Thursday, 27 November 2014

Putting in the 6 Choices for Secondary School Selection

Every year after PSLE, parents would be seeking advice on how to put in their 6 choices on their Secondary School Selection Form.

At first, I was perplexed.

Coco's primary school principal was very detailed in informing the parents how they could fill in the 6 choices on the day PSLE results were released. I had assumed that what she did was the directive given by MOE, until my own boss did her talk with the students' parents.

So, I will share what Coco's principal had shared with the parents two years ago, with what's left in my memory.

Example: Child's T-score is 240

1st and 2nd choices: Child's dream schools eg. Raffles Institution (259) and Hwa Chong Institution (256)

3rd and 4th choices: Schools with slightly higher cut-off points eg. Nan Chiau High School (242) and Chung Cheng High School (Main) (241)

5th and 6th choices: School that Child meets cut-off points eg. Swiss Cottage Secondary School (239) and Commonwealth Secondary School (238)

Placement of students in secondary schools is by MERIT, NOT BY CHOICE.

As long as you meet the cut-off point, you will be accepted into the school, no matter where you place the school. If another child's first choice is Chung Cheng High School (Main) and he scores 239, the child who scores 240 and placed it as the 4th or even 6th choice would get in first.

The above example is given without considering home-school distance, so home distance to secondary schools will play a big role in the selection.

Many will think that the first two choices given by Coco's principal is unrealistic. I think what she was trying to say is that since the selection is by merit, it doesn't hurt to put the dream schools down as the first two choices. Personally, I would not have done that. Instead, I would select two schools with cut-off points in the range of 242 and 245.

Appeal Intended
Then there are parents who have their children's dream schools in mind and their children's T-scores are just one point below the cut-off points. For these parents, they may put the dream school as the first choice, and put in an appeal to the school. For appeal cases, you need to put the school as the first choice. Most schools do not entertain your appeal if they are not your first choice.

Lower versus Higher Cut-off Points
Some parents make the mistake of putting schools of lower cut-off points above schools of higher cut-off points. That is what I call 'wasting the choice'. If you can't get in the school with a lower cut-off point at the first two choices, what is the chance you can get in the school with a higher cut-off point at the third or fourth choice?

IP versus O level
Generally, IP schools have higher cut-off points than O-level track schools, so it doesn't make sense to put O-level track schools ahead of IP schools. Even within schools that offer both IP and O level programmes, the Integrated Programme has a higher cut-off point than O level Programme. So don't make the mistake of placing O level programme before IP. And schools that offer both programmes have different codes for the two programmes. You do not get considered for O level programme in the same school automatically if you had only put in the IP code.

Affiliation Matters
For secondary schools affiliated with primary schools, you must put the affiliated secondary school as the first choice to qualify for the affiliation, if you meet the affiliation cut-off points. If you put the affiliated school as any other choice, you will be considered for entry on equal footing as students from any other school and your T-score will have to meet the non-affiliated cut-off point.

My list on how to put in the 6 choices is not exhaustive, and different children have different T-scores and needs that require different placement of the choices, so nobody is obligated to follow what I say as  THE rule.

Just sharing what I have learnt and observed.

No comments: