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Integrated Programme (IP) versus ‘O’ Levels

Integrated Programme (IP) versus ‘O’ Levels

The days are long, but the years are short. One moment your child is refusing to let you go on his or her first day of kindergarten, the next moment they are becoming teenagers heading to secondary school in a couple of months.

The leap from primary school to secondary school is a major milestone for your child. A few months from now, when PSLE is done and dusted, you and your child will find yourselves at a crossroad – whether he or she should take the “choo choo train” Integrated Programme (IP) or the GCE ‘O’ level route?

To help you, here’s everything you need to know before making that crucial decision with your child.

What is the Integrated Programme (IP)?

Introduced in 2004, the Integrated Programme is a 6-year programme that combines both secondary and junior college education to provide high-performing students with a broader and seamless learning experience.

Targeted at the top 10% of PSLE students, IP allows students to bypass the ‘O’ Levels for a direct route towards the ‘A’ levels, International Baccalaureate Diploma or NUS High School Diploma.

Back in 2004, IP was first offered in only 8 schools, including Hwa Chong Institution, Dunman High School, and Raffle Girls’ School. Fast forward to 2021, the programme is now offered in 17 schools!

For the full list of IP schools, visit: MOE Integrated Programme (IP) Schools

What is the ‘O’ Level Programme?

The ‘O’ Level programme is the rite of passage for most Singaporeans as they transit to their pre-tertiary education. This programme offers a moderately paced learning that is designed for the final examinations that is taken at the end of four years. After taking the ‘O’ Levels examinations, students will then have the option to pursue their pre-tertiary education in Junior Collages (‘A’ Level programme) or Polytechnics (Diploma).

What are the indicative Cut-Off Points (COP) for IP vs O-levels?

This year’s PSLE cohort will be graded using the new PSLE scoring system, which assess students on the basis of their individual performance in subjects, regardless of how their peers have done.

Pupils will be given Achievement Levels (AL) 1 to 8 for each subject, instead of grades like A* to E.

A pupil’s total PSLE score will be the sum of the AL of each of the four subjects. The best score one can get is four, if the grade is AL1 for all four subjects.

For more information on the new scoring system, please read: https://www.elevateenrichment.sg/new-psle-scoring-system/

Indicative COP for the IP programme:

Government/Government-aided schools7-9
Autonomous Schools7-9
Independent Schools6-8

Indicative COP for the ‘O’ Level programme:

Government/Government-aided schools8-22
Autonomous Schools8-16
Independent Schools8-10

Integrated Programme Pros

Exploring higher level topics

The biggest “bonus” of IP is the absence of the ‘O’ Level National examinations. With the ‘O’ Levels taken out of the equation, IP schools now have more time to provide a more holistic education for your child. On the academic front, IP allows your child to be ahead of his or her peers by including higher-level topics. The line between lower and secondary syllabus will be blurred as IP schools may include upper secondary topics in lower secondary to allow higher-order thinking. At the upper secondary level, ‘A’ Levels concept may also be introduced, reducing the steep learning curve that many ‘O’ Levels students face when they enter Junior College.

More Time for enrichment programmes

In addition, your child now will also have more time for enrichment programmes, which can include elective studies such as public speaking, leadership training, science research programmes and overseas immersion programmes. These enrichment programmes can help your child gain and develop life skills that are beyond the academics.

Less rigid education

One other perk of IP is that the curriculum is far less structured compared to that of the ‘O’ Level programme. As such, your child will be allowed to learn more independently, keeping track of their own learning, gaining self-discipline. This may be a useful skill when your child go into higher education where lecturers and professors do not “babysit” students through their education.

‘O’ Level Programme Pros

Keeping options open

Without a direct admission into the ‘A’ Level programme, students taking the ‘O’ Levels have more options when considering their pre-tertiary education. Students who have a clearer idea of what they will like to study at the university level may opt to go to polytechnic to gain a diploma in that specific field. This may gain them direct admission into year 2, or may allow them to skip some modules in university.

Exposure to different school cultures

Entering a different school after ‘O’ Levels exposes your child to different school cultures as oppose to IP students who remain in the same school and friends for 6 years.

Integrated Programme or ‘O’ Level Programme?

Inevitably, there will be a general consensus that IP is more “prestigious” than ‘O’ Levels. However, each programme has its own merits and neither is better than the other. The difference lies in the way your child learns. Every child’s learning style is unique; some require set structures and guidance and the ‘O’ Levels provide that. The ‘O’ Level programme allows students to pick up and apply knowledge and concepts at a steady pace.

If your child is sporty or musically inclined, and wishes to have a more balance between their academics and sports/music pursuits, then perhaps the IP programme may be more suitable.

How Can Elevate help?

At Elevate, we provide lessons that are suitable for both ‘O’ Level and IP students. The curriculum at Elevate is unique to each student to match their unique learning styles, speed and abilities.

For students in the IP track, school-specific lessons are available. This curriculum is pitched at a higher level and designed around different IP schools’ standard and curriculum. Many of our teachers are also alumni of various IP schools, having first-hand experience of the programme.

Regardless of the programme your child chooses, we provide constant assessment and regular practices to help your child keep track of his or her progress. Teachers will select tutorials based on the unique academic needs of your child – stronger students will be challenged with higher-level questions, while weaker students will be drilled with foundational questions to ensure 100% understanding before moving forward.

If you have any questions about our programmes, please email us at admin@elevateenrichment.sg or call us at 8411 8660 and we will be more than happy to assist you.

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