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Secondary School Rankings: Pick the Right Secondary School


With the recent release of the PSLE results, tens of thousands of students are at the cradle of their next journey in life. All of them are asking the same question:

“Which secondary school should I pick?”

If you are one of these students or an affected parent, the time to make a major decision has begun. Naturally, most of you would already have a few schools in mind and the main issue is eligibility. The PSLE cut-off point (COP) of a secondary school can make or break a young adult’s dreams.

Many students want to qualify for a higher-ranking secondary school as they are ingrained with the notion that the higher it ranks, the better it is.

While I must admit that there are merits to this line of thought, there are certainly more factors to consider. Therefore, if you are still undecided on your school choices, be sure to scroll to the bottom sections of this article for guidance.

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If you are ready to fill up the option form but just want a peek at the latest secondary school rankings based on the 2018 PSLE Cut-off Points, here’s your list:

School NameGenderCOPSpecial ProgrammesSAP
Nanyang Girls’ High SchoolGirls264IP
Methodist Girls’ School (Sec)Girls260IB
Raffles Girls’ School (Sec)Girls260IP
Hwa Chong InstitutionBoys258IP
Raffles InstitutionBoys257IP
Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)Boys256IB
CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ SchoolGirls256IP
National Junior CollegeCo-ed256IP
Dunman High SchoolCo-ed255IP
Cedar Girls’ Sec SchoolGirls254IP
Methodist Girls’ School (Sec)Girls254
Catholic High SchoolBoys253IP
CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ SchoolGirls253
St. Joseph’s InstitutionBoys253IB
Singapore Chinese Girls’ SchoolGirls252IP
Victoria SchoolBoys252IP
Catholic High SchoolBoys250
Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ SchoolGirls250
River Valley High SchoolCo-ed250IP
Singapore Chinese Girls’ SchoolGirls250
Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)Boys249
Cedar Girls’ Sec SchoolGirls249
Temasek Junior CollegeCo-ed249IP
Victoria SchoolBoys246
Anderson Sec SchoolCo-ed245
Bukit Panjang Govt. High SchoolCo-ed244
St. Joseph’s InstitutionBoys244
CHIJ Sec (Toa Payoh)Girls243
Nan Chiau High SchoolCo-ed243
Nan Hua High SchoolCo-ed243
Chung Cheng High School (Main)Co-ed242
Crescent Girls’ SchoolGirls241
Fairfield Methodist School (Sec)Co-ed241
St. Margaret’s Sec SchoolGirls241
Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road)Boys240
Swiss Cottage Sec SchoolCo-ed239
Anglican High SchoolCo-ed238
Chung Cheng High School (Yishun)Co-ed238
Commonwealth Sec SchoolCo-ed237
Ngee Ann Sec SchoolCo-ed237
CHIJ St. Theresa’s ConventGirls235
Maris Stella High SchoolBoys235
Yishun Town Sec SchoolCo-ed235
St. Andrew’s Sec SchoolBoys234
Zhonghua Sec SchoolCo-ed234
Xinmin Sec SchoolCo-ed233
CHIJ St. Joseph’s ConventGirls232
Fuhua Sec SchoolCo-ed232
Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Sec SchoolCo-ed232
Presbyterian High SchoolCo-ed232
Clementi Town Sec SchoolCo-ed231
Tanjong Katong Girls’ SchoolGirls231
Tanjong Katong Sec SchoolCo-ed231
Temasek Sec SchoolCo-ed231
Riverside Sec SchoolCo-ed230
Dunman Sec SchoolCo-ed229
Kranji Sec SchoolCo-ed229
Holy Innocents’ High SchoolCo-ed228
Edgefield Sec SchoolCo-ed226
CHIJ Katong ConventGirls225
St. Patrick’s SchoolBoys225
Ang Mo Kio Sec SchoolCo-ed224
Bowen Sec SchoolCo-ed224
Evergreen Sec SchoolCo-ed224
Geylang Methodist School (Sec)Co-ed224
Jurong Sec SchoolCo-ed224
Bukit Batok Sec SchoolCo-ed223
Gan Eng Seng SchoolCo-ed223
St. Anthony’s Canossian Sec SchoolGirls223
St. Gabriel’s Sec SchoolBoys222
Hua Yi Sec SchoolCo-ed221
St. Hilda’s Sec SchoolCo-ed221
Hai Sing Catholic SchoolCo-ed220
West Spring Sec SchoolCo-ed220
Mayflower Sec SchoolCo-ed219
Pei Hwa Sec SchoolCo-ed219
Ahmad Ibrahim Sec SchoolCo-ed218
Pasir Ris Sec SchoolCo-ed216
Deyi Sec SchoolCo-ed215
Pasir Ris Crest Sec SchoolCo-ed215
Queensway Sec SchoolCo-ed214
Bedok View Sec SchoolCo-ed212
Unity Sec SchoolCo-ed212
Beatty Sec SchoolCo-ed211
Chua Chu Kang Sec SchoolCo-ed211
Woodlands Ring Sec SchoolCo-ed211
Compassvale Sec SchoolCo-ed210
Meridian Sec SchoolCo-ed208
North Vista Sec SchoolCo-ed208
Orchid Park Sec SchoolCo-ed208
Peirce Sec SchoolCo-ed208
Yuan Ching Sec SchoolCo-ed208
Bedok South Sec SchoolCo-ed207
Kent Ridge Sec SchoolCo-ed206
Zhenghua Sec SchoolCo-ed206
Bukit View Sec SchoolCo-ed205
Hillgrove Sec SchoolCo-ed205
Montfort Sec SchoolBoys204
Woodgrove Sec SchoolCo-ed204
Greendale Sec SchoolCo-ed203
Tampines Sec SchoolCo-ed203
Christ Church Sec SchoolCo-ed201
Yishun Sec SchoolCo-ed200
Jurong West Sec SchoolCo-ed199
Seng Kang Sec SchoolCo-ed199
Westwood Sec SchoolCo-ed198
Admiralty Sec SchoolCo-ed197
Jurongville Sec SchoolCo-ed195
Juying Sec SchoolCo-ed195
Naval Base Sec SchoolCo-ed195
Hougang Sec SchoolCo-ed194
Punggol Sec SchoolCo-ed194
Regent Sec SchoolCo-ed190
Bukit Merah Sec SchoolCo-ed189
Changkat Changi Sec SchoolCo-ed189
Dunearn Sec SchoolCo-ed189
New Town Sec SchoolCo-ed189
Ping Yi Sec SchoolCo-ed189
Springfield Sec SchoolCo-ed189
Assumption English SchoolCo-ed188
Bartley Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Bedok Green Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Bendemeer Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Boon Lay Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Broadrick Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Canberra Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Damai Sec SchoolCo-ed188
East Spring Sec SchoolCo-ed188
East View Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Fajar Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Fuchun Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Greenridge Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Guangyang Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Hong Kah Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Junyuan Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Loyang Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Manjusri Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Marsiling Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Northbrooks Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Northland Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Outram Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Peicai Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Queenstown Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Sembawang Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Serangoon Garden Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Serangoon Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Shuqun Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Tanglin Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Teck Whye Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Whitley Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Woodlands Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Yio Chu Kang Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Yuhua Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Yusof Ishak Sec SchoolCo-ed188
Yuying Sec SchoolCo-ed188

The secondary school rankings listed above are based on the lower score in the aggregate range of students posted to the school’s express track in 2018. They reflect the 2017 PSLE scores of students from non-affiliated schools.

Note: Some schools feature twice on the list and are differentiated by the programmes they offer – O-Levels, IP (Integrated Programme) or IB (International Baccalaureate). SAP stands for Special Assistance Plan. More information regarding these differences can be found in the next section.

Understanding the types of secondary schools in Singapore

While most schools will guide you in getting the same certification that you desire, your journey there differs greatly depending on the type of secondary school you choose.

Government schools and government-aided schools dominate Singapore’s education landscape, but there are also independent schools, specialised independent schools and specialised schools.

Are you aware of the differences between them?

Government schools and government-aided schools offer the national curriculum, which is determined by the Ministry of Education, at a subsidised fee. Most secondary schools in Singapore fall under this category.

Some of these schools also come with an autonomous status. As the name suggests, these schools have greater autonomy to plan their curriculum, programme and activities. They also collect autonomous school fees on top of the subsidised fees. Here’s the list of such schools:

  • Anderson Secondary School
  • Anglican High School
  • Bukit Panjang Government High School
  • Catholic High School
  • Cedar Girls’ Secondary School
  • CHIJ Katong Convent (Secondary)
  • CHIJ Secondary (Toa Payoh)
  • CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School
  • Chung Cheng High School (Main)
  • Commonwealth Secondary School
  • Crescent Girls’ School
  • Dunman High School
  • Dunman Secondary School
  • Fairfield Methodist Secondary School
  • Maris Stella High School
  • Nan Hua High School
  • Ngee Ann Secondary School
  • Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School (Secondary)
  • River Valley High School
  • St. Anthony’s Canossian Secondary School
  • St. Hilda’s Secondary School
  • St. Margaret’s Secondary School
  • Tanjong Katong Girls’ School
  • Tanjong Katong Secondary School
  • Temasek Secondary School
  • Victoria School
  • Xinmin Secondary School
  • Yishun Town Secondary School
  • Zhonghua Secondary School

Independent schools, on the other hand, have even more flexibility in developing their curriculum and setting school fees:

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  • Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)
  • Hwa Chong Institution
  • Methodist Girls’ School (Secondary)
  • Nanyang Girls’ High School
  • Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary)
  • Raffles Institution
  • St. Joseph’s Institution

Within the three aforementioned categories are Special Assistance Plan (SAP) schools which nurture a bilingual and bicultural education in both English and Chinese.

Specialised independent schools (SIS) cater to students with a deep interest in sports, arts, applied learning, and subjects like maths and science. The four SIS are listed below.

  • NUS High School of Mathematics and Science
  • School of Science and Technology
  • Singapore Sports School
  • School of the Arts

Lastly, specialised schools like NorthLight School and Assumption Pathway School take in students that do not qualify for a secondary course and immerse them in an experiential and hands-on learning method. Students interested in the Normal Technical stream may qualify for two specialised schools – Crest Secondary School or Spectra Secondary School – which offer a practice-oriented approach in picking up technical skills and knowledge

Pros and Cons between types of schools

Specialised independent schools and specialised schools are targeted to very specific groups of students with particular talents or needs, hence it’s best to visit their respective websites to check if they are relevant to you.

The majority of the cohort will be deciding between schools that fall under the categories of government/government-aided, autonomous, or independent, so here’s a brief overview of the differences:

School type Special programmes Difficulty to enter Monthly school fees for Singaporeans Financial assistance
Government / government-aided schools Most offer O-Levels and a handful offer IP too Easy $25 max Merit-based awards and scholarships

MOE Financial Assistance Scheme

Autonomous schools Most offer O-Levels and a handful offer IP too Medium $43 max Merit-based awards and scholarships

MOE Financial Assistance Scheme

Independent schools Almost all offer IP or IB High $300 – $600 Merit-based awards and scholarships

Independent School Bursary (ISB)

School-specific scholarships


It’s easy to spot certain trends: schools with high COPs tend to be independent schools, followed by schools with an autonomous status, followed by government or government-aided schools. In other words, the schools within the higher rankings are more competitive and difficult to qualify for.

As they cater to students that are more academically-inclined, most of them offer the six-year IP (more on this below). On top of that, the school fee of an independent school cost more than ten times that of a government or government-aided school. 

The question of the differences in quality of education a student will receive in the different school types, however, is subject to a colourful debate. While as a whole all secondary schools in Singapore provide first-class education, independent schools tend to have more resources as they are able to afford it with the higher school fees and financial support from alumni. 

An overview of courses in secondary schools

At a glance, there are three pathways for you to take: Express, Normal Academic and Normal Technical.

Within the Express stream itself are two programmes: O-Level and Integrated Programme. The former is a four-year course culminating in the GCE O-Level exams while the latter is a six-year course that skips the GCE O-Levels.

Students in the Integrated Programme (IP) can jump straight to the GCE A-Levels, the IB Diploma or the NUS High School Diploma towards the end of year six. IP, which is aimed at students within the top 10% of the national cohort, affords more flexibility on subject combinations and frees up time for non-academic pursuits.

The Normal Academic course stretches four years if the student stops at the GCE N(A)-Levels, or five years if the student proceeds to take the GCE O-Levels. The four-year Normal Technical course leads up to the GCE N(T)-Level exams.

Subjects that are compulsory for all tracks are English Language, Mother Tongue Language and Mathematics.

Students in the Express and Normal Academic tracks also have to study Science and Humanities, while those in the Normal Technical track have to take on Computer Applications and Social Studies.

It is worth noting that these bands are not entirely rigid and may eventually lead to a certification more associated with a different track. For example, in certain schools, students in the O-Level track can transfer to the IP track in Secondary 3. On top of that, well-performing students in the Normal tracks may sit for the GCE O-level exams.

How to choose your secondary school

Deciding on your secondary school choices is so difficult precisely because of the multitude of factors to consider. Here are the essential ones:

Your interests: First and foremost, it is important to ask yourself if there is an interest you’d like to pursue, be it arts, sports, music or language. Certain schools have CCAs or programmes – such as the Art Elective Programme (AEP), Music Elective Programme (MEP) and Third Languages – which can further hone these interests.

The Singapore Sports School, for example, integrates a rigorous sports and academic programme and is a clear choice for those who want to pursue sports professionally. Certain schools, such as Ngee Ann Secondary and St Andrew’s Secondary are also the centres for AEP and MEP and would make convenient bases for students who are artistically and musically inclined.

Location – Most schools begin as early as 7.30am and if you require an hour of commute, you will have to set your alarm at the crack of dawn every school day. A school’s accessibility cannot be emphasized enough – the long, exhausting commute will add up to an immense amount of time which could have been put to something more productive.

Admission criteria – While the available information on a school’s PSLE Aggregate Ranges would be based on last year’s cohort, it would still serve as an approximate guide to whether you will have a good chance of qualifying for your desired secondary school.

Special education needs – Should you have mild special education needs related to conditions such as dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or mild autism, take into consideration the schools that are equipped with trained teachers and Allied Educators.

Strategy in listing your school choices

To maximize the chances of acceptance to your desired school, understand how places are allocated and then strategize when listing your school choices.

In the Secondary 1 (S1) Posting Exercise, schools admit students to their vacant spots based on merit. This means that those with higher PSLE scores are prioritized first.

Even if a particular school is your first choice, it may go to someone else who listed it as a second choice because he/she has a higher PSLE score than you.

So, while this may seem like a no-brainer to some, it is worth mentioning that to ensure a placement in a chosen school, you should have at least one choice that you are well qualified for based on not only the COP but also the previous year’s PSLE aggregate ranges. If you are not eligible for any schools of your choice, you will be posted to one nearest to your home that has vacancies.  

Make wise choices

As you scroll back up to scrutinize the secondary school rankings and dive into further research, I would like to remind you to tap on the knowledge of the people around you, be it your parents, your older siblings or your teachers.

Make wise decisions because let’s admit it – not all secondary schools are the same.

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.