FAQs

S1 Posting Changes

Why introduce choice order as a tie-breaker?

WE WANT TO GIVE GREATER WEIGHT TO STUDENTS’ AND PARENTS’ CONSIDERATIONS

  • Choice order of schools will now matter more in posting to secondary school.
  • We are introducing it as a tie-breaker to recognise the different considerations that families have when choosing secondary schools, e.g. the school’s ethos, culture, programmes and CCAs, as well as distance between the school and home.
  • This way, we hope to encourage families to think more deeply about the schools they are choosing and look beyond schools’ cut-off points, to decide which would best suit their child’s strengths and interests.
  • We hope that all students will enter secondary schools with courses and programmes that will nurture their interests and be a good fit for them.
Doesn’t choice already matter in S1 posting today?

Yes, choice already matters in S1 Posting today, and it will matter more under the new posting system.

Under both the T-score and AL systems, students will be posted to a secondary school based on their choice order of schools, starting from their first choice. If all the places in a student's first-choice school have been filled, the student will be considered for their second-choice school. If it still has places, the student will be posted to this school.

The difference in S1 posting between the T-score and AL system arises when more than one student with the same score and citizenship status vie for the last available place in a secondary school. For S1 posting under the T-score system, a computerised ballot will be used to determine which student will get the last place. In the new system, the choice order will be considered first to determine which student will get the last place.

UNDER T-SCORE SYSTEM, CHOICE ORDER OF SCHOOLS DOES NOT GIVE PRIORITY IN POSTING

  • For S1 posting under the T-score system, students indicate their choice of secondary schools in order of preference. They can choose up to six different secondary schools.
  • Students are first ranked by academic merit (T-score Aggregate). The first student to be considered has the highest T-score Aggregate and will automatically be posted to the school that is their first choice. The next student is then considered and school places vacancies in secondary schools are filled up one by one.
  • Students are posted to a secondary school based on their choice order of schools, starting from the first choice. If all the places in the first-choice school have been filled, the school that is second on the list will be considered. If it still has places, the student will be posted to this school.
  • But the order in which students list their schools do not give them priority when deciding who will get a place in the event that more than one student with the same T-score Aggregate are vying for the last available place in a secondary school.
  • For example, Don and Gerald, both Singapore citizens, have the same T-score Aggregate of 220, and are vying for the last place in School A. Although Don placed School A as his first choice, he does not have priority for posting over Gerald, who placed School A as his third choice. The last available place in the secondary school will be balloted between Don and Gerald.

UNDER THE NEW POSTING SYSTEM, CHOICE ORDER OF SCHOOLS MAY GIVE A STUDENT PRIORITY IN POSTING

  • Under the new posting system, academic merit (PSLE Score) is still the first criterion for posting. The first student considered has the best PSLE Score and will be posted to the school that is their first choice.
  • A student’s choice order of schools will be used as one of the tie-breakers if there are two students with the same PSLE Score vying for the last place in a school.
Will there be more balloting under the new system?
  • Under the T-score system, the T-score Aggregate differentiates students finely and only a small number of students have to undergo tie-breaking.
  • Under the new system, there will be more students with the same PSLE Score due to the use of wider scoring bands. This may result in more tie-breaking, especially if these students choose the same few schools.
  • Students will first be tie-broken based on citizenship, similar to today's system. The next tie-breaker will be choice order of schools, which is new. If there is still a tie, then a computerised ballot will be used.
  • Most of the students who need tie-breaking would be tie-broken by the first two tie-breakers of citizenship and choice order of schools. The vast majority of students will not need tie-breaking by balloting. Based on past cohorts' choice patterns, about 9 in 10 students would not need to go to the balloting stage. The eventual balloting figure will depend on the choice patterns of students.
  • Balloting is computerised and conducted centrally by MOE HQ, similar to the balloting process during the JAE for admission to Junior Colleges/Centralised Institute, Polytechnics and ITE.
Will streaming continue? Why?

STUDENTS CAN LEARN AT THEIR OWN PACE

  • Students will continue to be assigned into Express, Normal (Academic) and Normal (Technical) courses till 2023.
  • This enables us to better customise our teaching to support the needs of the children, so they can learn at a pace comfortable to them and make good progress.
  • Our system today is flexible and caters to students with uneven strengths. Students can transfer to a more demanding course in secondary school if they show that they are able to cope. This would benefit late bloomers. Also, under subject-based banding, students who do well in some subjects can take these subjects at a higher level.
  • From 2024 under Full Subject-Based Banding, at the start of Secondary 1, students can take a combination of G1/2/3 (G is for General) subjects based on their PSLE Scores, suited to their pace of learning. Thereafter, their subject levels will be based on their strengths and interests.
How does affiliation priority work under the new scoring system? Will there be further changes to affiliation priority in 2021 after the PSLE changes kick in?

Indicative AL COPs

How can parents make use of this release of indicative AL COP ranges by school types to familiarise themselves with the new S1 posting system?

The indicative Achievement Level Cut-Off-Point (AL COP) ranges for different school types provide parents and students a broad sense of secondary schools’ possible COPs under the AL scoring system, in order to contextualise their P5 end-of-year examination results.

MOE will provide the indicative AL COPs for individual secondary schools in the first half of 2021 – based on the 2020 PSLE data which is the most recent. Parents are encouraged to consider factors such as the secondary schools’ distinctive programmes, location, ethos and cultures, alongside the schools’ AL COPs, to choose schools that would best fit the educational needs of their child.

Will several schools have the same AL COPs? How do parents make school choices when the indicative AL COPs for many schools are the same?

As the AL bands on the whole have been deliberately designed to be wider, more schools will likely have the same Achievement Level Cut-Off-Point (AL COP).

First, we encourage parents and students to look beyond the schools’ COPs when choosing a secondary school, and choose schools that would best suit the student overall. They should consider the student’s learning needs, interests, strengths and aspirations, and how the school’s culture, environment, ethos, and programmes can support the student’s development. Parents are also encouraged to find out more about the schools’ Applied Learning Programme (ALP), Learning for Life Programme (LLP), Co-Curricular Activities (CCA), culture and proximity to their home when making their school choices. Parents should tap on the available resources such as the schools’ websites or MOE’s SchoolFinder to find out more details.

Second, parents and students should pick their selected schools knowing that choice order of schools will be a tie-breaker from 2021 onwards. We advise students and parents to give careful thought to the choices that they indicate on the S1 Option Form, and to choose schools with a range of COPs that can best meet the learning needs of their child.

Schools will continue to strengthen Education and Career Guidance (ECG) efforts to guide parents and students in making informed school choices.

If my child meets the school’s indicative AL COP, does that guarantee my child admission into the school? Would there be stiffer competition amongst students to get into their desired schools since more students will have the same PSLE Score?

Meeting the school’s indicative Achievement Level Cut-Off-Point (AL COP) does not guarantee a child’s admission into the secondary school. This is because the indicative AL COPs are determined by the PSLE Scores and the school choice patterns of the previous PSLE cohort. Actual AL COPs may vary from year to year depending on students’ PSLE results and their school choices for that year’s S1 Posting Exercise.

In the current T-Score system, the COP is the PSLE score of the last student admitted into the school, and there could be other students with the same score who are not admitted.

Under the new system, there will be more students with the same PSLE Score due to the use of wider scoring bands. If two (or more) students with the same PSLE Score apply for the last available place in a school, tie-breakers will be used to decide which student enters the school. The tie-breakers apply in the following order:

  • First, Citizenship (Singapore Citizen has the highest priority, then Permanent Resident, and lastly International Student)
  • Second, school choice order (first choice over second choice, and so on)
  • If citizenship status and school choice order are the same, then randomised computer balloting is used to determine who is admitted.

Most of the students who need tie-breaking would be tie-broken by the first two tie-breakers of citizenship and choice order of schools. Based on past cohorts’ choice patterns, about 1 in 10 students of the entire PSLE cohort may go to the balloting stage. The eventual balloting figure will depend on the choice patterns of students.

We advise students and parents to give careful thought to the choices that they indicate on the S1 Option Form, and to choose schools with a range of COPs that can best meet the learning needs of their child.

Why do the COPs in the tables start from AL 6 and not AL 4, since the best possible score is AL 4?

COP refers to the PSLE score of the last student admitted into the school in the previous year. Based on the PSLE results and school choices of the 2019 PSLE cohort, this means that no school had a COP of AL 4 or AL 5.

Are autonomous schools or independent schools better than other Government or Government-aided schools, given that they have more stringent cut-off points?

We have a diverse secondary school landscape of Government, Government-aided, Autonomous, Independent, and Specialised Schools, to ensure that students have a range of schools to choose from based on their interests and strengths, regardless of their PSLE Scores.

Parents and students are encouraged to look beyond schools’ Cut-Off-Points when choosing a secondary school and decide based on which school would be a good fit for the student’s overall learning needs. This includes finding out about various schools’ programmes or initiatives, ethos and culture.

MOE will continue to ensure every school is resourced with well-trained teachers, investing in their facilities, and ensuring sufficient support for good school programmes, so that every student can receive a good quality and holistic education, regardless of the school which they attend.

How were the indicative AL COP ranges for school types derived?

The indicative Achievement Level Cut-Off-Point (AL COP) ranges for the different school types were derived based on the 2019 P6 cohort’s PSLE results and school choices.

  • We first simulated each student’s individual subject score in AL terms, based on their raw subject scores.
  • Then, we added the AL scores for each PSLE subject to form a student’s total PSLE Score.

Using these simulated PSLE Scores and students’ school choices from 2019,

  • We simulated their posting outcomes based on the new S1 Posting System and its tie-breakers.
  • Thereafter, the indicative AL COP for each school was determined by the PSLE score of the last student admitted.

Finally, based on the score of the last student admitted, we took the lowest and the highest indicative AL COPs of schools within each school type (Government and Government-aided Schools, Autonomous Schools and Independent Schools) to obtain the range of indicative AL COPs.

The simulation is purely indicative and the actual AL COP for a school may vary from year to year, as they depend on the PSLE results and school choice patterns of each P6 cohort.

Why is MOE releasing indicative AL COP ranges by school types now, and the indicative AL COPs for all secondary schools only next year?

MOE is providing information in phases to better support and familiarise the first batch of students and their parents with the new Achievement Level (AL) system as they progress in their primary school journey, leading up to the PSLE and Secondary 1 Posting.

In 2016, we laid out the overall scoring and posting changes. In 2019, we shared information on Foundation scoring to help students and parents with their P5 and P6 subject choices.

The first batch of students under the new system (i.e. 2021 P6 cohort) will soon receive their P5 end-of-year examination results in ALs in their Holistic Development Profile. The release of indicative AL Cut-Off-Point (COP) ranges by school types would provide a broad sense of secondary schools’ AL COPs in order to contextualise students’ P5 end-of-year examination results.

The indicative AL COPs for individual secondary schools will be released in the first half of 2021. COPs are determined by the students’ PSLE results and their school choice patterns for that year’s S1 Posting Exercise. Thus, the indicative COPs of individual schools, derived from the PSLE results and school choice patterns of the 2020 PSLE cohort, will provide the 2021 P6 cohort with the most recent information to refer to.

© 2020 Government of Singapore.
Last updated: 06 Nov 2020