Starting from 2021, our Primary 6 students in Singapore will be using the new Primary School Leaving Examination PSLE scoring system where they will be graded using Achievement Levels (ALs) instead of T-scores.
Hence, if your child is taking their PSLE exam paper in 2023, it’s important to know the latest updates in the 2021 new PSLE scoring system.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- 2023 PSLE new scoring system for Singapore primary school
- How to calculate your PSLE score in 2023 (foundation subjects]
- What happens when there is a tie?
- PSLE bonus for higher mother tongue
- Minimum PSLE score for secondary school
- Taking higher mother tongue in secondary school
- Is the new passing mark for PSLE 65
- Does scoring AL6 to AL8 equate to Normal(Academic) in secondary school?
- How to score well for PSLE math
2023 PSLE scoring system
Under the new PSLE scoring system, each student in P6 will receive an achievement level, also known as AL, for every subject that he/she takes.
This achievement level corresponds to a range of marks based on the learning objectives of the Singapore curriculum.
Here is a table of the mark range and the corresponding achievement levels for your reference.
Achievement level (AL)
When your child achieves a certain degree of expectations, he/she will get that achievement level.
For example, if Sean scored 86 for Mathematics at PSLE, he will automatically get AL2. His score is not dependant on the performance of the rest of his cohort unlike the old system, so no more bell curve.
How to calculate your final PSLE score
To calculate the final PSLE score, you’ll need to add the ALs you get for all 4 subjects. This score can ranges from 4 all the way up to 32.
Final PSLE score = English AL + Mother Tongue AL + Mathematics AL + Science AL
Let’s use the example where Jane scored 90 for English, 76 for Mathematics, 75 for Science and 85 for Chinese in the PSLE examination.
When we map her marks to the corresponding achievement levels, she would have achieved AL1 for English, AL4 for Mathematics, AL4 for Science and AL2 for Chinese.
1 + 4 + 4 + 2 is 11.
So Jane’s PSLE score will be 11 points.
How are the scores calculated for PSLE Foundation subjects?
Primary 6 students who are taking subjects at the foundation level will be scored differently.
Instead of being graded with numbers, subjects that are taken at the foundational level will be scored as ALA, B or C based on a different mark range.
Here is a table of the mark range and the corresponding achievement levels for your reference. ALA is the best score in this scenario.
The grade that your child scored for a foundation subject will then be translated to a corresponding standard grade of AL6, AL7 and AL8.
Foundation level AL score
Foundation mark range
Equivalent standard AL obtained
What happens when two students tie for a place?
Most parents are concerned about what happens if 2 students with the same score vie for the last spot in a school. That’s where tie breakers will come in!
The first tie breaker will be based on citizenship. This means that Singaporeans will get priority as compared to PRs and international students.
The second tie breaker will be based on where the student puts the secondary school on their list of choices. The higher the secondary school is on the student’s list, the higher the chances of them getting in.
If the tie still remains, computing balloting will be used.
Do I get any bonus for taking Higher Mother Tongue?
Unlike the old system where students will be awarded with extra bonus points for getting a pass, merit or distinction, there is no bonus points for those who are taking higher mother tongue under the new PSLE AL system.
However, should there be a scenario where 2 students have the same score, priority will be given to the student who has a better Higher Mother Tongue grade if they are applying to a SAP school.
What is the minimum PSLE score for Express, Normal (Acad) and Normal (Tech)?
This table shows the scores that are eligible for the Express, Normal (Academic) and normal (Technical) streams in secondary school.
As long as you have AL 20 and below, you’ll be able to enter the express stream in secondary school.
The course that your child will be able to qualify for depends on their PSLE score. So even if they are taking one or more subjects at the foundation level at PSLE, they are still able to qualify for the express or normal academic course.
From 2023, streaming in secondary schools will be replaced by subject-based banding (SBB) where students will be able to take different subjects at different levels.
Will my child be offered Higher Mother Tongue in secondary school?
Your child will be eligible for higher Mother Tongue as long as they have a PSLE score of 8 or better.
If your child obtains a score from 9 to 14, they will only be offered Higher Mother Tongue if they have attained AL1 or AL2 in it at the primary level. However, some schools may still offer your child the subject if they have shown exceptional interest and potential in it.
Does that mean that the new passing mark for PSLE subjects is now 65 based on the AL system?
There is no passing or failing mark for each PSLE subject. However, to move on to secondary school (at least the normal technical course), you need to achieve the following:
- a PSLE score of 26 – 30
- a score of AL7 or better for both English and Mathematics at the standard level
- a score of ALB or better for both English and Mathematics at the foundation level
Primary 6 students who do not meet the requirements will be asked to repeat the PSLE or progress to Northlight school or Assumption Pathway school with their principal’s endorsement.
If my child AL6 to AL8 for a subject, does that mean that they need to take it at the N(A) level in secondary school?
This depends on the course that your child is in for secondary school.
If they are placed in the express course, they will take all subjects at the express level even if they scored AL 6 to 8 for any of them at the PSLE.
For students who are placed in the N(A) or N(T) courses, they can take certain subjects at N(A) or Express level.
If they score AL 5 or better in a Standard level subject at the PSLE, they can take it at the express level.
If they score score AL 6 or better at the Standard level or AL A at the Foundation level, they can take it at the N(A) level.
How can I make sure my child scores well for PSLE Mathematics under this new grading system?
Time is short in Primary 6, so it is crucial to know what is tested and strategize your child’s revision time according to their ability. With the right planning and knowing what to expect, you can maximum the results without the stress.
How Practicle is helping Singaporean kids perform well for PSLE Math without stress
Practicle is a gamified adaptive math learning system that ties fun to effective learning.
As your child is engaged in math practice sessions, our system assesses their understanding against what’s required for the PSLE exam and finds out what they have missed in previous years (Primary 4 or 5).
We then teach them exactly what they need to help them improve much faster with understanding so that they can propel towards their goals for PSLE successfully.
We hope that you have found this post useful in addressing some of your concerns regarding the new PSLE scoring system and what it means for you and your child.
Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any further questions!