Singapore: Singapore-Cambridge GCE A level

Updated July 2016

Country
  • Singapore
Education context

Primary phase – six years of compulsory education.

Secondary phase – four to five years students placed in Special, Express, Normal (Academic) or Normal (Technical) course depending on performance in primary school leaving examinations.

Students who have done well for their PSLE can also opt for the direct six-year Integrated Programme, which removes the GCE O-levels at the end of the fourth year.  This is to allow the schools and students to use the time freed up from preparing for the GCE ‘O’ Levels to engage in other academic or non-academic curriculum.  Students will have school-based assessments to measure their progress. The programme leads to A-level examinations or other qualifications (such as International Baccalaureate).

  • Students in Special / Express courses take GCE O levels.
  • Students on Normal courses take GCE N levels after four years and progress to GCE O levels in their fifth year.
  • All students take part in at least one co-curricular activity.

Pre-university phase – two-year junior college or three-year centralised institute course. The current curriculum was introduced in 2006 to emphasise breadth of learning and flexibility. This involved the development of new syllabuses and examinations based on collaboration between the Singapore Ministry of Education (MoE), Singapore Examinations & Assessment Board (SEAB) and the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES).

Structure

The Singapore Cambridge GCE A level is conducted jointly by the Singapore Ministry of Education (MOE), Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) and the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES). As a collaboration between the MOE and UCLES, the Singaporean A level is a different version of the international A level.

Under the curriculum candidates select subjects from three levels of study Higher 1 (H1), Higher 2 (H2) and Higher 3 (H3). H1 is broadly equivalent to AS and H2 to A level. H3 subjects are taken as an extension to H2 level (replacing the previous ‘s’ paper) and allow more in-depth study and advanced content. They are not available in all subjects.

Subjects are divided into knowledge skills and content-based subjects. Knowledge skills subjects include General Paper, Knowledge and Inquiry and Project Work; content-based subjects are divided into languages, humanities and the arts, and mathematics and sciences.

The basic combination is:

  • three H2 content-based subjects
  • one H1 content-based subject
  • H1 Mother Tongue (MT) language
  • H1 General Paper (GP)
  • H1 Project Work

Students must take at least one of the four content-based subjects from a contrasting discipline.

Students may also offer Knowledge and Inquiry in place of GP, or offer MT language & literature at H2 level. Academically strong students may also choose to take on an additional H1 or H2 subject OR up to two H3 subjects.

Subject areas
Discipline

Subject

H1

H2

H3

Knowledge Skills

General Paper

X

 

 

 

Project Work

X

 

 

 

Knowledge and Inquiry

 

X

 

Languages

Chinese /Malay / Tamil

X

 

 

 

French

X

 

 

 

German

X

 

 

 

Japanese

X

 

 

Humanities & the arts

Art

X

X

X

 

Economics

X

X

X

 

Geography

X

X

X

 

History

X

X

X

 

Literature in English

X

X

X

 

China studies in English

X

X

X

 

China studies in Chinese

X

X

 

 

India studies

X

X

 

 

English language & linguistics

 

X

 

 

General studies in Chinese

X

 

 

 

Chinese language & literature

 

X

X

 

Malay language & literature

 

X

X

 

Tamil language & literature

 

X

X

 

Music

 

X

X

 

Theatre studies & drama

 

X

 

 

Management of business

 

X

 

 

French

 

X

 

 

German

 

X

 

 

Japanese

 

X

 

Mathematics & science

Biology

X

X

X

 

Chemistry

X

X

X

 

Physics

X

X

X

 

Mathematics

X

X

X

 

Computing

 

X

 

 

Principles of accounting

 

X

 

Levels

Level 3 – acceptable as group qualification satisfying HE general entrance requirements.

For further information on the qualification level you may wish to refer to UK NARIC, which is the UK body responsible for providing comparability of overseas qualifications.

Grading

Grading of H1, H2 and H3 courses:

H1 and H2

H3

A

Distinction

B

Merit

C

Pass

D

Ungraded

E

 

S (sub-pass)

 

Ungraded

 

Students achieve a grade for each subject studied at each level.

Assessment

Examinations are taken in a single sitting at the end of pre-university education, with the exceptions below.

One H1 content-based subject may be sat at the end of the penultimate year of pre-university study (but not again in the final year).

H1 Mother Tongue language may be sat at the end of the penultimate year of pre-university study and again at the end of the final year, if required.

Project Work – examined at the end of the penultimate year of pre-university study only.

Most subjects have terminal examinations with a variety of forms, including structured questions, essay-based questions, and multiple choice. There may be only one paper or several.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

The sub-components of any examination are combined to provide the overall grade. Students achieve a separate qualification for each subject studied.

Guided / notional learning hours notes

Based on information provided, the H1 and H3 qualifications equate roughly to the size of an AS qualification (180 hours) and the H2 to the size of an A level (360 hours).

Key issues for UK HE admissions

Typically students will study three subjects to H2. Not all students will be offered the opportunity to take subjects at H3.

Timing of assessments / results for learners

Mother Tongue languages – from June to September.

Other subjects – from late October to early December.

The results are usually released in March of the following year. Students will receive their result slips on the same day results are published. A level certificates will be available from May. Further information is available from the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board http://www.seab.gov.sg/pages/nationalExaminations/GAL/general.asp

Qualification dates notes

Current. The current A level curriculum was introduced in 2006.

Reporting of results and certification information

For the exams taken in 2014, 91.4% of candidates achieved at least 3 H2 passes, with a pass in General Paper (GP) or Knowledge and Inquiry (KI). The total number of candidates was 14,185. More detailed information is not available.

Progression information

The minimum threshold for application to Singapore universities is at least two H2 passes, an attempt in General Paper (GP) and a sub-pass in Mother Tongue Language (MT). The H2 subjects and GP must be taken at the same sitting.

Further information