Training for GEP selection

Just read an article today on parents sending their kids for tuition. With the GEP selection tests this month, some even send their kids for $200 a session to get trained for them.

Speaking as a mom who has a kid going through the first year in GEP, I would like to share my experiences and why I strongly advise against training for these tests in order to get into GEP.

My child was highly excited about the GEP selection tests, not because we had put any emphasis on it, but more from his peers in school at that time. I suspect it was a measure of ‘how smart they are’ when they compared among themselves. In fact, I deliberately downplayed the importance of the tests as I have heard about kids who cried themselves out when they did not get selected. How would the kids feel if the parents shelled out thousands of dollars on these tuition but did not get selected in the end?

These tuition centres boast high success rates. But think about what kind of students they start with in the first place. One centre actually said that it discourages pupils scoring less than 90 marks in their English or maths school exams from taking his GEP classes.  Surely, even without these classes, these kids who can score so well in school would naturally have a higher chance of being selected.

Of course, I must admit that I was very happy when my child got in. There are indeed many advantages of being in the program. One obvious one is the class size. There are fewer than 28 students in the class compared to my child’s previous school which had 43!

In my kid’s previous school, the kids were made to do pages after pages of basic questions from the "My Pals" workbook for Maths. He would be so bored with them and the aim would be to just fill in the blanks as quickly as possible. While these workbook are very useful to help kids grasp the basics of each subject, they do not venture any further. 

In the GEP class, however,  there are very few questions to do for homework each day. but they are usually quite challenging.  Most of the time, I suspect that the kids are not taught in class on how to do the questions. The teachers do not give them the way to answer the questions. They are told the basics and will discuss among themselves how they should approach each question.  While this is a very interesting way to learn, this may not suit everyone.

Some parents whom I have spoken to cannot even answer the questions ( and no, this is not about using model or algebra, they truly cannot answer the questions either way).  This must surely be a nightmare for kids who are not naturally good in Maths as they will really struggle through.  I think that some kids will actually benefit more from classes that teach them how to answer and drilling them with questions.

As for science, I am still quite clueless what they learn every week. There is no textbook (or rather there is a textbook but never used) so the only indication is the experiments or worksheets that they bring back. There seem to be hardly any notes that they have to learn. A lot of learning seem to be from experiments and practicals. But at the end of the day, they still have to sit for exams with questions just like the mainstream students.

These are merely my experiences and they could be skewed as every GEP centre could be doing things differently (although they have the same curriculum).  But I strongly feel that training the kids to answer questions for GEP selection tests will only harm them in the long run.

Hi! I'm a P6 student who just

Hi! I’m a P6 student who just finished the PSLEs, and I was from the GEP. Regarding the screening tests… Well, the first round was more um "boring" and more like the usual school exams, just slightly tougher, but the second round was more like the olympiad type… And the General Ability test is just super fun (well, to me anyway). I didn’t go to any GEP prep courses or anything, and I still didn’t go for any tuition and stuff during my 3 yrs in GEP, and it was ok, I guess… If you don’t go for tuition, and still manage to get in, then the whole GEP experience thing will be a whole lot more enjoyable than if you have to go through these prep courses and stuff to get in, coz you’ll probably be less stressed there and you’ll also probably struggle less? What I like about the GEP is the many projects and stuff coz they’re super fun (like the EL oral presentations, the Math AA in P6 and the Science IDP In P5 etc.) and they’re also really interesting (though some might be a little tough at times…). There are also very few people in class (less than 25) so you really get to know everyone well and everyone gets to know you well too, so yeah, I guess the classes get bonded together a lot and be become very good friends (or very strong enemies :P). Since there are less students, the teachers also get to know you more than in the mainstream (where each class has like 40+ people), and some teachers are super caring and really care about you (not just academically…). Of course, like the mainstream, there are still these "black sheep" kind of teachers (ahem) who are just plain mean / unreasonable / unfair (or biased) who I really really hate SOOO much (sorry!) and I had about two of these teachers… But yeah, the rest of the teachers are pretty nice and some are really kind and funny… And there’s this one teacher who is super caring and nice and kind and sweet who I’ll seriously miss next year in sec school… Oh yeah, there’s also a certain teacher who’s just hilarious and really totally lacks the ability to scold like, ANYONE. And about DSA and stuff, being in the GEP is seriously an ENORMOUS benefit, coz in some cases you can just skip the whole GAT thing, and in NYGH and dunno where else, if you score around 80% and up in the GEP SA1 in P6 and also take HCL, you can just skip the whole interview and DSA process and whatever, and just get a CO to the school. In RGS, you can skip the whole GAT too, if you get 80% and above but everyone STILL has to go for interviews. For RGS, you can apply under GEP and even though you still have to go for interviews, they give you a way higher chance of getting in, and nearly everyone in my class had a DSA offer (or more!) except for around two poor people (some people only applied for one school). This whole chunk is written from the perspective of an ex-GEPper so yeah, I hope you found that a little helpful (?) and I’m also SOOO sorry for writing so much ;D .

Personal Experience

 Personally I’m a GEP Student now, am in the first year (P4). In P1-P3, I got 1st in English and Class for every year, Math in P2 and 3, and level in P1 and 3. I don’t go to tuition, BTW.

 I think that to get into the GEP you shouldn’t let your child go for expensive training tuition, etc. because if you do and they really get into the GEP, they are going to suffer. 

 There’s a lot of times where I really think that GEP is a lot tougher. There are some projects that are really hard (Solar Cooker was one which totally made me go crazy!) and there is portfolio for SS, and during P5 and 6 have to make own artefact.

 In Rosyth though each GEP class is 20 people, quite balanced of girls and boys (in my class is 10 girls 10 boys, another class too, and another class 12 girls 8 boys). The attention I’m getting is quite good, I’m improving quite a lot. 🙂

 1st screening test: EL and MA exam were very easy for me. About 1/2 of my class got to the 2nd round. (my brother who is now in sec 1, did too) Most of them who got in went to tuition (as I said earlier, I don’t go for any tuition)

 2nd round: This time it was real tough. I think this is inborn talent only and you can’t train. It makes you use common sense!

 Results: Turns out I’m the only one from my whole school who managed to get selected. (My bro didn’t too). So, it doesn’t mean tuition helps. Although it might…

 Just to tell you though, P3 Screening Test is over already, so good luck to all of them. Just PLEASE don’t put stress on them if they get through to 2nd round. AND if they don’t, don’t scold them – it’s only top few % that will get in!!!

 My parents told me "If you don’t get in, at least you tried. Don’t be stressed.


Thanks for sharing :)

Thanks for sharing 🙂

agree with author too

agree with author too

I only found out what

I only found out what exactly was GEP last year, when dd sat for the screening and selection tests.  Was not keen to let her accept the offer initally (but that’s another story).  Now I have no regrets because the curriculum and pace of GEP suits her very well. 

dd was not sent for any training before the tests.  Recently, an ‘enthusiastic’ parent whose kid will be sitting for GEP test in 2012 kept bugging me to reveal which tuition centre I sent dd to, for GEP preparation.  The parent would not take ‘none’ for an answer and is now interrogating dd as well. 

I understand that parents who send their kids for such preparatory classes only have their kids’ best interest at heart.  But the GE program is not easy and it would be a struggle for kids who managed to get in through drilling.



I agree with the author that it is unwise to train for GEP. However, I can appreciate many parents eagerness for their kids to be in the program. Other than being labelled the cream of the crop, the GEP is indeed a very good program. My child is in her 1st year of GEP too and I must say, it has been quite relaxing in the sense that she doesn’t get a lot of homework like mainstream but ahem… the homework can be really tough. I won’t say that it has been just as relaxing for her friends as some of them has to go for a lot of tuition for whatever reasons. GEP is not about doing drills, so training may get a kid in but he’ll have a hard time staying in.

Actually, as parents, we can look for signs whether our kids are gifted. A gifted child will start showing sign of precocity at a very young age. My girl started speaking in complete and grammatically correct sentences at 1plus. Started reading at 4 and finished the whole Chronicles of Narnia at 6. Whatever she reads or learns, she can compare/contrast/draw parallels with her previous knowledge. I also noticed that she was insightful and can see things beyond the common understanding of kids her age.

I was very sure that she was gifted but my worry was that she got pushed out by those kids who were sent for training. Thank God she got in. She has been enjoying the program ever since.

Every year, there are many gifted children who needs the program but could not get in because of parents sending their high achieving kids for training. A high achiever may not be gifted but just more hardworking or more tuition perhaps.

Who is this Dr Suziki? And

Who is this Dr Suziki? And which year and school did he conduct the experiment on?


Happy 45th Birthday ! Singapore !!

Let nature takes its own

Let nature takes its own course and if it is meant to be, it will be. You can train for the test but it may be tough to keep up while in the program, unless you are prepared to throw in even more money on tuition which may or may not help.




I read that GEP is very tough and a lot parents are forcing their childs to do a lot of GEP practice test papers which I think it is stressing their childs, right?

agree with the author

agree with the author


We let our girl go for the GEP testing for the fun of it.. for exposure. If she gets in, well done and if she doesn’t, we’ll still love her the same. Just to expose her to the other challenging questions out there. After her test last Friday, this was what she said.. "While i know i should just try it out, i did my best. No blanks for any questions. I took it seriously like doing any other test. Some of my friends said they just did it anyhow, but i really tried. A few of my friends were saying that they can always do it again.."

When we asked how was the difficulty scale of the test… her reply made us tickle from our insides. "The English paper was challenging but manageable but i have to tell you my friends and i who initially thought that the paper might be set according to say… P4 standards, ya know what? It is actually Secondary School standard, i think!" 

That sure summed up the Maths Paper huh? 


Dr Suzuki said that there

Dr Suzuki said that there is no such thing as inborn talent. And all can be trained, just how. He even had a school principal agree to an experiment with one of his classes in his primary school. Every single one of the students did well in their high school entrance exams in the end, even the slowest student who was thought to be somewhat retarded.

While we can say that giftedness is inborn, imagine if we take a seat back and do nothing. Compare that to a child who has been nutured from birth. I’m sure the results would be rather different, given normal inteligence.

I do question the quality of the GEP prep class teaching methods though.  How would i know if that teacher is effective (hah – like Dr Suzuki?).  Maybe the teacher cannot identify the style of that child’s learning approach? then it’d still be wasted.

GEP class

Jennifer, Good to hear that. Unfortunately, I suspect that many who send their kids for such lessons have only one aim, which is to get their kids into GEP, but do not realise the demands after getting in. 


I sent my elder boy for a

I sent my elder boy for a week GEP preparation course with Morris Allen.  This year I also sent my younger boy for one with a pte centre.  Doing so is to let the child see the type of qns that are likely to appear in the screening test, our purpose is not to be trained to be gifted (we dun believe giftedness can be trained either).  In the centre, my child was given  worksheets, asked to do them within time limits.  The teacher reviewed the worksheets n explained the qn.  As long as we keep our expectations in check, I  do not see much harm.   I believe it is like buying a off the shelf assessment book that has challenging qns and going through these qns with our child.

Gifted program

Gifted is something a child is born with, not something which can be trained after attending special (and expensive) classes. I heard of someone who drilled her son to get into the gifted class. When the boy didn’t manage to get in, he cried.

I did not mention anything about the Gifted screening to my son last year. When he asked what it was all about, I just told him it’s a test but the results will not be reflected in his report book. Just do his best.

After the first screening test, son told me the questions are very different from those in his textbook…rather 3D like those in Olympiad and cannot be studied for. Anyway, he didn’t make it through the first round.


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