Understanding The Singapore Primary School Registration Processes



The annual Singapore Primary One Registration Exercise is meant for 6 year old children who are Singaporean Citizens or Permanent Residents to register for Primary One in the following year.  The age of the child eligible for registration is dependent on the calendar year - as long as the child will turn 7 before 2nd Jan of the following year, he/she must be registered in the Registration Exercise of the current year. 

This means that the age difference between the youngest and oldest child in the cohort can be as much as an entire year.


The Registration Exercise is divided into 7 distinct phases: Phase 1, Phase 2A(1), Phase 2A(2), Phase 2B, Phase 2C, Phase 2C(Supplementary), Phase 3.

The intent of the Phases is to assign priority to students who are already affiliated to the schools in some way because of their parents or siblings.

The Phases are mutually exclusive and sequential - there are no overlaps.  This means that while parents can participate in 1 or more of the Phases, they must surrender any successful registration they may have obtained for their children in earlier Phases before they are allowed to participate in subsequent Phases.

Singaporean citizens and Permanent Residents can participate in any of the Phases.  Children who are neither Singaporeans nor Permanent Residents can only participate in Phase 3.

Distance Prioritization

Any student that applies for Phases 1 up to 2A2 will be successful.  Therefore, there is no need for distance prioritization.  However, as demand often outstrips the supply of vacancies after Phase 2A2, priority is given to those that stay near the school.  This distance prioritization is categorized as 3 buckets:

  • (Highest Priority) those that stay within 1km,
  • those that stay between 1-2km, and
  • (Lowest Priority) those that stay beyond 2km of the school

Should the number of applicants exceed the number of places available for a particular Phase, the rule is to fill the closest <1km bucket first, followed by the 1-2km bucket, and finally the >2km bucket.  Balloting occurs at the bucket where the number of qualifying applicants exceed the total number of available places, and anyone in the lower priority buckets will not even get a chance to ballot.

  • As an example, if the number of available places is 100, and there are 20 <1km applicants, 30 1-2km applicants, and 60 >2km applicants, then the 50 applicants that are <1km and 1-2km away from the school will be successfully registered, and the 60 >2km applicants will have to ballot for the remaining 50 places.
  • As another example, if the number of available places is 100, and there are 100 <1km applicants, 20 1-2km applicants, and 20 >2km applicants, then the 100 applicants that are <1km will be successfully registered, and the remaining 40 applicants will not even get a chance to ballot.  Hence, no balloting will occur for this Phase, even though there are more applicants than vacancies.  This is the cut-off situation.

It is therefore paramount that if your child only qualifies for Phase 2B or 2C, you should check the balloting history for the school you are targeting and weigh your chances based on your distance from the school.  In general, if you are not within 1km of the school, you should NOT attempt to register in the school if the school has a past history of balloting in Phase 2B or 2C.  Spare yourself the disappointment of not even being able to join the ballot if you are outside of the cut-off bucket.

Allocation of vacancies

There are no reserved limits for Phases up to 2A.  Theoretically, all the available places for the entire exercise could be taken up in Phase 1, 2A1, or 2A2 should there be enough qualifying students.  This is rarely the case.  In the very popular schools, however, the take up rate by Phase 2A2 could exceed 75%, leaving less than a quarter of the places for non-affiliated children, including those whose parents who have gone through the rigours of parent volunteering programmes.

The places remaining after the end of Phase 2A2 are equally distributed between Phase 2B and Phase 2C.  No places are explicitly reserved for any Phase subsequent to Phase 2C.  This means that for most popular schools, there are unlikely to be any vacancies left for either Phase 2C(Supplementary) or Phase 3.

Registration Strategies Worthy of Consideration

  • Whenever possible, get your child registered in Phase 1, 2A1 or 2A2 in the school that you have that priority.  Spend more time preparing your child for Primary 1 instead of biting your nails over getting him/her in one of the top Primary schools.  If your child is good enough, you can always get a transfer for him/her into the elite school should you still desire it to be so, at the end of Primary 1.
  • Go for the school that is nearest to your home.  This distance becomes significant when the child enters Primary 3, where he/she will have to do lots of extra curricular activities.  Less time on travelling can also translate to more time at home relaxing or revising.
  • Go for a co-ed school if you have both sons and daughters.  This will mean you only need to go through the registration hassle once.
  • Go for the school that has affiliation with a good Secondary school.  This makes it easier for the child to get into the Secondary school even with just average PSLE results.
  • Try to get into Phase 2B only if you are staying <2km or less to the school.  If you are staying beyond 2km, chances are, you will not even get to ballot in Phase 2B.  Again, check the balloting history to fine-tune your actions.  Read this article for ideas on how to get into Phase 2B.
  • Register towards the end of the Phase you qualify for.  Only Phase 3 is first-come-first-served - for the earlier Phases, you don't win by registering early.  This is especially true if you do not stay within 1km of the school.  Registering later allows you to gauge the demand in the particular Phase, and estimate your chances better.  If you are trying to get into a very popular school, always have as your backup at least 1 more school which you can go to register once you determine that you have no chance for your first choice school.
  • Register as soon as Phase 3 opens, if you are a foreigner.  This is the only Phase that is first-come-first-served.  If you wish to get your child into a "better" school, refer to first point above.
  • Put your child on the school's waiting list, should you fail to get your child in by Phase 2C.  I have known of cases where the places open up in the month of December due to parents withdrawing their children for various reasons.  You can then choose either staying with your 2nd choice, or going back to your 1st choice.



Old boys

Hi, My hubby is ACS old boys. He only joined Alumi this year. Is it confirmed that our son will straight away given the pirority seat?

Mfamily | Fri, 20/05/2011 - 9:00am

After Phase 2C Supplementary, what's next?


We live in Sembawang which have only 4 schools in this area. We are planning to ballot 2 times to get my son into a better school as both are < 1 km.

I would like to know if balloting is unsuccessful for the 2nd choice school in Phase 2C Supplementary, what will happen?

1)is it true that MOE will post my son to any schools that near our address which still have vacancies? it is worth taking the risk as only one of them is less than 2 km.

2) or schools near the region? eg. YISHUN,ADMIRALTY, WOODLANDS

randytoh | Sat, 16/04/2011 - 1:01am

2B or 2C in CHIJ TPY

Dear Parents,

Good Day.  I am new and do pardon my ignorance.

I have two girls aged 5 and 6.  Therefore, getting the first into CHIJ TPY becomes very important for me.

Anyone can share with me if I am in 2B or 2C for CHIJ TPY?

I will be staying in the new built(THE PEAK-TOP 2012 August) at Lorong 1A Blk 138B.

Thank you.


Lamp | Tue, 12/04/2011 - 1:59pm


Taken from MOE website: http://www.moe.edu.sg/education/admissions/primary-one-registration/phases/

Phase 2B

For a child whose parent has joined the school as a parent volunteer not later than 1 July 2010 and has given at least 40 hours of voluntary service to the school by 30 June 2011; or whose parent is a member endorsed by the church/clan directly connected with the school; or whose parent is endorsed as an active community leader.

If you are none of the above, then you are phase 2C.

BigDevil | Tue, 12/04/2011 - 3:09pm


Thank you. Tan Kee ! for your previous 2 replies. It is very clear.

However, regarding Address, I am a bit confused.
Let’s say: Father Address is within 1Km. Mother Address is >1km.

So the couple presents 2 IC and declares the Kid is living in Father Address at the time of registration. After successful balloting, the couple declares that the kid is moving to Mother’s address to live.

There is no cheat in above practice. Right?

If above practice is “logical”, Father could choose to rent a house near the desired school few months before registration.

Is this a workable practice?
Little Bear | Sat, 05/03/2011 - 4:33pm

@LittleBear : Address

hi LittleBear

Yes, there are many possible ways to beat the system and given the shear number of applicants each year, it is nearly impossible for the authority to check and prevent all "creative workaround".

However, once caught the culprit will get lots of free publicity in local media and internet, plus the child will be transfered out to another school.

Furthermore it is a statutory offense to make false declaration of home address or failed to timely change the address; and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or to both. (see national registration act).

IMO, it is not worth the risk.

tankee | Sat, 05/03/2011 - 11:54pm

address is determined by both parents or 1 will do?


For registration, do we need both parents IC or just 1 will do, so as to determine the address of the child?

For eg, mother's add is as per grandparents which is 1-2km fr the sch but the father's one is as per new hse which is <2km fr the hse?

jenku | Sat, 26/02/2011 - 5:03pm

@jenku : address

hi jenku

During registration, NRIC of both parents must be presented.

You should be using the address that you will be staying when the child is in the primary school.

tankee | Sun, 27/02/2011 - 12:30am

PV does NOT guarantee your child a place in the school?


Joining the School's Parent Volunteer Programmes (PV)

This is by far the most common method practiced by parents today.  It is also the safest method, although we have to state that while being a PV qualifies you to register in Phase 2B, it does NOT guarantee your child a place in the school!

=== I am a bit confused at (PV does not guarantee your child a place in the school). In another article, it is said that Top School may have 75% occupied at the end of Phase 2A. Then based on the rule, the half of remaining vacancies=12.5% is allocated to Phase 2B. These 12.5% positions allocation methods follow Distance Priority Guideline. Unless there are so many PV within 2km such that PV outside 2km do not secure a position. Am I correctly interpretating your meaning? Thank you for reply.

Little Bear | Sat, 26/02/2011 - 2:23am

@Little Bear - PV does not guarantee a place

hi Little Bear

PV does not guarantee a place in the school.

it only qualify you to register under phase 2B, together with other PV, community leaders and religious & clan members. School can only control the number of PV, but not the number of applicants from the other categories and also not the number of places available for 2B.

if the number of applicants in phase 2B is more than available places in 2B, then allocation and balloting will occur according to distance proximity.

tankee | Sat, 26/02/2011 - 9:43am