Understanding the new PSLE scoring system

Understanding the new PSLE scoring system

What is it about and how does it work?

Starting from 2021, students sitting for the national primary school leaving examination (PSLE) will be assessed by the new scoring system. This consists of 8 bands known as Achievement levels (AL). The move came about with the aim of reducing the emphasis on exams alone. Instead, it hopes to allow students to focus more on learning at their own pace.

Here is how the scores are divided under the new system:

New PSLE scoring system

A student’s score will be the sum of the ALs in the 4 subjects instead of a T-score, with 4 being the best score.

Here is an example of how it works:

Student's score calculation
Student's score calculation

*A score of ALB corresponds to AL7.
Source: Straits Times

To familiarise students and parents with the new scoring system, upper primary students (P5 & P6) will receive their results in ALs from 2020 onwards.

Despite the changes in the scoring system, the PSLE exam itself will not change, said MOE director-general of education Wong Siew Hoong.

How will it affect eligibility for secondary school admissions?

The cut-off points for secondary schools will be based on the 2020 scores but using the new AL scoring system.  As seen above, the range for middle and lower ALs are rather wide. This reduces fine differentiation, according to MOE, providing more equal footing during admissions.

In addition, the range for the different streams based on the new scoring system are as follows:

secondary school streams

In the case of students having the same AL score, the tie-breaker would firstly be citizenship, followed by order of school choices and then computerised balloting, according to MOE.  

new psle scoring system

Source: Straits Times

It is also good to note that the streaming system is set to be abolished in 2024. Subject based banding (SBB) will take its place, with 28 secondary schools already implementing it in 2020. Students in Primary 5 next year will be the first to fully experience the new system.

To find out more about the new scoring system and read the FAQs, visit the MOE page here.

What can parents do to prepare their kids in primary school?

Mr Wong further added that parents may want to look beyond the cut-off points and at their child’s learning needs, school culture, distance and more. Hence parents could have open discussions with their children regarding their aspirations and priorities. Parents can also start setting targets with their kids based on the ALs to get their child more familiar with it.

How we can help

While the new AL scoring system does not affect the standards of the exams, there has been an increase in questions that require critical thinking instead of just pure memory work. Hence it is important for students to get more exposure to such questions. Such skills not only help in exams but also develop their problem solving abilities for the future.

Here at Conceptual Thinkers, we offer primary and secondary Mathematic and English tuition in small groups with techniques to make tough problem sums easier, using our own materials and questions from top school exam papers.

Contact us to take a diagnostic test to find out where your child is and how our dedicated tutors can provide the help and guidance needed.





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