Over the last few years, the Ministry of Singapore has gradually been reducing the number of graded exams students have to take in school. The latest announcement will see mid-year examinations being removed for students in junior colleges (JCs) and Millenia Institute (MI) from 2024 onwards. These are part of efforts to reduce the emphasis on grades, thereby reducing the academic pressure on students, as well as embracing more holistic approaches to learning.
While we are glad that Singapore is taking steps to reduce academic pressure and stress on our young students, we also can’t help but think of the impacts that removing exams will have. After all, being competitive and academically-focused is a big part of the Singaporean ‘kiasu’ attitude, and the demand for classes like Secondary Combined Science Tuition and IP Math Tuition continues to ride high.
Will Singapore students become too ‘slack’ with fewer exams to study for? Will Singapore’s education standards drop as a result of the reduced academic rigour? Will Singaporeans finally learn how to learn for the sake of learning, rather than for the exams? We don’t have all the answers, but we can explore some of these expected effects – some of which are already happening.
There are fewer opportunities to track students’ learning
As the Singapore education still uses a very much grades-and-assessments-based approach to evaluating students’ progress, the removal of key examinations means that students get fewer data points to track their learning.
For example, if you got a C for math at the mid-year examination, you would at least know and try to work harder to get an A at the end of year. Now, you wouldn’t even have a sense of your standard until the end-of-year exams, and you may get a shock to get a C at your first exam of the year.
But wouldn’t teachers be able to give feedback and report on the students’ progress as the year progresses? In an ideal scenario, teachers would be able to. But in reality, most teachers simply do not have the time and breadth of attention to make a detailed report for each and every student they teach.
Possible solution: As a tuition provider in Singapore, Future Academy supports students by providing topical, termly, and semestral reviews to help them keep on track with their learning. The small class sizes enable tutors to observe students individually and provide timely feedback which can help students improve – before the final examination in school. As part of our value-added service, we also provide regular progress updates to students’ parents so that we can endeavour towards a partnership approach to support students in their learning at home and in school.