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The AL PSLE Scoring System: A Closer Look at the Details

March 5, 2022
StudySmart Team
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AL PSLE Scores - Why do They Matter?

Anyone who is a resident of Singapore is well aware of PSLE. The Primary School Leaving Examination is a cornerstone for all students pursuing their education in Singapore.

Every academic year, the PSLE sends students and parents into a tizzy. In Singapore, PSLE is not only seen as an exam. People here believe that the exam has its value as a checkpoint for all students. It is a vital parameter to gauge the student's progress and academic aptitude after six years in primary school.

Likewise, the PSLE's scoring system serves as a stepping platform for students to choose a secondary school course based on their academic abilities. For Singaporeans, the PSLE score decides the child's future in higher education and career opportunities.

Currently, the country is abuzz with the newly revamped PSLE scoring system replacing the old T-score system in 2021. Named the Achievement Level (AL) scoring system, children are scored differently from the alphabetical grades that have always been the norm.

If you are unsure or confused about the AL PSLE score system, this blog is the right one for you. It's packed with details about the AL system and how it works. So, let's get going.

PSLE New Scoring System: How it Works

The AL scoring system was first introduced in 2016 by Singapore's Ministry of Education. Unlike the T-score, the AL score does not link a student's performance to their peers. This old scoring system put immense pressure on students and parents alike.

Would you like to give your child the best chance possible to excel in PSLE exams? There are many ways you can assist them in preparation and revision for their exams when they are ready. StudySmart's online learning platform gives them deep practice across all subject areas. Take a look at our products: PSLE English, PSLE Maths, PSLE Science.

Fortunately, the AL scoring system is intended to ease students' pressure and anxiety when competing against their peers' scores. As part of the new AL grading system, PSLE Foundation subjects are rated differently from Standard subjects. This is how it works:

Salient Features of PSLE AL Scoring for Standard Subjects

  • Each standard-level PSLE subject is scored using eight achievement level bands from AL1 to AL8.
  • Each subject is awarded scores from 1 to 8 instead of the old system that scored students with alphabetical grades from A to E.
  • The best possible score for standard level PSLE subjects under the AL system is 4.
  • A student's total AL score will be the sum of the AL for all four subjects.

Salient Features of PSLE AL Scoring for Foundation Subjects

  • The PSLE score for foundation subjects is calculated differently than that of the standard subjects.
  • PSLE AL scores for foundation subjects are A, B, and C.

Here's a hypothetical example to help you understand how AL scoring works for standard subjects:

If a student takes English and Mother Tongue Language (MTL) as foundation subjects, and Mathematics and Science as standard subjects, his score can be calculated in the following manner:

Standard English= AL 5
Standard Mother Tongue Language= AL 5

Foundation Mathematics with B score= AL 7
Foundation Science with B score= AL 7

The final PSLE score is

AL5+ AL 5+ AL 7+ AL 7= 24

With this score, the student has the chance of making it for the Express or Normal Academic course.

Also Read : A Detailed Overview of the PSLE Scoring System

AL scoring system for Mother Tongue Language(MTL) Exemption and Asian or Foreign Languages

Some students are exempted from learning MTL because of mitigating circumstances. These students are given an MTL score so their PSLE score has four subjects for S1 posting. Their MTL score is based on:

  • Taking reference from peers with the same English, Mathematics, and Science scores.
  • Maintaining parity of treatment with students taking Foundation MTL and those with a score of AL6 to AL8.
    Based on this scoring structure, students are given an MTL score between AL6 and AL8.

AL Scoring Bands & Their Impact on Students' Overall Scores

Close-up portrait of a smiling primary school student sitting at her desk and writing in her notebook.
Since 2021, PSLE has been scored with wider bands to highlight only the students' academic performance. The eight AL bands reflect the students' achievement levels in each subject. The total PSLE score will be the sum of all the four subject scores, ranging from 4 to 32. Similar to the T-scoring system, there is no pass or fail marks for each PSLE subject or PSLE as a whole.

Under the AL scoring system, the highest possible score is 4, and the lowest score is 32. Until 2023, a student's PSLE score will open up possibilities of choosing secondary school courses such as Express, Normal (Academic) and Normal (Technical). For example, a student with a PSLE score of 26 to 30 with an AL7 in English and Mathematics is eligible to take the Normal (Technical) course.

Cut-off Points under AL Scoring System

Under the AL scoring system, if two students end up with the same PSLE score, two tie-breakers are used to determine who claims the last spot.

  • Tie-breaker 1- based purely on citizenship
  • Tie-breaker 2-based on students' school choices, where the student with the school highest on the list of choices gets priority.

Computerised balloting is used if the tie-breaker does not help choose the student.

According to the AL scoring system, the new indicative score ranges for PSLE reflect the first and last pupils who will be posted to each school. A school's cut-off points or COPs are based on the PSLE scores of the last pupil posted to the school in the previous year. The score ranges will likely vary from year to year, depending on a cohort's PSLE results. As per the Ministry of Education, the indicative PSLE score ranges have remained stable, with typical fluctuations of 1 AL.

Gearing Up for PSLE With StudySmart

So, there you have it- The Achievement Level Scoring System for PSLE. Regardless of the scoring system, how your child performs in PSLE is all that matters. StudySmart's PSLE learning app built with Artificial Intelligence and backed by NeuroScience could mean a world of difference to your child's exam preparation. Do get in touch with us to know more.

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