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As you might have already heard, our Primary 6 students will be switching to a new Primary School Leaving Examination PSLE scoring system in 2021 where Achievement Levels (ALs) will be replacing the old T-scores.

If your primary school child is born from 2009 onwards, this post is written especially for you to help you stay updated about all the new changes of the 2021 new PSLE scoring system.

What is the new PSLE scoring system?

Under the new PSLE scoring system, how well your child do in each PSLE subject will be scored using Achievement Levels (ALs) instead of letter grades like A*, A, B, C etc that were used in the old system.

Here’s a table with the mark range for the different ALs your child can score:

There will be 8 ALs in total depending on the raw marks that your child scores for each subject. These scores are not dependant on the performance of the rest of the cohort unlike the previous years, so there’s no bell curve involved.

If 2 students perform equally well, they’ll be placed in the same AL for that subject. There is no limit to the number of students who can get the same grade.

As you can see, AL 1 is the best score and AL 8 is the lowest. So the smaller the number, the better it is!

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

Best PSLE Score = English AL1 + Mother Tongue AL1 + Mathematics AL1 + Science AL1 = 4

What about the new PSLE scoring system for PSLE Foundation subjects? How are they calculated?

Under the new AL grading system, the PSLE scores for PSLE Foundation subjects are calculated differently as compared to the Standard subjects. There are only 3 kinds of PSLE scores that a student can score for their Foundation subjects – A, B and C.

These scores corresponds to the grades from AL6 to AL8 as shown:

PSLE new foundation grading system

For example, if a student takes 2 Foundation subjects and 2 Standard subjects, we can calculate his PSLE score as below:

Standard English = AL5

Standard Mother Tongue = AL5

Foundation Mathematics = B = AL7

Foundation Science = B = AL7

Final PSLE Score

= AL5 + AL5 + AL7 + AL7

= 24

In case you are worried if this student can make it for the Express or Normal (Academic) course, rest assured that it is still possible for them to do so.

What is the passing score for PSLE? Are there any magic numbers?

There is no pass or fail grade for the individual subjects.

As long as a student scores a 30 and below and does well in both English and Mathematics with AL7 or better, they can progress to the Normal (Technical) course.

Those who fail to do so would have to repeat the PSLE or move on to Northlight School or Assumption Pathway School.

What is a good PSLE score? What is the achievement level cut-off points for secondary school?

MOE has released indicative AL cut-off points by streams and school types based on last year’s PSLE results and postings. We’ve included it here for your reference.

PSLE cut off point 2021 for secondary schools

Do I get any bonus for taking Higher Mother Tongue?

Unlike the old system, you will not be awarded with extra bonus points 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 to be eligible for the Express, Normal (Academic) and normal (Technical) streams in secondary school.

PSLE cut off point 2021

Do note that streaming will be abolished in secondary schools after 2023 and it’s going to be replaced with 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?

As long as your child has a PSLE score of 8 or better, they’ll be eligible for it. 

Otherwise, if your child scored anything from 9 to 14, he/she will only be offered Higher Mother Tongue if he/she has attained AL1 or AL2 in that subject. Having said that, some schools may still offer them the subject if they have shown exceptional interest and potential in it.

How can I make sure my child scores well for PSLE Mathematics under this new grading system?

Make sure they know what is tested and strategize their revision time according to their ability to maximum the results you get.  Preparing for PSLE Mathematics doesn’t have to be stressful if you know exactly how to plan for it.

What can Practicle do to help my child perform well for PSLE Math?

Practicle can help to assess each child’s understanding and mastery of what is required for the PSLE and find any learning gaps that might occur even when your child was in Primary 4 or 5. This constant finding of weaknesses lets our system teach them what they need exactly and help them improve much faster as a result.

Through our gamified approach, your child will not only enjoy the learning process and be rewarded for their effort, they’ll build the right studying habits to propel them towards their goals for PSLE.


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 and we’ll be glad to answer them!

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