School Placement Exercise For Returning Singapore Children


Not too sure if there are still mums here preparing their child for the SPERS exams. 2 of my boys sat for SPERS-Sec in 2021. One sat for SPERS-Sec 1 (PSLE syllabus) and the other sat for SPERS-Sec 3 (Sec 2 syllabus). Thought it might be good to share how I prepared for my boys.

My boys attended local Chinese school for 3 years and then switched to an international school for another 3 years. When they were in Chinese schools, I homeschooled them in English and gave them some test papers to do. I didn’t do much for Maths because the Chinese schools drilled them well. In addition, I wasn’t very skilled in teaching heuristics Maths. Subsequently, when they transferred to international school, I stopped homeschooling them in their English. When we made the decision to return to Singapore in Mar 2021, we only had a short runway of 6 months to prepare for SPERS. Both of them had intensive tuition for English and Maths on top of their normal school hours. I think it really depends on the level which they are gaining entry to. My younger boy who sat for SPERS-Sec 1 had it tough as he had to master all the heuristic questions. While my boy was already 6th grade in the US curriculum, he was only at P4 level by Singapore standard (the tuition teacher gave them an assessment). On the other hand, my older boy who sat for SPERS-Sec 3 had it easier. He wasn’t excelling in Maths but neither was he lagging far behind. There were still gaps to fill in. As most of us know, Singapore has quite high standard.

They went through countless test papers. We had very excellent tutors who drilled them. They were also very patient and long-suffering. Ha ha…. The format of the exam can be taken from the SPERS website. No calculator is allowed for Maths. Please let your tutor know so that they can focus on the questions that don’t require the use of calculator. Often, there are a lot of steps to be written. So ensure that they check and re-check their answers. Encourage them to write out the sums on rough paper if their mental sums skill is not that strong. It might be good that the tutors can give them some practice on IQ or Olympiad kind of questions e.g. patterns, logic. For English, there wasn’t any question on Synthesis and Transformation.

My advice is that, if possible, try not to come back during your child has to sit for SPERS-Sec 1. Personally, I feel SPERS-Sec 2 will be better. I couldn’t wait till this year Sept for my 2nd boy to take SPERS-Sec 2 because my older boy would have to sit for O-level the following year. It would have been really unfair for him. As it is, entering Sec 3 puts him at a disadvantage. He was limited in his CCA choices. Thankfully he was offered his desired subject combinations.

We returned end August and they had about 1 month to adjust. As it was Covid times, we tried to keep them home as much as possible cos we didn’t want to risk having them fall sick.

We are thankful that both was offered the Express stream and posted to their 1st choice of school. While the exam is important, I feel the support given during the transition to Singapore system is more important. There are so many administrations and details to look into. We also had to gently guide them as they make their way around and get used to the lingo and culture of Singapore school.

It has been an exciting journey and with steep learning curves. At the end of the day, you know your child best and is aware of how much stress they can take. Work alongside with them. Listen to them and be there to guide them.

Hope all this information helped.