Secondary school experience under Full SBB

Under Full Subject-Based Banding (Full SBB), MOE will expand Subject-Based Banding (Secondary) beyond the four PSLE subjects. Full SBB is currently being progressively rolled out to secondary schools and implementation will be completed in 2024.

So, with Full SBB, what will a secondary school student's experience be like? Click on the tabs below to find out more.

Mixed form classes at lower secondary

Once posted into the Full SBB school, students will be grouped into mixed form classes, with each form class comprising students taking different courses. Mixed form classes present more opportunities for students to interact with other students taking different subject combinations, and with different strengths and interests.

How has this been done in schools so far?

Offering subjects at a more demanding level

Subjects at a more demanding level

All secondary school students can offer English Language, Mother Tongue Languages, Mathematics and Science at a more demanding level from the start of Secondary One based on students' PSLE Achievement Level (AL) for each subject. This provision will continue under Full SBB.

Subjects offered under SBB(Sec) Eligibility criteria
PSLE subject level PSLE AL for the specific subject Option to take the Secondary One subject at:
  • English Language
  • Mother Tongue Languages
  • Mathematics
  • Science
Standard AL 5 or better Express Level or N(A) Level
AL 6 N(A) Level
Foundation AL A N(A) Level

Beyond the start of Secondary One, students may also offer these subjects at a more demanding level based on their performance in secondary school.

Students in schools that are implementing Full SBB will also be able to offer Humanities subjects (Geography, History, and Literature in English) at a more demanding level from Secondary Two. The criteria for taking Humanities at a more demanding level will be based on students' aptitude for and interest in these subjects at Secondary One.

Humanities subjects offered under Full SBB Eligibility criteria
Humanities subject level School-based assessment Option to take Humanities at a more demanding level from Secondary Two:
  • Geography
  • History
  • Literature in English
N(A) Level Aptitude and interest for specific subject Any of these subject(s) at Express Level
Social Studies N(T) One of these subjects at N(A) Level

These provisions empower students to take greater ownership of their learning according to their subject-specific strengths and interests.

Subjects at lower secondary

Common Curriculum subjects

In their mixed form classes, students will take a set of subjects at a common level, amounting to about one-third of curriculum time. This would allow students in mixed form classes to spend curriculum time together in these subjects.

These subjects are:

  • Art
  • Character and Citizenship Education
  • Design and Technology
  • Food and Consumer Education
  • Music
  • Physical Education

Teachers will adopt a range of teaching approaches to meet the different learning needs and pace of their students in the same form class.

Subjects Offered at Express Level, N(A) Level, and N(T) Level

English Language, Mother Tongue Languages, Mathematics, and Science will be offered at Express Level, N(A) Level, and N(T) Level. The criteria for taking these subjects at a more demanding level from the start of Secondary One is based on students' PSLE AL Score for each subject.

In schools implementing Full SBB, students will also be able to offer Humanities subjects (Geography, History, and Literature in English) at a more demanding level from Secondary Two. The criteria for taking Humanities at a more demanding level will be based on students' aptitude for and interest in these subjects at Secondary One.

Students will be grouped in different classes based on their subject level for each subject.

Subjects at upper secondary

Compulsory subjects

Students will continue to take the following compulsory subjects at the same level they took it at in lower secondary. They will also have the flexibility to take the subject at a more demanding level.

For students taking the Express and N(A) courses

  • English Language
  • Mother Tongue Languages
  • Humanities (with Social Studies)
  • Mathematics
  • Science

For students taking the N(T) course

  • English Language
  • Mother Tongue Languages
  • Computer Applications and Social Studies
  • Mathematics

Elective subjects

The provision to take elective subjects at a less demanding level is currently being piloted at selected schools.

National examinations

Up to the 2026 graduating cohort, students will continue to take the GCE O- and N-Level examinations.

Post-secondary admissions

MOE is reviewing the admission pathways to various Post-Secondary Education Institutions. Changes to post-secondary admissions will be progressively introduced and fully implemented by the Academic Year 2028 admissions, to better recognise students' different combinations of subjects and subject levels.


Expansion of Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP) from Academic Year 2024

As a first step, the PFP will be expanded to allow a wider group of students to benefit from a practice-based preparatory pathway to a polytechnic education, while ensuring that they are able to cope with the curriculum, by:

  • Relaxing the grade requirement of two 'Best' subjects in ELMAB3 (English Language, Mathematics, Best 3 subjects), from N(A)-Level Grade 3 to Grade 4.
  • While retaining ELMAB3 (English Language, Mathematics, Best 3 subjects) at a raw aggregate score of 12 points of better (excluding CCA bonus points); and the subject requirements for English Language and 'Relevant' subjects.

This balances between increasing flexibility and porosity of pathways, while still ensuring that students enter a pathway that they are able to cope with as they progress.


Retirement of N(A) Through-Train programme [N(A) TT] from 2022

From 2022, the N(A) TT provision will be retired. The N(A) TT previously provided students taking the N(A) course the option of bypassing the GCE N-Level to directly take the GCE O-Level, to spread out their learning over three years of upper secondary. With the upcoming removal of courses under Full SBB, the N(A) TT will be less relevant.

Students will continue to have access to other pathways, such as the PFP, Direct-Entry-Scheme to Polytechnic Programme (DPP) or Secondary Five N(A) after their GCE N-Level, to pursue their aspirations and interests.


Further details on changes to post-secondary admissions and pathways will be made available in due course.

Removal of Express, Normal(Academic) [N(A)] and Normal(Technical) [N(T)] courses

The Express, N(A) and N(T) courses will be removed.

Students will continue to be posted into secondary schools through three scoring bands, as students' PSLE Scores remain a good initial gauge of their overall academic ability and their appropriate subject levels at the beginning of Secondary One. Details will be shared at a later date.

Throughout their secondary school education, students can take subjects at three subject levels, known as G1, G2, G3 (G stands for General), mapped from today's N(T), N(A) and Express standards respectively. Students will have the flexibility to take different subjects at G1, G2 and G3 based on their strengths, interests and learning needs. Students will subsequently access programmes and post-secondary pathways based on their various subjects and subject level combinations.

Mixed form classes at lower secondary

Once posted into the school, students will be grouped into mixed form classes, with each form class comprising students of different learner profiles. Mixed form classes present more opportunities for students to interact with other students taking different subject combinations, and with different strengths and interests.

How has this been done in schools so far?

Offering subjects at a more or less demanding level

Subjects at a more demanding level

All secondary school students can offer English Language, Mother Tongue Languages, Mathematics and Science at a more demanding level from the start of Secondary One based on students' PSLE Achievement Level (AL) for each subject.

Subjects offered under SBB(Sec) Eligibility criteria
PSLE subject level PSLE AL for the specific subject Option to take the Secondary One subject at:
  • English Language
  • Mother Tongue Languages
  • Mathematics
  • Science
Standard AL 5 or better G3 or G2
AL 6 G2
Foundation AL A G2

Beyond the start of Secondary One, students may also offer these subjects at a more demanding level based on their performance in secondary school.

Students will also be able to offer Humanities subjects (Geography, History, and Literature in English) at a more demanding level from Secondary Two. The criteria for taking Humanities at a more demanding level will be based on students' aptitude for and interest in these subjects at Secondary One.

Humanities subjects offered under Full SBB Eligibility criteria
Humanities subject level School-based assessment Option to take Humanities at a more demanding level from Secondary Two:
  • Geography
  • History
  • Literature in English
G2 Aptitude and interest for specific subject Any of these subject(s) at G3
G1 One of these subjects at G2

Subjects at a less demanding level

At Secondary One, students will generally start with subjects at a subject level based on their PSLE Score, or at a more demanding level based on their PSLE performance in individual subjects. In some instances, students may have flexibility to offer some subjects at a less demanding level from Secondary One.


Mother Tongue Languages (MTL) at a less demanding level

Students who face exceptional difficulties coping with MTL learning will have the option to offer G1 or G2 MTL. This is in line with the intent of Full SBB, which encourages students to better customise their learning according to their strengths. With the greater flexibility afforded by the MTL offerings at G1, G2, and G3, MTL 'B' will be discontinued in secondary schools.


Further details on the guidelines for students to take subjects at a less demanding level will be made available in due course.

Students who offer subjects at a less demanding level may subsequently offer the subject at a more demanding level as they gain greater competence and confidence in the subject.

The increased flexibility empowers students to take greater ownership of their learning according to their subject-specific strengths and interests.

Subjects at lower secondary

Common Curriculum subjects

In their mixed form classes, students will take a set of subjects at a common level, amounting to about one-third of curriculum time. This would allow students in mixed form classes to spend curriculum time together in these subjects.

These subjects are:

  • Art
  • Character and Citizenship Education
  • Design and Technology
  • Food and Consumer Education
  • Music
  • Physical Education

Teachers will adopt a range of teaching approaches to meet the different learning needs and pace of their students in the same form class.

Subjects Offered at G1, G2 and G3

English Language, Mother Tongue Languages, Mathematics, Science, and Humanities subjects will be offered at G1, G2 and G3. Students may take these subjects at a more or less demanding level, subject to eligibility criteria and guidelines.

Students will be grouped in different classes based on their subject level for each subject.

Subjects at upper secondary

Compulsory subjects

Students will take their compulsory subjects at the same level they took it at in lower secondary. Students who meet the eligibility criteria will also have the flexibility to take the subject at a more or less demanding level.

  • English Language
  • Mother Tongue Languages
  • Humanities
  • Mathematics
  • Science1

1 Students offering mainly G1 subjects at upper secondary must offer at least one of the following subjects – Computing and Science.

Elective subjects

Students have the flexibility to take elective subjects, such as Additional Mathematics, Art, and Design & Technology, at subject levels suited to their interests and strengths.

National examinations

From the 2027 graduating cohort, students will sit for the new Singapore-Cambridge Secondary Education Certificate (SEC) examination. The SEC will reflect the subjects and subject levels that students offer.

This is similar to the A-Level examination, in which students take subjects at H1, H2, and H3 levels; and the PSLE, where students take subjects at Standard or Foundation levels.

Post-secondary admissions

MOE is reviewing the admission pathways to various Post-Secondary Education Institutions. Changes to post-secondary admissions will be progressively introduced and fully implemented by the Academic Year 2028 admissions, to better recognise students' different combinations of subjects and subject levels.


Expansion of Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP) from Academic Year 2024

As a first step, the PFP will be expanded to allow a wider group of students to benefit from a practice-based preparatory pathway to a polytechnic education, while ensuring that they are able to cope with the curriculum, by:

  • Relaxing the grade requirement of two 'Best' subjects in ELMAB3 (English Language, Mathematics, Best 3 subjects), from G2 Grade 3 to Grade 4.
  • While retaining ELMAB3 (English Language, Mathematics, Best 3 subjects) at a raw aggregate score of 12 points of better (excluding CCA bonus points); and the subject requirements for English Language and 'Relevant' subjects.

This balances between increasing flexibility and porosity of pathways, while still ensuring that students enter a pathway that they are able to cope with as they progress.


Further details on changes to post-secondary admissions and pathways will be made available in due course.

© 2020 Government of Singapore.
Last updated: 08 Nov 2021