GEP Singapore: How Many Students Get In Per Year? Plus More Questions You Were Afraid To Ask!

Photo courtesy of Pexels

For Primary 3 students in Singapore, the Gifted Education Programme or GEP selection process will take place from August to December. 

Not sure how this works? There will be an initial screening process (typically in August), where students take English and Maths papers. If they are shortlisted, they will be invited to sit for another three papers (English, Maths, and General Ability). Those who make the cut will then be notified by the Ministry of Education’s Gifted Education Branch, and parents can attend a briefing to find out more.

We know that there are curious parents who want a sneak peek at GEP English and Maths questions. You will be able to find sample questions if you ask around (or Google hard enough), but we agree with our education ministry’s official stance that preparation for the GEP selections is not needed. By trying to prepare your child for the GEP tests, you could end up inflating your child’s scores, and this will not reflect your child’s actual potential. 

A ‘trained’ child who makes it into the gifted programme is likely to be disadvantaged in the long run, as he or she may:

  • Struggle to cope with the enriched curriculum.
  • Experience stress that could affect self-esteem and confidence.

This is why we won’t be answering questions such as “How can I boost my child’s chances of getting into the GEP?” However, we are happy to help address other interesting questions about the GEP. Read on to find out what these are! 

How many students are selected for the GEP every year?

The most recent update that we have on this is from 2017, when this question was asked in Parliament. 

At the time, the official answer was that about 1% of the age cohort was admitted into the GEP at Primary 4 each year, based on a five-year tracking period. Going by the graduating cohorts for the last few years, it’s been about 40,000 students per year — so we can estimate that 400 students per year will make the final cut for the GEP.

According to an old news report from 2007, about 3,000 students cleared the first round of tests. Yearly cohorts back then were closer to 50,000, so this would be equivalent to 6% of the cohort. Do note that the current situation may be different.

Do students from every primary school have a chance to get into the GEP?

At a basic level, yes — as long as a child is enrolled in an MOE primary school, he or she will have the opportunity to go through the GEP selection process.

Some fresh numbers have also been released, in response to a 2022 parliamentary question, asking for the percentage breakdown of students admitted into the GEP by housing type, parents’ education levels, race, and financial assistance status.

Not all details were supplied, but here’s what we know:

  • Based on data presumably from 2017 to 2021, students who joined the GEP came from about 60% of primary schools each year — there are currently 185 primary schools in Singapore, so this works out to 111 primary schools. No public data is available on whether certain schools have more students qualifying for the GEP. 
  • About 45% of students who qualified for the GEP in the last five years lived in HDB flats at the time. (Food for thought: is it better to be born rich than gifted?)

Whom does the MOE consider ‘gifted?’

The MOE’s gifted programme is specifically for the ‘intellectually gifted.’ However, they don’t offer a definition for this in the GEP section of their official website. 

Instead, you can refer to Mensa’s website for characteristics of giftedness, to have a better idea of what this might be about. You can also read our guide to find out if your smart child could be gifted, and what to do next!

How is the GEP curriculum different from the standard curriculum?

According to the MOE, the GEP curriculum focuses on enrichment, not acceleration. It is built on the regular curriculum, and differentiated in these four areas:

  1. Content enrichment
  2. Process enrichment
  3. Product enrichment
  4. Learning environment

More details are available here

 

To find out more about the GEP curriculum, we encourage you to talk to your friends who have kids in the GEP. Here’s what one parent told us: 

“In many topics, they delve into the historical background. In Math, for example, they would be learning about the numbering systems of ancient civilisations. And they don’t just cover it as an ‘interesting to know’ enrichment item — the GEP kids have to do homework on these areas as well.”

You can read our full interview with this parent here.

Do GEP students do well in the PSLE?

In a years-ago version of the MOE website, now viewable on the Wayback Machine, the MOE did say that as a group, GEP students had done well in national exams. But without actual numbers, it’s pointless to speculate too much on this. Here’s an anecdotal account, along with some sound advice from a parent:

“I know of cases where GEP students didn’t do as well as hoped… Parents should not think that being in the GEP is a guarantee of record-breaking PSLE grades.

In fact, being in the GEP is no guarantee of school ‘success’ in the local sense. And when your child is in the programme, there are no dedicated assessment books or practice papers that you can purchase, so it will be up to your child to pay attention in class, ask for help from the teachers, and review the class materials before tests and exams. If a child is not naturally “quick” enough to keep up with the intensive pace of the programme, he or she will definitely suffer.

Do also note that there is no special treatment for GEP students in the PSLE. You will qualify for a school based on your PSLE results. Even if you’re going by the Direct School Admission route, you are on equal footing with everyone else who is DSA-ing. Another way of putting this is that there’s no prestige element to being in the GEP.”

How have initial batches of GEP students fared later in life?

There was a parliamentary question asked about this in 2017, and this was the official response:

“Based on longitudinal data collected from several batches of GEP graduates, they have done well. As a group, they have not only excelled academically but also performed strongly in non-academic areas.

Our first few cohorts are now in their forties. They hold diverse portfolios in both the public and private sectors. Among those in the private sector, some were founders, managing partners or CEOs of their organisations. Others have also become established leaders in their respective fields, such as senior consultants in the medical field, senior partners in law firms or senior Directors in the public service.”

Want to chat with other parents about the GEP? Browse the GEP section on our KSP forum to join the conversation!