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Polytechnic admission criteria changes to allow students to 'focus on their strengths': Maliki Osman

From 2028, students seeking to enter Polytechnic Year 1 can include one G2 or G3 level subject to contribute to their aggregate score

Starting from 2028, the criteria will still require students to present four G3 subjects for Polytechnic Year 1 admission. However, they will now have the flexibility to include one subject at either the G2 or G3 level to factor into their aggregate score
Starting from 2028, the criteria will still require students to present four G3 subjects for Polytechnic Year 1 admission. However, they will now have the flexibility to include one subject at either the G2 or G3 level to factor into their aggregate score. (PHOTO: Yahoo Southeast Asia)

Starting from 2028, students seeking admission to polytechnics will be subject to revised criteria, said Second Minister for Education Maliki Osman during his ministry's Committee of Supply session in Parliament on Monday (4 March).

Currently, students are required to offer five G3 (or O-Level equivalent) subjects, which are computed into an ELR2B2 aggregate score. ELR2B2 stands for grades obtained in English Language (EL), two relevant (R) subjects related to their polytechnic course choice, and the two best (B) subjects where they achieved the next highest scores.

Under the new criteria, students will need to offer four G3 subjects, and will have the option to offer one subject at either the G2 or G3 level to contribute to their aggregate score.

How does the new poly admission criteria work?

Dr Maliki illustrated this change with an example of a student named Jude, who initially takes six G3 subjects but finds the workload challenging. He decided to take Design & Technology (D&T) at the G2 level, which still allows him to pursue his passion while reducing his workload.

Previously, Jude would not have been able to use his G2 D&T grade for admission to Polytechnic Year 1. Starting in 2028, he can use his G2 D&T grade if it improves his overall score.

To accommodate this change, the net aggregate cut-off for admission to Polytechnic Year 1 will be adjusted from 26 points to 22 points. Dr Maliki said the adjustment is not a tightening of admission criteria but a result of converting one 'B' subject from G3 to G2.

For example, if Jude had an ELR2B2 score of 26 points today with a C6 in his 'B' subject, his C6 grade would be mapped to a G2 grade, resulting in an aggregate score of 22 points, still allowing him access to polytechnic. If Jude chooses to take his 'B' subject at G2 and obtains a Grade 1, his aggregate score will improve to 21 points.

"This change will allow students to focus on their strengths and enjoy their learning more as they take subjects at appropriate levels, aligned to their interests and needs," Dr Maliki said.

Common national exam period for secondary school students from 2027

Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said on Friday that starting in 2027, this year's Secondary 1 students will undergo their national examinations under a common timetable. They will sit the new Singapore-Cambridge Secondary Education Certificate (SEC) examinations in 2027 instead of O- and N-level examinations.

This change follows the removal of streaming into Normal and Express in 2024 and the introduction of full subject-based banding. Under the new change, students will have one sitting for their mother tongue language (MTL) subject without the option to retake it. This adjustment aims to give students more time for learning and alleviate exam preparation pressure.

English and MTL exams will take place in September, with other subjects following in October. Results will be released in January of the following year.

Comparison of current GCE N(T)/N(A) and O-Level exam timetables with the future SEC exam schedule starting 2027
Comparison of current GCE N(T)/N(A) and O-Level exam timetables with the future SEC exam schedule starting 2027. (INFOGRAPHIC: MOE)

Supporting ITE graduates

In his address on Monday, Dr Maliki outlined the Ministry of Education's (MOE) plans to support ongoing education for ITE graduates and emphasised the significance of the ITE Progression Award (IPA).

The award, set to commence in 2024, is designed to help Singaporean ITE graduates pursuing diplomas. Those aged 30 and below enrolling in diploma programmes will receive a $5,000 top-up in their Post-Secondary Education Account upon enrolment and an additional $10,000 in their CPF Ordinary Account upon completion.

This initiative aims to alleviate the financial burden of obtaining a diploma, facilitate smoother transitions from ITE to higher education, and enhance career prospects.

Dr Maliki acknowledged that ITE graduates "face a growing gap in their starting salaries compared to that of graduates from polytechnics and our autonomous universities". MOE said they anticipate more than 7,000 eligible ITE graduates from various graduating cohorts to enrol in an eligible diploma programmes each year.

Extended to additional groups of graduates

The new award will also be extended to cover certain ITE graduates who have exceeded the age cut-off, benefiting an estimated 1,500 such graduates in a one-time move.

MOE said the award will be extended to two additional groups of ITE graduates. The first group consists of Singaporean ITE graduates, regardless of age, who are enrolled in diploma courses offered by MOE-funded institutions as of 1 March. Upon completing their courses, they will receive a S$10,000 top-up to their CPF Ordinary Account.

The second group consists of Singaporean ITE graduates aged 31 who enrol in diploma programmes offered by MOE-funded institutions this year. They will receive both top-ups under the IPA. The exception applies to students enrolled in work-study diplomas, who will receive only the CPF Ordinary Account top-up.

Eligibility checker for the ITE Progression Award for Singaporean ITE graduates
Eligibility checker for the ITE Progression Award for Singaporean ITE graduates. (INFOGRAPHIC: MOE)

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