GEP PSLE Discussion

It is well known that GEP students spend Primary 4 and 5 doing miscellaneous stuff that appear to be not directly related to PSLE, yet majority of GEP students score 250 and above for PSLE. Hence, the main question is:

Does GEP help PSLE?

Kiasuparents has a very robust discussion going on, and here are some of the insightful snippets. For the full discussion, check out the Kiasuparents forum.

Summary: GEP only starts preparation for PSLE at P6 April (!!) For PSLE, students need to be exam smart and be careful to answer “according to the marking scheme”. GEP teaches many higher level concepts which are not in the syllabus, for example “good bacteria”. Content wise, GEP English/Math/Science at P4-P5 is already at or surpassing the mainstream PSLE level. For Chinese/Mother Tongue, there is not much difference between GEP and usual syllabus.

Viewpoint 1: GEP helps PSLE but not directly

bhcbl wrote:After DS 3 years journey in the program, my thoughts are as follow:

– Does GEP help PSLE … NoNot directly. I do think my son did better in PSLE than he would have done in his previous school coz his classmates were stronger, and because the teaching suited him. Revision was short and sharp, and he didn’t have to do too many revision papers
– Does GEP help DSA … No (definitely not directly under the new policy, maybe the exposure in broader Math and Science help HDP in a way) No, because GEPpers don’t have a special pass to DSA any more. But the GEP education does provide more opportunities to develop knowledge in various areas that could help in the interviews and portfolios
– If we get to choose again, will we still opt to be in the program … yesAgree with everything below
Stretches … eg. Book review on books for older reader, more difficult Math concept …
Broaden … eg. Ancient civilizations, magic square, ancient number system, history
Self-learning … various research and projects (at least 4-5 a year)
Time management … homework, projects, research, self-studies
Filing … they have no textbook
Also, I think it was just alot more fun for DS (after some confusion in P4 while getting used to the system). He enjoyed classes, enjoyed his classmates (mostly), and I loved the smaller classes and the opportunities for various additional classes / camps etc.
So as you can see, in the three years, most of their times are spend on thing that have nothing to do with PSLE or PSLE prep until around P6 Apr.

Think about the following: in English, they learn to infer and read between the lines, but in PSLE compre, if you do that likely you will get marks deducted; Have parents experience the problem of teaching your child Math … using algebra to solve, and then convert to the model method to explain … this is some of the things that Gep students need to go through for Math PSLE (imagine for a 12 years old child). Or PSLE syllabus issue … if you ask any Gep student whether bacteria is good or bad … they will tell you both and give you a good list of examples … but too bad that is not in PSLE syllabus: Bacteria is bad (marks likely deducted if you start talking about bacteria is good).
Our take: the GEP system is a great system, but the problem is in the past they don’t need to rely on PSLE because there is DSA, but now they have to with the change in MOE policy. It is quite cruel to do that to a child… teach them more boarder and advance stuff but in exam ask them to forget about all these.

To us, we think that education is a journey, while PSLE is just a small part of the journey. Therefore, we will still go for GEP if we could choose again. Lastly, you will see most GEP students don’t need to adjust to secondary school: 8 subjects … they are already used to very pack schedule; additional topic like history, literature, geography … these are covered in one way or another in their 3 years program (but not tested in PSLE).

So hope that this could help you in your decision in your child education journey. If you are hoping that GEP mean PSLE or DSA or good secondary … under the new policy, you may be disappointed. If you are hoping to have a challenging and stretch program for your child … likely you won’t be disappointed.

Viewpoint 2: GEP definitely helps PSLE (and DSA too)

(by entei17) Does GEP help PSLE

Yes, definitely. In fact two years in advance. If you look through the learning scope and common tests papers for English, Higher Chinese, Maths and Science, the P4 Geppers are already doing P5-6 stuff in the mainstream.

English already has situational writing which is not introduced till P5 mainstream. Vocabulary and Grammar are pitched at P5-6 or maybe secondary levels. Comprehension format is very similar to PSLE, except that the passage is lengthier and more difficult to understand (need inference) than PSLE. As revision and practice for common test, I let my child do past year PSLE papers instead, because the P4-5 revisions books are not compatible. All the Extensive Reading List assignments, Single Shard literature, Synthesis and Transformation etc also help to build up their English foundation, so they can read more and advanced their appreciation of the language. Some of the assignments are an overkill, requiring a Herculean effort, or mission impossible. They have a comprehensive English curriculum, but I’m not sure whether all the Geppers could keep up.

Higher Chinese uses the same textbooks as the mainstream i.e. 生字 are similar, but the test/exam paper formats are similar to P5-P6/PSLE. Geppers would have no problems adjusting to the PSLE requirements. As GEP selection test only tested English, Math and General Ability, Geppers’ average Chinese ability are generally on par with the mainstream. Those that are good in English are generally not good at Chinese, although there are a handful who are good at both, or in all the subjects. I don’t have any evidence to back this up, but one reasons why some Geppers who didn’t score well in the PSLE are probably pulled down by their Chinese.

Maths are pitched at P5-P6 mainstream topics, but enriched and more interesting. I’ve seen many mentioned about Ancient civilizations, magic square, ancient number system, history. These are all covered over a week or only a few assignments. Most of the worksheets are still the usual topics but pitched at a higher level that stimulates their thinking. The only problem is Geppers think faster and have a tendency to skip/leave out some of the workings, which may prove a problem to the marking scheme in the PSLE.

Science topics follow the PSLE syllabus and the usual topics, enriched and deeper thought. We use P5/PSLE questions for revisions. The key here is (no pun intended) is still keywords and key concepts when answering open-ended questions, which is not dissimilar to the mainstream and PSLE requirements.

If whether GEP prepares PSLE every single day from P4-6 by drilling them to do past year papers after past year papers, then clearly they don’t. They spend a lot of time doing other stuff which indirectly raise their ability – maybe it helps in PSEL, maybe it doesn’t.

– Does GEP help DSA

DSA based on Sports/CCA are irrelevant here unless GEP’s heavy workload deprive them time to train or participate more actively, which could be a consideration. If not GEP and mainstream compete evenly based on their sports achievement.

Based on history, the majority of Geppers score 250 and above. Some don’t because of their mother tongue (as mentioned above), which even if they are in the mainstream, won’t be any different. Some are simply misclassified into the GEP – no matter what the GEB says about their tests. Parents know their child best whether they have the ability.

So even without DSA, for those scoring 260 and above they would still get into the top IP schools. The only one you have no choice but to try for DSA is NUS High, because there are very few places left in the posting exercise after the PSLE. However, this may also backfire on the Geppers because the schools know the Geppers would score high, and therefore still come to their school, and therefore may not need to give you a CO. With government’s push for social mobility and anti-elitism, they may just want to mix it up a bit more in the elite schools and therefore less Geppers as the first cut – just pure guess, since PSLE would still bring back the higher scoring Geppers anyway through meritocracy.

But compare to the mainstream, does GEP equip you better to do DSA? I think very so, as GEP affords you opportunities to participate in the MO, SO as well as many other competitions, and as early as P4, which may not be the case in the mainstream. So you have a better chance to build up your academic portfolio.


Finally, do check out our most popular GEP post: Recommended Books for GEP Selection Test and How to Get Into GEP.

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