Should the government revamp the PSLE grading system of using T-scores?


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Question 1 

The PSLE revamp is part of a larger shift away from academics towards broadening opportunities for students to discover their interests and talents, and develop life skills, a sense of curiosity and a love for learning. Experts say that while this is a necessary change, it will take time for the country to embrace it and move away from its preoccupation with marks.

Pupils in Primary 1 this year will be the first cohort to take the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) and receive a new set of results.

In 2021, the national examination will do away with the aggregate score – often criticised for being the cause of excessive stress among pupils and parents. With the change, children will no longer be graded relative to one another.

In its place will be wider scoring bands such as A, B, C and D – similar to the scoring system used in the O- and A-level examinations.

But this is only the most obvious change to what has been a steady overhaul of a pressurecooker system which has had a strong focus on marks instead of a child’s holistic development.

Already, in the early stages of primary education, exams have become a thing of the past. Pupils are increasingly being encouraged to express themselves. Applied learning is in, along with the development of character and life skills.

At Primary Four or Five, pupils take part in a three-day cohort camp and learn to prepare simple meals, adapt to the outdoors, and build resilience and camaraderie.

In the coming years, primary school leavers will have more choice to go to secondary schools offering niche programmes in robotics, environmental issues, the arts and music, for instance, where they can develop their interests beyond the three “R”s – reading, writing and arithmetic.

As Acting Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng explained in Parliament earlier this month when he announced the changes: “Let’s help our children make good use of their time to branch out to explore other interests and passions and to pursue what they want to do in life.

“Let’s help them make good choices about their educational and career pathways based on their aptitudes and aspirations.

“Let’s help them to be ready for the future.”

-Adapted from article “Evolving the S’pore education system: Going beyond grades by AMELIA TENG, CALVIN YANG, The Straits Times, INSIGHT, B2 & B3,


There has been much debate in the Singapore Parliament and public sphere with regard to the revamp in the PSLE grading. The two articles provided below reflect some of the debate regarding this issue.

Should the government revamp the PSLE grading system of using T-scores? 

In about 1000 words, write a persuasive argumentative essay defending your position in order to argue for your particular stance on this issue. Other than providing supporting arguments for the position you take on this issue, you MUST anticipate objections and provide counterarguments to write the paper. Relevant information for you to gather would be: 

  Definition of T-score

  Issues (moral, ethical, social and etc.) surrounding the PSLE grading system of using T-scores

  Arguments for upholding the PSLE grading system of using T-scores

  Arguments against upholding the PSLE grading system of using T-scores 

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