New Cambridge qualification test for foreigners applying to MOE's primary schools

The new test takes the place of an English language test that was previously conducted by the Education Ministry. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - International students who want to join primary schools run by the Ministry of Education (MOE) will have to take a Cambridge English Qualification (CEQ) test, in place of an English language test that was previously conducted by the ministry.

The CEQ is an English language test by Cambridge Assessment English, which is a part of the University of Cambridge. It reports students' performance using the Cambridge English Scale (CES) score.

Such applicants seeking admission to primary schools from the 2023 intake will have to submit their CEQ test results - meeting or exceeding the required CES score - when applications open in July.

Foreigners who wish to join MOE schools at the Primary 2 to 5 and Secondary 1 to 3 levels must take part in the Admissions Exercise for International Students (AEIS), which is held every February and September in Singapore.

"Only those who meet our requirements will be offered a place in a suitable school with available vacancies," the ministry said on Thursday (April 21), in a statement detailing the procedures for returning Singaporeans and international students keen on joining local schools.

The ministry said it will consider both the CES, along with the existing AEIS-Primary Mathematics score, in determining if an applicant can be offered a place.

The CEQ test is conducted in more than 130 countries and candidates can take the test in any of these locations in the 12 months before registering for the AEIS-Primary Mathematics test. The CEQ test can be taken more than once if necessary.

The required CES score can be found on this website.

Meeting the CES score on its own does not guarantee a school placement, said MOE.

There is no change to the admission tests for foreigners wanting to join secondary schools.

The ministry said those with at least one parent who is a Singaporean can approach it for assistance in applying to Primary 2 to 5 or Secondary 1 to 3.

Those seeking admission to junior colleges or the Millennia Institute should apply to the schools directly in December. Admission will be subject to availability of vacancies and meeting the school's criteria.

More information on the AEIS tests can be found at this website.

Returning Singaporeans

Singaporeans who are returning from abroad are guaranteed admission to primary and secondary schools with vacancies near their homes through the Assured School Placement service.

Families can access this service even before they return to Singapore. They are encouraged to approach MOE early so that students can start school early in the academic year with their peers.

They need not sit a centralised test, but the ministry said the primary or secondary school may conduct school-based assessments or interviews to gauge the child's current educational attainment level for placement purposes, and help him or her settle into the school.

Returning Singaporeans may also take part in a centralised school placement exercise held at the end of each year for secondary schools.

Under this exercise, they will sit one set of centralised tests, and MOE will then post them to a suitable school based on their test results, school choices and available vacancies.

The exercise will be open for applications from July for those seeking admission to Secondary 1 to 3 in January 2023. The tests will be held in September.

More information about can be found at this website.

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