Are you a foreigner planning on getting your child into a local school in Singapore? If yes, you need to know about the Admissions Exercise for International Students (AEIS) and the recent changes to the entry requirements. Before we run you through all the details about AEIS, also first consider whether a Singapore local school experience is right for your child.
Why study in Singapore’s local schools?
It’s a well-known fact that Singapore boasts one of the most effective education systems in the world. Students from Singapore regularly top the world rankings for English, Science, and Math, including on charts like the PISA study, A level results, and IB Diploma exams. Education is highly prioritised in the country, and compulsory for primary and secondary level children.
So, it is no wonder that even foreigners are trying to get a slice of the pie. Some expats in Singapore prefer to send their children to a local school in Singapore to experience this rigorous education system and gain a more local schooling experience.
However, getting into one of Singapore’s local schools as a foreigner is extremely tough. As local schools are heavily subsidised and prioritised for citizens and permanent residents, foreigners applying for a spot usually have quite low chances of getting into their desired school.
On the other hand, it is somewhat easier to get a spot in an international school in Singapore as you don’t have all the locals vying for places there. International schools will also provide a more diverse learning environment, and an arguably more holistic (less exam-focused) education experience. The major downside to this option, however, is the high costs of school fees (about $40,000 per annum for a high school student).
As such, it is critical to consider the choices carefully. If you are set on applying to a local school, it pays off to be familiar with the application process, and make the necessary preparations to make your application as flawless as possible. Read on to find out what you need to apply.
How does AEIS work?
AEIS is the name of the application process for international students who wish to try for a place in a local school.
Students can apply to Primary or Secondary school, but they cannot enter into a graduating year (Primary 6 or Secondary 4). Each application is for admission into the following school year, i.e. if you apply today and get an offer, you will begin school next year in January.
Previously, the application process for Primary and Secondary students was very similar. After applying for AEIS with the Ministry of Education in Singapore (MOE), applicants will need to take two placement tests, one for English and one for Math. The two tests will determine the outcome: the level of study that the student can enter, or an unsuccessful application.
For secondary school students, you have to choose what you feel is the most suitable test level for your child, as there may be more than one test they are eligible to take. The placement tests for each level will test contents from the grade below it. That is, for entry into Sec 1, the test will be pitched at a Primary 6 level. An overview of the possible pathways is shown in the graphic below.
The process will look something like this: If you are applying for your teen who will be 13 years old at the year of admission (i.e. next year), you can choose whether to take the Sec 1 or Sec 2 placement test. If they are successful in the Sec 1 test, the teen will enter Sec 1. If they are successful in the Sec 2 test, the teen will enter Sec 2.
Therefore, understanding your child’s abilities and selecting the appropriate test level is important.
Changes to Primary School AEIS
Rather than take the AEIS-English and AEIS-Math placement tests after applying for AEIS, applicants must now obtain a Cambridge English Qualification (CEQ) before they submit their AEIS application.
The CEQ test replaces the AEIS-English test, but must be taken not more than 12 months before applying for AEIS.
In effect, this creates an additional filter for potential AEIS applicants. Students must now prepare and clear the CEQ earlier, otherwise they cannot even apply for AEIS.
The rest of the application process remains largely the same. For primary school applicants, successful candidates may be placed into one of several levels, according to their ability. The relevant tests, qualifying scores, and possible placements for each age range are shown in the table below.
An example of the application process may look like this. For a child who will be turning 8 or 8+ next year, they will have to take the CEQ A2 Key for Schools test and get a qualifying score of 120 or above, at most 12 months before applying for AEIS. Then, when applying for AEIS, they have to apply for the Primary 3 AEIS Math test (which tests Pri 2 level math). Depending on their results, they may be offered a place in Primary 3, Primary 2, or Primary 1.
AEIS application assistance
Confused by all the steps required for AEIS? We get it, having to navigate the education system in another country can be highly stressful and confusing. That’s why we’re here to offer you our assistance!
If you’re new to Singapore and need help in signing your child up for a school here, our school application assistance service can ease your worries. From guiding you on the key steps to keeping in time with deadlines, and tutoring services to prepare your child for the AEIS entrance tests, you can rest easy knowing that the whole process is well taken care of.
With our local advisor and academic training, you will also increase your child’s chances of a successful application, potentially saving you more time and headache over trying to find alternative education providers for your child.
Ready to grab your spot in a Singapore school? Simply contact us and request our AEIS assistance services and we’ll arrange for a discussion to design a preparation game-plan for you and your child.