Ministry of Education, Singapore: testing times for Singapore students

Drop in on Singapore schools around this time of the year, and you’ll be greeted with near-total silence.

Exemplary conduct from the students?

In a sense, yes. You see, this is only the first term (out of four) but you’ll see students hunched over papers as they’re sitting for their Common Tests.

Now, these Common Tests are not to be dismissed as merely going through the motions. Modelled after the O-level papers, they’re mini-exams, the marks counting towards the final marks at the end of the year.

Apart from these common tests, there are also the Mid-Year and Final exams. Throw into this frenzied mix the class tests and mock exams, and you get stressed out students the year round.

Educators talk about creating a culture of creativity but where can students find the time?

In fact, some school principals’ mindset is that the more tests the better.

A friend tried to get his son to go out for dinner during the Lunar New Year season but he declined, citing the need to study for an upcoming test.

An expat teacher, who recently joined the service, in his bewilderment asked his students. “Why do you have so many tests?” And this is only February. A threadmill of test and exam scripts awaits him.

Why, indeed?

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