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.
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 Name||Girls/Boys/Co-Ed||COP||Special Programmes||SAP Schools|
|Nanyang Girls’ High School||Girls||264||IP|
|Methodist Girls’ School (Sec)||Girls||260||IB|
|Raffles Girls’ School (Sec)||Girls||260||IP|
|Hwa Chong Institution||Boys||258||IP||✓|
|Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)||Boys||256||IB|
|CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School||Girls||256||IP||✓|
|National Junior College||Co-ed||256||IP|
|Dunman High School||Co-ed||255||IP||✓|
|Cedar Girls’ Sec School||Girls||254||IP|
|Methodist Girls’ School (Sec)||Girls||254|
|Catholic High School||Boys||253||IP||✓|
|CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School||Girls||253||✓|
|St. Joseph’s Institution||Boys||253||IB|
|Singapore Chinese Girls’ School||Girls||252||IP|
|Catholic High School||Boys||250||✓|
|Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School||Girls||250|
|River Valley High School||Co-ed||250||IP||✓|
|Singapore Chinese Girls’ School||Girls||250|
|Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)||Boys||249|
|Cedar Girls’ Sec School||Girls||249|
|Temasek Junior College||Co-ed||249||IP|
|Anderson Sec School||Co-ed||245|
|Bukit Panjang Govt. High School||Co-ed||244|
|St. Joseph’s Institution||Boys||244|
|CHIJ Sec (Toa Payoh)||Girls||243|
|Nan Chiau High School||Co-ed||243||✓|
|Nan Hua High School||Co-ed||243||✓|
|Chung Cheng High School (Main)||Co-ed||242||✓|
|Crescent Girls’ School||Girls||241|
|Fairfield Methodist School (Sec)||Co-ed||241|
|St. Margaret’s Sec School||Girls||241|
|Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road)||Boys||240|
|Swiss Cottage Sec School||Co-ed||239|
|Anglican High School||Co-ed||238||✓|
|Chung Cheng High School (Yishun)||Co-ed||238|
|Commonwealth Sec School||Co-ed||237|
|Ngee Ann Sec School||Co-ed||237|
|CHIJ St. Theresa’s Convent||Girls||235|
|Maris Stella High School||Boys||235||✓|
|Yishun Town Sec School||Co-ed||235|
|St. Andrew’s Sec School||Boys||234|
|Zhonghua Sec School||Co-ed||234|
|Xinmin Sec School||Co-ed||233|
|CHIJ St. Joseph’s Convent||Girls||232|
|Fuhua Sec School||Co-ed||232|
|Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Sec School||Co-ed||232|
|Presbyterian High School||Co-ed||232|
|Clementi Town Sec School||Co-ed||231|
|Tanjong Katong Girls’ School||Girls||231|
|Tanjong Katong Sec School||Co-ed||231|
|Temasek Sec School||Co-ed||231|
|Riverside Sec School||Co-ed||230|
|Dunman Sec School||Co-ed||229|
|Kranji Sec School||Co-ed||229|
|Holy Innocents’ High School||Co-ed||228|
|Edgefield Sec School||Co-ed||226|
|CHIJ Katong Convent||Girls||225|
|St. Patrick’s School||Boys||225|
|Ang Mo Kio Sec School||Co-ed||224|
|Bowen Sec School||Co-ed||224|
|Evergreen Sec School||Co-ed||224|
|Geylang Methodist School (Sec)||Co-ed||224|
|Jurong Sec School||Co-ed||224|
|Bukit Batok Sec School||Co-ed||223|
|Gan Eng Seng School||Co-ed||223|
|St. Anthony’s Canossian Sec School||Girls||223|
|St. Gabriel’s Sec School||Boys||222|
|Hua Yi Sec School||Co-ed||221|
|St. Hilda’s Sec School||Co-ed||221|
|Hai Sing Catholic School||Co-ed||220|
|West Spring Sec School||Co-ed||220|
|Mayflower Sec School||Co-ed||219|
|Pei Hwa Sec School||Co-ed||219|
|Ahmad Ibrahim Sec School||Co-ed||218|
|Pasir Ris Sec School||Co-ed||216|
|Deyi Sec School||Co-ed||215|
|Pasir Ris Crest Sec School||Co-ed||215|
|Queensway Sec School||Co-ed||214|
|Bedok View Sec School||Co-ed||212|
|Unity Sec School||Co-ed||212|
|Beatty Sec School||Co-ed||211|
|Chua Chu Kang Sec School||Co-ed||211|
|Woodlands Ring Sec School||Co-ed||211|
|Compassvale Sec School||Co-ed||210|
|Meridian Sec School||Co-ed||208|
|North Vista Sec School||Co-ed||208|
|Orchid Park Sec School||Co-ed||208|
|Peirce Sec School||Co-ed||208|
|Yuan Ching Sec School||Co-ed||208|
|Bedok South Sec School||Co-ed||207|
|Kent Ridge Sec School||Co-ed||206|
|Zhenghua Sec School||Co-ed||206|
|Bukit View Sec School||Co-ed||205|
|Hillgrove Sec School||Co-ed||205|
|Montfort Sec School||Boys||204|
|Woodgrove Sec School||Co-ed||204|
|Greendale Sec School||Co-ed||203|
|Tampines Sec School||Co-ed||203|
|Christ Church Sec School||Co-ed||201|
|Yishun Sec School||Co-ed||200|
|Jurong West Sec School||Co-ed||199|
|Seng Kang Sec School||Co-ed||199|
|Westwood Sec School||Co-ed||198|
|Admiralty Sec School||Co-ed||197|
|Jurongville Sec School||Co-ed||195|
|Juying Sec School||Co-ed||195|
|Naval Base Sec School||Co-ed||195|
|Hougang Sec School||Co-ed||194|
|Punggol Sec School||Co-ed||194|
|Regent Sec School||Co-ed||190|
|Bukit Merah Sec School||Co-ed||189|
|Changkat Changi Sec School||Co-ed||189|
|Dunearn Sec School||Co-ed||189|
|New Town Sec School||Co-ed||189|
|Ping Yi Sec School||Co-ed||189|
|Springfield Sec School||Co-ed||189|
|Assumption English School||Co-ed||188|
|Bartley Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Bedok Green Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Bendemeer Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Boon Lay Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Broadrick Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Canberra Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Damai Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|East Spring Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|East View Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Fajar Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Fuchun Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Greenridge Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Guangyang Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Hong Kah Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Junyuan Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Loyang Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Manjusri Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Marsiling Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Northbrooks Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Northland Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Outram Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Peicai Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Queenstown Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Sembawang Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Serangoon Garden Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Serangoon Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Shuqun Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Tanglin Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Teck Whye Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Whitley Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Woodlands Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Yio Chu Kang Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Yuhua Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Yusof Ishak Sec School||Co-ed||188|
|Yuying Sec School||Co-ed||188|
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:
- 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)
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.