A Practical Information Guide to
Choosing A Secondary School

A Practical Information Guide to Choosing A Secondary School

Congratulations! You, like most Singaporean parents, have successfully steered your child through the potential minefield that is the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) and are about to give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done and breathe a sigh of relief. But do not rest too easily just yet! For another imminent decision will require your stewardship to firmly set your child(ren)’s on the path to future secondary school academic success.

Choosing a secondary school is a critical and pivotal decision that every Singaporean (based) parent encounters as they, together with their child(ren), navigate the increasingly myriad range of MOE regulated schools available to them. Considering the far-reaching implications on their child(ren)’s future career choices and lifestyles, this is, without doubt, one of the most important considerations upon which any family will deliberate.

O Level Master presents here (what we rank as) the 5 most salient and practical factors to consider when contemplating which secondary school most suits your child’s individual needs.

  1. PSLE Cutoff: Eligibility and Suitability

As part of the Secondary 1 posting exercise in late November every year, a list of PSLE Cutoff points (COP) for all MOE regulated schools in Singapore accepting secondary 1 students for the next academic year will be published. The COP quite simply defines the minimum PSLE score required for a student to gain admission to the school.

View 2019 PSLE Cut off Points Sec1 intake

Perusing the table, it should become immediately obvious to parents, the upper limit of the range of schools to which your child(ren) will be able to access. This automatically forms the upper bound of the range of accessible schools that you would consider.

  1. School Forte

A secondary school’s forte or specialisation with regards to academic banding, elective programmes offering, talent development or even special needs will, for most parents and students, be the primary consideration for suitability. This single factor will directly determine the breadth of educational pathways available to the student (N Levels, O Levels, A Levels and International Baccalaureate Diploma) and hence is most likely to influence their future post-secondary and career pathways and choices. As such, parents and students should first be cognizant of and fully explore the range of options before them. The following is an executive summary of the educational landscape in Singapore.

  1. Proximity and Accessibility

A mundane factor which is often discounted but will have a significant impact on your child’s wellbeing is the location of the school of choice. Students will be increasingly expected to travel independently on public transport to and from school as they progress through their secondary school learning journey.

  1. School Fees

Every cent saved on school fees may be effectively redeployed into further enrichment or tuition programmes to avail your child of an edge in the ultra-competitive Singaporean education system.

  1. Graduate Results Track Record

Many parents are reassured by the high standards of pedagogy and achievement of former graduating cohorts from premier secondary schools as a benchmark when finalising their selections. Although school-specific historical data on O Levels, A-Levels and International Baccalaureate Diploma exam results is a little more difficult to mine, most schools do post the exam results of their most recent graduating cohort on their websites which may serve as a basis for comparison.

A Final Word to the Wise

Having identified a shortlist of at least 2 to 3 candidate secondary schools, it is always highly recommended to visit these schools on their open house dates, with your child, to get acquainted with the school’s management, teaching staff and senior schoolmates to understand more about the school’s academic as well as CCA programmes and pedagogy and to survey the premises and facilities. Parents should also use this opportunity to clarify any doubts or missing information critical to their decision process with the school administration. 

Ultimately, both you and your child should be fully comfortable about the overall learning environment and educational offerings before confirming its nomination as one of the school’s of your choice. A list of secondary school open dates for 2019 may be found by following this URL:


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