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Singapore's Education System

A simple flowchart overview of Singapore's education system

You may click on any level in the flowchart below to see the relevant list of recommended Singapore school materials.

Singapore's education system

From pre-nursery to university

A growing number of children in Singapore are attending pre-nursery or playschool education before the age of 4, though this is optional. Many children in Singapore also attend Nursery for 1 year at the age of 4, though this is also optional. By the age of 5, most children will be attending Kindergarten for 2 years (K1 and K2).

Formal education in Singapore begins at primary schools, starting from Primary 1 through Primary 6, which is similar to First Grade through Sixth Grade in the American system.

Children who pass the Primary Six Leaving Examination (PSLE) at the end of Primary 6 will progress to secondary schools, starting from Secondary 1 through Secondary 4 (Special/Express Stream), or Secondary 1 through Secondary 5 (Normal Stream). This is somewhat similar to Seventh Grade through Tenth Grade in the American system.

Students who pass the GCE 'O' Level examination at the end of Secondary 4 or 5 will then have to compete for admission to either a Junior College (2 years), a Polytechnic (3 or 4 years) or a Pre-University Centre (3 years). This is somewhat similar to Eleventh Grade and Twelfth Grade in the American system.

Finally, students who pass the GCE 'A' Level examination at the end of Junior College Year 2 or Pre-University Year 3, and students with excellent results at the end of Polytechnic Year 3/4 will then have to compete for admission to a local university, either National University of Singapore (NUS) or Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

Singapore's school textbooks and workbooks

All school textbooks, workbooks and assessment books have to follow the subject syllabus set by the Singapore education ministry for each level. Due to the progressive liberalisation of the school textbook market, you will find that all Singapore schools may be using only one textbook package for Mathematics and English for certain levels, while they are allowed to choose from a list of several textbook packages for Mathematics and English for the other levels.

Singapore's school assessment books

Other than school textbooks and workbooks, assessment books also make up a significant part of Singapore's success recipe in education. Assessment books provide children with additional practice and drills beyond those covered in school workbooks. Almost every child in Singapore owns at least a few assessment books for each subject. It is not uncommon for parents to buy dozens of assessment books for their children for each subject. Assessment books are also widely used in Singapore schools as part of their school curriculum, as well as tuition centres after school hours.

Singapore Math school assessment books provide children with more exercises, which are often more difficult and challenging, than those in the workbooks. Some assessment books provide only topical exercises, some provide only revision exercises, some provide only test papers, some provide only word problems, some provide only thinking skills exercises, and some provide a combination of two or more of the above.

The secret of Singapore's success in education

There are many ingredients in the success of Singapore's education system. First and foremost is the efficiency, dedication and work of our education ministry in Singapore. They are the ones who produced the framework for our education system and our syllabi. Singapore school books, including textbooks, workbooks and assessment books, are written based on the above mentioned syllabi.

However, our education ministry updates its syllabi regularly to ensure they remain relevant in the ever changing global economy. Hence, the old editions of the Singapore books are obsolete because they are based on the old syllabi whereas the new editions of the Singapore books are based on the new syllabi. It is therefore very important that you buy directly from Bookstore to make sure that you are getting the correct books and the true value for your money.

The environment in Singapore is also a major important contributing factor. A large majority of parents in Singapore are very concerned about the education of their children, and will strive to give their children the best in their education, including buying lots of assessment books and getting private tuition for their children.

The competitive environment in most schools in Singapore is another major factor. Children are assessed many times each year by their teachers via homework, projects, tests and exams. Streaming is part and parcel of this competition. Children are streamed into various classes according to their academic ability, which is highly dependent on their grades. Even our Singapore schools are ranked according to the national exam grades that their students received each year.

There are many more reasons why Singapore's education system is so successful, but that will take pages to write.

See also:

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