Parliamentary Question

PSLE standards and absenteeism

1 November 2021


Mr Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap, Aljunied GRC


To ask the Minister for Education (a) how different were the PSLE papers set for 2021 as compared to 2020 considering the new scoring system implemented this year; (b) what measures are taken to ensure fairness in the questions set for this year as compared to last year; (c) how will the Ministry assure parents that the PSLE results this year reflect students' true capabilities; and (d) how many students have to sit out PSLE due to COVID-19 issues.


1. The PSLE is aligned to the Primary Schools' syllabuses, and the standard of the examinations is comparable to past years. The new PSLE Scoring System does not affect the syllabuses nor the standards of the PSLE. In setting examination questions, a panel of test developers, comprising assessment specialists from the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) and curriculum specialists from the Ministry of Education (MOE), adheres to a test blueprint and well-established test development protocol that ensure this.

2. MOE and SEAB recognised that the Primary 6 students may encounter disruptions to their learning as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, Common Last Topics were removed from the 2021 PSLE.

3. Parents are understandably concerned how their children's performance would be affected under the new PSLE Scoring System. When the scripts are marked, all answers that demonstrate the relevant knowledge and skills will be given due credit. In addition, SEAB has processes in place to take the disruptions caused by COVID-19 into consideration to ensure that this cohort of students will not be disadvantaged by the exceptional circumstances.

4. 39,281 students registered for the 2021 PSLE written examinations that were held from 30 September 2021 to 6 October 2021. The overall attendance rate was 99.5%. About 430 (1.1%) students missed at least one paper due to COVID-19 related reasons.

5. Similar to previous years, students who miss any national examination paper(s) with valid reasons (including COVID-19, medical leave or compassionate reasons) can apply for special consideration. Special consideration is a well-established procedure, used by many international examination boards, which awards students with projected grades through a fair and rigorous evidence-based methodology. In awarding a grade to these affected students, SEAB will consider multiple sources of data, such as the student's performance in the other papers for that affected subject in national and school-based examinations as well as the school cohort's performance in national and school-based examinations, to ensure a fair assessment for all students. All special consideration applications are assessed on its merit, to ensure that the grades awarded are accurate and fair.