If you haven’t heard, Singapore’s Ministry of Education will be imposing new policies regarding assessments given to students from Primary and Secondary levels starting next year to change this tense learning environment and to help schools nurture lifelong learners better.
The News: Starting from next year, all school-based examations for Primary 1 & 2 will be removed, and for transition years such as P3, P5, S1, and S3, there will not be any mid-year examinations.
In today’s article we’ll be talking about the latter. Is it a good or bad thing for Mid-Year examinations to be removed? Let’s find out.
Changes that are going to be implemented
These changes include the removal of mid-year examinations and replacing it with other assessments and curriculum that would still help students with their final exams. Changes in student grading will also be applied to work alongside the reduced number of assessments.
In hindsight, reducing school-based exams presents a lot of positive points for students, parents and teachers alike. However, it also has some drawbacks that must be considered by all parties before it is applied.
So, what exactly are these positive points and what are these drawbacks?
Pros of Removing Mid-Year Exams
There are four major points that can be seen as a plus for the removal of school-based mid-year exams for Singaporean students.
More focus on their lessons
First, primary and secondary students – especially those at Primary 3, Primary 5, Secondary 1 and Secondary Three – will need time to adjust to their heavy workload as they transition to another year level. During this time, they are now faced with more advanced subjects and it is crucial that they understand every aspect of it or else they will be left behind. Without mid-year exams, these students can focus more on their lessons and get used to the heavy workload of their classes.
Teachers will have more time to focus on the students
The second benefit of fewer school-based exams is the fact that it opens a free period for schools so they can deepen their students’ understanding of the topics being discussed. They will now be able to focus on teaching the complicated aspects of each lesson so everyone can follow and not be rushed. Students would also be able to ask their teachers in case they have problems since the lessons are no longer rushed to focus on the exams.
Less pressure on the students
The third reason why reducing school-based exams is a good thing is because it will allow the students to at least breathe a little and remove the pressure brought to them by the rigorous curriculum. Some students can break from pressure and it is dangerous if it is not prevented. When the pressure is removed from these exams, students could now focus properly and analyze their lessons thoroughly.
Explore other ways to assess the students
Finally, no mid-year exams do not necessarily disable children from being prepared for their finals because there are other ways to assess their level without the exams. They could be tested in weekly quizzes, reports, presentations and even individual papers. These assessments can even be a good way to determine where children flourish the most.
Cons of Removing Mid-Year Exams
Meanwhile, here are the four major disadvantages that may occur once mid-year exams are no longer given to students.
Difficult to determine when and where students need extra help
First of all, mid-year examinations are the basis of parents and teachers alike to determine where their students are in terms of their classes. If the mid-term exams are removed, it will be difficult to determine where the students need extra help or if they need advanced training. When their finals come and their results come out, it is difficult to remedy the student’s weakness before they move up in another level.
Mentally not prepared for final exams
Next, children may get shocked once they hear about their final examinations because of the questions they may tackle. Since they did not have a mid-year exam, they will not be able to identify how to answer the questions related to the coverage of the test. As a result, it is quite possible they might find it difficult to pass the exams.
Only one chance to advance into next level
Adding to the shock of the exams is the grade the children may get without their mid-terms. During their mid-year exams, they have a benchmarked as to how well they should do for their finals and the pressure is greatly reduced if they have done well. If mid-year exams are removed, they have only one shot to make a good grade during their final exams and it can cause students a lot of stress.
May not be adequately prepared
Finally, Mid-year examinations are also used by schools to practice children to prepare for their final exams. While the coverage is only the first half of the curriculum, the preparation time for these exams will already review them for the first half of the finals. Children will also be able to familiarize themselves with the questions that can be asked in the finals. Without it, children may find it difficult to squeeze all their lessons in their minds and focus on the exams.
While many applaud Singapore’s highly competitive learning environment since it inspires students to strive harder and improve themselves. It can get very stressful for students. Learning should not be seen by students as a competitive environment where they are only expected to show results rather than enjoy new things that would help them grow as a person.
With the new policy, parents will need to be extra vigilant on their child’s progress to make sure they do not fall through the cracks. Extra preparations like mock exam questions, pop quizzes and perhaps, even tuition will be necessary to make sure that your child can make the next grade.
Only time will tell how this policy can shape up Singapore’s competitive academic environment.
For more changes in MOE’s curriculum, you may want to read these: