During the Parliament sitting in March 2022, Singapore’s Minister for Education announced that mid-year examinations will be abolished for all primary and secondary levels by 2023. This is the next step of the plan by the Ministry of Education (MOE) to remove mid-year exams at the Primary 3 and 5, as well as Secondary 1 and 3 levels several years ago.
At the same time, MOE will also review the curricula and assessment requirements, with the goal of meeting students’ diverse abilities and learning needs.
A change for the better?
Although the shift towards total abolishment will be gradual, it’s likely that some schools will take the initiative and start implementing the change for the remaining cohorts, most notably the Primary 6 and Secondary 4 students, who will be sitting for their PSLE and O-Level exams respectively this year.
For parents with school-going children, the announcement might have brought about a strange mixture of relief and anxiety. Doing without the mid-year exams for the lower primary and secondary school levels may be understandable and even welcome, but what happens when there’s a major examination happening at the end of the year?
As it turns out, there’s little to worry; schools are well-prepared to give students ample opportunities to get ready for their important exams.
Mr Xavier Yue, Vice President of Curriculum at Geniebook, said, “Students who are taking their PSLE and O-Levels will still have to go through the preliminary exams, so this change will not affect them too much in this case.”
“Removing the mid-year exams also means that students can actually have more time to assess their own learning gaps and focus on improving the areas in need of more attention.”
Letting students take ownership of their education
It’s worth remembering that the proposal to abolish mid-year exams is made with good intentions, with the aim of benefiting students in the long run.
One of the goals of this change is to allow students the opportunity to receive more formative assessments instead of summative assessments. In summative assessments, students are graded at the end of a unit within their syllabus, which has been the default mode of assessment for Singaporean students over the past few decades.
Formative assessments, however, are regularly given to students to gauge their understanding of individual topics as they make their way through their syllabus for the year. In contrast with summative assessments, formative assessments focus more on giving direct feedback to students about their strengths and weaknesses, and less on their ability to get good grades.
To facilitate this strategy, MOE has said that schools will continue to conduct weighted assessments to help ensure students’ competency in their subjects.
“In lieu of mid-year exams, small tests and weighted assessments will help to assess the areas that students need to devote more attention to in school,” Mr Yue said. “The key is to ensure consistent revision on their part, so that when the end-of-year exam comes, they will not find themselves struggling too much.”
During his speech in Parliament, the Minister for Education also remarked that MOE intends to look into the possibility of incorporating technology in education to enable students to learn better, such as customising students’ learning methods according to their needs, allowing teachers to provide feedback, and tracking each student’s learning progress. This is incidentally an approach that Geniebook has advocated for since its inception.
A less stressful, more empowering learning environment
Besides giving students a more well-rounded education, the change will also be helpful in terms of reducing stress for students.
The topic of stress has been a recurring theme in conversations surrounding education in Singapore. Much has been discussed about ways of helping students to deal with stress, especially during exam periods. While numerous ideas and suggestions have been raised by teachers and fellow parents, MOE’s move in removing the need for mid-year exams will undoubtedly do much to ease the anxieties felt by them and their parents as well.
Lastly, the absence of the mid-year exams presents parents with the golden opportunity to impart the value of self-directed learning and self-motivation to their child. While students may feel compelled to cram for exams, it accomplishes little when they do it only out of necessity of getting a good score, without the desire to retain that knowledge or interest in learning new things in school.
On the other hand, teaching them how to motivate themselves and take an active role in their education will inspire them to become deeply involved in the act of learning, allowing them to gain a greater understanding of their subjects in the process.
The abolishment of mid-year exams is a significant policy change, but we’re sure that your child will be more than ready to adapt and be a better learner in the process.
Need added assurance and more educational assistance? Geniebook’s suite of online learning tools can help. Designed with a formative approach in mind, our AI-personalised worksheet generator, live online classes and real-time student/teacher chat provides regular lessons and constant assessments, helping your child learn smarter and do better in their studies.