For teenagers eagerly anticipating their O-Level results, the beginning of the year is a flurry of activity and decision-making. The 2023 O-Level results will be released on 11 January 2024, following which, your teen will have a mere six days to decide on their future learning path.
Most teens will participate in the Joint Admissions Exercise, in order to proceed to a junior college, a polytechnic, or vocational training.
While there’s still time, it’s good to shortlist options based on your teen’s preliminary exam scores. Do also take note of any school open house events that you may be interested in — make an effort to attend these events and engage in conversations with the students there. Through their stories, you can get a real feel for what the school is like.
Below, we’ll discuss school selection strategies, and provide a list of announced open house events. We hope this will be helpful to you and your teen!
Which Pathway After the O-Levels?
Is your teen inclined towards a structured learning path in STEM or arts subjects, even if they don’t have a subject major in mind? Heading to a junior college or the Millennia Institute to prepare for the A-Levels may be the most suitable option, as teens are not required to choose a specialisation at this point. The most common A-Level subject combinations are:
Arts stream: HELM (History, Economics, Literature, Maths)
Arts stream: GELM (Geography, Economics, Literature, Maths)
A simple internet search will turn up enough updated resources to help familiarise you with the A-Level curriculum.
For teens who have scored well — a ‘net’ score of 7 points or better — but prefer not to choose between an ‘arts’ or ‘science’ stream, they can consider enrolling in the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma programme instead. This is offered by Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) and St Joseph’s Institution for both sexes, and you can read about the benefits of the IB programme before making a decision.
But what if your teen has a very specific subject interest? They may want to consider the polytechnics, which provide a more focused curriculum. A plus factor is that entry scores for polytechnics are more forgiving — unlike junior colleges, where one needs to add up the points for six O-Level subjects to qualify for entry, polytechnics only require that you total the points for five O-Level subjects.
That’s not to say that polytechnic courses are always ‘easy’ to get into. For instance, in 2023, one needed single-digit scores to qualify for the following courses:
Are your teen’s choices between the A-Levels, the IB diploma, and a polytechnic diploma? Use this unofficial compilation of cut-off scores to gauge if your teen stands a good chance of gaining admission to their desired schools. Alternatively, your teen can also look at the courses offered by the Institute of Technical Education (ITE).
JC and Poly Open House Events in 2024
Do encourage your teen to attend these events with their friends, or make time to accompany your teen, if they prefer having a parent along. Ideally, your teen should do some research beforehand, so that they can narrow down the talks and activities that will be most relevant.
For JCs, your teen should have an idea of whether they prefer the arts or science stream, and why. For now, don’t worry too much about the distinctions between Higher 1, Higher 2, and Higher 3 subjects — also known as H1, H2, and H3. Upon admission, schools will usually hold a seminar for students and parents, to walk them through the process of choosing a subject combination.
For polytechnics, your teen should be aware that courses are grouped into the following clusters:
Information & Digital Technology
Media & Design
Encourage your teen to find out more about these course clusters while there is still time — after all, with AI tools like ChatGPT, research is now a breeze. A basic prompt should list the course clusters, with instructions such as “Give me a summary of these diploma course clusters in table form. Tell me what I might learn, and what careers I can pursue after graduation.” You can then finetune the prompt for more information.
Likewise, your teen can use AI tools to generate questions to ask at the open house. Here are some questions that you can ask existing students:
Why did you choose this school?
What do you like most about this school?
What challenges have you faced, and how did you overcome them? Did anyone in school support you?
Do you have a good relationship with any of your teachers?
How has the school helped to nurture one of your interests or talents?
Who are your closest friends — classmates or co-curricular activity mates?
What are your plans after graduating from this school?
How does being in this school help you to achieve your goals?
Below is a list of post-secondary open house events in January 2024. If your school of interest does not have an event listed, please contact them directly.