A Complete Guide to O Level in Singapore

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The Complete Guide to O Level in Singapore

The GCE O Level examination is an annual national examination taken by Secondary 4 Express or Secondary 5 Normal (Academic) students. Serving as an important milestone for students, it determines which post-secondary institution they can enter. At MindFlex, we understand the immense pressure to exceed expectations and do well. Therefore, we have put together an extensive and informative guide that contains all you need to know about O Level Singapore!

1. An Overview of the O Levels

Being a hurdle that most students in Singapore have to overcome before moving on to the next stage of education, the O Levels will undoubtedly cause stress and dread in students. However, with ample preparation and the right resources, students will be able to conquer this obstacle that many before them have done. The O Level examination is all about understanding the topics and concepts tested, instead of purely memorising them. With consistency and hard work, students will be able to see improvement in their preparation leading up to the O Levels.

Here at MindFlex, we have over 20,000 experienced O Level tutors who will be able to guide and prepare you or your child for the O Level examinations. 


2. O Level Scoring System

O Level Singapore Scoring System

Here is a breakdown of the different O Level Grades


The L1R4/5 is an assessment tool used by the Ministry of Education to score the 10,000 plus Singaporean secondary school students who take the GCE O Level Exam every year.

The L1R4/5 refers to the five/six best subjects that the student has scored in. This is broken down as the following:

  • L1 – Language (English/Mother Tongue)
  • R4/5 – Relevant 4 / 5 subjects (These have to include 1 Math/Science and 1 Humanities subject)

On top of that, if you fulfil certain conditions, you will be able to deduct a few bonus points from your O Level score, such as the following:

  • CCA grade of A1 or A2 (deduct 2 points)
  • CCA grade of B3 to C6 (deduct 1 point)
  • Higher MTL grade of C6 and above (deduct 2 points)
  • Selecting an affiliated JC as 1st or 2nd choice school (deduct 2 points)
  • Chinese/Malay Special Programme, or Bahasa Indonesia grade of C6 and above (deduct 2 points)


3. O Level Subjects

3.1. Languages

For O Level, students are required to sit for the English examination, as well as their respective Mother Tongues. Some students may also be offered to take a 3rd Language such as Arabic, Japanese, Bahasa Indonesia, et cetera. It is essential to score well for at least 1 Language subject as it has to be included in the calculation of the L1R4 (or L1R5) for the O Levels.

Learning Objectives

The O Level syllabus for languages generally assesses students’ ability to read, write, examine and speak the language. The O Level examination hopes that students can meet these learning objectives:

  • Write clearly and effectively to suit the purpose, audience and context
  • Use the correct expression and tone in different contexts
  • Generating and expressing relevant ideas
  • Use correct grammar, spelling and punctuation
  • Use different vocabulary correctly, clearly and accurately
Examination Format

The examination format depends on the language taken for the O Levels. The examination format for the English O Level Singapore examination is as follows:

Paper Component Marks Weightage Duration
1 Situational Writing and Continuous Writing 70 35% 1 hour 50 minutes
2 Comprehension 50 35% 1 hour 50 minutes
3 Listening Comprehension 30 10% 45 minutes
4 Oral 30 20% 20 minutes
Total   180 100% 4 hours 45 minutes


For Mother Tongue, this is the general format:

Paper Component Marks Weightage Duration
1 Situational Writing and Continuous Writing 60 30% 2 hours
2 Comprehension 70 35% 1 hour 30 minutes
3 Listening Comprehension 20 10% 30 minutes
4 Oral 30 20% 15 minutes
Total   200 100% 4 hours 15 minutes

Some students may also be offered Higher Mother Tongue (HMT).  If you take up HMT, you will sit for your O Level Mother Tongue in Secondary 3, before sitting for your Higher Mother Tongue paper in Secondary 4. Bonus points of 2 points will be deducted from your L1R4/L1R5 if you pass (C6 and above) HMT.


3.2. Math

Learning Objectives

The O Level Mathematics (E Math) syllabus assesses students’ ability to understand and apply mathematical concepts, organise and analyse data and information; formulate and solve problems, including those in real-world contexts, and write mathematical explanations and arguments. Topics tested at the O Levels include algebra, functions, matrices, geometry, and many more. 

For Additional Mathematics (A Math), taken by a majority of O Level Singapore students, students are required to apply concepts and skills for higher studies of Math and reason mathematically. Topics tested at the O Levels include binomial expansions, quadratic equations, trigonometry and calculus.

Examination Format

The examination format for O Level Mathematics is as follows:

Paper Marks Weightage Duration
1 80 50% 2 hours
2 100 50% 2 hours 30 minutes
Total 180 100% 4 hours 30 minutes


For O Level A Math, this is the examination format:

Paper Marks Weightage Duration
1 90 50% 2 hours 15 minutes
2 90 50% 2 hours 15 minutes
Total 180 100% 4 hours 30 minutes


3.3. Sciences (Pure/Combined)

Learning Objectives

During the Secondary 2 streaming, students are allowed to choose between Combined or Pure Sciences for the O Level Singapore examination. For Pure Science, the scientific disciplines (Physics, Chemistry, and Biology) are assessed as three separate subjects at the O Levels, while two out of three of the scientific disciplines are assessed together as one subject for Combined Science. It is worth noting that Pure Science papers tend to have more analytical questions than Combined Science papers at the O Levels.


3.3.1. Pure Science

Examination Format
Paper Component Marks Weightage Duration
1 Multiple Choice 40 30% 1 hour
2 Structured and Free Response 80 50% 1 hour 45 minutes
3 Practical 40 20% 1 hour 50 minutes
Total   160 100% 4 hours 35 minutes


3.3.2. Combined Science

Examination Format
Paper Component Marks Weightage Duration
1 Multiple Choice 40 20% 1 hour
2 Structured and Free Response (Science 1) 65 32.5% 1 hour 15 minutes
3 Structured and Free Response (Science 2) 65 32.5% 1 hour 15 minutes
4 Practical 30 15% 1 hour 30 minutes
Total   200 100% 5 hours


3.4. Humanities (Social Studies, History, Geography, Literature)

For O Level Singapore students, Combined Humanities is a compulsory subject, comprising Social Studies and an elective humanities subject: History, Geography or Literature in English/Chinese/Malay/Tamil. As Combined Humanities (or a Pure Humanities subject) must be included in the calculation of the O Level L1R4/5, it is crucial to score well for this subject. 

Students may also opt to take a Pure Humanities subject, on top of their Combined Humanities for the O Levels. 


3.4.1. Social Studies

Learning Objectives

The O Level Social Studies examination assesses students on their ability to demonstrate an understanding of societal issues and analyse societal issues through different perspectives. For O Level Social Studies, the content learnt is split into three issues: Exploring Citizenship and Governance, Living in a Diverse Society and Being Part of a Globalised World.

Examination Format

The examination format for O Level Combined Humanities is shown in the table below:

Paper Component Marks Weightage Duration
1 Social Studies 50 50% 1 hour 45 minutes
2 Elective Humanities 50 50% 1 hour 40 minutes
Total   100 100% 3 hours 25 minutes


3.4.2. History

Learning Objectives

The O Level History syllabus covers the making of the contemporary world which involves European expansion and dominance, World War I/II, Cold War, decolonization and the emergence of Nation-States.

Examination Format
Paper Component Marks Weightage Duration
1 European Dominance and Challenges (1870s-1945) 50 50% 1 hour 40 minutes
2 The Bi-Polar World Order (1945-1991) 50 50% 1 hour 40 minutes
Total   100 100% 3 hours 20 minutes


3.4.3. Geography

Learning Objectives

The O Level Geography syllabus provides coverage of physical and human aspects of the subject and the linkages that exist between them by presenting them in the form of geographical questions. Students are assessed on their ability to demonstrate relevant factual knowledge and evaluate the validity and limitations of fieldwork evidence.

Examination Format
Paper Marks Weightage Duration
1 50 50% 1 hour 40 minutes
2 50 50% 1 hour 30 minutes
Total 100 100 3 hours 10 minutes


3.4.4. Literature in English

Learning Objectives

For O Level English Literature, students will be assessed on their ability to demonstrate and respond with, through close analysis, knowledge of the literary texts studied.

These are the texts tested for O Level Singapore:

Paper 1: Prose (Section A)
Rad Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451
Octavia E Butler: Kindred
Anita Desai: Games at Twilight
Philip Holden (ed.): Hook and Eye: Stories from the Margins
Gail Tsukiyama: A Hundred Flowers
Elizabeth Wein: Code Name Verity

Paper 2: Drama
Lorraine Hansberry: A Raisin in the Sun
Arthur Miller: The Crucible
William Shakespeare: Macbeth
Jean Tay: Boom
Tennessee Williams: The Glass Menagerie

Examination Format
Paper Component Marks Weightage Duration
1 Prose and Unseen Poetry 50 50% 1 hour 40 minutes
2 Drama 50 50% 1 hour 30 minutes
Total   100 100% 3 hours 10 minutes


3.4.5. Literature in Chinese/Malay/Tamil

Learning Objectives

The O Level Literature in Mother Tongue syllabus mainly tests students’ reading, comprehension and analysis of ancient, modern and contemporary literary works and appreciation.


These are the texts being tested for Chinese:
序号 作品 作者 所属国家或地区
1 《放逐与追逐》 谢裕民 新加坡


These are the texts being tested for Malay:

1) Novel

Azfa Hanani (Edisi Pelajar) oleh Halis Azhan Mohd Hanafiah (Utusan Publications & Distributors Sdn Bhd, Kuala Lumpur 2010)

2) Antologi Karya Pahlawan Panggung (Unggun Creative, Singapore 2018)

a. Sajak

  • Anakku oleh Mohamed Latiff Mohamed
  • Tidak Senang Dengan Duduk-duduk oleh Masuri S.N.
  • Kepada Pohon Tak Bernama oleh Rasiah Halili
  • Manuskrip oleh Noridah Kamari
  • Ke Makam Bonda oleh Usman Awang

b. Cerpen

  • Sambal Goreng Mak oleh Wan Jumaiah Mohd Jubri
  • Kudrat oleh Maimunah Kemat
  • Pahlawan Panggung oleh Suratman Markasan
  • Nyanyuk oleh Jamal Ismail
  • Dr Remaja PhD oleh Sharifah Khadijah Aljoofri
  • Bintang Dua Belas oleh Farihan Bahron
  • Orkidnya Sudah Menjadi oleh Khadijah Hashim
  • Tika Aksara Menari oleh Djohan A. Rahman

c. Prosa Tradisional

  • Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa
  • Orang Miskin dengan Kolam yang Dingin Aimya (Abu Nawas)
  • Negeri di bawah Laut (Raja Suran)
  • Perhubungan Melaka dengan Negeri China
  • Badang dan Benderang
  • Pak Pandir dengan Ikan Salai


These are the texts being tested for Tamil:

1) நாவல் மற்றும் கட்டுரைகள்

• நாவல்
வைகறைப்பூக்கள் – மா இளங்கண்ணன்

• கட்டுரைகள்
1. சங்க இலக்கியமும் மனிதாபிமான சிந்தனைகளும் – தில்லைநாதன்
2. உள்ளம் என்னும் உயர்ந்த சொத்து – அகிலன்
3. உலகிற்கு உப்பாக இருங்கள் எஸ் ராமகிருஷ்ணன்
4. புதுக்கவிதையின் தோற்றமும் வளர்ச்சியும் – ந பிச்சமூர்த்தி

• செய்யுள்கள்
1. திருக்குறள்
– ஒழுக்கமுடைமை (குறள்கள் 136, 137, 138, 139, 140)
– தெரிந்து செயல்வகை (குறள்கள் 461, 465, 466, 467, 469)
– ஊக்கமுடைமை (குறள்கள் 592, 595, 596, 597, 600)
– பண்புடைமை (குறள்கள் 991, 992, 995, 996, 1000) 
– சினமின்மை (63)
– பொறையுடைமை (74)
– நட்பாராய்தல் (211)
– அறிவின்மை (256)
3. புரட்சிக்கவி (முழுவதும்) – பாரதிதாசன்
4. தமிழ் வாழ்க – நாமக்கல் கவிஞர்
5. மயில் சுரதா பாரதிதாசன்
6. அழகு
7. உறுதி வேண்டும் – பாரதியார்

2) சிறுகதைகள் மற்றும் தற்காலக் கவிதைகள்


1.கூரை ஓட்டில் ஓர் எலி – ரெ. கார்த்திகேசு
2. முகவரிப் புத்தகம் – ரம்யா நாகேஸ்வரன்
3. அன்பளிப்பு கு அழகிரிசாமி
4. பிரயாணம் – அசோகமித்திரன்
5. கலையின் விலை அகிலன்
6. அடுக்குமாடி அனாதைகள் – நவமணி சுந்தரம்

தற்காலக் கவிதைகள்

1.நரை -கவிஞர் வாலி
2.இன்பம் – சுரதா
3. ஏனோ? – பார்வதி பூபாலன்
4.நலமெல்லாம் நம்மாலே – க.து.மு.இக்பால்
5. பணி-மு தங்கராசன்

Examination Format
Paper Marks Weightage Duration
1 50 50% 1 hour 30 minutes
2 50 50% 1 hour 40 minutes
Total 100 100% 3 hours 10 minutes


3.5. Principles of Accounts (POA)

Learning Objectives

The O Level POA syllabus intends for students to understand how decisions are made using accounting information and the limitations of relying only on accounting information.

Examination Format
Paper Marks Weightage Duration
1 40 40% 1 hour
2 60 60% 2 hours
Total 100 100% 3 hours


3.6. Art/D&T/NFS

3.6.1. Art

Learning Objectives

The O Level Art syllabus allows students to nurture an informed awareness and appreciation of the visual arts and cultivate an inquiring mind, a spirit of experimentation and a passion for the visual arts.

Examination Format
Paper Component Marks Weightage Duration
1 Coursework 100 60% N/A
2 OR 3 Drawing & Painting 100 40% 3 hours
Study of Visual Arts 90 40% 2 hours
Total   190/200 100%  


3.6.2. Design & Technology (D&T)

Learning Objectives

Design & Technology (D&T) assesses students’ ability to use appropriate materials to build mock-ups, followed by planning and executing a project for the O Levels.

Examination Format
Paper Component Marks Weightage Duration
1 Written Examination 80 40% 2 hours
2 Design Project 60 60% 22 weeks
Total   140 100% 22 weeks


3.6.3. Nutrition and Food Science (NFS)

Nutrition and Food Science (NFS), formerly known as Food and Consumer Education (FCE) or Food & Nutrition (F&N) is an elective subject offered for the O Levels. 

Learning Objectives

The O Level NFS syllabus aims to encourage students to advocate for sustainable food consumption by planning and making appropriate food choices, applying principles of culinary science creatively in food preparation and cooking. 

Examination Format
Paper Component Marks Weightage Duration
1 Written Examination 100 40% 2 hours
2 Coursework 80 60% 28 hours
Total   180 100% 30 hours


3.7. Economics

Economics is a less commonly-taken subject at the O Levels, as only a handful of schools (namely Presbyterian High, Westwood Secondary, Temasek Secondary and Tanjong Katong Girls’) have gained approval to offer the subject.  It is a Social Science that involves studying the decision-making process on an individual, firm and government level.

Learning Objectives

O Level Economics assesses students’ ability to analyse economic issues and situations, identify and develop links and evaluate economic information and data 

Examination Format
Paper Component Marks Weightage Duration
1 Multiple Choice 30 30% 45 minutes
2 Structured Questions 90 70% 2 hours 15 minutes
Total   120 100% 3 hours


3.8. Business Studies

Learning Objectives

Currently unique to Outram Secondary School, O Level Business Studies assesses students’ ability to apply their knowledge and critical understanding to current issues and problems within business contexts and develop an awareness of the nature and significance of innovation and change within the context of business activities.

Examination Format
Paper Component Marks Weightage Duration
1 Short Answer and Data Response 80 50% 1 hour 30 minutes
2 Case Study 80 50% 1 hour 30 minutes
Total   160 100% 3 hours


4. O Level Tips and Resources

4.1. O Level Tips

4.1.1. Start Your O Level Revision Early

For O Level Singapore, understanding the topics and their concepts is essential if students aim to do well in the examination. One way students can work towards that would be to start their revision in advance. Trying to cram concepts one week before the paper would only result in more stress and unnecessary panic. Starting early allows students to have plenty of time to learn and revise their materials and understand them instead of purely depending on memory work. Besides, when students have extra time to study, they might start to change their mindset and enjoy their study sessions as they can learn the subject comfortably without rushing and panicking to remember everything.  

So, it is encouraged for students to start planning their O Level revision schedule well and start their revision in advance to give themselves plenty of time to recap and practice topics they struggle with!

4.1.2. Get Sufficient Rest

Most students do not get the recommended amount of sleep as they usually stay up late to revise their studies, especially when nearing the O Level examination. Even though it is a stressful period for many, having sufficient rest is extremely important. Students tend to cram a lot of content within a short period before the examination, which is not a productive method of scoring well. The lack of rest and sleep can cause impaired memory and affect their ability to concentrate. It may also result in more careless mistakes being made, which will cause a loss of marks. So, students, if you think that staying up late to revise is a good idea, think again!

4.1.3. Practise Consistently

To ensure that you are 101% ready for the O Level examination, dedicate a portion of your time daily to doing practice papers, especially for subjects like Math. This increases your exposure to the types of questions asked at the O Levels and ultimately allows you to learn from your mistakes. With constant practice, you will be able to identify your weaker chapters and spend more time focusing on those topics. Also, by practising regularly, you will find yourself gaining confidence in answering the questions and familiarising yourself with the process. 

4.1.4. Seek Support for the O Levels

Many students tend to shy away from asking questions when they are in doubt. However, not clarifying your doubts will only reinforce any misconceptions you may have. As the O Level examination requires students to have solid fundamentals, one important thing to note is to NEVER hesitate to ask questions or clarify whenever you realise that you do not understand the questions or topics taught. Seek help from your friends, family members, teachers, tutors or anyone that you know can provide the help you need for your learning and revision. 


4.2. O Level Resources

4.2.1. O Level Ten Year Series

The Ten Year Series (TYS) is an annual publication that compiles the past 10 years of GCE O Level Singapore examination questions. The TYS has been used in many schools for over four decades. Attempting the O Level TYS questions would reveal the types of questions asked over the years for the O Levels and allow students to notice any trends in questions. Students are able to choose between the Topical or Yearly TYS, depending on their desired area of focus. To target specific chapters and reinforce fundamentals, the Topical TYS would be a better fit. On the other hand, the Yearly TYS would be beneficial for students who aim to do timed trials and see how they fare. 

O Level Singapore Ten Year Series

O Level Ten Year Series


4.2.2. O Level Topical Revision Notes

For subjects such as Math, Science and POA, students can utilise the Topical Revision Notes book for summarised and concise notes, comprising of definitions, formulae, worked examples, and other important information to take note of for the O Levels. Students who require a last-minute recap or refresher will be able to benefit greatly from the Topical Revision Notes, written in accordance with the latest MOE syllabus.

O Level Singapore Revision Notes

O Level Revision Notes


4.2.3. Past Year O Level Papers

It is recommended that students equip themselves with other materials and past-year papers to prepare themselves for any possible questions that might appear during the actual O Level examination. At MindFlex, we understand how costly obtaining additional exam resources may be. Hence, we have consolidated past-year examination papers from different schools and made them available for you to download for FREE! 

Download the O Level papers here

4.2.4. O Level Tuition

If students require an additional helping hand for the O Levels, engaging in tuition services may help to prepare them well for the O Level examination. Tutors are able to provide students with individualised attention and clarify their questions and doubts without any judgement. With the help of tutors, students will accelerate their learning manifold and be ready for whatever the O Level Singapore examinations have to offer them. 

At MindFlex, we boast a huge database of professional and experienced O Level tutors who have helped countless students prepare for their O Levels. If you or your child requires more academic support, drop us a FREE request for tutor now! Enjoy quality education in the comfort of your own home with MindFlex, and witness exemplary grade improvements at the O Levels!


5. Taking the O Levels as a Private Candidate

For those who had to drop out of school, take a gap year or have failed the O Levels, they can take the O Level examination as a private candidate. In order to sit for the O Levels as a private candidate, one must fulfil the following requirements:

  • The candidate must have turned 15 years old no later than 1 January of the same year of the attempt
  • The candidate must not be enrolled in a school
  • If the candidate is taking Science subjects with practical examinations at the O Levels, they must have either taken the subject previously or are planning to attend the science practical at any school
  • Only a maximum of 9 subjects may be taken for the O Level Singapore examination

Information may not be as readily accessible to potential private candidates. To make life easier for you, we have compiled all the essential pieces of information every O Level private candidate should be aware of!


Reviewing the O Level Examination Syllabus

Before registering for the O Levels as a private candidate, it is important to check the official examination syllabus on the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) website, as the O Level syllabus is updated on a regular basis. Furthermore, some subjects, such as Computing, Art and D&T, are only offered to government school students.

Applying for the O Levels

Candidates can start filling in their application forms in March. It will be done through the SEAB website online.

The fees will vary according to the nationality of the candidate. The basic fee structure ranges from $64-$75, depending on your nationality. As for the per subject fee, it generally ranges from $55-$95 for Singaporeans, $115-$155 for Permanent Residents and $150-$200 for international students per subject, excluding GST. Payment can be made at any SingPost office or Self Automated Machine. Alternatively, you may make payment online via credit/debit card or PayNow. Your registration will only be confirmed after payment is successful.

You will receive your entry proof via mail by July, which will also state the examination centre that MOE has allocated you to. 

Withdrawing from the O Levels

In the event that you have to withdraw from the O Level Singapore examination, you will have to complete the “Application for Withdrawal from Entire Examination Form” and submit it together with supporting documents before the start of the year-end written O Level papers. The withdrawal form and supporting documents must be submitted via email to seab_gce_admin@seab.gov.sg. You will be sent an acknowledgement email within 5 working days.

A 50% refund of the subject fees paid may be given to you if your withdrawal request was submitted to SEAB by the withdrawal deadline. You will receive the refund approximately one month after your withdrawal request has been approved. No refund will be given if you submit your withdrawal request past the deadline.

Receiving the O Level Results

O Level Singapore results are generally released 2 months after the end of examinations. The exact date will be announced by the MOE a few days prior.

Results will be sent out by mail and Singaporean citizens can check their results online using their Singpass account.

Preparing for the O Levels

As a private candidate, it will be difficult to keep yourself on track when it comes to preparations. With the lack of structured resources given by government schools, gathering credible resources for the O Level examination will prove to be challenging.

It is crucial to stay organised and plan out the details of your preparation. Self-studying may be a rigorous process, but it is absolutely possible with discipline and determination. 

If you require additional help, consider finding a tutor to help fill in your learning gaps and gain a better understanding of your concepts. Here at MindFlex, we boast a huge database of 20,000+ O Level tutors, who will help you achieve your desired grades!

Remember to stay stress-free and healthy to avoid falling sick before the O Level examinations. Be sure to bring your NRIC and entry proof for the examination as well!


6. Where Your O Level Score Can Lead You

After the O Levels, students will partake in the Joint Admissions Exercise (JAE) to apply for admissions into Junior Colleges (JC), Millennia Institute, Polytechnics or the Institute of Technical Education (ITE)


6.1. Junior College (JC)

To qualify for a place in a Junior College, your O Level L1R5 score must not exceed 20 points. JC students typically spend two years in school studying intensively for their A Levels. Applying to a JC is a popular choice as statistics have shown that 70% of Junior College students manage to secure places in our local universities. This is the JC cut-off point of 2021:

O Level Singapore JC Cut-Off Point

Here’s an overview of the different JCs and their O Level cut-off points!

If having 2 years to prepare for the A Levels is too little time for you, you may consider applying to Millennia Institute (MI), where students study for 3 years instead.


6.2. Millennia Institute (MI)

Millennia Institute (MI) is the only Centralised Institute that offers a 3-year pre-University programme, where students sit for the A Levels. To be eligible for admission into MI, your L1R4 score must not exceed 20. Additionally, you will have to meet the following criteria:

O Level Singapore MI Cut-Off Point

Here’s an overview of Millennia Institute’s prerequisites!


6.3. Polytechnic

To gain admission into local Polytechnics, your O Level ELR2B2 (English Language, Relevant 2 and Best 2) must be below 28. The polytechnic route has grown increasingly popular with students in Singapore. In fact, half of the students who took the O Levels in 2020 chose this route.

The main difference between a Junior College and a Polytechnic is that Polytechnic students graduate with a diploma, which makes them more employable. Polytechnic students will be offered a practical, hands-on learning experience in a dynamic environment. 

There are 5 Polytechnics in Singapore – Singapore Polytechnic (SP), Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP), Temasek Polytechnic (TP), Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) and Republic Polytechnic (RP). Here are the key differences:

6.3.1. Singapore Polytechnic (SP)

The first Polytechnic in Singapore, SP offers a wide array of engineering courses. Besides its prime location and facilities, SP is well-known for its engineering courses such as Aerospace Engineering, Marine Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering and Computer Engineering.

You may find the cut-off points for specific courses here

6.3.2. Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP)

Boasting various student-centric resources, services and facilities, NYP is known for its Information Technology and Digital Media courses. Located in Yio Chu Kang, NYP provides students with high-quality education, while developing their skills.

You may find the cut-off points for specific courses here

6.3.3. Temasek Polytechnic (TP)

As the only Polytechnic to offer a Diploma in Law and Management, TP boasts a vibrant environment and professional opportunities. With 37 full-time diploma courses to choose from, there is something for everyone at TP!

You may find the cut-off points for specific courses here

6.3.4. Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP)

As one of the first few schools to offer modules in filmmaking, NP is known for its School of Film & Media Studies, as well as its business programmes.

You may find the cut-off points for specific courses here

6.3.5. Republic Polytechnic (RP)

The Republic Polytechnic is Singapore’s newest Polytechnic. RP places heavy emphasis on developing students’ problem-solving skills to prepare them for real-life work. It is known for its sports science courses, offering a variety of full-time diplomas in the school of sports, health and leisure.

You may find the cut-off points for specific courses here


6.4. Institute of Technical Education (ITE)

If you do not qualify for a JC or Poly, you can always apply for Higher Nitec courses in ITE. ITE students can gain hands-on experience that will prove to be useful when they enter the workforce. After completing the Higher Nitec course, you may choose to progress to getting a diploma from one of the local Polytechnics. 

ITE offers various courses, including but not limited to Criminal Technology, Electrical Engineering, Mechatronics Engineering, Business Information Systems, and Games Art & Design.


7. O Level Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the age requirement to take the O Levels?

Candidates must have turned 15 before 1 January of the O Level Singapore examination year.

What is the equivalent of O Level Singapore?

According to Cambridge International, the O Levels is equivalent to the Cambridge IGCSE and UK GCSE.

How many subjects are there at the O Levels?

There are around 60 subjects offered to school candidates for the O Levels. Most students take 7 or 8 subjects, with a small margin of students taking up to 9.

Where can I take the O Levels?

To register as an O Level private candidate, visit the SEAB website in March. The application will be done online.

When is the O Levels examination?

As the exact examination dates differ yearly, refer to the SEAB website for accurate information.

What do I need to prepare the day before my O Levels examination?

On the day before your O Level paper, remember to pack your NRIC, entry proof and the necessary stationery. For some subjects, you will require a SEAB-approved calculator or a dictionary.

How long is each O Level paper?

This will depend on the subject and format of the paper. Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) papers are usually 1 hour long, while written papers may range from 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours 30 minutes.

You may refer to 3. O Level Subjects for more information on the individual subject papers.

How will O Level Singapore examinations be conducted?

The examinations will generally be held at a school or examination centre, according to the allocation by MOE.

Which subjects should I take?

Compulsory subjects include English, Mother Tongue, Mathematics (E Math), Science (Pure or Combined) and Combined Humanities. You should choose your subject combination according to what you believe you will score well in and which post-secondary institution you would like to apply for.

Can I retake just 1 subject for the O Levels?

Yes, you may retake just 1 subject as a private candidate for the O Levels. Cambridge will use the better score of the 2 attempts in the calculation of your L1R4/5.

What is the best possible score for the O Levels?

If the student attains an A1 for every subject, passed Higher Mother Tongue and has 2 bonus points deducted from their CCA, the lowest possible score is 1 for L1R4, 2 for L1R5.

What happens if I fall sick during the O Level examination?

In the event that you fall ill before an O Level paper, you will have to contact the SEAB. The SEAB can make special arrangements for you to take your examinations in the hospital or another examination centre. You will have to present an official Medical Certificate to be given approval for the special request. 

Remember to stay healthy to prevent any added stress from having to request for special arrangements.

What happens if I contract Covid-19?

Candidates can apply for special consideration, in which they are awarded projected grades through a fair and rigorous procedure. The SEAB will consider multiple sources of data, such as the candidate’s performance in the other papers, or their school preliminary examination results.

Can I take the O Levels if I am hospitalised?

Yes, special arrangements can be made for you to take the O Levels in the hospital. You will have to contact SEAB to request the arrangement.

How much does the O Level examination cost?

For school students, the O Level examination is free if you are a Singaporean Citizen.

For private candidates, the basic fee structure ranges from $64-$75, depending on your nationality. As for the per subject fee, it generally ranges from $55-$95 for Singaporeans, $115-$155 for Permanent Residents, and $150-$200 for international students per subject, excluding GST.

What is the difference between Polytechnic and ITE?

Finishing a Polytechnic course will award you with a diploma, while ITE graduates obtain a Nitec/Higher Nitec certification. The content taught will be more in-depth and intense in a Polytechnic than in ITE.

What is the minimum score to enter a Junior College?

Your O Level L1R5 score must not exceed 20 points to be eligible for admission into a Junior College. 

What is the minimum score to enter a Polytechnic?

To gain admission into local Polytechnics, your O Level ELR2B2 (English Language, Relevant 2 and Best 2) must be below 28.

What do I do if I fail my O Levels?

There are various options that you may consider if you have failed your O Levels – enrol into a vocational or specialised school such as Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) or LASALLE, study at the ITE, receive a degree overseas, or gain work experience.

You may also choose to retake the O Levels either as a school student, subject to the approval of your school, or as a private candidate.

How do I retake the O Levels?

Applications for registering for the O Levels as a private candidate generally begin in March. You may apply through the SEAB website when applications have opened.

For more information about retaking the O Levels as a private candidate, refer to 5. Taking the O Levels as a Private Candidate.

What do I do after O Levels?

You may choose to continue your educational journey by applying to a Junior College, Polytechnic, Institute of Technical Education (ITE) or a vocational school such as NAFA or LASALLE. 

You may refer to 6. Where Your O Level Score Can Lead You for more information.


8. Conclusion

In conclusion, the O Level Examination can be demanding for all students. Still, students can overcome the hurdles and challenges to achieve their desired grades at the O Levels. We hope that this O Level guide has helped you gain a better idea of what to expect for the O Levels and the steps you can take to overcome some of the challenges you are facing now. 

MindFlex’s O Level tutors place a high emphasis on the importance of holistic education with real-life application. With the best O Level Tuition in Singapore covered by MindFlex, secondary school students can be assured that they will gain genuine interest in the subject while building on their current foundation.

Taking Your O Level Examinations? Kickstart your intensive O Level Singapore revision journey with a reputable Tuition Agency like MindFlex today!

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