Exemptions, earlier entry for A-level grads opting for poly

Students check their A-level result slips on Feb 23, 2018.
Students check their A-level result slips on Feb 23, 2018.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Students armed with an A-level certificate who want to further their studies at the polytechnic can apply for course exemptions, potentially shaving six months off three-year diploma programmes.

In announcing this on Friday (Feb 15), the Ministry of Education (MOE) said A-level students can apply for a place in August. If they secure a place and the exemption, they can start their diploma studies in the second semester in October.

Currently, most A-level graduates apply for and enrol in a polytechnic only one year after getting their A-level results in late February or early March.

This is because most polytechnic admission exercises would have closed by the time students receive their A-level results. 

A-level graduates who are eligible for the one-semester exemption, and who are not enlisting in national service, will be able to enter the polytechnics in the same year that they receive their A-level results.

Candidates who sat last year's A-level examinations will receive their results next Friday (Feb 22). School candidates would be able to collect their results at their schools from 2.30pm that day.

Private candidates will be notified of their results by post and the result slips will be mailed to their address on the same day.

They can also use their SingPass accounts to obtain their results on the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board's website from 2.30pm.

MOE said that about 200 A-level graduates take up diploma studies every year. These students are usually keen to pursue an applied pathway at the polytechnics that matches their area of interest.


Giving further details on the course exemptions, MOE said they will be available for 110 out of the 230 courses at the five polytechnics.

While these requirements may differ for specific courses, they would have generally been covered in the A-level syllabus.

For example, A-level graduates taking up Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s diploma in information technology may be exempted from the modules on computing mathematics and programming 1, if they have obtained passes in H2 computing or computing science and H2 mathematics.

The ministry assured school leavers that places for A-level graduates will be separately catered for, and there will be no impact on places available for O-level graduates or Institute of Technical Education graduates.

Singapore Polytechnic student Noorhana Ameera Norzaim, 19, enrolled last year in the diploma in chemical engineering programme after completing her A levels at Victoria Junior College.

She was not able to secure a place in a local university with her A-level results and was encouraged by her mother to enrol in the polytechnic.

Although she will not benefit from the changes being introduced this year, she said: “It makes sense to give exemptions to A-level graduates who have covered the same modules in their A-level syllabus.

“It will allow them to complete the course in a shorter time and go out to work or to university earlier.”

She said she enjoys the hands-on learning approach at the polytechnic and is active in Singapore Polytechnic’s Malay Language Society as well as the hockey team.

Ms Noorhana hopes to do well enough to enrol later in the Singapore Institute of Technology’s pharmaceutical engineering course.

Ms R. Sheena, 19, who is awaiting her A-level results, said it is good that she will not have to wait a year to apply for a place in a polytechnic.

“If I don’t do well enough to get into mass communications in the university, then I will take the polytechnic route,” she added.

“I am relieved to hear that I don’t have to wait another year to apply to the poly if I am not accepted by the universities.
“With the exemptions and earlier entry in October, I get to save a whole year.”

More details will be available on the respective polytechnics' websites in March, the MOE said.