What are co-curricular activity (CCA) bonus points for secondary schoolers, and why would one need them?
Well, these are either one or two points that can be deducted from one’s O-Level examination score to give a better overall score, and they can be extremely useful if your child is slightly off the mark to enter his or her first-choice school.
CCA bonus points can be used for entry to junior colleges, polytechnics, and the Millennia Institute. Those wanting to join the International Baccalaureate programmes at Anglo Chinese School (Independent) or St Joseph’s Institution can also use these points to improve their scores. The bonus points will also be considered for Institute of Technical Education courses.
In short, there’s nothing to lose from finding out more about how the CCA bonus point system works. If your child’s secondary school hasn’t explained it to you, you can visit the Ministry of Education (MOE) website to download the information. It’s best to do so during your child’s lower secondary years, so you and your child are fully aware of the requirements and have time to plan ahead.
The current CCA grading system is known as LEAPS 2.0, which refers to the domains that students are assessed on, namely Leadership, Achievement, Participation, and Service. “The whole system is very complicated,” bemoaned a KSP member when the system was newly introduced, and we’re sure many parents continue to feel the same way today.
Want to feel less confused about LEAPS 2.0? Read on for some useful pointers!
The magic number to remember is: 4, 3, 3, 3. What does this mean? For each of the four LEAPS domains (mentioned above), there are different “levels” that a student can attain, from Level 1 to Level 5. For a student to score two bonus CCA points — which is the maximum — the basic requirements are a Level 3 for three domains, and a Level 4 for one domain.
It’s easy to score a Level 4 in the Participation domain. All your child will need to do is participate in the same CCA for four years, with at least 75% attendance for each year. (Read about other qualifying criteria in the MOE’s LEAPS 2.0 document.)
Scoring a Level 3 in the remaining domains requires initiative. Again, the LEAPS 2.0 document is mandatory reading, as it has various examples of how students can get their one or two bonus CCA points.
For the Service domain, every secondary school student will contribute at least six hours per school year to the community, which is equivalent to Level 1. Some schools may help their students to clock 30 or 36 hours of service (Levels 2 and 3 respectively), but you will need to check this with your child’s school. In any case, your child can also arrange to volunteer with an external organisation — do ensure that the organisation gives your child a certificate of participation that states the number of volunteer hours — and submit this to the school.
For the Leadership domain, some secondary schools try to ensure that most students have a class committee role, which will give them a Level 2 score. If your child wants a Level 3 in this domain but has not been selected for a bigger leadership role such as class chairperson, you can consider having him or her enrol in the National Youth Achievement Award (NYAA) programme. This is a self-development programme available to young people in Singapore between the ages of 13 and 30. The programme’s activities (which your child will take on in his or her own time) are designed to provide young people with a platform to develop personal qualities and skills to make a difference to themselves and the community at large. An NYAA Silver award is equivalent to a Level 3 in the Leadership domain. To find out more, your child can either enquire with the school’s designated NYAA coordinator (if there is one), or simply get in touch with the NYAA Council directly to get an enrolment form.
For the Achievement domain, your child would need to represent the school or an external organisation at a local or international event for two years. This can be challenging if your child is not on a school team. However, if your child is already pursuing a hobby outside of school, find out if there is a competition that he or she can join, and contact the school to ask if your child can represent the school for this event, and what paperwork needs to be submitted. It may not be a straightforward process, and your child may need your help in this area. There are several other ways to qualify for a Level 3 (and above) in the Achievement domain, which you can read more about in the LEAPS 2.0 document.
Schools do help with CCA bonus points, but some more than others. What can your child’s school do? The best way to find out is to check with your child’s form teacher. If your child has shown initiative in pursuing a hobby or helping the community, let this be known to the school, and they may offer additional assistance to help your child plug the gaps. Don’t be afraid to approach the school for support!
Need more advice on LEAPS 2.0? Please contact the MOE directly using their feedback form or via their helpline.