How does the new AL scoring system affect enrolment into Secondary school?

The year 2021 saw a revamp of the PSLE scoring system in a significant way, paving a new course of direction for the graduating pupils. That year saw the score of the pupils taking the PSLE exams placed into eight Achievement Levels (ALs) for each subject. 

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

This  new system of banding has impacted the enrolment of students into Secondary schools in the following ways:

#Impact 1 - From bell curve to individual performances

T-scores in the past pitted a pupil’s performance against his or her peers. Pupils, despite doing well in a subject, may end up with a lower T-score because most of their peers could have performed better than them in that particular subject.

On the contrary, the current PSLE score tests the individual ability of the pupils and the awarded grades are not dependent on the performance of their peers.

The final score is the sum of the AL of each of the four subjects. The best score one can get out of four subjects is four points; the worst is 32. Thus, the current system has evolved to assess only individual performances without undue comparison against peer performances.

#Impact 2 - Choices galore to explore a wider range of secondary schools

As a consequence of the banding, the marks are not very differentiated. Hence, pupils who perform similarly will obtain the same AL.

In the broader sense, this means that there is no scramble for every mark because of the span of the ALs. The end-result?
Pupils have the option to choose from a wider range of secondary schools and are found eligible to get into their preferred choice of schools with their scores.

This is because the cut-off points for schools are also not differentiated as much with more students falling within the same band.

#Impact 3 - Admission hinges on priority

At the time of admissions, students are posted to secondary schools where  they are found eligible based on their order of preference.

What happens if two pupils have the same PSLE score and have chosen the same school? In such cases, admission to a particular secondary school hinges on the following criteria: 

  • the pupil who lists that school as the first choice is prioritised over the pupil who lists it as a second choice.
  • Singapore Citizens get priority over non-citizens. 

In case of a tie-breaker for students fulfilling both the above conditions and vying for the same secondary school,
the final means of selection is through computerised balloting. 

#Impact 4 - Different streams have different minimum cut-off scores

With the AL scores, pupils gain entry into different streams based on the cut-off scores decided upon for each of them. The following is the minimum cut-off scores:

Express Stream                      :  AL22 or less
Normal(Academic) stream    : AL25 or less
Normal(Technical) stream     : AL30 or less with at least AL7 for English and Maths
Retake PSLE                           : AL31 and AL32 with AL8 for English and/or Maths

The PSLE scoring and secondary one posting changes will not affect:

  • The curriculum
  • The subjects tested at the PSLE
  • The demand of the PSLE on pupils

And so, with change comes opportunity. This new development is a welcoming breath of fresh air for countless students and parents, and as we stand on this horizon of adjustment, no doubt there will be worries and uncertainties. With the new AL scoring system, the teachers at Write Edge will do our best to provide our students and parents the necessary information and support to better traverse this new landscape.

Write Edge is one of the English tuition centres in Singapore to offer a comprehensive curriculum to students. Besides providing primary English writing classes, the centre covers secondary English curriculum, which includes challenging components like writing segment and comprehension. Pupils reap great benefits from the unique teaching methodologies carved out by the centre and delivered by competent trained teachers. Adaptability and Accountability are what Write Edge is all about!

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