PSLE AL Scoring System: A Detailed Analysis

A student planning the schedule calendar for PSLE exam revisions in laptop.

In 2016, Singapore’s Ministry of Education announced the revamping of the T-score system that had been in place for decades. The new system known as PSLE Achievement Level (AL) Scoring System has replaced the old T-score system with wider scoring bands.

What does this new scoring system mean for the thousands of students appearing for the PSLE exams every academic year? Read on to understand the details of this PSLE scoring system overhaul.

Fine Tuning PSLE With Achievement Level Scoring System

Students facing the Primary School Leaving Examination or the PSLE after 2021 are lucky indeed! Fortunately for them, Singapore’s Ministry of Education has shifted its focus to a more skill-based approach for the four PSLE examinable subjects:

  1. English
  2. Mother Tongue Language (MTL)
  3. Science
  4. Mathematics

According to the PSLE al system, a child’s PSLE score is the sum of the four subject scores. The AL PSLE score ranges from 4 to 2, with 4 being the best possible score.

The AL scoring system differs from the old T-scoring system, thanks to its wider scoring bands that range from AL1- to AL8. Here’s a glimpse of the PSLE score calculation:

SubjectsAL score
EnglishAL3
Mother Tongue LanguageAL2
ScienceAL2
MathematicsAL1
Total PSLE ScoreAL8

A total of 8 ALs will be used to score each PSLE subject. Those students with similar performances will be placed within the same AL.

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Prime Objectives of PSLE AL Scoring

By revamping the PSLE scoring system, the Ministry of Education aims to:

  • Reduce a fine differentiation at a young age

There were more than 200 different scores with the old T-score system, which made things difficult for students wanting to progress to secondary school. Fortunately, the new AL system has only 29 scores (from 4 to 32). This makes it less stressful to score the last mark rather than aiming for a specific band.

  • Recognise the student’s achievement levels

The T scoring system was primarily based on students’ performance compared to their peer scores in a particular subject. However, the AL scoring system ranks children based on their academic abilities rather than peer achievement.

  • Help in secondary school course selection

The AL Scoring system encourages students and parents to select their secondary schools based on CCA (Co-Curricular Activities) availability, location, and school culture. So, what makes the AL PSLE point system better than the T-score system? Let’s find out.

AL Scoring System Vs T-Scoring System: The Key Differences

One of the prime differences between the two PSLE scoring systems is the AL system is designed to easily calculate the rough estimate of a student’s PSLE score. However, the T-score relied on a complex formula to determine the PSLE score.

The formula, T-Score = 50+10 (X-m)/ S, was used to roughly calculate the subject score. As per the formula,

X=Raw marks obtained M= Average mark S= Standard deviation or the spread of marks around the mean mark

The sum of all the four subject T-scores would yield a student’s PSLE score.

The following table compares the old and new PSLE scoring systems.

Grade level comparison of Old PSLE Scoring System and New PSLE Scoring System

Based on the details in the table, we can make the following observations:

  • AL2 merits students obtaining 85-89 marks, and AL4 is awarded to those who score between 75 and 79 marks per subject.
  • A B grade from the T-score system is now banded between AL5 (65-74 marks) and AL 6 (45-64 marks). A 60-mark only awarded students a B grade with the old system. However, with the new system, the same mark will award the student with an AL6. This AL6 will limit the choice of programs and school types that the child selects for admission.
  • From 2021 onwards, the PSLE will be banded based on the combined score of the AL bands for the four PSLE subjects. Bands can range from 4 (the best score) to 32.

Also Read : Top 9 FAQs That Explain the New PSLE Scoring System

How the MoE Deals With Tie-Breakers

A wise school girl in glasses with red plaid school uniform reading a book in her hands. Other classmates studying in the backgroundEducational experts say that with the new scoring system, it is highly likely that there will be more students with equal scores with the same entry score ranges. The MoE has decided to implement tie-breakers to solve this issue if more students with the same scores vie for the last available seat in school. The tie-breakers give priority for:

Students holding Singapore citizenship, followed by Permanent Residents and lastly by international students. School choice order for students who ranked the school higher on their choice list. Computerised balloting will be used to determine secondary school admission.

Uneven Distribution of AL Score Bands: An Explanation

Parents and students who are unsure of the new PSLE scoring system frequently ask how the raw mark ranges are distributed. Comparisons are often made between ALs 2 to 4 (each having a five-mark range) with ALs 5 to 6 (each having a ten-mark range and twenty-mark range respectively).

MOE expects that roughly half of the PSLE cohort will score AL1 to AL4 for Standard subjects. It also expects that around half of the students taking Standard subjects today will score above 75. MoE cautions that there is no passing or failing mark for each PSLE subject or PSLE as a whole. Because of that, the higher AL mark ranges are smaller.

Even after dividing students into wider bands, the upper AL bands have comparatively narrow ranges since around half of today’s students score in the area of 75 and above. The wider these bands are, the more students would have the same PSLE score.

The AL Scoring System: A New Hope For PSLE

Despite all the changes made in the PSLE scoring system, the PSLE curriculum remains the same. However, more importance is given to questions that test the application of logical reasoning and high-order thinking. This change in the complexity of questions does not, however, correlate to the changes in PSLE scoring.

Finally, no matter what type of scoring system the MoE decides to adopt, the importance of PSLE should never be undermined. Your child should harness every possible platform to help them ace the exam. One such platform is StudySmart, an AI-powered PSLE app for students to personalise and optimise your child’s PSLE exam preparation. To immediately avail StudySmart, call us now.

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