PSLE 3-year series sells out within a day
It's not Harry Potter and certainly not Fifty Shades Of Grey.
Nevertheless, Singapore's latest bestseller that's flying off the shelves at the bookstores is sending parents into a tizzy.
And it's not even in demand by its target audience.
Yet, enthusiastic parents are snapping up copies of the new PSLE books, making them sell out within a day of hitting the stores.
The books are a compilation of PSLE papers from the last three years.
On Feb 6, the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (Seab) announced that from this year onwards, the papers would be released in full examination format.
The books would be for all subjects for both standard and foundation levels, and released on a yearly basis.
This is the first time that full PSLE papers are being released. Previously, PSLE questions were released by topics for Maths and Science and by item type (for example, comprehension) for English and Mother Tongue languages.
Through this move, Seab aims to allow parents to more accurately gauge the standard of the PSLE and reduce over-preparation, said a Ministry of Education (MOE) statement.
Ironically, the release has sparked a mad rush by parents, whose children will be sitting for their PSLE, to get hold of the books.
Within the day of their release on Feb 7 at Popular bookstores - the only bookstores to start selling on that date - the books were sold out.
They cost between $2 and $5 each depending on the publishing firm.
A spokesman for Times bookstores said it would be stocking between 50 and 100 copies for each subject at their Tampines 1 outlet by this weekend. However, a call to the outlet yesterday evening revealed that the books were not in stock yet.
Meanwhile, Popular has started a reservation list for parents who could not get the books.
The new PSLE books are being published by three local publishers - Educational Publishing House (EPH), Singapore Asia Publishers (SAP) and Shing Lee Publishers.
Asked how many copies it had printed, EPH declined to reveal the exact figure but said the number of copies printed would be sufficient for the size of this year's Primary 6 cohort.
More than 42,000 students sat for the PSLE last year.
SAP declined to give figures while Shing Lee did not reply to queries at press time.
A Popular spokesman said it requested for more books to be delivered to their outlets two days after the books were first sold. The books were replenished later that day.
Signboards were also displayed prominently at the entrance of its stores, telling customers that the books were available.
Last Wednesday, an EPH spokesman told TNP that all their stock had been distributed to bookstores and it was considering printing more.
"This assessment book is in higher demand than usual assessment books. This is the fastest we've received restock orders for assessment books," the spokesman said.
All three publishers have also sent samples of the book to primary schools, which will order the books on behalf of their students.
A mother of three who wanted to be known only as Geetha, 33, said she went to a Popular outlet last Monday with her children to get the books before stocks ran out.
Other parents were in less of a rush.
Mrs Evelyn Tan, 46, a mother of two, said she happened to be at Bishan Junction 8 on Feb 9 and decided to swing by the Popular outlet there to see if copies were available.
Similarly, a woman in her 40s who wanted to be known only as Ms Ng, said she was in no hurry to get the books.
"If I can get a copy of the books now then I'll buy it. If not, I can always get it another time," said Ms Ng, who has one child taking PSLE this year.
We plan to start using the books as soon as we get our hands on them.
- Ms Nur Hidayah Ismail, principal of tuition centre Genius Young Minds
Haven't got these PSLE books? Don't worry
Parents who have not managed to get their hands on the highly coveted PSLE books need not fret - some schools and tutors will be ordering the books for their students.
Madam Tan Quek Khim, head of department for science at Seng Kang Primary School, said the school would be ordering the books for its pupils so "parents need not rush to buy the books".
She added: "Students should apply the relevant scientific concepts and skills taught in class when they are practising the questions during their lessons and not just (in preparation) for PSLE."
Tuition centre Genius Young Minds, which offers Maths tuition and workshops, ordered 100 copies of the book for its Primary 6 pupils the week the books were released.
The centre is on the waiting list but it is not sure when it will get the books.
Its principal, Ms Nur Hidayah Ismail, said: "We plan to start using the books as soon as we get our hands on them.
"Some of the questions cover the Primary 4 and 5 syllabus so the students can work on them (now). We can always go back to the questions that haven't been covered yet at a later date. It's better to start practising earlier rather than later."
However, there were parents on the KiasuParents forum, who were discussing the popularity of the books, that were not in a hurry to buy them.
One parent wrote: "There is no need to rush to buy immediately. Stocks will be replenished and it is not like the students will do (the questions) immediately after the books are bought."
At least one teacher said her school would not be using these books just yet. Mrs Vevian Ng, head of department for English at Loyang Primary School, said she would probably use the books only after the syllabus has been covered.
"As an English language teacher, I will most probably use it with my students when I have covered (the) syllabus, allowing sufficient time before the PSLE to take remedial action, if any.
"As students attempt the full format papers, they will be able to assess how close they are to the targets they have set, identify the areas they have difficulty in and take steps to work on their weak areas."
- LINETTE HENG