The results of the 2017 O-level examination were released yesterday, with performances dipping slightly below the 2016 showing.
The proportion of O-level candidates with at least five passes last year fell to 83.4 per cent, compared with 84.3 per cent in 2016.
The 96.4 per cent of candidates who secured three or more passes were also slightly fewer than the 96.5 per cent who did so in 2016.
There will be four fewer junior colleges (JCs) accepting new students this year, but this will not hurt a student's chance of getting into a JC.
The reduction in available JCs comes as four of them are poised to merge with other JCs next year.
To ensure enough places, the other 16 JCs will have to take in more students, and this may lead to qualifying points being higher than usual for some of them.
Subject grades correspond to points used for admission to JCs, with fewer points being better.
The four not taking in first-year students are Serangoon JC, Innova JC, Tampines JC and Jurong JC.
A total of 29,112 school candidates sat the O-level examination last year, along with 1,570 private candidates, said the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB).
In all, 99.9 per cent of candidates passed their O levels - meaning they passed at least one subject - a showing comparable to 2016.
This year also saw the first batch of Normal (Academic) students under the Subject-Based Banding (Secondary) scheme collecting their O-level results.
The scheme, which has been on trial at 12 secondary schools since 2014, lets students from the Normal (Academic) stream who score at least an A for English, mathematics, science and mother tongue at the Primary School Leaving Examination study those subjects at the Express level.
It is being extended to all secondary schools from this year.
About 370 students from the scheme sat the O-level examination last year. Their overall performance in the subjects was comparable to that of their peers in the Express stream, said MOE and SEAB.
Of the 1,570 private candidates last year, 90.8 per cent received O-level certificates, a slight increase from 2016's 90.2 per cent.
Students looking to enter junior colleges, Millennia Institute, polytechnics or the Institute of Technical Education can apply via the Joint Admissions Exercise (JAE) with their O-level results.
The 16 JCs admitting more students in the JAE may see their cut-off points adjusted accordingly.
The cut-off points do not reflect the quality of the JCs and their programmes, said MOE and SEAB.
JAE registration started yesterday and will be open until 4pm on Wednesday. Students who need advice can approach their teachers or the Education and Career Guidance (ECG) Centre on 68311-420 or at MOE_ECG@moe.gov.sg.
Correction note: A previous version of this article stated that there were 19 JCs taking part in the JAE. There are actually 16, as three are not taking part. We are sorry for the error.