The Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), annually taken by students at the end of their final year of primary school, is a placement exam that guides students to take secondary school subjects at levels that best suit their educational needs – Express, Normal (Academic) or Normal (Technical).
In 2021, the Ministry of Education (MOE) made changes in the PSLE system, keeping the curriculum and assessment standards but fine-tuning it to better fit students as individual, complex learners. The new system is designed to benefit students in the long term, rather than stress them out with life-definingly high stakes at such a young, receptive age. Since the new system is used by this year’s Primary 6 students who are entering secondary schools next year, we are here to help you make sense of it so you can provide your kiddo with valuable support on their educational journey!
While the old, T-score system reflected how well students have done relative to their peers, the new Achievement Levels (AL) system reflects how well students have done relative to learning objectives of the curriculum, allowing them to focus on their own learning and pursue their interests. MOE is therefore shifting the focus from achieving academic results through peer competition to discovering and developing strengths and interests.
First, the new scoring system has broader scoring bands – PSLE T-score used a formula to indicate how well a student did compared to their peers. With the new PSLE, students receive an achievement level for every subject (AL1 to AL8) that encompasses a range of marks. The final PSLE Score is the sum of ALs (with the highest score being 4 – AL1 for each subject).
While there had been over 200 possible T-scores, there are only 29 possible PSLE Scores, meaning they are less differentiated. In turn, this means that more schools will have the same cut-off point, and students will be able to choose between more schools. If two students have the same PSLE Score, the tie-breakers are citizenship, choice order or, if the first two are again the same, computerized balloting.
Now that we covered the basics, you can find more information from MOE here!