PSLE, O-level oral exams will be held in person

Students will sit the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) and O-level oral examinations in person this year, despite tightened Covid-19 measures.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) said oral examinations are conducted in person to align with teaching and learning methods for language subjects in schools that focus on face-to-face communication.

"A change in the mode of the oral examination would result in candidates being less prepared to perform and interact with the examiners in an online setting," said an SEAB spokesman.

"Face-to-face interactions also allow the oral examiners to observe the candidates more closely and provide prompts to candidates, if needed."

SEAB said it is working with schools to ensure that social distancing measures will be in place, so that these exams are safe.

Measures include placing a clear plastic shield between the candidates and examiners, disinfecting facilities, and staggering dismissal times for the children.

SEAB said it will continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation and provide updates if there are changes to exam arrangements.

From May 19 to the end of the second school term, all schools in Singapore conducted home-based learning (HBL).

The Ministry of Education said the mid-year GCE O- and A-level mother tongue exams would proceed as planned, with strict safe management measures in place, when it announced the move to HBL earlier this month.

Parents said in-person oral exams were welcome.

Mrs Pat Koh, 42, whose child is preparing for the PSLE oral exam scheduled to begin on Aug 12, said: "It is already difficult for some kids to get themselves heard during in-person exams, imagine having to grapple with connection issues on top of that."

The O-level oral exams are scheduled to start in July. 

This article first appeared in The Straits Times.