Prelim vs A Level Results

Many students upon entering JC (Junior College) in Singapore are demoralised by their poor grades. Students used to scoring As in secondary schools may now be scoring D, E or even S (subpass), U (ungraded) in JCs.

However, prelim (or promo/block test) results are well known to be traditionally lower than the A level results.

Do speak to your teachers or seniors to get a feel of how to convert your prelim results to the predicted A level results.

A rule of thumb is that if you are in a top tier JC, scoring B’s or C’s in prelims is already commendable.


I used to be a Hwachong student. Don’t be alarmed by bad grades during block tests, promo exams or even prelims….the school tends to mark stricter. I never got an A in my other subjects (lit, math, history) except for economics (once), most of the time if you get a B or C it’s pretty commendable. But by A levels many will score As for subjects they used to get Bs or Cs in. I got all As

Another rule of thumb is the percentile is more important than the actual grade for internal school exams. Check your school’s distinction rate. For instance, if your school’s H2 Maths distinction rate is 60%, and you are above 60%, then even if you are getting a D you have a good chance of scoring a distinction in the actual A levels.

A final rule of thumb is that the prelim grades is usually two band grades below the A level grade. E.g. If you score a C in prelims, your predicted A level grade is B or A.

Quote: “It is useful as an indicator about your performance respective to other students, but not about your absolute performance. The top schools deflate your grades by maybe one or two grade bands? Not so sure about the rest.”