The Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) is the cornerstone for secondary school placement in Singapore and plays a pivotal role in shaping our children’s future academic paths.

In 2021, the Ministry of Education (MOE) introduced a new PSLE scoring system, replacing the old T-score system. This shift aims to provide a more holistic and well-rounded assessment of a student’s abilities.

As a parent, understanding this new scoring system is essential to guide your child through this significant phase of their education. But you might be confused if you’re used to the T score system.

Luckily for you, we’ve written this helpful guide to help you understand the new PSLE system and what it means for your child. Just keep reading!

Grading System Shift: From T-Score to Achievement Levels

The traditional T-score system primarily focused on ranking students based on academic performance, often leading to intense competition and high-stress levels.

In response to growing concerns about the well-being of students and to encourage a more well-rounded approach to nurturing young children, MOE introduced the Achievement Level (AL) system.

Under the AL system, students are assessed across four subjects:

  • English Language
  • Mother Tongue Language
  • Mathematics
  • Science

Instead of receiving a single numerical T-score, students now receive an AL for each subject on a scale of 1 to 8. An AL of 1 indicates the highest level of proficiency, while an AL of 8 signifies the lowest.

The sum of all four subject scores is the pupil’s total PSLE score, with 4 being the best possible score and 32 being the worst score.

The Foundation of the New AL System

Holistic Assessment

The new system takes into account a broader range of skills and qualities. In addition to academic knowledge, it evaluates a student’s ability in several factors:

  1. Application of concepts
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Problem-solving
  4. Communication skills
  5. Teamwork

Focus on Progress

The new PSLE AL scoring system acknowledges and rewards improvement which is in line with the MOE’s vision to nurture students.

How Does the New AL Grading System Impact Secondary School Placement?

Under the new system, posting to secondary school will be based purely on merit.

However, if more than one student has the same PSLE score, three tiebreakers will be used to determine the deserving student:

  • Singapore citizenship: Top priority is given to Singapore citizens, followed by Permanent Residents and international students.
  • School choice order: The student who ranked the school higher on their list is given priority.
  • Computerised balloting: If both tiebreakers do not achieve the desired results, balloting will be used to determine who is to be admitted.

Tips to Guide Your Child Through the New AL System

Foster a Positive Mindset

Encourage your child to view challenges as opportunities for growth. The new PSLE scores are much less finely differentiated, helping children understand that their efforts and progress are valued instead of fixating on their mistakes.

Recognise Their Strengths

Help your child discover their strengths and interests. Through Subject-Based Banding, they can focus on subjects they are passionate about, enhancing their overall learning experience.

Be Communicative

Maintain open communication with your child’s teachers and school counsellors. They can provide insights into your child’s progress and suggest appropriate paths based on their abilities.

Manage Expectations

While the new AL scores aim to reduce stress, it’s important to manage both your own and your child’s expectations. Remember that each child’s journey is unique; the ultimate goal is holistic development.

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