Just like secondary schools, junior colleges have now been told not to accept transfer requests from students who fail to meet their minimum academic cut-off.
Previously, JCs which still had vacancies after the initial posting exercise had the discretion to take in students who appealed for a place despite not meeting the cut-off point. Some popular JCs received as many as 100 appeals a year.
But The Straits Times understands that last month, the JCs were told by the Ministry of Education (MOE) that they can consider only appeal students who have met their minimum O-level score.
Earlier this month, The Straits Times reported how a similar directive was issued to secondary schools. They were told not to accept transfer requests from pupils whose Primary School Leaving Examination scores did not meet the schools' cut-off point.
Principals and vice-principals who spoke to The Straits Times said this tightening is meant to reduce the churn of students between schools after the posting exercise.
Ms Ek Soo Ben, principal of Victoria Junior College, said this would ensure that all schools treat appeals the same way, and the system "honours academic merit and fairness" .
"There is room for other types of talents and interests through the DSA," she added.
The DSA, or direct school admissions, route lets schools take in students based not just on academic ability but also other talents such as sports and the arts. The exercise takes place in May to August yearly before students sit the O levels.
The MOE told The Straits Times that as students are posted to schools based on "objective and transparent measures of academic merit", appeals "must (also) be aligned to these principles". This is to be fair to students who missed out during the initial posting phase.
A spokesman added that schools informed O-level students about this when they received their results on Monday. They have until today to submit their choices of schools for their post-O-level education. They can choose from 17 schools which offer the two-year A-level course, such as Anderson JC and Catholic JC, and another two schools which offer the International Baccalaureate programme.
Secondary school leavers can also opt for the polytechnic route.
While some have wondered if the stricter rules mean that there will be more pressure on students and pupils to chase that last point, others agree that this is a fairer system.
Darshini Balamurugan, 16, who hopes to get into Raffles Institution in this year's posting exercise, said: "It's only fair that you meet the cut-off point of a school and deserve to be there. If you miss the cut-off and still get in by appeal, it's not fair to others who could have got in but didn't appeal."
But 16-year-old Amanda Gan, who is hoping for a place at St Andrew's Junior College, said: "The rule is fair but there should be some leeway for those whose marks are very close to the cut-off."