Primary 6 pupils will not need a perfect PSLE score to get into top secondary schools

Primary 6 pupil Oh Sue-Ann, 11, who will be taking the PSLE this year under the new scoring system, which will score each standard-level PSLE subject using eight bands known as achievement levels. Zhonghua Primary School pupils after they had collect
Primary 6 pupil Oh Sue-Ann, 11, who will be taking the PSLE this year under the new scoring system.PHOTO: THE OH FAMILY

SINGAPORE - Primary 6 pupils vying to enter top schools will not need a perfect score.

Entry scores released by the Ministry of Education (MOE) on Tuesday (April 27) showed that the lowest entry score for even the most popular schools will start at 6, rather than a perfect score of 4.

The cut-off scores are based on the new Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) scoring system, which will be used for the first time by this year’s Primary 6 cohort to enter secondary schools next year.

Under the new scoring system, each standard-level PSLE subject will be scored using eight bands known as achievement levels (ALs). Each pupil will be given AL scores from 1 to 8 for each subject.

A pupil’s total PSLE score will be the sum of the ALs of the four subjects, with the best possible total score being 4.

Ms Tammie Wong, 42, whose daughter is taking the PSLE this year at CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School (Primary), said that her daughter is hoping to continue with the affiliated secondary school with either the O-level or Integrated Programme track, depending on her score.

She added that if her daughter had a score that allowed her to choose between the Express stream at CHIJ St Nicholas and the Integrated Programme at another school, she would choose CHIJ St Nicholas as she prioritises the familiar school culture.

Ms Wong added that for the other school choices, distance from their Thomson home would likely play a factor, apart from school culture, which is her daughter’s top priority.

Another parent, Mrs Pat Koh, 42, a former bank officer who stopped working full time to help out with her daughter’s PSLE, said the changes have made the PSLE even more challenging.

“With the new grading system you can score 75 for all four subjects and end up with 16 points, even though most of us would consider 75 for one exam to be a good score.” She has another child aged five.

The MOE has said that the new system would allow pupils to choose from a wider range of secondary schools. MOE director-general of education Wong Siew Hoong said: “This means pupils will have a wider range... and need not chase after that last mark to get into their school of choice.”

MOE said parents should consider choosing a school based on factors such as extra-curricular activities, niche programmes and school distance, among other things. 

The order in which a pupil chooses his school can also decide if he gets a place in the school of his choice as it will be a factor in breaking a tie between two pupils with the same score.

When asked what advice she would give parents in helping their children decide on a secondary school, Raffles Girls’ Secondary principal Haslinda Zamani said: “As a parent, I would first ask, what the strengths, interests and abilities of my child are, and think about the type of programmes that will develop them.”