In 2019, the Ministry of Education, Singapore (MOE) announced that the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) would be graded under a new PSLE scoring system w.e.f. 2021 (MOE press release dated 25 July 2019). As with any changes, parents are naturally anxious with changes made to a national exam so here’s an explainer.

Each PSLE subject will be scored using 8 Achievement Levels (ALs), with AL 1 being the best. This is similar in concept to what we have for the General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level (GCE O-Level) exams. A student’s AL for each subject is supposed to reflect their own level of achievement, rather than how he has performed relative to their peers.

Table of reference mark ranges in the new PSLE AL scoring system
Table 1: Reference mark ranges in the new PSLE AL scoring system

Their PSLE Score is the sum of ALs across the four subjects, ranging from 4 (best) to 32.

To help the first batch of students and parents familiarise themselves further with the new PSLE scoring system, MOE has shared more information on indicative Achievement Level (AL) Cut-Off Point (COP) ranges to help parents decide between different school types (MOE press release dated 6 Nov 2020). These ranges were generated based on students’ PSLE results and choice patterns in the 2019 S1 Posting Exercise.

Table showing  indicative AL COP range for different school types. Based on 2019 PSLE results
Table 2: Indicative AL COP range for different school types based on 2019 PSLE results

A list of the different secondary schools under each category type can be found here.

Due to these changes, it is likely that more students will have the same PSLE score, and schools will be less differentiated w.r.t. cut-off points. While academic merit (PSLE Score) continues to be the first criterion for school postings under the new posting system, do note that “order of school choice” is being introduced as a new criterion i.e. S1 Posting tie-Breakers (in order of priority) are now:

  1. Citizenship (priority given to Singapore Citizens, followed by Permanent Residents and International students)
  2. Choice order of schools [NEW]
  3. Computerised balloting

For more information, please refer to the relevant information on MOE’s website.

Here’s something useful from MOE to read on what parents can do to engage with, guide and talk to their children on education and careers.

We often advise parents to talk to and observe their child at home as well so as to be able to understand what they may be good at, what and where their interests lie, and how they spend their time. By doing so, parents are better equipped to think about and identify secondary schools that are better able to meet the educational needs of your child.

Having said that, we have often observed that parents sometimes have an inaccurate perception of the strengths, interests and learning needs of their child. Communication with them can also be challenging at times. Other than helping your child with their academic studies, we are often asked by parents about what their child’s learning style is. Given enough time to observe and interact with a student, we are happy to share our observations of a student’s likely learning style with their parents.

If necessary, do let us know and feel free to make an appointment to speak with us.

— the Elucidation team