What PSLE Results Should Your Child Aim For?

Want to help your child set goals for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), without adding stress?

First, let’s look at how the most recent cohort performed for the PSLE. Over 39,000 students sat for PSLE 2021, and here’s the breakdown:

  • 68.4% qualified for the Express course
  • 18.9% qualified for the Normal (Academic) course
  • 11.1% were eligible for the Normal (Technical) course

Below are the PSLE Scores needed to qualify for the above courses:

Course PSLE Score
Express 4 – 20
Option to choose Express or Normal (Academic) 21 – 22
Normal (Academic) 23 – 24
Option to choose Normal (Academic) or Normal (Technical) 25
Normal (Technical) 26 – 30 (child must score at least AL7 for English and Maths)

The PSLE Score is the sum of your child’s Achievement Level or AL scores for each of the four PSLE subjects — English, Mother Tongue Language (MTL), Maths, and Science.

Achievement Level (AL) Mark Range
AL1 ≥ 90
AL2 85 – 89
AL3 80 – 84
AL4 75 – 79
AL5 65 – 74
AL6 or Foundation A 45 – 64 (Standard) or 75 – 100 (Foundation)
AL7 or Foundation B 20 – 44 (Standard) or 30 – 74 (Foundation)
AL8 or Foundation C < 20 (Standard) or < 30 (Foundation)

For example, if your child scores AL1 (i.e. 90 and above) for all four subjects, he or she will have the highest possible PSLE Score of 4 (1 + 1 + 1 + 1). This means that your child not only qualifies for the Express stream, but will also be able to choose any desired school.

If your child is taking four Foundation subjects and scores A for everything, this is equivalent to an AL6 per subject. Therefore, your child will have a PSLE Score of 24 (6 + 6 + 6 + 6), and can qualify for the Normal (Academic) stream.  

How to Set Goals for the PSLE in the Final Weeks

If your child is still working on practice questions in the weeks leading up to the PSLE written papers, this is the most useful way to review concepts, according to research! 

Although time is running out, efforts in this final lap can still have a positive effect on your child’s grades. (Read about the best revision methods to focus on during last-minute PSLE prep.)

If you’ve not discussed academic goals with your child, it’s not too late as well. Simply use the SMART approach to set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant or Reward-based, and Time-bound!

Step 1: Define a specific, measurable, achievable, and relevant goal for each subject

The easiest way to do this is to look at your child’s P6 preliminary exam results. If you have the papers with you, add up the number of marks lost due to carelessness, or being unfamiliar with a particular topic. These are areas that can still be remedied in the weeks before the PSLE.

As a rule, a 10% increase in grades is considered a specific, measurable, and achievable goal. Going by the AL system, someone scoring between AL2 and AL4 can aim for a jump to the next grade. 

From AL5 and below, the scoring bands are broader, and it may be counterproductive and demoralising to set a goal based on ALs or the PSLE Score. Instead, you can focus on setting goals based on effort, such as “I aim to revise each subject for 30 minutes at home each day, by working on practice questions.” You can also set targets for getting higher scores on these practice questions.

In both scenarios, the relevance or “why” of goal setting is important, i.e. Why is it important that I achieve this goal? 

This could range from “I want this PSLE Score to get into my dream school,” or “I want to qualify for the Normal (Technical) stream and attend secondary school with my friends.” Note that students who are not eligible for the Normal (Technical) stream will have to repeat the PSLE, or progress to NorthLight School or Assumption Pathway School.

Step 2: Define the steps needed to achieve the goal, and when they can be carried out

With limited time, it’s best to ensure that revision is efficient and effective. Don’t overload your child with tuition classes during this time — if one is scheduled for the day, then there is no need for a home revision session as well.

For children who don’t have tuition, it’s better to practise open-ended questions rather than multiple-choice questions, because these involve more thinking, which leads to better retention of information.

But if your child is feeling stressed or burned out, working on MCQs and True/False questions is a ‘lighter’ form of revision that can still help with information retention.

Finally, if your child is already working on practice papers in school, you may want to keep home revision sessions short and sweet. One strategy is to look at your child’s recent schoolwork, and pick out a few questions each day for your child to reattempt. You can decide with your child what’s a reasonable number of questions to try, such as five questions a day for each subject. Next, assign a fixed time for working on these questions, like 4 to 6PM on weekdays.

After you’ve agreed on goals and revision steps, write or print out your agreement, and stick it where your child can see it. This helps to increase accountability and commitment to the goals and action plan.

Step 3: Agree on a reward for achieving goals. (Optional)

Some childhood experts feel that rewards can distract a child as well as reduce their intrinsic motivation to learn. (Read what our KSP members think about rewarding children for good grades!)

But if you are keen to offer a reward, do make sure that your child is set up for success. For instance, dangling a new gadget as a reward for a child scoring AL5s to aim for an AL1 grade has no benefit, when your child is not likely to meet the target. Set a realistic goal, and together with your child, work out an action plan for getting there.

In the final days before the PSLE written papers, switch your focus to making sure your child has enough rest and sleep — this can boost your child’s grades! If your child is not getting an average of 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night, do adjust his or her routine. We wish your child all the best in the exams!