PSLE Changes From 2021: All About The New PSLE Scoring System

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Did you know that the PSLE is all set to undergo a revamp in 2021? Children who were in Primary 1 in 2016 will be the first to experience these PSLE changes. 

Did you know that the PSLE changes from 2021? Under the new PSLE scoring system, students will be graded based on their individual performance in the subjects, regardless of how their peers have done.

Children who are entering Primary 5 in 2020 will be the first to experience this new PSLE scoring system, revealed MOE on 25 July 2019.

According to the MOE, “These changes support MOE’s effort to shift away from an over-emphasis on academic results, and provide our students with more flexibility and space to develop their strengths and interests throughout their education.”

PSLE Changes: What you need to know

Starting from the 2020 P5 cohort, schools will be presenting the school-based examination results of all P5 and P6 students in Achievement Levels (ALs) so that students and parents can become more familiar with the new scoring system.

Here are some key PSLE changes you should be aware of:

No T-score: Wider Scoring Bands to Reduce Fine Differentiation

Currently, a pupil’s PSLE aggregate is the sum of the T-scores of all the four subjects he took. The current T-score system reflects a student’s relative performance against his peers. So a student may score well for all his subjects, but receive a lower T-score if his peers score better.

Under the new PSLE scoring system, the T-score will be replaced by wider scoring bands.

Each subject will be scored using 8 bands known as Achievement Levels (AL), with AL 1 being the best score and AL 8 being the lowest score.

The student’s PSLE Score will be the sum of the four subject scores. The PSLE Score will range from 4 (best) to 32.

New PSLE scoring system

Each subject will be scored using 8 bands known as Achievement Levels (AL), with AL1 being the best score and AL8 being the lowest score. The ALs reflect the student’s level of achievement in the subject.

For example, those with marks >=90 will get AL1 for that subject. (See table below for new grading system)

psle changes

SOURCE: MOE

AL1: 90 and above
AL2: 85-89
AL3: 80-84
AL4: 75-79
AL5: 65-74
AL6: 45-64
AL7: 20-44
AL8: Below 20

The student’s total PSLE Score will be the sum of the four subject scores. For example, a student who scores AL1 in all 4 subjects will get a PSLE score of 4.

psle changes

An example of the new scoring system SOURCE: MOE

So basically, the lower the score, the better!

The PSLE Score will range from 4 (best) to 32. There are 29 possible PSLE Scores, compared to around 200 different T-scores today. This new grading system is meant to reduce excessively fine differentiation of students at a young age.

Scoring for Foundation Level Subjects

Under the new scoring system, foundation subject grades will be graded in 3 scoring bands from AL A to C.

Like Standard subject ALs, the Foundation subject ALs will reflect a student’s level of achievement, rather than how he has performed relative to his peers.

psle changes

SOURCE: MOE

For the purpose of Secondary 1 posting, Foundation level AL A to AL C will be mapped to AL 6 to AL 8 of Standard level subjects respectively, to derive a student’s overall PSLE Score.

A student’s PSLE Score is the sum of the four AL scores across his Standard and Foundation level subjects.

psle changes

SOURCE: MOE

Students taking Foundation level subjects are eligible for the Express Course, as long as they meet the course placement criteria.

Presentation of Results in Achievement Levels (ALs)

Starting from the 2020 P5 cohort, schools will present school-based examination results of P5 and P6 students in Achievement Levels (ALs).

Do note that, the P1-P4 and P6 students in 2020 will not be affected.

This will help familiarise students and parents with the new AL scoring system.

psle changes

SOURCE: MOE

Choice order of schools will matter during secondary school posting

This is what the secondary one (S1) posting exercise will look like in 2021:

  • Posting will continue to be based on academic merit using the PSLE Score.

  • The child will submit a list of 6 schools in order of preference. If two students with the same PSLE score are being considered for the last place in a school, the following tie-breakers will be used:

1.Citizenship

Singapore Citizens have highest priority, then Singapore Permanent Residents, then International Students.

2. Choice order of schools (NEW – From 2021)
In case of a tie, priority will be given to the student who indicates a certain school as a higher choice.

For example, if 2 Singaporean students have the same PSLE score and have chosen the same school, the one who has put it down as their first choice will get more priority than the one who listed it as a second choice.

3. Computerised balloting

In case of 2 pupils with the same PSLE score and citizenship status, trying for a place in a school which they have both listed in the same choice order, computerised balloting will be used as a tie-breaker.

Changes to streaming system for Express, Normal (Academic) and Normal (Technical) streams

Students will continue to be assigned to Express, Normal (Academic) and Normal (Technical) courses.

From 2021, to get into the Express stream, pupils need to get a PSLE score of 22 or less. For the Normal (Academic) stream, the child should score 25 or less. For the Normal (Technical) stream, a score of 30 or less is required.

psle changes

SOURCE: MOE

Eligibility for Secondary School Higher Mother Tongue Language (HMTL) 

Under the new PSLE scoring system, students will be eligible to take Higher Mother Tongue Language (HMTL) in secondary school if they receive:

  1. An overall PSLE Score of 8 or better; or
  2. An overall PSLE Score of 9 to 14 (inclusive); and attain AL 1 / AL 2 in MTL or distinction/merit in HMTL.
psle changes

SOURCE: MOE

For students who do not meet the above criteria, secondary schools will continue to have the flexibility to offer HMTL to students, if they are assessed to have high ability and interest in MTL and are able to take HMTL without affecting their performance in other subjects.

Child may have to re-take PSLE if he/she does badly

Pupils need to score at least AL7 for English and Maths to join the Normal (Technical) stream.

Scores of 31 and 32, where a pupil scores AL8 for English and/or Maths would mean that he has to re-take the PSLE .

He can also choose to join the NorthLight and Assumption Pathway specialised schools.

Indicative Achievement Level (AL) Cut-Off Points (COPs) 

MOE will provide information on each secondary school’s indicative Cut-Off Point (COP) in AL terms in the first half of 2021.

These AL COPs will be derived from the PSLE Scores and choice patterns of the 2020 Secondary 1 posting exercise.

This provides time for the 2021 PSLE cohort to make their secondary school choices and apply for Direct School Admission – Secondary (DSA-Sec) if they wish to.

Also READ: Top primary schools in Singapore based on MOE Awards

(Source: MOE)

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Written by

Jaya

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