Saturday, September 29, 2018

My thoughts on the Mid-year exams removal

There are quite a few people in my circle asking me what I think of this news here. This news is regarding the planned removal of the mid-year exams for primary 3 and 5, as well as secondary 1 and 3. The intention is to withdraw from the narrow focus on grades so that students can discover the joy of learning. I can put on two hats to analyse this. One is that of a parent and the other is that of a tutor.

As a parent:

1) My first thought is that there will be less feedback on how my child is performing in schools. As a result, I will get more anxious as the whole focus will now be on the final year exams.

2) I will have to spend more time and effort to check if my children really understand what is happening in school. There are no more mid-year exams to alert me to take actions or to remedy the situation.

3) With the removal of the mid-year, will there will more of the less formal assessment and grading? If that's the case, then the stress is not concentrated on 2 major exams, but throughout the school semester.

As a tutor:

1) There are usually more students signing up after major exams. One is in May (mid-year exams) and the other is around Oct (final year exams). With the removal of the mid-year exams, my first thought is that I might have fewer students signing up. Thinking about it a bit more, I think it'll work out to be the same. Now my intake of new students will probably come towards the end of the year.

2) I kind of like it that there are no mid-year exams now because currently, it is one major disruption to teaching. Every time there is a major exam coming, I will have to stop teaching and focus on revision and drilling. That's not teaching. It's super boring for me and super boring for the students as well. With the removal of the mid-year exams, I will probably have to test the student's understanding myself. That might be better and should have a better workflow.

3) Without a reason to study, some students might really slack throughout the year and study seriously only towards the end. With the removal of intermediate assessment, I hope I won't have to face more attitudinal problems when tutoring.

4) Those vendors selling mid-year exams packages either huat because these are now precious resources, or they will lose a lot of revenue because now nobody will be buying them. Somehow, I think it's more likely to be the former than the latter. Each package can cost up to $50, consisting of several top schools and worked solutions. It can be serious money for a one-time effort in compiling.

5) Those tutors who are not so good might end up having less 'grading', since there is no feedback mechanism for the parents to tell if their children had improved, and so neither can they tell if the tutors had helped in their children's grades or not. It might be harder to differentiate between the good tutors and the truly bad ones since it's now an annual assessment of the tutor's prowess in teaching vs semi-annual assessment.


Sillyinvestor said...

Hi LP,

From the perspective of parent, I would not see the difference. Maybe it is because boty of us are already teaching our son every night and we kind of know where he stands academically.

As a teacher, well... I hope u have recovered from my poisoning this morning hahahah

Singapore Man of Leisure said...


Too late for me but the winds of change blowing in my direction ;)

I have a naughty grin when I saw grades will be rounded up into whole numbers - no more precision in 2 decimal places!?


I bet lots of parents who grew up with the 10-year series model answers or tell me what to do mindset may have a tough time adjusting...

Going forward, we don't need more parrots; we need more youths who can think and figure things out on their own ;)

Its gonna be grey and messy!


Sillyinvestor said...

Hi hi smol,

First time I get to poke u. Seriously? U extrapolated too much. It's taking away of weighted exam.

While it's a the right direction, I think the cheerleading in the mainstream papers are too much. Although our leader say it as it is reasonably fair. Learning is not a competition.

Joy of learning, application of knowledge just because we take a away 1 weighting?

Singapore Man of Leisure said...



The denial power in you is strong ;)

Of course, as part of change management, we need to take into account vested interests like you and parents who are not yet sold on "grey"...

Hence like the introduction of GST, we start with 3% (small impact mah), then boil the frog slowly ;)

This is not new. It started with global private companies who wanted shepherds who can think creatively and come up with solutions in a fast changing world where the old rules don't apply anymore... (Think SPH, ComfortDelgro, brick-and-mortar retailing; etc)

We screen and filter out those management trainees who can only "parrot" precedents and regurgitate facts they have memorised. With google, this kind of "skills" have become obsolete...

Big daddy is merely catching up to the private sector.

I guess we have moved to the early adopter phase ;)

Sillyinvestor said...

Haha, I actually corectly predicted your response Smol.

Well, 5 years later, if anyone remember, let's see what has changed.

I belived I am the few who understand what they are trying to do, than many who shout carry sedan and shout slogans.

I rest my case, because u know what, I hope I am wrong and u are right.

But as a insider, I know the odds are stack against u, may u be right. I would be happier

Singapore Man of Leisure said...


We are on the same team :)

You are the one facing the opposition from "vested interests" in your school; but unlike Philip Yeo, you are powerless to remove your JTC equivalent stumbling block :(

Schools are where decisions are implemented; the decisons are made higher up at the Mothership. You are not insider in the Mothership (yet) ;)

Look out for early retirements and shuffling of key appointment holders.

My 7 years away was as change evangelist to help move the organisation from silo functional thinking to process flow focus while keeping the customer in mind.

Part of the shitty job was to pin Bullseye stickers on the backs of those too powerful to remove.

I can't slay dragons; I can only slay stubborn sheep.

Dragons we leave to dragon slayers from our Mothership to handle :)

Anonymous said...

Ultimally,we need blue and white collar worker and a fix amount of people to go to university.Can examination provide full guarantee for food on the table in future??.Teach more instead of sitting down testing.Let the kid enjoy childhood while they can.

la papillion said...

Hi SI,

Haha, I know what you mean :) Actually, my thinking is also similar to yours. A bit sceptical, but it's in the right direction. It's the actual implementation that will convert me. Let's wait and see :)

la papillion said...


Actually we can see the effectiveness of this scheme in the well tested Integrated programme (IP) offered by some elite schools that had been on-going for some years already. Some of the schools don't have the big 2 major exams per year, instead opting for continual testing. Sounds pretty good on paper, but the actual implementation leaves much to be desired haha

I'm applying my trust but verify approach here LOL

la papillion said...

Hi anonymous,

My idea is that if you want your kid to be educated, then parents must be the one taking charge. But if you want your kid to be certified and sorted, then schools and formal institutions can well do the job.

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