N-level results: 78% of students qualify for Sec 5

Students receiving their N-level results at Yuying Secondary School on Dec 17, 2020. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - About four in five Normal (Academic) stream students made the cut for promotion to Secondary 5 in 2021, the best performance in N-level exams since 2009.

Results released on Thursday (Dec 17) by the Education Ministry and the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board showed that 77.7 per cent of Normal (Academic) stream students, who sat the exams in 2020, did well enough to move on to the O-levels next year.

It is the highest proportion since promotion criteria were revised.

About 7,240 of the 9,321 Sec 4 Normal (Academic) candidates obtained an aggregate score not exceeding 19 points in English language, mathematics and the best three subjects, and at least a Grade 5 for all subjects used in the computation of this five-subject score.

Before the revamp in 2009, Normal (Academic) students had to obtain an aggregate not exceeding 10 points for their best three subjects and at least a Grade 5 or better in English language to be promoted to Sec 5.

Students who sat the Normal (Technical) exams also outperformed their peers in previous years.

Of the 4,156 students who took the course, 98.5 per cent passed the exams this year, the highest passing rate in the past decade.

Almost every Normal (Academic) stream student who sat the exams this year passed, with figures showing 99.7 per cent clearing the hurdle, the highest proportion in six years.

The last time the same passing rate was achieved was in 2014.

In addition, 43.2 per cent of the Normal (Academic) candidates also sat for O-level subjects this year.

Their results will be released in January, and schools will take into consideration their combined N-level and school-based O-level preliminary examination results when determining their eligibility for Sec 5 or post-secondary pathways.

Sec 4 Normal (Academic) students who obtained an aggregate not exceeding 19 points in English, mathematics and the best three subjects may apply for the Direct-Entry Scheme to Polytechnic Programme (DPP).

Under the programme, students who complete their two-year Higher Nitec course at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and attain the minimum qualifying grade point average (GPA) are guaranteed a place in a related polytechnic diploma course.

Like the past two years, about 1,200 DPP places will be offered across all three ITE colleges. Applications open on Dec 17.

More information is available here.

Sec 4 Normal (Academic) students also have the option of applying for the Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP) - a one-year programme to prepare students for entry into polytechnic diploma courses.

These courses are open to students who obtained an aggregate not exceeding 12 points, and meet subject-specific requirements for their chosen course.

The polytechnics will offer about 1,500 PFP places, the same as the last two years. Applications open in January 2021, on the day O-level results are released.

In May 2019, then Education Minister Ong Ye Kung noted the encouraging performance of students in the PFP.

Mr Ong, who is now Transport Minister, said over 35 per cent of the first cohort who graduated from PFP in 2017 had scored GPAs of 3.5 and above.

In comparison, out of the entire polytechnic cohort, only 25 per cent typically achieve that result, he said.

Those seeking more information on the programme may visit this website.

As for those with Normal (Technical) certificates, they may apply to ITE or laterally transfer to the Sec 4 Normal (Academic) course if they have obtained an A grade for English and mathematics, and at least a B grade for one other subject.

Information on ITE's courses is available here.

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