The Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) serves as a critical juncture in Singapore’s educational landscape, pivotal in determining secondary school placements and significantly influencing our children’s academic future.

In 2021, the Ministry of Education (MOE) made a landmark change by introducing a new PSLE grading system, moving away from the traditional T-score system. This new approach is designed to provide a more comprehensive assessment of a student’s capabilities, focusing on a holistic evaluation rather than just academic prowess.

As a parent, adapting to and understanding the new PSLE grading system is crucial for supporting your child through this significant educational phase. The shift from the familiar T-score to the new system can initially seem daunting.

We have crafted this guide to demystify the new PSLE grading system for you and to explain what this change means for your child’s educational journey. Read on to gain valuable insights!

Grading System Shift: From T-Score to Achievement Levels

Grading System Shift

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

In a move to address these concerns and encourage a more balanced development of young learners, the MOE introduced the Achievement Level (AL) system. This system marks a significant shift in how students are evaluated.

Under the new PSLE grading system, students are assessed across four core 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

    The Foundation of the New AL System

    Holistic Assessment

    The new PSLE grading 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

      1. Critical thinking

      1. Problem-solving

      1. Communication skills

      1. 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?

    New AL Grading System Impact

    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

    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 of this new PSLE grading system 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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