What happens if you fail PSLE?

The PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination) is a momentous event in the Singapore education system, where all Primary 6 (12 year old students) sit for the national exam that will determine their future secondary school (or even beyond, in the case of Integrated Programme).

PSLE is not everything

Despite the overall importance of PSLE, it has to be noted that PSLE is not everything. There are countless stories of late developers who later pursued successful careers, despite a bad PSLE Score.

Read about the miracle story of a student who scored 181 for PSLE (technically still a pass grade, but considered not so good), but later entered NUS Medicine, the most prestigious course in Singapore.

PSLE fail go where?

This seems to be a frequently asked question. There are still many options, one of them is NorthLight School, which was featured in the Straits Times. NorthLight School is a specialized school that takes in students who fail their PSLE. Each year, the intake of NorthLight School is around 200 students.

In 2009, Assumption Pathway School was also set up to take in students who fail PSLE, ensuring that students have a place to go to further their education.

After graduating from NorthLight School or Assumption Pathway School, around 45% of students go on to enter Institutes of Technical Education (ITE). After that, they can move on to Polytechnics.

What happens if you fail one subject in PSLE?

Unlike O levels, where there are quite severe consequences for failing critical subjects like ‘O’ level English or Maths, there is no penalty specifically for failing a certain PSLE subject.

According to experienced parents at Kiasuparents, the only problem of failing one subject in PSLE is that it will drag down the overall PSLE T-score. It has been estimated that failing one subject in PSLE would most likely cause the overall score to be below 200 (which can still enter many neighborhood secondary schools).

PSLE takes into account all 4 subjects. So even if you failed English or Chinese or any subject, it doesn’t matter. what matters is your combined score that determine whether you go express or normal academic.

Source: Kiasuparents

Hence, if the student does well for other subjects, it is not a big problem for failing one subject in PSLE, be it failing PSLE English, failing PSLE Chinese, or failing PSLE Math.

Bad PSLE results

It is actually quite rare to fail PSLE outright (around 98.4% of students pass and make it to secondary school). However, it is quite common to get a ‘bad’ PSLE results or a lower score than one expects.

When one gets a bad PSLE result, or fail PSLE (one or all subjects), the important thing for the student is not to get overly disheartened. It could well be the case that the student is a late developer, or that certain negative events out of the student’s control have impacted the student’s family, which resulted in the bad PSLE results.

Do check out this other inspirational story, of a student who scored 105 for PSLE, but later graduated from NUS with a Master of Architecture degree. The important thing is not PSLE grades (PSLE is not everything), but rather the character traits of a student such as being determined and hardworking.

Related posts:


PSLE 2020 Results and PSLE Cut Off Point 2020

The 2020 Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) results will be announced on 25 November 2020 (Wed). Given the ongoing COVID-19 situation, students will receive their results from their respective primary schools – in their individual classrooms instead of gathered as a cohort in the school hall – from 11.00am on 25 November 2020.

Source: MOE Website

PSLE 2020, 2021 Cut off point

The exact cut off point is not out yet, but based on previous years’ cut off points, we give some estimates of the PSLE 2020 Cut off point (for entry to secondary school in 2021).

IP schools cut-off point

The most popular schools are definitely the IP (Integrated Programme) schools, since they are the most prestigious, and also students get to skip the O Levels which is a major source of stress for the students and their parents.

IB schools are also very popular, since it is well known that the IB syllabus is easier to score than the ‘A’ levels.

‘S’ Tier IP Schools PSLE Cut off point

The ‘S’ Tier IP and IB schools are:

  • Hwa Chong Institution
  • Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary)
  • Methodist Girls’ School (Secondary)
  • Nanyang Girls’ High School
  • Raffles Institution

These are the top elite schools in Singapore. MGS (Methodist Girls’ School) COP has risen to this level in recent years, while HCI, RGS, RI, NYGH are the traditional top 4 secondary schools. In order to have a secure chance of entering these schools, the estimated COP or cut-off point is around 260, not considering affiliation. In certain years, a high 250s score such as 258 or 259 may also suffice, but it is quite risky.

‘A’ Tier Secondary School PSLE Cut-off point 2020

The ‘A’ Tier top secondary schools are:

  • Dunman High School (IP)
  • National Junior College (IP)
  • CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School (IP)
  • Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) (IB)
  • Catholic High School (IP)
  • Cedar Girls’ Secondary School (IP)

These schools are very close to the ‘S’ Tier elite schools mentioned above. For these schools, traditionally, a score of around 255 and above is the usual COP or cut off point.

Note that some of the above good schools also have an ‘O’ level track whose COP (Cut-off point) is typically around 5 points lower, or around 250.

PSLE Express Cut off point 2020

Historically, the PSLE cut off point for express stream is around 188. For example, the following schools (express stream) have their PSLE cut-off point set at 188, for the 2020 secondary school intake:

  • Assumption English School
  • Bartley Secondary School
  • Bedok Green Secondary School
  • Bendemeer Secondary School
  • Boon Lay Secondary School
  • … and many more, all the way to Yuhua Secondary School and Yuying Secondary School.

Read our previous blog post on the frequently asked question of: Express vs Normal Academic for borderline PSLE score.

Money Saving “Lobang” (Tips):

Entering Good IP Schools is now Virtually Impossible for Students scoring below 65 for Chinese (MT)

Score less than 65 marks for Chinese (Mother Tongue), and it is Impossible to Enter Good IP Schools under the new system

This is a totally new era, where all previous PSLE strategies are outdated. Do share this article with your relatives/friends, where we show (using official evidence), that students scoring below 65 for Chinese (Mother Tongue) have virtually zero chance of entering good IP schools.

Since language (especially Mother Tongue) is the hardest subject to improve within a short period of time, students starting from as early as Primary 1 have to take note and adjust to the new PSLE scoring system. The Achilles heel for many students is actually Chinese language (or Mother Tongue), since it is very common for the entire family to be speaking English at home, at work, and with friends.

Our source of official evidence is the Straits Times, where it is indicated that the Official MOE Indicative AL COP range for 2019 PSLE for Express [Integrated Programme (IP)] is 6-9 points. For independent schools (which form the bulk of the best IP schools), the cut off point is 6-8. The same information can be found on Today Online, and Channel News Asia.

Indicative AL COP range for 2019 PSLE
Course Government and Government-aided schools Autonomous schools Independent schools
Express Integrated Programme (IP) 7–9 7–9 6–8
Achievement level (AL) Marks
1 90 and above
2 85-89
3 80-84
4 75-79
5 65-74
6 45-64
7 20-44
8 Below 20

Score under New PSLE System (for child weak in Mother Tongue)

Let us suppose the child scores:

  • >90 for English (AL 1)
  • >90 for Mathematics (AL 1)
  • >90 for Science (AL 1)
  • <65 for Chinese/ Mother Tongue (AL 6)

His/her total PSLE Score will be 1+1+1+6=9, which is not good enough to enter Independent IP Schools (requirement of 6-8 points). Independent IP Schools include schools like Raffles Institution, Nanyang Girls’ High School, RGS, HCI, and more. From common sense, the top IP schools’ COP is in fact likely to be on the lower end closer to 6 (or even lower?) rather than 8.

Score under Old PSLE System (for child weak in Mother Tongue)

Under the old PSLE system, the child’s score is likely good enough to enter even the best of IP schools:

  • >90 for English (e.g. 91)
  • >90 for Mathematics (e.g. 98)
  • >90 for Science (e.g. 95)
  • <65 for Chinese/ Mother Tongue (e.g. 64)

Estimated PSLE Score = (91+98+95+64)/4 x 3 = 261

The actual old PSLE T-score formula is slightly different (depends on bell curve and relative performance), but nevertheless, the estimated PSLE score of 261 is good enough to enter the best of IP schools like Raffles Girls’ School (RGS), RI, HCI. In fact, it is common knowledge that in the past, many students relatively weak in Chinese managed to enter RI and RGS due to their excellent scores in other subjects. Students in NYGH and HCI tend to have better grasp and mastery of the Chinese language.

A similar effect for students weak only in Math

The above effect is not unique to Chinese/ Mother Tongue. There are many students who excel in languages (English, Chinese), and Science, but are weak in Math for some reason or another.

The exact analysis also applies in this scenario, unfortunately. Basically, in order to enter top IP schools, no subject can be below 65 marks no matter how excellent the other subjects are.

See also:

Homeschool Math Challenging Puzzles

The questions listed are also very suitable as PSLE Challenging Math Problem Sums.

Basically, for Grade 2-4, they are very challenging.

For Grade 6 (Primary 6, 12 year old students), they are challenging math questions.

Do give it a try and see if your child can solve it!

Singapore Maths Tuition

Homeschool Math Challenging Questions

Mathtuition88 will be starting a series of Homeschool Math Challenging Problems, aimed at age 8 to 10 (Grade 2 to 4).

This series is targeted at kids age 8 to 10 who are strong / gifted at mathematics and wish to further stretch their potential. It is also useful for children who may not be strong in math at the moment, but have a keen interest in math nonetheless.

In particular, it is very suitable for the following purposes:

  • Homeschooling for gifted kids
  • Preparation for GEP (Gifted Education Programme) screening and selection tests
  • Preparation for Math Olympiad
  • Puzzles for kids interested in math but find school work too easy.
  • PSLE challenging Math problem sums. The questions are also well within the PSLE Math Syllabus, and will be challenging to Primary 6 students as well.

This series of questions will follow the Singapore Math syllabus for Grade…

View original post 66 more words

Did you know that PSLE Score Has Decimal Points?

When students receive their PSLE Score, it is in the form of a 3-digit number (e.g. 240, 252, etc.). Few people actually know that it is rounded off, and your actual PSLE score has decimal points!

Source: Straits Times

•First, pupils are ranked according to detailed aggregate scores that extend to decimal points. The No. 1 pupil is posted to the school at the top of his list of six choices. Likewise the second pupil and so on, until there are no more vacancies in the school. The pupil who fails to get his top choice will be posted to the next school on his list. If that school is also full, he will be sent to his third-choice school, and so on.

Hence, if your score is the same as the Cut-off Point (COP), there is a minuscule chance that you may not get in, reason being that of the decimal points. For instance, if the school Cut-off Point is publicized as 250, it may be the case that the last person to be admitted has a score of 250.36. Hence, if your PSLE score is 250.18, you would not be admitted into the school.

Case Study from Kiasuparents:

Online wrote:My girl at 254 could not get MGS O levels (1st choice). 2nd was MGS IP, 3rd NJC IP. Got posted to 4th choice – SCGS IP. The cut-off for MGS O levels is more than 254!

@ Online, don’t panic. It is possible that the cop is 254 and your girl missed by decimal points. I think you can call MGS to find out the COP for O level. If miss by decimal points you can appeal.

In that case, you may appeal and there is a chance that you will be admitted, subject to how many cases the school can handle. See also Appeal from RGS to NYGH (Success).

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.

Challenging P6 Math Question (Cycling)

One afternoon, 5 friends rented 3 bicycles from 5.00 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. and took turns to ride on them. At any time, 3 of them cycled while the other 2 friends rested.

If each of them had the same amount of cycling time, how many minutes did each person ride on a bicycle?

Hint: There is an “easy” way and also a “complicated” way to do this question. The “easy” way involves calculating total cycling time, while the “complicated” way involves working out a timetable to determine exactly who is cycling at which time.

(Source: Hardwarezone)

(Ans: 54)

Should PSLE be Scrapped? 四不能除

According to this article by Channel News Asia, there are four “constraints” for why the PSLE cannot be scrapped. I call it the “四不能除“, named after a saying “四不能战” regarding a general Feng Zicai which I recently learnt about after watching the movie “The War Of Loong“.

  1. Compromise education standards;
  2. Hamper students’ preparation for the future economy;
  3. Unduly increase levels of stress and competition; or
  4. Unnecessarily disrupt the system

It is quite logical actually, I encourage readers to read the article, which is written by a student yet to enter university.

Point 1 and 2 are sort of self-explanatory; just think realistically how many kids will study hard if there is no PSLE exam? Even if there is an internal school exam, if its importance is not high, it may not cause students to study.

Point 3 needs some explanation on why scrapping the PSLE may actually increase stress:

Earlier this year, during the Ministry of Education’s Committee of Supply debate, then- Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng remarked that “removing the PSLE and having a through train will only transfer the stress on parents and students elsewhere, such as at the P1 registration”.

He also emphasised that “it will make the O-Level and N-Level exams most stressful – a single exam in the whole career of a child’s life.”

Basically, if PSLE were to be scrapped, the focus and stress will be shifted to P1 registration and O Levels. P1 registration is based on where you stay and your parent’s alumni, in this respect PSLE is actually fairer and more meritocratic as it is based more on the child’s academic ability.

Nonetheless, despite the four reasons not to scrap PSLE, one thing that strikes me is the example of Finland. Despite Finland having no exams until the age of 16, it is well known that Finland’s education system is top in the world. There must be some secret to Finland’s education system, but the question is whether it can work and be applicable to other countries.

General Feng Zicai actually said something that is very wise and applicable to PSLE: “光绪二十九年(1903年)临终前,冯子材为子孙留下遗训:“读书不求官,服官不要钱,违者不孝。” (http://www.qzlz.gov.cn/Item/251.aspx)

Translated: “The main goal for studying is not for becoming an official; Becoming an official is not for gaining money for oneself; Whoever disobeys is unfilial (he said this to his descendants).”

Also read our previous post on PSLE:

Express vs Normal Academic for borderline PSLE score

For students scoring in the borderline of around 190- 200 PSLE score, there is a dilemma of going to Express stream in a neighborhood school, or Normal Academic N(A) in a more established school. Note that even good schools like Anderson, ACS (Barker) do have N(A) streams.

Here are some advices from people who have experience:

Source: Hardwarezone

First opinion says that N(A) in a good school is better:

“NA in good school

i myself is living example

in the end my parent chose express at neighborhood school

in the end that school is a s**** school. i cannot keep up with studies.

by secondary 2 i drop to NA

then stuck with the lousy neighborhood school and my whole life got ruin until now

if i can go back time i sure chose NA at good school”

This post (from Hardwarezone) made a good argument of why express stream is better:

“I think you have been grossly misinformed about the life of a NA student. You say your son is addicted to computer games but it seems like he is doing relatively ok to be able to qualify for the express stream.

Yes he will be learning at a slower pace but over the next 4 years your son will have to be resilient to constant peer pressure and have a good amount of perseverance as many if not most students from NA are known to be more boisterous and mischievous causing them to deviate from their studies. Not to mention the stigma associated with being in NA. During my time in one of your “preferred NA schools”, I’ve seen many good students fall out of their studies because of the influence of their peers. The “just because I’m in NA I cmi” mentality will sadly creep up to many.

In my batch, iirc out of 3 classes of NA students, only 1 class of about 30 people was able/ motivated enough to take their O Levels. If your son decides not to take his O’s in the future and goes to ITE instead, whatever good name the school has will not have any effect on his resume.

Moreover, it is not like “school reputation” has any standing in the hiring process. Unless you’re from a top school like RI/Hwa Chong, no one would give two hoots. Recruiters mostly look at your highest education obtained or post secondary education to see if there is any relation to the job scope you are applying for.

In my opinion, you are better off applying to an express neighbourhood school and see if he is able to cope rather to a “prestigious” school in the NA stream. He can always drop out of the express stream if he’s not suitable for it.”

This parent from Kiasuparents gives very compelling reasons in favor of Express:

“Every year, there are parents asking the same question: Exp or NA?

Every year, I would encourage parents to choose Express for their children, for the simple reason that O level syllabus is very rigorous. Children are expected to work hard right from the start, unlike NA.

Even though the school you get will not be a ‘good school’ (if you choose Express), the classmates your child mixes with are likely to be of similar academic profile, with some that only have ‘Exp’ as their option. Similarly, if your child chooses NA, the children he or she mixes with will also have some that only have ‘NA’ as their option.

There are children who transfer from NA to Exp, but how many are there? From what I heard, very few manage to do that. You may want to check with the schools you are interested in choosing NA for for the probability that your child could transfer to Exp though.

I just want to let you know that if it happens to my own child, I would choose Exp. If the child is willing to work hard, he will make it anywhere. And if he can make it anywhere, then why wouldn’t I choose a better stream for him so that he can get used to the rigorous syllabus earlier?”

This parent from Kiasuparents recommended Anderson and Presbyterian High as two good schools with Normal Academic:

“I would choose one where the school discipline is good, and the teachers are supportive of students etc, with good academic and non – academic programs to expose / stretch the child. If going for NA, you can consider Anderson Sec, Presbyterian High.. these are generally pretty good schools.”

Tessellations of Pentagons

Tessellation is a cool topic in primary level to PSLE math. Most students will enjoy it even if they hate other types of Math. It is a natural human instinct to be amazed at how different shapes can fit together perfectly to tile the plane.

Apparently, tessellation is going to be removed from the entire PSLE syllabus soon (see http://schoolplus.com.sg/primary-math-syllabus-2017/). That is certainly quite sad for many reasons.

Triangles and quadrilaterals (even irregularly shaped ones) can be easily tessellated. However for pentagons, it is less clear and some pentagons (including the regular pentagon) cannot be tessellated!

For more information read the article here at: https://www.quantamagazine.org/the-math-problem-with-pentagons-20171211/

Appeal from RGS to NYGH (Success)

Just read that appealing to transfer from RGS (Raffles Girls School) to NYGH (Nanyang Girls High) is possible:

dd moved out of rgs to nygh. she got 262+2. she appealed to nygh and was granted interview on Thursday. was given the good news after her interview.

nygh her first choice. she probably missed by decimal points. thus tried to appeal. was telling her both schools are equally good thus if not successful for nygh in her appeal, just move on 🙂


NYGH cut off point has been higher than RGS for the recent past years. It is the opposite situation of their boy school counterparts: RI cut off point is usually higher than Hwa Chong (Chinese High).

Free Movie about PSLE

There are 2 short films on the subject of PSLE, free on YouTube. Quite accurate about the lives of kids in Singapore currently. Do feel free to watch if you are interested.

It is truly a first-world problem (only kids in middle to high income families will suffer from this, as tuition is not cheap), but it does reflect the stress that children go through nowadays.

Look at the child’s timetable: https://youtu.be/FQB7ritn580?t=116. Completely packed from Monday to Sunday. (Quite realistic as I have seen real life examples of such scenarios.)

PSLE Chinese Listening Exam (mrbrown) Very Funny!

Recently, there is a PSLE Chinese Listening Exam that does not make sense.

Question: Student A bought a new clothes. Student B asks Student A: “You bought new clothes?” Student A said: ” No, it is sewn by my mother, do you think it is beautiful?” Student B said: It is very beautiful, I didn’t knew your mother could sew?”.

What did Student A say next?

1) My mother will sew clothes for me whenever she is free.
2) My mother does not like to spend money to buy clothes.
3) My mother just started learning how to sew.

I am totally puzzled by this question. The three options seems equally plausible. How are we supposed to know which is the truth?

Answer is option 3 by the way.

(Important Changes) PSLE Math: Arrow -> vs Equal=

Source: Facebook

For those taking PSLE, please take note of this important update regarding the difference between arrow and equal sign. Forward this to your friends taking PSLE!

Basically, I think MOE is trying to instill students to be mathematically correct. (See update below: Marks will not be deducted in most cases but proper usage is highly encouraged.)

E.g. 100%=40 is wrong as 100%=100/100=1 technically. Similarly, 10 men = 40 hours is wrong as the units do not match (nor make sense).

Trying to enforce “units” instead of “u”, and banning “10 units -> 20” is a bit strict though, in my opinion.

Update: (http://mothership.sg/2017/07/moe-clarifies-use-of-%E2%86%92-in-revamped-primary-6-math-syllabus/)

MOE responds

In response to Mothership.sg queries, a Ministry of Education spokesperson clarified that the above information was not provided by the ministry.

The information above was originally sourced from the website of a private tuition centre, whose sources are currently unverified.

While the respective uses of the arrow and equal signs are accurate in the infographic, the MOE spokesperson said full credit will still be awarded to the student even when the signs are used interchangeably, as long as the student demonstrates a full understanding of the question.

Proper use of arrow and equal signs are, nonetheless, encouraged.

Top PSLE Score

The top PSLE Score for this year seems to be 286, from RGPS (Raffles Girls Primary School).

Close runners-ups are 283, from NYPS (Nanyang Primary School) and Nanhua.

Source is from https://www.kiasuparents.com/kiasu/t-scores/, which is self-reported by parents. Casting aside the “troll scores” of 299 or 300 which are not believable, this seems to be the most accurate top PSLE score available, since the mainstream media are not allowed to report them.

Congratulations for those who have done well. And for those who have not, do not be discouraged as there is still a long road ahead, and there will be many opportunities to prove yourself.

For those considering tuition, check out StarTutor, which is highly recommended by us. Tutors are screened for their educational qualifications and matched accordingly, with zero administrative fees.

From experience, O Level is a completely new ball game from PSLE. It is possible for relatively weak students in PSLE  to do very well in O Levels, and also vice versa; for quite strong PSLE students to do poorly in O Levels. It is a new beginning for students.

2017 Update: Highest PSLE score seems to be 285 from Nanyang Primary. The runner-up position seems to be tied with a few schools such as MGS, ACS, Ai Tong, with 281.

Note that neighborhood schools can produce very strong results too: Alexandra Primary School and Admiralty Primary School both produce 280 scorers. In fact I recall from memory that Rulang Primary School used to consistently produce top scorers that can even rival that of Nanyang Primary School.

Kiasuparents PSLE

Source: http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/kiasuparentcom-co-founder-comes-full-circle-site-launch

Basically to summarize the article above, the co-founder of Kiasuparents’ son scored a respectable 4As and 229 T-score for PSLE. However, as their set target was 250, he did not get the Nintendo DS that was part of the deal for achieving the target of 250. Probably the Nintendo is to play the most recently released Pokemon Sun/Moon. Poor kid! I remember that my highlight of finishing PSLE was to play Pokemon (close to 20 years ago). I still remembered I was playing the Blue version, starting as Bulbasaur.

PSLE can be highly unpredictable (variance of 20-30 marks from usual expected mark is common and expected). This is particularly due to language exams, composition, and also the famous rigid marking scheme of PSLE science, where all the “keywords” must be mentioned in order to get the mark. Mathematics is the more reliable subject here as it is more objective, so try to score as high as possible in it.

Hence DSA becomes increasingly important as a backup plan to act as insurance in the event that something goes wrong in the PSLE. Check out some DSA/GAT/HAST posts here. It is always good to have a “Plan B”.

Also, if you suspect that the child’s school teacher is not that excellent in teaching, e.g. don’t know/emphasize the “keywords” which are necessary to get any marks at all in PSLE science, you may consider engaging a tutor as soon as possible. Check out the most recommended tuition agency in Singapore.

New PSLE System favors “All Rounders” over “Specialists”

The new PSLE system clearly favors “all-rounders” over “specialists”.

Scenario 1: Math-Whiz VS All-Rounder

Imagine a Math/Science-whiz with

Math:100 (AL 1)
Science: 98 (AL 1)
English: 84 (AL 3)
Chinese: 84 (AL 3)

Total marks: 366   (Approx. 275 T-score)
Total AL: 8

With a “all-rounder”:

Math: 90 (AL 1)
Science: 90 (AL 1)
English: 90 (AL 1)
Chinese: 90 (AL 1)

Total marks: 360 (Approx. 270 T-score)
Total AL: 4

The Math/Science whiz (total AL 8) will be getting double the score of the “all-rounder” (total AL 4), effectively eliminating his chance of entering the top schools. The irony is that the total marks of the Math/Science Whiz is a considerable 6 marks more than the “all-rounder”.

Under the old system, both are likely to get around the same T-score (approx. 270+), with the Math/Science whiz having a higher T-score.

Scenario 2: English-Educated Kid VS All Rounder

This scenario is even worse.

Imagine an intelligent English-Educated Kid (with parents who can’t speak Chinese). After a lot of hard work with Chinese enrichment, etc, he manages to pass Chinese, with a score of:

Math:100 (AL 1)
Science: 98 (AL 1)
English: 95 (AL 1)
Chinese: 64 (AL 6)

Total marks: 357   (Approx. 268 T-score)
Total AL: 9

Under the old system, this child is probably one that qualifies to enter any school, including RI/HCI, etc. His T-score will probably be on par with the All-Rounder at around 270, or at most slightly lower. Under the new system, his total AL is almost 10. Really a big difference.

In fact, the O-Levels, A-Levels are also favoring the all-rounders. Only at university (and beyond), do the specialists finally get a chance to shine. That’s why it is common to see top students in universities who were not previously from the top JCs or secondary schools.

My followup post on Kiasuparents:

My concern as Math educator is that students extremely talented in Mathematics/Science but slightly weak in languages will be disadvantaged in the new PSLE system.

To quote from my own blog entry titled “New PSLE System favors “All Rounders” over “Specialists””:

Imagine a Math/Science-whiz with

Math:100 (AL 1)
Science: 98 (AL 1)
English: 84 (AL 3)
Chinese: 84 (AL 3)

Total marks: 366 (Approx. 275 T-score)
Total AL: 8

Previously such a student’s score is more than sufficient to enter the top schools like RI/HCI. But under the new system, his score of 8, chances of entering the top schools are slim.

It is not about the prestige, but rather the resources and enrichment programmes that top schools provides that other schools may not. Some examples include Olympiad training, Laboratory sessions, etc.

For these kind of students, the PSLE score of 100 is not enough to capture their ability in Math/Science, they would score 150/100 if there is such a thing. Hence, their calibre is well above the “All-Rounders” who score 90 for each subject and get 4 points.

Unfortunately, the new PSLE system does not bode well for these students…

ChiefKiasu’s (founder of Kiasuparents) comments:

This is a good analysis. The new system does demand excellence in every subject, which in my opinion will increase stress more than it reduces. And for those who say that it is good because there is no need to count decimal points, consider the fact that Secondary schools will still have COPs. So it is now getting 4 points vs getting above 255 t-scores. Which measure would you consider to be more narrow?

My feeling is that the new system will actually intensify the cookie-cutter education culture and create more average joes than truly outstanding individuals.

New PSLE Scoring System, AL1 to AL8 (Singapore)

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/changes-to-the-psle-scoring-system-7-things-to-note-from-2021

The new, long awaited, PSLE scoring system is now out. Under the new scoring system, T-score is being replaced by Achievement Levels:

AL1: 90 and above
AL2: 85-89
AL3: 80-84
AL4: 75-79
AL5: 65-74
AL6: 45-64
AL7: 20-44
AL8: Below 20

Would this be effective at the target goal of “reducing stress and competition among pupils and parents?”.

Firstly, the good point about this new scoring system is that it is not as fine as the previous T-score system, where every mark matters. Thus, technically there is no difference between a 90 mark and a 100 mark, so there is no need to aim for perfection in a certain sense.

Some concerns of parents are listed out in this article.

Personally, I think that this scoring system is similar to the O Level System Grading of A1, A2, B3, etc. The change in scoring system per se is unlikely to be able to reduce the stress of students, especially those scoring below 90. Those scoring >90 but not close to 100 may breathe a sigh of relief that they don’t have to aim for 100. However, for the students scoring below 90, the stress level remains essentially unchanged.

Note that despite the “wider scoring band” label, the band is not that wide after all. In the higher AL’s the difference from one AL to the next is merely 5 marks, which may be just one problem sum in mathematics. In the previous PSLE it is “every mark counts”. In the new PSLE it is “every question counts”, which is not much of a difference.

For Primary students, the stress comes mostly from the kiasu parents, any superficial change in the scoring system will not have much effect.

Overall, nothing much has changed. It is like changing between Celsius to Fahrenheit, there is no difference in the underlying principle of PSLE, which is to serve as a entry criteria for secondary schools.

The main change, as some parents have noted, is that now all subjects are equally important. It is no longer possible to compensate for one weak subject (e.g. Mother Tongue) by scoring extremely well in other subjects. It can be said that the new system favours “all rounders” or “Jack of all trades” over “specialists” in one or two subjects.

The AL6: 45-64 band looks extremely dangerous to fall in (especially those weak in Mother Tongue) as it does not differentiate between a fail grade (45) and a much higher grade (64). Many English-speaking families should be quite worried now…

Another area of concern is that due to the “wider scoring band”, the importance of DSA (Direct School Admission) has increased tremendously. Due to inevitably many students achieving the perfect score of ‘4’, the top schools (like RGS/NYGH/RI/HCI) may have to resort to DSA/GAT tests to select their students. This will probably increase the stress of students, as other than PSLE, they have to worry about DSA/GAT/CCA and building a portfolio of achievements.

Do post your comments, if any, below!

2016 PSLE Difficulty — Second Hardest PSLE in history

Watch this interesting video on the PSLE (Primary School Leaving Exam) in Singapore: https://www.facebook.com/cnainsider/videos/1073805505975459/

According to this girl, her teacher says that PSLE 2016 is the 2nd hardest exam in history.

It seems school children these days have longer working hours than even adults. Adults work from 8am-5pm, children have to study from 7am all the way to night time.

One problem from all these cramming may be loss of joy in learning. After all the years of “forced studying”, few if any students have any more joy of learning in their hearts.

The young girl in the video is very optimistic and cheerful despite all the extra classes, keep it up!

How to Excel in DSA

With PSLE getting more and more tough, DSA is more and more important as a backup plan, or even as “Plan A”. A well-planned DSA application could lead to success in entering the secondary school of your choice. Once the PSLE new scoring system is out, DSA is the critical distinguishing factor.

Check out these posts on how to excel in DSA.

Changes to PSLE: Less stress for students but don’t dumb down education system

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/changes-to-psle-less-stress-for-students-but-dont-dumb-down-education-system

Latest Straits Times article on the PSLE.

The Ministry of Education’s move is laudable. In effect, though, kiasu parents will still find a way to put the screws on their children. Mark my words. No system is perfect. But the problem of stress lies largely with parents who cannot accept that their children are anything less than the best.

See also my previous blog post about the change in PSLE.

How to prepare for Changes to PSLE grading

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/changes-to-psle-grading-what-could-be-in-store

The latest update is that the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) aggregate score is soon going to be scrapped and replaced with simple grade bands such as A, B and C. What effects will there be and how to prepare in advance for it?

Do leave your comments below!

My opinion is that there will be a few crucial changes that parents would have to prepare for as soon as possible:

Chinese (or Mother Tongue) is a top priority. In the past, many students from English-speaking families can get low marks for Chinese, high marks for Math/Science/English and still get a very good PSLE score (e.g. >250). This is unfortunately not possible anymore in the new system. A low Chinese grade will drag down the entire performance. Also read more about the benefits of studying Chinese.

DSA (Direct School Admission) GAT (General Ability Test) and CCA becomes more important. The effect of simple grade bands is that many students will get the perfect score of all As. However, the top schools have limited vacancies and thus will have to use other criteria like DSA and CCA to differentiate students. Check out this previous post on DSA.

The new system benefits all-rounders who are good (but not necessarily excellent) at all subjects, including CCA. All-rounders will manage to get ‘A’s in all subjects. However, the new system is unfortunately not good for those who are excellent in one single subject, but average in others.

This quote from the article is very good:

“The focus should not be on how one performs relative to others, but how well the person himself performs in the exam.”

DR TIMOTHY CHAN, director of SIM Global Education’s academic division, on the use of grade-banding to reflect pupils’ abilities.

Live your Dream (Motivational Video) 夢想.激勵人心的演說

Just to share a very inspiring motivational video from YouTube. Not sure which movie it is from. (any readers know, please comment below as I would be interested)

Highly suitable for students (and their parents) who have just completed their PSLE, whether their PSLE 2015 results are good or not, it is now a good time to reflect on their dreams and the next step to take in the next year 2016.

Markov Inequality + PSLE One Dollar Question

Many people have feedback to me that the Career Quiz Personality Test is surprisingly accurate. E.g. people with peaceful personality ended up as Harmonizer, those who are business-minded ended up as Entrepreneur. Do give it a try at https://mathtuition88.com/free-career-quiz/. Please help to do, thanks a lot!

Also, some recent news regarding PSLE Maths is that a certain question involving weight of $1 coins appeared. It is very interesting, and really tests the common sense and logical thinking skills of kids.

Markov inequality is a useful inequality that gives a rough upper bound of the measure of a set in terms of an integral. The precise statement is: Let f be a nonnegative measurable function on \Omega. The Markov inequality states that for all K>0, \displaystyle \mu\{x\in\Omega:f(x)\geq K\}\leq\frac{1}{K}\int fd\mu.

The proof is rather neat and short. Let E_K:=\{x\in\Omega: f(x)\geq K\} Then,

\begin{aligned}    \int f d\mu &\geq \int_{E_K} fd\mu\\    &\geq \int_{E_K}K d\mu\\    &=K \mu(E_K)    \end{aligned}

Therefore, \mu(E_K)\leq\frac{1}{K}\int fd\mu.

Primary One registration for 2016 to open on July 2

Source: http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/primary-one-registration-2016-open-july-2

SINGAPORE — The Primary One registration exercise for next year’s intake will open from July 2 to Aug 27, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said today (June 18).

Three new schools — Oasis Primary, Punggol Cove Primary and Waterway Primary — will be open for P1 registration and will be taking in students from next year.

“The cohort size for 2016 is similar to that of 2015. There will be sufficient school places for all eligible P1 students on a regional and nationwide basis,” said the MOE.

More information on the list of primary schools and vacancies available as well as a list of registration centres for new schools can be found on the P1 registration website at http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/admissions/primary-one-registration/

Prepare Early Beforehand for GEP / DSA / PSLE

Join the Kiasuparents 2020 PSLE Discussion Group

This is the ultimate uniquely Singapore “Kiasuparents” 2020 PSLE Discussion Group: http://www.kiasuparents.com/kiasu/forum/viewtopic.php?f=69&t=81381

The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way

This book is the #1 Best Seller on Amazon (in the Gifted Education section)! Learn about the secret of the smartest kids in the world, and how you can be one of them.

PSLE Results Release: Top Scorer in PSLE?

Also check out: Recommended Books for GEP

Source: http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/press/2014/11/release-of-2014-psle-results-and-2014-secondary-one-posting.php

PSLE Results will be out tomorrow!

Wishing all students and parents all the best. 🙂

Currently, the PSLE Top Scorer is not released in mainstream media unlike in the past. It is perhaps a good thing too, to make PSLE less stressful.

PSLE is a stepping stone for students, it is important to remember that there is still a long way ahead. Many students who didn’t do well in PSLE end up excelling in O Levels. Education is really about lifelong learning.

Powerful Inspirational true story…Don’t give up!

Release of 2014 PSLE Results and 2014 Secondary One Posting

1The results of the 2014 Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) will be released on Friday, 21 November 2014. Students may obtain their result slips from their respective primary schools from 11.00 am on 21 November 2014.

Read more at: http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/press/2014/11/release-of-2014-psle-results-and-2014-secondary-one-posting.php

Featured book:

Math Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail


Maths Tuition Centre: Circle Fraction Question (PSLE)

circle question


The total area is made up of 4 semicircles and four of the area X. (4S+4X)

The unshaded area is made up of 1 semicircle and one of the area X. (1S+1X)

Hence, the fraction of the figure unshaded is 1/4.

When is PSLE 2014

When is PSLE?

Please double confirm with the source at: http://www.seab.gov.sg/examTimeTable/2014PSLEExamTimetable.pdf

PSLE Exam Dates/Schedule/Timetable

A. Oral Examination

Date Paper Time
Thursday, 14 August&Friday, 15 August


English Language / Foundation EnglishChinese / Malay / TamilFoundation Chinese / Foundation Malay / Foundation Tamil


0800 – 1300 h
Friday, 15 August Bengali / Gujarati / Hindi / Panjabi / UrduFoundation Bengali / Foundation Gujarati / Foundation Hindi / Foundation Panjabi / Foundation Urdu 0800 – 1300 h
C. Written Examination Date









25 September



English Language Paper 1

English Language Paper 2

Foundation English Paper 1

Foundation English Paper 2



0815 – 0925 h

1030 – 1220 h

0815 – 0925 h

1030 – 1150 h



1 h 10 min

1 h 50 min

1 h 10 min

1 h 20 min




26 September



Mathematics Paper 1

Mathematics Paper 2

Foundation Mathematics Paper 1

Foundation Mathematics Paper 2



0815 – 0905 h

1015 – 1155 h

0815 – 0915 h

1015 – 1130 h



50 min

1 h 40 min

1 h

1 h 15 min




29 September



Chinese / Malay / Tamil

Bengali / Gujarati / Hindi / Panjabi / Urdu

Paper 1

Chinese / Malay / Tamil

Bengali / Gujarati / Hindi / Panjabi / Urdu

Paper 2

Foundation Chinese/ Foundation Malay/ Foundation Tamil Paper 1



0815 – 0905 h

1015 – 1155 h

0815– 0845 h



50 min

1 h 40 min

30 min




30 September




Foundation Science



0815 – 1000 h

0815 – 0930 h



1 h 45 min

1 h 15 min




1 October



Higher Chinese / Higher Malay / Higher Tamil Paper 1

Higher Chinese / Higher Malay / Higher Tamil Paper 2



0815 – 0905 h

1015 – 1135 h



50 min

1 h 20 min



PSLE could move away from aggregate scores: Lim Biow Chuan

Source: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/psle-could-move-away-from/777972.html

The head of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Education, Member of Parliament Lim Biow Chuan, said that the Primary School Leaving Examination could do with less focus on aggregate scores.

SINGAPORE: The head of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Education, Member of Parliament Lim Biow Chuan, said that the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) could do with less focus on aggregate scores.

He said that this would take away the stress associated with the examination.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said recently that changes to the PSLE will be announced at the National Day Rally on Sunday.

It is an annual affair that sends the nation’s parents, students and teachers into a frenzy — for many in Singapore, the PSLE has become a high-stakes examination.

Roger Cheong, a parent, said: “Maybe there should not be so much emphasis on PSLE at such a young age… Maybe as a gauge, but there shouldn’t be so so much weightage on it.

The Education Ministry has acknowledged this and embarked on a year-long review sometime in 2012.

Ahead of the announcements of possible changes, some have suggested going back to basics.

Mr Lim said: “I never knew what was my PSLE score. We selected a few schools that we chose and from there, MOE would post us to those schools, based on our performance. So you don’t have to go down to those minute details as to whether you score 270 or 265 or 275.

“You get broad-based results, and from there, you are allocated schools of your choice. It may not be the exact school of your choice, but it may be a group of schools that you choose and all of them are in the same category.”

Mr Lim also hoped to see more places set aside for the Direct School Admission (DSA) exercise, where students apply to secondary schools based on their achievements and talents before the release of their PSLE results.

Continue reading at http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/psle-could-move-away-from/777972.html