MOE releases indicative PSLE score ranges for secondary schools

Dhany Osman
·3 min read
A primary school pupil seen entering her school on 2 June 2020. (PHOTO: Getty Images)
A primary school pupil seen entering her school on 2 June 2020. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — With the new PSLE scoring system being implemented this year, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has released the indicative PSLE score ranges for individual secondary schools to help parents and students make informed choices when it comes to picking a school.

These score ranges are accessible via the ministry's School Finder website from Tuesday (27 April), said MOE in a press release. Other information, including the individual schools' co-curricular activities (CCAs), distinctive programmes and special needs facilities, will also be listed.

The new PSLE scoring system will see examination grades broken into eight broad bands called Achievement Levels (ALs). These range from AL1 (for raw grades of 90 and above) to AL8 (for raw grades of below 20). By combining the results of the four PSLE subjects taken, students can achieve PSLE scores from 4 to 32.

MOE said the PSLE score ranges were "based on the 2020 cohort’s PSLE results and school choice patterns". Schools with multiple streams – such as Express, Normal (Academic) and Normal (Technical) – will have different score ranges for each stream. There will also be different score ranges for primary school students applying to affiliated secondary schools.

Students who take Higher Chinese Language (HCL) can also use their HCL grades – denoted as Distinction, Merit or Pass – to obtain a posting advantage when it comes to applying for admission to Special Assistance Plan (SAP) schools.

The new scoring system comes as part of MOE's efforts to shift emphasis from academic results by reducing the fine differentiation between young students' exam results. 

Despite this change, MOE's director-general of education Wong Siew Hoong emphasised that there is a "certain stability" in the school's indicative PSLE score ranges. "The system has not been turned topsy-turvy, so parents and students do not feel that they are totally clueless," he noted.

With the indicative cut-off score for secondary schools starting from 6, Wong said this showed that students need not achieve perfect scores to get into popular schools. 

"Thirdly and most importantly, (the new system) means students who 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," he added.

Making an informed choice

While the score ranges are a "good starting point" for students and their parents in picking a secondary school, other factors – such as CCAs, home-to-school distance, as well as a school's ethos and culture – should also be considered, said MOE.

Under the new system, the order of preference in one's selection of secondary schools will also be given greater importance when it comes to school placement. 

When deciding "tiebreakers" between students with the same PSLE score who are applying for the last place at a secondary school, priority will first be given to Singapore citizens, after which the ranking of one's secondary school choice – out of a list of six – will be a deciding factor in determining who gets the spot. 

If citizenship status and ranking of school preference are not the deciding factors, computerised balloting will be conducted instead.

"Parents and students should also give careful thought to their school choices since choice order of schools will be a tiebreaker from now on," said Wong.

MOE also noted that for students who demonstrate talents and achievements not reflected at the PSLE – such as sport, performing arts and leadership – they can also consider the Direct School Admission (DSA) scheme as an alternative route for getting into their secondary school of choice.

(Infographic from MOE)
(Infographic from MOE)

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