Singapore exam changes in 2019: What parents must know

February 22, 2019
  • 1 / 6

    Singapore’s Ministry of Education (MOE) announced sweeping changes to the exam system in September 2018, many of which will take effect in 2019.

    The aim: To reduce the focus on exams and allow kids to love learning, for life. Here’s what Singapore parents must know about the changes.

    Read MOE’s answers to common questions about the changes here.

    Related: Top 6 academic problems your Primary 1 and 2 child will face even though he has no big exams

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  • No exams for kids in Primary 1 and 2
    2 / 6 No exams for kids in Primary 1 and 2

    According to The Straits Times, MOE did away with exams in Primary 1, but students were graded using informal assessments. Primary 2 students had one exam at the end of the year.

    From 2019, Primary 1 and 2 students will have no exams. Teachers will use bite-sized assessments such as discussions, homework and quizzes, to measure how much kids have learnt, but these are not graded.

    Related: Primary school revision tips to help your child study smarter


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  • No mid-year exams for Primary 3, Primary 5, Secondary 1 and Secondary 3 levels
    3 / 6 No mid-year exams for Primary 3, Primary 5, Secondary 1 and Secondary 3 levels

    This will happen over three years, starting with no mid-year exams for Sec 1 kids from 2019.

    MOE said in a statement: “Primary Three, Primary Five, Secondary One and Secondary Three are transition years, during which students will be exposed to new subjects and/or higher content rigour and expectations.

    “We want to provide them with adequate time and space to adjust to the increased curriculum demands. Hence, the mid-year examinations for these levels will also be removed over the next three years, starting with the removal of mid-year examinations at Sec One in 2019.”

    Related: Why Singapore celebrity parents are showing off their PSLE grades

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  • Report books will change
    4 / 6 Report books will change

    From 2019, report books will not state a student’s class and level ranking, so kids will focus on their own learning rather than the competition.

    Primary 1 and 2: Teachers will use “qualitative descriptors” to report how students have learnt.

    Other levels: Marks will be rounded off and as whole numbers to reduce excessive focus on marks.

    You will no longer see these in your child’s report books from 2019:
    – Class and level mean
    – Minimum and maximum marks
    – Underlining and/or colouring of failing marks
    – Pass/fail for end-of-year result
    – Mean subject grades
    – Overall total marks
    – L1R5, L1R4, EMB3 and EMB1 for lower secondary levels


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  • Edusave awards criteria will change
    5 / 6 Edusave awards criteria will change

    As Primary 1 and 2 kids won’t be graded, the Edusave awards will recognise students’ attitudes to learning, such as diligence, curiosity, collaboration and enthusiasm.

    Related: 6 signs that your kid is not settling well in primary school

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  • 6 / 6

    The exam changes will free up curriculum time
    Eduation Minister Ong Ye Kung said the changes will free up about three weeks of curriculum time every two years. He urged educators to use the time well to use applied and inquiry-based learning.

    For example, to calculate area, kids can be given a formula. Alternatively, they can asked to brainstorm how they can find out the size of their school field and even brought down to the school field to measure it for themselves.

    Minister Ong said the move re-balances two trade-offs in education – between maintaining rigour and inculcating the joy of learning.

    Check out MOE’s table documenting the changes here.

    A version of this story first appeared in The Straits Times.

    (Photos: The Straits Times)

    Related: 10 things Singapore teachers wished parents knew about their kids

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