You Know The Secondary School Cut-Off Points, But What’s Your Strategy For Choosing Schools?

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For the first batch of students under Singapore’s new PSLE scoring system, the most important information has been released: the reference cut-off points for secondary school entry in 2022.

We would like to caution our parent community that these are indicative PSLE scores, which are subject to change when the results are computed for this year’s cohort. As in previous years, meeting a school’s indicative score does not guarantee admission into a school.

Haven’t had time to read the news? You can view a list of PSLE cut-off points for secondary schools in 2022 here, or download a pdf copy of the scores for handy reference.

Going forward, PSLE raw scores will not be adjusted according to a bell curve. However, grading will take into consideration various factors, such as paper difficulty and the quality of candidates’ work, so as to maintain standards across years. (The Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board has not stated how this will be done.)

Need a refresher on what the new PSLE scores will look like? To familiarise yourself with the new scoring system, you can enter your child’s latest weighted assessment scores into the Ministry of Education’s PSLE Score calculator. You can then compare this score against the indicative entry score ranges for each school, to see which schools your child might qualify for.

How were the indicative PSLE score ranges derived? The MOE has provided details on this:

  • First, the MOE simulated each student’s individual subject score in terms of Achievement Levels or ALs, based on the student’s raw subject scores. 
  • Next, they added the AL scores for each PSLE subject to form a student’s total PSLE score.
  • Using the simulated PSLE scores and the students’ school choices in 2020, they then simulated the school posting outcomes, based on the new Secondary 1 posting process and its school entry tie-breakers.
  • These tie-breakers will be used if there is more than one student with the same PSLE score vying for the last available place in a school — in the order of Citizenship, Choice Order of Schools, and Computerised Balloting. (Previously, if students with the same score and citizenship status were vying for a place, a computerised ballot would determine the “winner”; the choice order of schools was not a factor in this process.)
  • The indicative PSLE score ranges for individual secondary schools were generated, based on the PSLE scores of the highest-scoring student and the lowest-scoring student posted into the school under the simulation.

Because these indicative scores were derived from a simulation, we can surmise that the simulated results may not correspond to where students were actually posted in the 2020 Secondary 1 posting exercise. Instead, the indicative scores generated next year will reflect the situation on the ground.

Finally, while it may be fun to map the old PSLE T-scores to the new indicative cut-off scores, it may not be a meaningful exercise, because the simulated scores take into consideration choice order as a tie-breaker. Why not use your time and energy to research more schools instead?

What About Special Assistance Plan (SAP) Schools?

Students taking Higher Chinese may be interested in the following SAP secondary schools:

  1. Anglican High School
  2. Catholic High School (Secondary)
  3. CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School (Secondary)
  4. Chung Cheng High School (Main)
  5. Dunman High School (Secondary)
  6. Hwa Chong Institution (Secondary)
  7. Maris Stella High School (Secondary)
  8. Nan Chiau High School 
  9. Nan Hua High School
  10. Nanyang Girls’ High School
  11. River Valley High School (Secondary) 

These schools were Chinese-medium schools in the past, but now, they groom their students to be “effectively bilingual” in English and Chinese, with an emphasis on traditional Chinese values.

If you are eyeing SAP schools, note that only students with a PSLE score between 4 and 14 — and who obtain a Distinction, Merit, or Pass in Higher Chinese Language (HCL) during the PSLE — will be eligible for a posting advantage to SAP schools. 

To be clear, students with a better score will be admitted to SAP schools first, even if they do not take HCL. But if multiple students with the same PSLE score apply for places in the same SAP school, those with better HCL grades will be allocated a place first. This applies before the three tie-breakers for secondary school posting, i.e. citizenship, choice, and balloting. 

Feeling confused? This infographic on using HCL for admission into SAP schools will help!

Schools That Don’t Participate In S1 Posting 

Before you even think about school selection, you should be aware that the following secondary schools do not participate in the Secondary 1 posting process. Instead, interested students should apply directly to these schools:

Merging & Relocating Schools

Do also bear in mind that several secondary schools will be merging, as this could affect your decision:

A handful of secondary schools are relocating, and this should factor into your decision making as well:

  • Hai Sing Catholic School will relocate to 15 Pasir Ris Street 21 from January 2022 to December 2023 (tentative).
  • Temasek Junior College (Secondary) will relocate to 2 Tampines Avenue 9 from January 2023 to December 2025 (tentative).
  • Woodlands Ring Secondary School will relocate to 530 Yishun Ring Road from January 2022 to December 2023 (tentative). As mentioned above, the school will merge with Fuchun Secondary School in January 2024. 
  • Yusof Ishak Secondary School will permanently relocate to a new site at 8 Sumang Walk, to meet the growing demand for school places in Punggol. It will admit its first Secondary 1 intake (based at the new location) in 2022.

Now that you’ve caught up on the essential information, read on for advice on using the indicative cut-off points to choose a secondary school for your child!

The Best Way To Choose A Secondary School: Be Open-Minded & Minimise Stress

Will the new PSLE system create more stress for students and parents? Well, if you have your heart set on top-tier schools, you may not be feeling too thrilled, and the Direct School Admissions route may seem quite appealing at this point.

Now that choice order plays a bigger role in determining school allocation, you may also worry that a poor “strategy” will result in an unfavourable placing. The MOE has tried to reassure parents with this statement: “We expect that about nine in 10 students will not need to undergo balloting. In addition, the vast majority of students will likely be successfully allocated to one of their six school choices, which is comparable under the T-score system.”

Our advice? Assess how your Primary 6 child is doing currently, and based on what you think his or her eventual PSLE score might be, look up schools that your child might qualify for. Visit school websites and open houses (if any), to get a sense of a school’s culture and environment.

Although your child can choose six secondary schools at year-end, the MOE’s advice is to consider at least two or three schools where your child’s PSLE score is better than the school’s cut-off point. In fact, a cautious parent might already list a safety school as the No.2 choice, especially if you are trying for popular secondary schools.

As for which school to select as your first choice, you may not want to test your luck. Take this example cited by one of our members: “If you choose to ballot for Nanyang Girls’ High School, and you miss out on that, you are effectively missing out on a lot of [top] schools because you would have them as second choice and everyone else would probably have them as first.”

Another consideration is that there will be slight fluctuations every year in secondary school cut-off points — the MOE has estimated that cut-off points will typically fluctuate by 1 AL.

Finally, if your child’s school has affiliated secondary schools, check with those schools about the Affiliate Minimum PSLE Score Requirement (AMR) — clarify if the indicative cut-off scores for affiliates represent the AMR.

While all of this information may feel overwhelming, we have said this before, and we will say it again: You can choose to do your bit to support the change. Get to know more secondary schools apart from the popular ones — it is always better to have a spread of options to choose from.

Remember that the objective is not to get your child into one of the “best” secondary schools, but to find a school that will allow your child to flourish as a person. So please, as one local mother advises, don’t make the PSLE central to your child’s life, or yours. There is so much more to your child’s growth, and for starters, you can read about eight parenting roles that you can take on to help your child find success in life.

Want to hear from the KSP community about the PSLE AL scoring system? Join the conversation here!