PSLE Scoring System

Understanding PSLE Scoring System

Singapore’s Ministry of Education (MOE) changed the Primary School Leaving Examination Grading System by replacing the T-score system with the Achievement Levels (AL) Scoring System. This change, effective since 2021, has broadened the scoring band for each subject, thus offering Primary 6 students a wider range of Secondary Schools to choose from and helping them focus on their strengths and interests. The intention behind the change, according to MOE, is to simply lessen the score gap between the students and reduce stress for the children and parents.

The new grading system also minimizes differentiation between students which could lead to a loss of confidence for the young minds. As a parent of a child readying for the PSLE, having a clear understanding of this change in the grading system is paramount.

In this article, we will be covering the following topics. Click below to jump to the relevant sections:

 

T-Score vs AL Grading

The main difference between the old and new grading system is the previous T-Score grading system put a finer emphasis on the marks secured by students, while the AL grading system does not. Let us explain how: T-Score grading meant that students missed getting their choice of school or courses by a few marks as there were 200 different scores. However, the AL grading system reduces the differentiation in student’s scores, cutting the range of possible PSLE scores to just 29 different scores (4 to 32, with 4 being the best). This means that more students will have the same PSLE scores.

Allow us to simplify this further with an example:
 

Suppose Tim secured 270 and Jim got a score of 275, the comparison between the two under T-Score grading would have been much more conspicuous. However, under the new AL grading system, Tim and Jim would both get a score of 4, thereby equalizing their chances of getting into a school of their choice.


The new AL grading system also means that more schools have the same cut-off point. It affords the students a wider range of schools to choose from. Students can now consider not just from an academic standpoint but also strengths, interests, unique school programmes, culture fit, co-curricular activities etc to continue their next stage of education.

Refer to the table below for a comprehensive summary of the changes:

 

 T Score

AL System

  • Reflects how well a student has performed in comparison to batchmates
  • Reflects how well a student has fared in comparison to curriculum's learning objectives
  • A student can have over 200 possible T-scores
  • A student can have 29 possible PSLE scores
  • Student's score is more finely differentiated
  • Few students will have the same T-Score
  • Student's score is less finely differentiated
  • More students will have the same T-Score
  • Fewer schools having the same cut-off point.
  • More schools having the same cut-off point.

 

 

AL grading system

Under the AL grading system, there are 8 different PSLE scoring bands that are awarded for all standard PSLE subjects. The scoring range for each PSLE standard subject is as follows:

 

AL (Achievement Levels)

Raw Mark Range

1
Above 90
 
2
85-89
 
3
80-84
 
4
75-79
 
5
65-74
 
6
45-64
 
7
20-44
 
8
Below 20
 

 

If you notice, AL6 and AL7 have a wider mark range than the other bands. MOE reassures that the AL bands reflect the way the curriculum and examinations are designed, where the levels of understanding are not linear. The ALs reflect the reality of learning, where each band reflects a level of understanding of a certain subject. Additionally, it is an indication of the students’ readiness level for the next course of study.

 

How PSLE Scores are calculated

With the AL scoring system, a student’s PSLE Score will be the sum of the four subjects added together. It can range from 4 to 32, with 4 being the best possible score. Below is an example of how a student’s PSLE Score is calculated:
 

Subject

Score

English Language
AL2
 
Mother Tongue Language
AL3
 
Mathematics
AL1
 
Science
AL1
 

Overall PSLE Score = 2 + 3 + 1 + 1
               = 7
 

 

Students will continue to be placed in a Secondary School course based on their PSLE Score until 2023. Those who are not eligible for any courses will be offered the option of retaking the PSLE.

 

Placement Outcome

PSLE Score

Express
4 - 20
 
Option of Express or Normal Acacdemic (NA)
21 - 22
 
Normal Acacdemic (NA)
23 - 24
 
Option of Normal Acacdemic (NA) or Normal Technical (NT)
25
 
 Normal Technical (NT)
26 - 30. Students must also score AL7 or better in both English and Mathematics
 

 

Alternatively, students can also opt for the Assumption Pathway School (APS) or NorthLight School (NLS) for a more experiential and hands-on learning approach. Opting for these courses, however, requires the principal’s endorsement.

 

 

Indicative Achievement Level Cut-off Points

Also known as AL COP, the cut-offs for different school types will be based on the previous year cohort’s PSLE results and school choices. Let us see how it works: MOE will take the lowest and the highest indicative AL COPs of schools within each school type like government and aided schools, autonomous and independent schools, to find the range of indicative AL COPs based on the score of the last student admitted.

Remember, the AL COP may change every year depending on the PSLE results and school choice patterns. MOE encourages parents to choose schools wisely — not just academically but also:
 

  •      Consider the school environment
  •      Tally the child’s interests/aspirations with that of the school
  •      Proximity to residence
     

Parents are also encouraged to research each school’s programmes such as Co-Curricular Activities (CCA), Learning for Life Programme (LLP) and Applied Learning Programme (ALP). The ranking of their choice of schools will be used as a tie-breaker in case two students have the same PSLE score and are vying for the last available seat in a school.

For example, a student who placed ABC Secondary School as 1st choice will be given priority over another student who placed ABC Secondary School as 2nd choice even though both of them have the same PSLE score.


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