New PSLE Scoring System: What are the changes?

new psle scoring system

The Ministry of Education Singapore is making changes to the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) scoring system to promote a more innovative and creative learning environment. Tutopiya will break down the change that is going to happen in 2021. 

All you need to know!


No more T-scores for PSLE 

MOE is going to remove the T-score scoring system and replacing it with Achievement Levels, also known as ALs. 

What is ALs?

ALs also stands for Achievement Levels, students will be graded by ALs, ranging from 4 to 32, 4 being the highest attainable score and 32 being the lowest. According to The Straits Times, students entering Primary 5 next year will be graded on Achievement Levels 1 to 8 instead of current grades A* to E. This new scoring system will be implemented in the year 2021.

The new scoring system for ALs 1 to 8 are as follows:

Achievement Level(s) Scores
1 ≥ 90
2 85-89
3 80-84
4 75-79
5 65-74
6 45-64
7 20-44
8 <20

The upper range is narrower to better differentiate students’ level of understanding, as a large majority are able to show an understanding of the curriculum and do well in it. 

In the middle to lower ALs, wider ranges are sufficient to indicate a student’s progress and further differentiation is less educationally meaningly, said MOE.

PSLE Foundation Level Subjects

For foundation-level subjects will also be scored on ALs at the PSLE. Foundation subject students will receive grades of AL A to C, which are tagged to AL6 to AL8 scores for standard-level subjects.

Foundation Level Subjects Grading
Scores Foundation Subject Grade Standard Subject Grade
75-100 A AL6
30-74 B AL7
<30 C AL8


Higher Mother in Secondary School

Source: The Straits Times

For students to be eligible for Higher Mother Tongue in secondary school education, students will need an overall PSLE score of 8 or better to take it up in secondary school. 

Students can also take up Higher Mother Tongue if they have an overall PSLE score of 9 to 14 with at least AL1 or AL2 in their mother tongue or distinction or merit in their higher mother tongue at PSLE. 

For students who do not meet these criteria, secondary schools can offer Higher Mother Tongue to students that assessed to have high ability and interest in mother tongue languages. Which is similar to the existing practice.


What about Secondary School Streaming?

The existing streams for the secondary school education of Express, Normal Academic, and Normal Technical will retain with no changes made to it. 

Except, to enter the following streams, students will need to obtain the respective scores;

Streams Achievement Levels 
Express 4 to 20
Express or N(A) 21 to 22
N(A) 23 to 24
N(A) or N(T) 25
N(T) 26 to 30*

*With AL7 or better in both English and Mathematics

MOE has announced that they will release the cut-off entry scores to secondary schools using ALs instead of the current T-score, in the middle of 2021.

How will students be posted to secondary schools?

This is how students will be posted to their secondary schools.

Source: Channel News Asia

A new system called the “Choice Order of Schools” will be introduced. While the PSLE score will remain the first criterion for posting, the order in which a student lists the school in his/her choices will come into play. 

There could be more balloting with the new PSLE scoring system now as there is a wider scoring band. This is so because more students will now attain the same PSLE score. However, this balloting is anticipated to only affect a small proportion of students, as it is the only used after earlier tie-breakers have been used up.

Choice order of schools will be important in the event of a tie. For example, a Singaporean student who lists a particular school as his/her first choice would not get the priority over a Singaporean student with the same PSLE score who lists the same school as his second choice. 

Other than the choice order of schools, citizenship and computerised balloting will also be used to decide who gets a place in that school. 


Conclusion: The New PSLE Scoring System

According to Channel News Asia, this new scoring system would be more educationally meaningful than the existing T-score system. This is because less emphasis will be placed on numbers and students will be graded based on their individual performance in subjects. 

MOE added that they do not expect significant changes in the percentage of students who qualify for the different streams. 

Tutopiya is an online tuition agency in Singapore, Tutopiya provides Live Online Tuition for students aged 7 to 19 for the Singapore PSLE Local curriculum. Tutopiya has experienced and professional tutors including ex-MOE teachers ready to teach our students. We offer a complimentary trial for all NEW students. Experience Live Online Tuition with Tutopiya today!

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