No need for a perfect score to get into top schools in new PSLE system
New scoring system to be implemented this year means pupils have wider range of schools to choose from
Her eldest daughter sat the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) last year, and this year, her second daughter, Pui Teng, is preparing for the exam, but under a new scoring system.
Ms Yan Chui Leng, 45, who works in human resources, told The New Paper yesterday: "The new system is a good change as there is no longer that intense emphasis on trying to earn as many marks as you can to (get into) your dream school."
The Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday released the indicative score ranges of all 139 secondary schools under the new PSLE scoring system, and it will be used for the first time by this year's Primary 6 cohort to gain entry into secondary schools next year.
First announced in 2016, the new system will see eight scoring bands known as Achievement Levels (AL), replacing the current PSLE T-score system.
Instead of grades like A* to E, 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 AL of each of the four subjects, with the best possible total score being 4.
Of the indicative score ranges released yesterday, the lowest cut-off point is six for both Raffles Girls' School and Raffles Institution.
Entry scores for other popular schools range from 6 to 9 for Victoria School, 4 to 10 for Anderson Secondary School and 5 to 13 for Tanjong Katong Girls' School.
This means that pupils need not aim for a perfect score to get into top schools, said MOE's director-general Wong Siew Hoong. "Students will have a wider range of secondary schools to choose from and need not chase after the last mark to get into their school of choice," said Mr Wong.
In a virtual briefing yesterday, MOE explained that should students with the same PSLE score vie for the last spot in a school, the first tie-breaking factor is citizenship.
Singaporeans will get priority over Singapore permanent residents and international students.
If there is still a tie, then the student who ranks the school higher in their list of six choices will get priority. If there is still no differentiation, there will be computerised balloting.
MOE said about nine in 10 pupils will not need to undergo balloting and that the majority of students will likely be allocated one of their six school choices, which is comparable to the T-score system from past years.
Madam Haslinda Zamani, principal of Raffles Girls' School, advises parents to think about the strengths, interests and abilities of their children when discussing secondary education options.
She told TNP: "It's also useful to consider travelling time. Students can expect to have an active secondary school life. They will participate in co-curricular activities, special programmes, and the days will be longer than (that of) primary school."
Ms Yan has two daughters currently in primary school at Poi Ching School and her eldest daughter is in St. Hilda's Secondary.
She will advise her second daughter, who is sitting her PSLE this year, to rank her school choices carefully.
"Now that there's a wider (scoring) band, there are more schools to choose (from) for each PSLE score, so it's important that she knows what she wants. " Ms Yan said.
"At the end of the day, I hope students will work hard to reach the goal they set without putting too much pressure on themselves."
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MOE answers some key questions on new PSLE scoring system
Will there be an increased likelihood of balloting for admission to secondary schools now that PSLE scores are less finely differentiated than before?
Pupils will continue to be posted based on academic merit, which means that the pupil with the better PSLE score will be admitted ahead of a pupil with a poorer PSLE score.
If there is more than one pupil with the same PSLE score vying for the last available place in a school, tie-breakers will be applied in the following order:
- First, citizenship: A Singapore citizen has the highest priority, then a Singapore permanent resident, and lastly, an international student.
- Second, school choice order: First choice over second choice, and so on.
- lf the citizenship status and school choice order are the same, then computerised balloting will be used to determine who will be admitted.
Pupils will be balloted only when those vying for the last place in the same school have the same PSLE score, citizenship and choice order of schools.
If my child meets the school's indicative cut-off point (COP), does that guarantee my child's admission into the school?
Meeting the school's indicative COP does not guarantee a child's admission into the secondary school. The indicative COP is the PSLE score of the last pupil admitted into the school, based on the PSLE scores and school choice patterns of last year's PSLE cohort.
Actual COPs are not pre-determined before the posting and may vary from year to year depending on pupils' PSLE results and their school choices for that particular year's Secondary 1 posting exercise.
In addition, if there are two or more pupils with the same PSLE score vying for the last place in the school, pupils will be placed according to the tie-breakers, in the order of citizenship, school choice order and computerised balloting.
Given this, it is possible for pupils with the school's COP score to be placed according to a tie-breaker.
Why do several schools have the same indicative COP? How do parents make school choices when the COPs for many schools are the same?
With PSLE scores less finely differentiated under the Achievement Levels system, there are now only 29 possible PSLE scores compared with more than 200 aggregates under the previous T-score system.
As a result, schools would be less differentiated by COPs. This means pupils would generally have a wider range of secondary schools to consider when choosing schools.
Similar to the T-score system, schools' COPs for that year are not pre-determined, and may vary from year to year, depending on the previous cohort's PSLE results and their school choices in the Secondary 1 posting exercise.
MOE encourages parents and pupils to look beyond the schools' COPs when choosing a secondary school, and to consider schools that would be a good fit for the pupil's overall learning needs.
They are also advised to consider at least two to three schools where the pupil's PSLE score is better than the school's COP.
How will the new scoring system affect those applying to affiliated schools or Special Assistance Plan (SAP) schools?
For affiliated schools, the entry scores will have additional information on the score range for pupils who are coming from affiliated primary schools.
This is similar to the practice under the T-score system.
For SAP schools, the entry score range will include the pupils' Higher Mother Tongue grade in brackets, if applicable.