The PSLE has been a huge thing in every Singaporean’s life since forever. Ask anybody born in the 1950s and later what their PSLE aggregate was, and they’ll be able to tell you with laser-like accuracy exactly how much they scored. 

So, with the new changes to the PSLE scoring system that will take effect in 2021, what do parents of current students in Primary 2 that will take the PSLE in 2021 have to take note of? We've narrowed them down to 3 main points: 

1. The current T-score will be replaced by wider scoring bands

How the PSLE aggregate has been calculated since its inception was to add up the total scores of all four subjects a student takes, resulting in over 200 different T-scores.

From 2021 onwards, a student's marks in each subject will be converted according to the new, wider scoring bands that range from Achievement Level (AL) 1-8, with AL1 being the best score and AL8 being the lowest score. 

The student’s total PSLE Score will be the sum of the four subject scores, which will range from 4 (best) to 32.  So a student scoring the best score of AL1 for all four subjects will have the total PSLE score of 4. 

 This is the breakdown of the AL grading system. To get the best possible PSLE score, students need to score above 90 marks in all four subjects.

This is the breakdown of the AL grading system. To get the best possible PSLE score, students need to score above 90 marks in all four subjects.

2. The new scoring system is meant to reflect a student's own performance

Currently, The PSLE T-scores indicate how well the student has performed compared to his peers. With the new ALs, it aims to reflect the student’s level of achievement in the subject (individual performance) instead of benchmarking them against their peers. (performance compared to peers)

Once a student shows a level of achievement that meets the learning objectives expected at a certain AL, he will receive the AL regardless of how his peers perform. This shifts the focus towards how well the student has learnt and retained knowledge, instead to on trying to outdo others.

3. Streaming will continue

Regardless of the new scoring system, students will continue to be assigned to Express, Normal (Academic) and Normal (Technical).

To get into the Express stream, students will need to get a PSLE score of 22 or less, instead of a PSLE aggregate score of around 188 currently. For the Normal (Academic) stream, a score of 25 or less is needed, and for the Normal (Technical) stream, a score of 30 or less.

If a student scores AL8 for English and/or Maths, he will have to retake the PSLE.