Blog Students Advice For Students Beyond N-Levels: What are Your Options?

Beyond N-Levels: What are Your Options?

Now that you have received your N-levels results, many pathways are now available for you. There are schemes that will offer you alternative paths for N-level students to get entry into Polytechnic. This is in place of proceeding on to Secondary 5 and sitting the O-levels. These schemes have been pulling in more applications after they were launched in 2012.

According to MOE (the Ministry of Education), since 2013, the numbers of qualified students who were applying for the 2-year Direct-Entry-Scheme into Polytechnic Programme (DPP) has increased by 10 %.

At the same time, the numbers of those students who were applying for the one-year-long Polytechnic Foundation Programmes (PFP) has also increased by 5 % over the same time period. These polytechnic schemes have been reserved for the Normal (Academic) students who have attained good grades in their N-levels exams.

What option do you have after you’ve received your N-levels results?

You need to be aware that your options are many after you have done your N-levels. In case you are wondering about what you can do. Worry not. Here is a look at some options available for you.

1. Promotion to Sec 5

To qualify for this level you have to get below 19 points in Math, English, and 3 other subjects (ELMAB3). You also need to have at the very least have a Grade 5 for the five subjects.

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What pathway can you pursue if you have these grades? You may take the O levels examinations in the same school you were in previously.

2. Direct-Entry Scheme to Polytechnic Programme

You need to get below 19 points in Math, English, and 3 additional subjects (ELMAB3) and the very least have a Grade 4 in both Math and English and Grade 5 for the 3 other subjects.

With this points can you go directly to the poly for your course? You may attend ITE for 2-years and when you achieve the minimum required score, you can get into a related poly course.

3. Polytechnic Foundation Programme

You should have gotten below 11 points in Math, English, and 3 additional subjects (ELMAB3) for you to qualify for this programme.

If you qualify for this poly scheme, you may study for a year pursuing a curriculum equivalent to a diploma course. From there you can move on to do that course you are interested in.

4. Opt to study at a private diploma/ degree

Most people choose to pursue degrees at the private institutions even when they were to take poly courses. For others, having a degree offers them specific job opportunities and others, none at all.

When you have the funds and are convinced that private diploma courses can help you and you are ready to do more independent studying, this option may be best for you.

The Differences Between PFP and DPP

In the past, all students would choose to proceed on to Sec 5 when they could, because this was the one way hey could secure a place in a polytechnic. But this has changed.

Today, a lot of the assignments are now completed in school. In addition, students get to do more practical tasks, such as setting up routers and coding.

PFP Scheme
The top N(A) students, who have got a score of not exceeding 11 points in their N-levels yet they have got at least grade three for both mathematics and English. They do qualify for the PFP. They will move on to the poly to do the one-year prep course that is taught by poly lecturers. This will cover Math, English, and domain-specific modules like physics or life sciences.

When they do well in all their modules, what is next for these students? Students who have completed and passed this programme, they can go on to the first year of the chosen diploma course.

DPP Scheme
Similar to PFP, the DPP scheme guarantees students a study place in a poly provided they fulfill the qualifying grade. The N(A) students can qualify for the DPP once they attain a score not exceeding 19 points, and have at the very least grade 4 for mathematics and English in their N-level exams.

Under the DPP scheme, students will spend 2 years pursuing a Higher Nitec course at ITE ( Institute of Technical Education ). This will guarantee them admission in a polytechnic when they fulfill the minimum required point average. This grade is often between 2.5 and 3.

From there, the students will attend a 10-week prep course, which starts in January. The course covers oral and also communication skills in addition to topics like business and maths.

Once they complete this course, they then move on to do the Higher Nitec courses, that often start in April.

Moving Forward To Higher Nitec

According to MOE, most students doing the DPP scheme AND have completed this programme receive a Higher Nitec. At the same time, many of the students doing the Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP) scheme will also move on to polys once they have completed their course and performed well.

For those students who do not do well in the Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP), they are not permitted to repeat the course. However, they can make an application for Higher Nitec programmes at ITE. They will need to approach their previous secondary schools to get a readmission for the following year or they can opt to do the O-level examinations as private candidates.

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Most Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP) students will usually have outperformed their peers pursuing the O-level. However, there are measures that have been put in place by the school to help students manage their studies. These measures include offering remedial lessons as well as assigning them mentors who will counsel in the PFP classes.

In Conclusion

The launching of the DPP and PFP schemes has had a significant impact in motivating the N(Academic) students into working hard in their N-levels. This is because the different pathways are only available to students following this stream.

At the same time, these schemes have opened many options for students after they complete their N-levels. As if to show the students preference, since they were launched in 2012, these schemes have been pulling in more applications.

To look into different education pathway, you may be interested in these:

JC vs. Poly: The Pros and Cons
How To Prepare Your Teen For Singapore Tertiary Education


Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.