Choosing your Secondary School
Updated: Oct 31, 2022
Guide on new PSLE scoring system
The Ministry of Education (MOE) has implemented a new Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) scoring system to all secondary schools in Singapore, which will take effect when Primary 6 students from 2021 onwards apply to get into the schools the next year. Instead of having their PSLE grade as A* to E, their score will be the sum of the Achievement Level (AL) of each of the four subjects.
The table below shows the Achievement Levels for the respective mark ranges.
For example, the report slip shows 2 AL1, 1 AL2 and 1 AL3, the total AL will be 7.
The table below shows the streams for the respective PSLE score.
Do take note that Express, N(A) and N(T) streams will be replaced with Subject-Based Banding by 2024.
With the calculated AL, you can compare it with the cut-off points (The Straits Times, 27 April 2021) of the schools of your choice.
How to choose their secondary school
Choosing a secondary school can be scary as it is a new step for your child.
Here are some factors that you should consider while choosing a secondary school for your child.
The normal route for Express students in secondary schools is the 4-year course leading to GCE O-Level examination. Some of the schools offer special programmes such as the Music Elective Programme (MEP) and the Art Elective Programme (AEP).
The other programme for Express students is the 6-year course leading to the GCE A-Level examination, International Baccalaureate Diploma or NUS High School Diploma.
Music Elective Programme (MEP)
The Music Elective Programme is a 4-year programme designed for musically-inclined students. This curriculum allows students to be able to pursue an in-depth study of music.
There is a selection test for MEP and the basic requirement to enter is that the student must meet the cut-off points for the Express stream of the respective school. The selection process involves a listening test, an audition, upload of compositions or songs (optional), and an interview.
The secondary schools that offer MEP are:
Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)
Catholic High School
CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School
Crescent Girls’ School
Dunman High School
Methodist Girls’ School (Secondary)
Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary)
Tanjong Katong Girls’ School
Temasek Junior College
Art Elective Programme (AEP)
The Art Elective Programme is also a 4-year programme designed for artistically-inclined students. This curriculum allows students to be able to pursue an in-depth study of the arts.
There is a selection test for AEP and the basic requirement to enter is that the student must meet the cut-off points for the Express stream of the respective school. The selection process involves short art tasks, an interview and the review of portfolios that the students are required to submit.
The secondary schools that offer AEP are:
Bukit Panjang Govt. High School
CHIJ Secondary (Toa Payoh)
Hwa Chong Institution
Nanyang Girls’ High School
National Junior College
Zhonghua Secondary School
Integrated Programme (IP)
The IP is a 6-year programme leading to GCE A-Level examination, International Baccalaureate Diploma or NUS High School Diploma. Students in the IP do not need to take the GCE O-Level examination when they are in Secondary 4. The subjects offered vary across schools. The benefit of taking the IP route is that your child will be able to skip ‘O’ Levels Examinations and have more time to develop in both academic and non-academic areas.
The school culture is important as it allows you to get a better understanding of how suitable the environment is for your child. Some schools have the reputation of being more competitive, encouraging, supportive or homely. You can find out more about the school cultures by asking ex-students or reading forums online about the different schools. Finding which schools fit your child’s needs is important to ensure your child is able to excel in them.
Co-Curricular Activities (CCA)
Speaking to your child and getting an understanding of where their interest lies is very important. This allows you to be able to choose a school with a Co-Curricular Activity (CCA) of your choice. Having a CCA of their interest allows them to be able to relieve stress from school and enjoy their time after classes every once or twice a week, depending on their respective school schedules. CCA is also another area for your child to be able to make friends with the same interest and build their social circle.
The types of CCA included in every secondary school are
Clubs and Societies
Visual and Performing Arts Groups
The location of the school is also an important factor to consider. In Singapore, studies had shown that 85% of secondary school students from top schools in Singapore obtain less than 8 hours of sleep on weekdays. This can be due to the distance that they have to travel to and from school daily. Sleep is important to ensure that students will have adequate sleep in order to be able to go through their days.
Attending open houses allows you to better understand how the school environment is, what the subject combinations and Co-Curricular Activities (CCA) they offer, and also get to talk to the school teachers and get to know more about their curriculums. This can also allow your child to see what the school environment is like and get a sense of familiarity first before the start of school.
Before attending open houses, it is good to shortlist some schools that fit your child’s interests and strengths, and some questions you will wish to ask the personnel in the schools so that you will be well prepared and are able to get your questions answered.
You got this!
Congratulations to your child for making it to secondary school! With your involvement in your child’s education and encouragement, your child will continue to have the best schooling experience.