K-12 Education System

K–12 (pronounced "k twelve", "k through twelve", or "k to twelve") is a designation used in Singapore for the sum of primary and secondary education. 

Singapore Ministry of Education (MOE) is the regulatory body of the Education Services. The local schools in Singapore are supported by government and mainly cater to Singaporean citizens.  Singapore has many private international schools as well that provides K-12 education. K-12 education in Singapore is inexpensive. 

Education System

The Singaporean education system provides primary, secondary and tertiary education.
Pre-School/Kindergarten Education: For the kids of age 3-6 years.
Primary Education: Starts at the age of 6 years.
  • Foundation stage - Primary 1 to 4, Total 4 years
  • Orientation stage - Primary 5 and 6, Total 2 Years
Secondary Education: Runs for three or four years, from Grade 6 to 10
Post-Secondary Education: Runs for two years, Grades 11 and 12.

Pre-School / Kindergarten Education (Age 3-6)

The pre-schools in Singapore are run by private sector – community and religious bodies, educational enterprises, churches, child care centers  as well as international schools , all registered with the MoE.  
Pre-school education consists of three years of education – Nursery, Kindergarten 1 (K1) and Kindergarten 2 (K2). It is more of an introductory-preparatory phase where the children are introduced to the idea of a classroom, teachers and friends. The Pre-School fee varies depending on the facilities and the nature of the organization.

Primary Education 

Primary School education in Singapore is a six year compulsory and free education that begins at the age of 6 years. In the first four years, called P1-P4, also recognized as the foundation stage, the main focus is on developing the language and numerical skills, while science is taught from Primary 3. At the end of P4, students are evaluated based on their performance and streamed according to their ability.
During Primary 5 and Primary 6 years of education in Singapore, known as the Orientation stage, children are put into EM1, EM2 and EM3 called Subject Based Banding System. Students in EM1 & EM2 learn English, mother tongue, i.e., Malay, Chinese or Tamil at a higher level, while the EM3 students learn Basic English Language and Mother Tongue at the basic proficiency level and basic mathematics. At the end of Primary 6, all students must sit for the Primary School Leaving Exam called PSLE that is held at a national level. The PSLE scores decide the student’s ability, i.e. their competency for secondary education.

Secondary School Education 

Based on the PSLE score, students are put in either Normal or Special/Express Course, leading to ‘N’ level or ‘O’ level education respectively in four years. Secondary school education curriculum includes subjects such as English, the Mother Tongue, Mathematics, Science and the Humanities. 

Post Secondary Education

Junior College 

Junior college involves a two-year course leading to ‘A’ (advanced) level exams upon completion of the secondary school education in Singapore. It consists of Grades 11 and 12. Admission into junior college depends on the scoring in the ‘O’ Level exams. The Junior Colleges prepare students for tertiary level of education at a university. 

Language of Instruction

In Singapore pre-schools, students learn in two languages: English and a mother tongue- Chinese, Malay or Tamil. The language of instruction is English in all schools following the national curriculum, except in "mother-tongue" subjects. International and private schools may use other languages.

Academic Year

An academic year is the time during which an educational institution holds classes. A single academic year of a school is divided into two semesters. And each semester is further subdivided into two terms each. A single academic year comprises of 40 weeks of teaching, 10 weeks for each term. And after each term there will be holidays before the next term begins.
Academic year for Primary and Secondary schools in Singapore:
Semester I:
Term 1: January to March 
Term 2: March to May 
Semester II
Term 3: July to September 
Term 4: September to November

Grading Mechanism

Primary Level Grading System

Primary schools in Singapore follow a grading system along an "Overall Grade" scheme. Students are graded as follows: 

Primary 3 to 4

 Grade  Percentage
 Band 1  85% and above
 Band 2  70% to 84%
 Band 3  50% to 69%
 Band 3  Below 50%

Primary 5 to 6 Standard Stream

 Grade  Percentage
 A*  91% and above
 A  75% to 90%
 B   60% to 74%
 C   50% to 59%
 D   35% to 49%
 E   20% to 34%
 U  Below 20%

Primary 5 to 6 Foundation Stream

 Grade  Percentage
 Grade 1  85% and above
 Grade 2  70% to 84%
 Grade 3  50% to 69%
 Grade 4  30% to 49%
 U   Below 30%

Secondary Level Grading System

At secondary level schools in Singapore various grading systems are used. However, majority of Secondary Schools follows the grading pattern of the Singapore-Cambridge GCE "O" level examination. Under this grading system, the highest achievable grade is A1 while F9 is considered to be the lowest one.

Singapore-Cambridge GCE "O" Level Examination

 Grade  Percentage  Grade Description
 A1  75% and above   Distinction
 A2  70% to 74%   Distinction
 B3  65% to 69%  Merit
 B4  60% to 64%  Merit
 C5   55% to 59%  Credit
 C6  50% to 54%  Credit
 D7  45% to 49%  Sub-Pass/Fail
 E8  40% to 44%  Fail
 F9  Below 40%  Fail

Grade Point Average

In some Secondary Schools in Singapore, Grade Point Average or as more commonly known as GPA is used for grading students in exams. It is calculated by adding the Grades obtained in all the subjects, and then dividing the sum by the number of subjects the student takes. The result is then rounded off to two decimal places to obtain the GPA. 
  • Minimum Requirement: GPA of 2.0 
The GPA usually differs from school to school with small deviations. 

 Grade  Percentage  Grade Point
 A  80% to 100%  4.0
 A  70% to 79%   3.6
 B  65% to 69%  3.2
 B  60% to 64%  2.8
 C  55% to 59%  2.4
 C  50% to 54%  2.0
 D  45% to 49%  1.6
 E  40% to 44%  1.2
 F  Below 40%  0.8

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