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Education System in Singapore: Unique Features, Grading System, & More

Updated on 08 December, 2023

Akansha Semwal

Akansha Semwal

Study Abroad Expert

Study in Singapore

As per the World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY) 2022, a comprehensive annual report and worldwide reference point on a nation’s competitiveness, Singapore ranked #2. This highlights the strong education system in the country. The education system in Singapore is designed to help children harness their potential, and the Ministry aims to develop them into lifelong learners. Another goal of the education system of Singapore is to make sure that children have the core competencies to flourish in the modern era. 

 

Trivia: Singapore first participated in the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) in 2009, with commendable performances. That year, Singapore’s 15-year-olds were among the top performers in all three subjects (reading, science, and math).

Education Levels in Singapore: Primary and Secondary School

The primary education system in Singapore includes six years of primary school to build their foundations. The core components of the elementary education system in Singapore include the mother tongue language, English, mathematics, citizenship education, art, music, character, physical education, and social studies. The initial foundation stage is Primary 1 to Primary 4, and students can take English language, mother tongue language, science, and mathematics at the standard/foundation level at Primary 5 and 6. Higher mother tongue language may also be chosen by those doing well in this subject. 

After Primary 6, students sit for the Primary School Leaving Examination(PSLE), which puts them in suitable secondary school courses. They can also seek admission under the Direct School Admission initiative. There is the GEP (Gifted Education Programme), which takes care of the educational requirements of intellectually gifted students. 

The secondary level has several pathways, including the Express Course (four years and leads to the Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education O-Level examination) and Normal (Academic) Course (four years leading to the GCE (N(A)-Level examination). In addition, you can pursue – Normal (Technical) [N(T)] courses. This four-year course leads to the GCE N(T)-Level exam. During this course, you learn English and a Mother Tongue Language, and it offers you experiential learning.

Education Level Age ClassDuration 
Pre-School4 to 6 Kindergarten 2 years 
Primary6 to 12Primary 1 to 6 6 years 
Secondary12 to 18

Secondary 1 to 6

Junior 

6 years 
Post-Secondary18 onwardsCollege/University Education Depends on the chosen program 

Grading System of Singapore

There are several education levels in Singapore with unique grading systems and criteria. 

Here is a look at the universally followed PSLE scoring system: 

  • The PSLE indicates the level of achievement of the child via scoring bands. 
  • The N (A), N (T), and Express streams will be removed from 2024. 
  • Students will get into secondary school through Posting Groups 1, 2, and 3. 
  • The PSLE T-Score has been swapped with scoring bands called ALs or Achievement Levels. 
  • Every subject is scored with 8 ALs. 

Here is the approximate marks range: 

ALRange of Marks
1≥ 90
285 - 89
380 - 84
475 - 79
565 - 74
645 - 64
720 - 44
8< 20

The PSLE score will be the sum total of four subject scores, between 4 and 32. The best possible score is 4 under this system. As per the official AL framework, the grades will be from AL A to AL C for the foundation subjects. 

Singapore Top Universities Grading System 

While the grading system might differ based on the university, we have covered the grading system of some of the top universities in Singapore. 

Letter GradeNTU (Scale Grade Point:05)SMU (Scale Grade Point 4.0) 
A+5.04.3 (>= 86%)
A5.04.0 (83-85%)
A-4.53.7 (80-82%)
B+4.03.3 (77-79%)
B3.53.0 (74-76%)
B-3.02.7 (70-73%)
C+2.52.3 (67-69%)
C2.02.0 (64-66%)
C-N.A1.7 (60-63%)
D+1.51.3 (53-59%)
D1.01.0 (50-52%)
F0.00.0 (<= 49%)

Post-Secondary Education & Universities in Singapore 

Post Secondary 4 or Secondary 5, most students proceed to one of the following post-secondary education institutions: 

  • Junior Colleges (Pre-university education for two years) or centralized institutes (three-year courses). These lead to the GCE A-Level examination or IB diploma. 
  • Singapore Sports School/School of the Arts is available for specialized IB diplomas. 
  • Polytechnics offers full-time diplomas, including Specialist Diploma and Advanced Diploma courses. 
  • The Institutes of Technical Education offer technical/vocational education. 
  • Arts institutions include the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and LASALLE College of the Arts, which have degree and diploma programs in various disciplines. 
  • Universities offer degree programs to students. There are six autonomous publicly-funded universities in Singapore. Research-intensive universities include the NUS (National University of Singapore), NTU (Nanyang Technological University), Singapore Management University, Singapore University of Technology and Singapore Institute of Technology. 

Recommended Article: Study in Singapore after 12th

Type of Educational Institutes

As per the education structure in Singapore, there are various kinds of institutions for students at multiple levels. These include: 

Institution TypeExample
Government schools, including autonomous schoolsAnglo-Chinese School (Independent) (Secondary), Methodist Girls’ School (Secondary), Raffles Institution (Secondary)
Independent schoolsNUS High School of Mathematics and Science, Singapore Sports School, School of Science and Technology, School of the Arts 
Specialized schoolsAssumption Pathway School, NorthLight School
Secondary schools for PG1/PG1/2 Option BandSpectra Secondary School, Crest Secondary School
Junior CollegeAnderson Serangoon Junior College, Anglo-Chinese Junior College, Catholic Junior College 
PolytechnicNanyang Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic
Arts institutions LASALLE College of the Arts and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, University of the Arts Singapore 
Industry-specific degree/graduate certificate/diploma-granting institutionsBuilding and Construction Authority (BCA) Academy, IP Academy, Singapore Aviation Academy
Local autonomous universitiesNanyang Technological University (NTU), National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), Singapore Management University (SMU), Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD)

Characteristics of Singapore Educational System

Here are some key characteristics of the Singapore education system: 

  • Schools offer diverse and rich learning experiences by building foundations in numeracy, literacy, and social, aesthetic, physical, emotional, and moral aspects. 
  • Students are encouraged to build their talents in arts, sports, and music, among other activities. 
  • Education in Singapore is geared towards equipping students with leadership skills and core capabilities vital in the 21st century. 
  • The Values in Action programs and Applied Learning experiences are crucial pillars of the system that help learners find their interests and choose proper pathways. 
  • The education system in Singapore emphasizes both the mother tongue and English language for students as a part of its bilingual policy. 
  • Students are exposed to multicultural environments to help them flourish in a more global world in the future. 
  • Teachers are nurtured by the system with evidence-based and extensive pre-service training at the National Institute of Education. 

In a nutshell, the education system of Singapore is designed to help learners grow into responsible, creative, and innovative global citizens. This has made Singapore one of the world’s most acclaimed countries in education over the last few years. 

Read More About Study in Singapore:

FAQs

Is the education system tough in Singapore?

Singapore has a well-balanced education system that emphasizes learning and extracurricular activities alike. Students in Singapore are usually some of the best in the world at science and mathematics, among other subjects. The curriculum is innovatively tailored, and teachers go through extensive training at multiple levels. 

How is the education system in Singapore ranked globally?

Singapore was ranked as the best nation for education as per leading global rankings, scoring 9.10 out of 10. It is also a country that has the highest level of individuals who have been educated at the university level, as per these reports, with the figure standing at 29.7%.  

What are the benefits of studying in Singapore?

Studying in Singapore comes with numerous advantages, including innovative curriculums, top-ranked institutions, reputed and experienced faculty, English as the medium of instruction, and a multicultural and diverse student community. 

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Akansha Semwal

Study Abroad Expert

Akansha Semwal is a content marketer at upGrad and has also worked as a social media marketer & sub-editor. Experienced in creating impressive Statement of Purpose, Essays, and LOR, she knows how to captivate the attention of Admissions Committee. Her research-driven;study-abroad articles helps aspirants to make the prudent decision. She holds a bachelor's & master's degree in Literature from the University of Delhi.

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