Top Singapore Exam Changes for 2022: What parents should know
It’s no secret that Singapore is changing. With an ageing population and new technologies on the horizon, there are unique considerations for Singapore parents and students.
Which university do you attend? Will your children be learning in English or Mandarin? How will they learn to code?
These are just some of the questions parents are asking. Another area to watch closely for parents and students are Singapore exam changes.
The most significant change recently in Singapore education is the new Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) scoring. So, what changed, and how can we take advantage of it?
What Caused the PSLE Exam Changes?
Easylore relates to those who say the obsession with academic performance has gone too far. Life is not theoretical. It’s a rich tapestry of experiences, working with people to solve unique problems. It’s about learning relevant knowledge, surrounding ourselves with good teachers and mentors, and applying self-discipline to make something of ourselves. All of which leads to character-building.
Academics can only get us so far, and then our character, passions and strengths take us the rest of the way.
The Ministry of Education (MOE), well aware of parents’ anxiety trying to get their child into the right school, have made these changes to help alleviate this academic imbalance.
Starting in 2019, we observed the rollout of a group of changes that will culminate in 2024.
Can’t we stop having exams once and for all?
PSLE is still a very useful checkpoint. Whether we like it or not, real life is a process of checkpoints and graduations. Despite our industry, race, country, or even relationships, we progress from one level to another.
So looking at it from this point of view helps normalise the strain and reduce the anxiety, so it becomes a part of everyday life. Expect it, prepare for it, embrace the opportunity.
Tests and examinations assess students’ academic strengths, guiding them toward future learning. By the end of primary school, students should have learned basic literacy and numeracy skills and habits that will help them learn in secondary school.
Students then take a standardised test to determine where they excel academically – this is called PSLE, which helps guide appropriate placement into their respective educational program in secondary schools- one that best suits their needs. These results are fair because they allow for transparency.
MOE acknowledges that PSLE is incomplete in many respects. It cannot, nor can any exam, assess numerous other attributes necessary to work and personal life. As a result, the new scoring system aims to reduce excessive attention to academic outcomes.
What is the New AL Scoring System?
Under the new PSLE scoring system, a new scoring system called ALs (Achievement Levels) has replaced T-scores.
A student’s PSLE Score will be the sum of the four AL scores of all their subjects. That reduces the possible PSLE scores to just 29. These scores range from 4 (the best score) to 32 (the worst).
The new exam scoring focuses on a range of assessments such as class tests, quizzes, presentations, group projects.
1. Achievement Levels (ALs) Instead of T-scores
The revamping of the PSLE T-score is a significant change of strategy. There are now eight scoring bands, known as Achievement Levels (ALs). Eight were considered broad enough to separate students’ performance.
So each PSLE subject will be evaluated using 8 ALs. Students who have a similar performance will place in the same AL for each subject.
AL % Mark
1 ≥ 90
2 85 – 89
3 80 – 84
4 75 – 79
5 65 – 74
6 45 – 64
7 20 – 44
8 < 20
2. No grades on the report card
The Holistic Development Profile (HDP), a.k.a. the ‘report card’, is being adjusted at every level to better support the student’s learning progress.
It will no longer display specific academic indicators such as students’ grades and class positions. This removal enables each student to concentrate on their progress and discourage excessive peer comparisons.
3. A new grading system for Foundation Level Subjects
With this new system, if our child is taking Foundation level subjects, they will be graded on a scale of A to C.
ALs for Foundation level subjects reflect achievement levels rather than how students have performed relative to their peers.
4. MOE assigns an automatic score for those exempt from Mother Tongue Language (MTL) and Asian Language/ Foreign Languages.
Those students who are exempt from MLT will be automatically assigned a score, so they’ll still have their PSLE score determined by four subjects.
Their assigned score will be between AL 6 to 8.
5. More incentive to score well in Higher Chinese Language (HCL) to increase admission chances into SAP schools
There is an advantage for students who performed very well in HCL. Students who earned a Distinction, Merit or Pass-mark in HCL and a PSLE Score of 14 or better receive a posting advantage to (SAP) Schools.
Special Assistance Plan (SAP) is a unique programme to cater to students who are strong in their mother tongue.
6. In 2023, new placement rules for those choosing a Secondary school.
Up till 2023, MOE will continue to place students in one of the existing three secondary school courses:
– Normal (Academic) or
– Normal (Technical)
However, starting in 2024, at the beginning of Secondary 1, pupils can take a combination of General 1/2/3 subjects based on their PSLE scores and suited to their pace of learning. After that, their subject levels depend on their strengths and interests.
SBB (Subject-Based Banding) was established in over 28 secondary schools and is being phased at more secondary schools every year from 2022 to 2024.
The Singapore Ministry of Education’s latest changes to the PSLE has stirred up many discussions. Some favour the changes, and some feel confused. Hopefully, this article has straightened things.
As parents, teachers, and tutors, we must remember to set an example for the children in our care. When we model resilience, open-mindedness and tolerance to others, our children see that education and success in life are more than choosing subjects and schools, but choosing a way of life.
by Ande Schurr, Easylore’s Social Media Manager
Ande is based in Singapore and manages Easylore’s content and social media. As an educator (trained in New Zealand), he’s enjoying the unique business and academic environment here. When he’s not filming, blogging or playing tennis, he’s with his wife queuing up for soup at Red Hill Food Center!