate picture of children's inherent abilities, perhaps the Ministry of Education could consider including the General Ability Test (GAT) in the PSLE score.

This test is already taken by students seeking Direct School Admission to secondary schools, especially those offering the Integrated Programme.

It is a standardised assessment of a student's general reasoning ability, and it measures learning capacity, observational skills and problem-solving ability.

More importantly, it provides an objective measure that is free from language and cultural bias.

Furthermore, according to one website, the GAT tells whether a student has strong underlying mental capabilities, as it is an abilities test.

This is in contrast to achievement tests which are subject-based and assess a student's learnt skills and knowledge.

Abilities tests and achievement tests together provide a good assessment of the quality of a student.

Unlike school subjects which students can be drilled on, the GAT is a better measure of a student's potential.

This will especially benefit children from lower-income families which are unable to afford the extra coaching that more privileged children have access to.

As we move towards a more holistic education system with less emphasis on grades, the GAT may provide a more level playing field for all.

Maria Loh Mun Foong (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2016, with the headline 'Add abilities test to PSLE score'. Print Edition | Subscribe