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What Advantages Does the Present PSLE Scoring System Offer Your Child?

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

As the dust settles on another round of the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), students and parents eagerly await the release of the results, tentatively scheduled between Wednesday, 22 November and Friday, 24 November 2023.

The PSLE, a rite of passage for students in Singapore, serves as a pivotal moment in their lives. It signifies not only the culmination of their primary education but also the gateway to new challenges and opportunities in secondary school. However, to better facilitate this transition and empower both students and parents, it's essential to grasp the intricacies of the relatively new PSLE scoring system, which was first announced in 2016 and officially implemented in 2021.

So, what does this scoring system encompass, and what are the advantages it offers to your child?

Understanding the Current PSLE Scoring System

Before we delve into the advantages, it's crucial to grasp the fundamentals of the current PSLE scoring system.

In general, all the various elements of this new system were introduced to provide a more holistic assessment of a student's abilities, moving away from the overly fine differentiation of results that used to exist in the old scoring system.

Some of the key features to take into account include:

The Achievement Levels

The current PSLE scoring system has introduced a more sophisticated approach known as Achievement Levels (ALs) to assess students' performance. Departing from traditional letter grades, this system evaluates each standard-level PSLE subject using eight ALs.

The ALs and their corresponding raw mark range are as follows:

  • AL1: More than 90

  • AL2: 85 to 89

  • AL3: 80 to 84

  • AL4: 75 to 79

  • AL5: 65 to 74

  • AL6: 45 to 64

  • AL7: 20 to 44

  • AL8: Less than 20

These Achievement Levels offer a more precise evaluation, allowing students to be assessed based on their individual performance in each subject. It also eliminates the need for comparing students to their peers and focuses on understanding how well they've grasped the curriculum's learning objectives in specific subjects.

But how do you go about calculating your child's PSLE scores?

To determine your child's PSLE score, you will have to add the Achievement Levels achieved in their four PSLE subjects: English, Math, Science, and Mother Tongue. This total score ranges from 4 to 32, with 4 representing the best achievable total score.

Here’s a hypothetical situation:

Meet Sarah, a diligent student who recently completed her PSLE. She scored AL1 in English, AL2 in Mother Tongue, AL1 in Math, and AL3 in Science. Her overall PSLE score is 7, reflecting her exceptional performance.


Achievement Level



Mother Tongue






PSLE Score:


Now, the question arises: how do these scores impact your child's academic journey?

Placement in Secondary School Courses

As mentioned, your child's PSLE score plays a pivotal role in determining their path through secondary school, especially if they are graduating from primary school in 2023*. How so, you ask?

This score is a reflection of their performance in the PSLE examination and acts as a compass guiding them toward one of three secondary school courses: Express, Normal (Academic), or Normal (Technical).

Here's a concise breakdown of the placement criteria:

PSLE AL Score Range

Secondary School Course

4 to 20


​21 to 22

Express or Normal Academic

23 to 24

Normal Academic


Normal Academic or Normal Technical

26 to 30 (with AL 7 or better in English and Math)

Normal Technical

*Note that the Ministry of Education (MOE) will be reshaping the educational landscape by discontinuing streaming in secondary schools from 2024 onward. This shift aims to offer students more flexibility in subject choices and a diverse learning experience.

Why the Sudden Change?

The introduction of the new AL system represents a monumental shift in the world of primary education. But why the change? Simply put, the AL system, with its broader bands, aims to reduce the academic pressure cooker that the old T-score system often created. With these new bands, students no longer need to chase that elusive last mark in a relentless pursuit to outperform their peers.

How Will this Scoring Help Your Kid?

This transformation of the PSLE scoring system isn't merely about challenging conventional norms; it's fundamentally about empowering your child. The advantages of this contemporary grading system extend well beyond the surface — consider these key benefits:

1. Reduced Fine Differentiation of Results

With the introduction of 29 possible PSLE scores, the system significantly reduces fine-grained differentiation among students' examination scores. Consequently, more students will share the same PSLE score, creating a landscape where schools with similar cut-off points abound. This change, in turn, ensures that students have a broader spectrum of school options. Therefore, your child can now base their secondary school choices on their unique strengths, interests, school programmes, and Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs) instead of just grades and scores attained.

2. Recognition of Individual Achievement

In this revamped PSLE scoring system, every AL serves as a reflection of a student's performance concerning the curriculum's designated learning objectives.

As such, it's safe to say that this new system places emphasis on recognising each child's unique accomplishments and talents. Assessing students' performance on a broader scale also provides a fairer reflection of their individual abilities and achievements, helping them build confidence and self-esteem.

3. Enhanced Flexibility in Subject and School Choices

With the new PSLE scoring framework, students enjoy greater flexibility in choosing both their subjects and secondary schools. This is because with just 29 conceivable scores — a significant contrast from the old system's over 200 possible aggregate scores — the differentiation between schools based on cut-off points will diminish, allowing students a broader spectrum of secondary schools to consider.

Preparing for Success in Secondary School with Math Academia

In this ever-evolving educational landscape, preparing your child for the transition to secondary school is pivotal. At Math Academia, we understand the challenges students and parents face during this significant journey. As such, our team of dedicated private Math tutors is here to support your child's growth every step of the way. To ensure your child's smooth transition to secondary school, we provide E-Math tuition and beyond. Our tailored programmes also focus on providing exam stress management guidance, strengthening foundational skills, enhancing problem-solving abilities, and adapting to dynamic curriculum changes.

Prepare your child for success in their next academic year with Math Academia — your trusted partner in education.

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