MOE releases indicative secondary school entry points under new PSLE scoring system in 2021

Pupils will be given Achievement Levels 1 to 8 for each subject, instead of grades like A* to E.
Pupils will be given Achievement Levels 1 to 8 for each subject, instead of grades like A* to E.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Education Ministry has released a range of secondary school entry scores for pupils taking the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) under the new scoring system in 2021.

The indicative cut-off scores, based on last year's Primary 6 data, will help guide pupils in their school choices and indicate which schools are possibly within their reach.

Schools fall broadly into three categories: government and government-aided, autonomous, and independent.

This year's Primary 5 cohort will be graded next year using the new PSLE scoring system - first announced in 2016 - that assesses them on the basis of their individual performance in subjects, regardless of how their peers have done.

Pupils will be given Achievement Levels (AL) 1 to 8 for each subject, instead of grades like A* to E.

A pupil's total PSLE score will be the sum of the AL of each of the four subjects. The best score one can get is four, if the grade is AL1 for all four subjects.

At a virtual briefing on Friday, MOE said it generated the indicative AL cut-off point ranges for different school types based on the PSLE results of pupils last year, and school choice patterns.

To help students and parents choose and shortlist schools, the indicative AL cut-offs for individual secondary schools will be released in the first half of next year, based on the results and school choices of this year's PSLE cohort.

For now, the MOE said the score ranges by school types are meant to provide a broad sense of secondary schools' cut-off points, and help contextualise the end-of-school examination results for this year's Primary 5 pupils, who will soon receive their grades in the new AL format this year.

There are 135 government and government-aided schools, 28 of which are autonomous schools, like Anderson Secondary, Crescent Girls’ School and Victoria School. 

There are eight independent schools, and these include Raffles Institution and Nanyang Girls’ High School. 

For autonomous schools, the cut-off point range for the Express (Integrated Programme) course is 7 to 9, while for independent schools the range is 6 to 8.

For government and government-aided schools, the cut-off point ranges from 8 to 22 for the Express (O level) track, 22 to 25 for Normal (Academic), and 26 to 30 for Normal (Technical).

The cut-off score range for Express (O level) at autonomous schools - a subset of government and government-aided schools - is 8 to 16.

For Normal (Academic) and Normal (Technical) courses in autonomous schools, the cut-off points range from 22 to 25 and 26 to 29 respectively.

The cut-off for independent schools for the Express (O Level) track is 8 to 10.

Similar to the current T-score system, these cut-off points are likely to vary from year to year.

MOE on Friday also gave an update on the criteria needed for Secondary 1 Normal (Academic) and Normal (Technical) students to take subjects like English language or mathematics at a higher level, which is now also possible under subject-based banding.

Under the new PSLE scoring system, this will be decided by the students' AL score for that particular subject.

If they attain AL 5 or better in a Standard-level subject at PSLE, they will be eligible to take the subject at the Express level in Secondary 1.

If they score AL 6 or better in a Standard-level subject or AL A in a Foundation-level subject, they have the option to pursue the subject at the Normal (Academic) level in Secondary 1.

Foundation subjects, which cater to academically weaker pupils, will be evaluated using three scoring bands - AL A (75-100 marks), AL B (30-74 marks), and AL C (below 30 marks).

Mr Wong Siew Hoong, director-general of education at MOE, encouraged parents and students to select schools based on overall learning needs. “Don’t just go for the school they perceive to be better-ranked, to be most popular, to be academically more demanding than what their child can manage. It’s about their overall talent and interest, distance from home, the fit for the child,” he said. 

He added that the indicative cut-off points have also shown that one may not need to get a perfect AL score of four to get into some of the popular schools.  “I know some parents were thinking even way back in 2016, then everybody must try to get four points,” he said. 

The simulation of scores has shown that this may not be true, he said. “You don’t need to be getting perfect scores all the way. So (there is) no need to try for 100 marks all the time, (you) don’t even need to strive for 90 marks for all subjects all the time.” 

Mr Wong also stressed that students taking the PSLE next year and their parents do not need to rush to shortlist schools.  “Don’t overextrapolate... from Primary 5 to Primary 6 there is still one year of potential growth possible and students will grow.” 

He added: “The PSLE is an important milestone... we recognise that it will invariably cause some anxiety because we’re human. “But we hope that our Primary 5 students and their parents will continue to enjoy learning – that’s the most important.” 

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