Published Date: 01 February 2021 09:00 PM

News Parliamentary Replies


Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song, Aljunied GRC


To ask the Minister for Education (a) based on simulations using past PSLE data, how many students taking the 2021 PSLE does the Ministry forecast will have their secondary school places allocated using computerised balloting as a third tie-breaker; and (b) whether the Ministry is considering introducing additional tie-breakers, in addition to citizenship and choice order of schools, to minimise the number of secondary school places which are allocated based on chance.


1. Under the new PSLE scoring system, students will be graded in wider scoring bands, known as Achievement Levels, to reduce fine differentiation at a young age, and recognise a student’s level of achievement, regardless of how their peers have done. In line with this move, we have introduced school choice order as a new tiebreaker under the Secondary 1 Posting system, to encourage parents and students to choose schools that would best suit the student’s interests and strengths.

2. Under the new system, tiebreakers will be applied in the following order if students with the same PSLE score are vying for the last remaining place in a school:

  1. First, citizenship, which is an existing tiebreaker. Singapore Citizens have the highest priority, then Permanent Residents, and lastly International Students.
  2. Second, the new tiebreaker based on school choice order.
  3. Lastly, if citizenship status and school choice order are the same, randomised computer balloting will be used to determine who is admitted to the school.

3. Balloting only happens when there are more students who choose the same school than there are vacancies in that school, and takes place after the tiebreakers of citizenship and choice order of schools have kicked in. This means that balloting happens only between students at the margins of admission to the same school who have the same PSLE score, citizenship and choice order of schools.

4. Based on simulations using the performance and school choice patterns of past cohorts, we expect that about 1 in 10 students will undergo balloting. Notwithstanding, the vast majority of students will be allocated one of their six school choices, comparable to the proportion under the current T-score system. There are currently no plans to introduce further tiebreakers. We will continue to review the system after some experience with running it, and consider if further updates or refinements are needed.

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