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PSLE Chinese Paper under the New Scoring System: tougher or easier?

By LingoAce Team |US |December 10, 2023

Learning Chinese

Singapore’s Ministry of Education (MOE) announced its plans to fully transition the local education system towards using the new PSLE scoring system by 2024.

In this article, we share changes that parents need to know if your child is taking the Chinese paper. Let's dive into these changes now.

Changes of the new PSLE scoring system

Being weak in the Chinese language will pull down your child's PSLE Scores under the PSLE new scoring system

The new PSLE scoring system means students will now need to make sure they do well in every subject in order to avoid having their score being pulled down by one weak subject.

The new scoring system, based on Achievement Levels (AL) in place of the current T-score, calculates the score based on the sum of total ALs of individual subjects.

Under the new AL system

Overall PSLE score = English (AL) + Mother Tongue (AL) + Mathematics (AL) + Science (AL)

*A student’s final PSLE score is the sum of these achievement levels (ALs) - meaning the best possible total score is 4.

Under the old T-score system

Overall PSLE score = English (T-score) + Mother Tongue (T-score) + Mathematics (T-score) + Science (T-score)

T-score = 50 + [(10(X – Y)) / SD]


T-score is the transformed score

X is the student’s raw marks

Y is the average mark of the whole cohort who took the same exam

SD is the standard deviation (the spread of marks around the average)


The new ALs reflect a shift towards individual achievement. In the past, scores were affected by the cohort, as each child’s T-score was a measure of how the child performed vis-a-vis their peers for that year. Now, the student’s total PSLE score is dependent on how he or she performs based on the understanding of the curriculum. This new scoring aims to soften the emphasis parents and students place on peer comparison.

MOE New PSLE Scoring System places a more direct importance of the Chinese language towards the student's final PSLE score

Students can no longer depend on being better than their cohort for a few strong subjects to pull up their overall PSLE score. Instead, they now need to focus on scoring well across all multiple subjects, including their mother tongue. This places a more direct importance of the Chinese language towards the student's final PSLE score.

With effect from mid-2021, MOE is using ALs, instead of the current T-score, in the cut-off entry scores for secondary schools. Will this change your secondary school choices for your child?

All About Achievement Level (AL) system

What it does:

  • Helps to reduce the differentiation of scores among students, giving students more space to focus on their own mastery and understanding of subjects

  • However, students will now need to make sure they do well in every subject in order to avoid having score being pulled down by one weak subject

Application for students:

  • Focus on building weak subjects, which could be Chinese for most students

  • Focus on actual learning and understanding

  • Adopt a growth mindset towards achieving a better understanding of the curriculum

Updated Chinese Paper Test Format


The updated PSLE Chinese paper format requires students to listen and comment on a Chinese conversation. As oral and listening still retain a 35% share of the overall score for PSLE Chinese, students who are able to converse comfortably in Chinese will have the upper hand.

This shifts the focus from rote learning, or simply reading and completing worksheets passively, towards a more active involvement and genuine understanding as part of the learning process.

How is your child faring in their Chinese listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills?

Better PSLE scores needed to qualify for Higher Chinese at secondary school level

Pupils will need an overall PSLE score of 8 or better to take up Higher Chinese in secondary school. They can also take up Higher Mother Tongue if they have an overall PSLE score of 9 to 14 and attain AL1 or AL2 in their mother tongue or obtain distinction or merit in their higher Chinese PSLE. This means that PSLE Higher Chinese score will impact whether your child can take up the subject at secondary school level.

PSLE Chinese format under the new scoring system demands more than rote learning


Is the new PSLE scoring system going to make the Chinese paper easier or tougher for your child? One thing for sure is, learning Chinese under the new scoring system demands a greater degree of real acquisition of the language in place of traditional rote learning of the past. Students cannot memorize their way through the listening and commentary components of the paper.

So how can we help young learners conquer their fear of the Chinese language, and develop genuine, self-interest in a subject that many of them dread facing?

How can LingoAce help learners conquer their fear of the Chinese language?


It is important to build your child's linguistic foundation in their mother tongue language, rather than focusing on rote learning.

Learners should be encouraged to grow and develop and take ownership of their learning journey. By avoiding the old style of rote-learning, force-feeding, and cramming, children can be guided to pick up Chinese naturally with a growth mindset.

At LingoAce, the curriculum reflects this belief.

Emphasize on Oral and Written Communication Skills

Our method for Blended Learning is made up of skill-based modules covering listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. MOE has highlighted that oral and written communication are key skills of focus for Chinese language education. These skills are also what we emphasis at LingoAce, and dedicated lessons are crafted for each of these linguistic components. Tasks are even broken down to give learners a granular view of the skills they need to complete them.

LingoAce helps children to not only be PSLE-ready but also be confident Chinese speakers, writers, readers and listeners.

Build proficiency in Chinese Language through the Learning Circle method

Apart from this we also adopt the Learning Circle method of learning, relating, practicing, and reviewing at LingoAce. This enables students to understand, relate and practice the Chinese language in everyday contexts while at the same time, building proficiency to excel in it as an examinable subject in school.

Learn: Online lessons where our learners will learn examination skills and techniques.

Relate and Practice: Offline lessons where our learners apply the skills and techniques picked up from the online lessons.

Review: Our teachers will reteach and reinforce the gaps that our learners have.

Blended Learning Tackles Loss of Interest in Chinese Language Subject

For starters, we have created LingoAce Blended Learning, which is especially designed for Primary 5 and Primary 6 students to quickly gear up to take Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) Chinese and Higher Chinese.

LingoAce is the first and only MOE approved educator offering Blended Learning model in Singapore.

We developed the Blended Learning format as an answer to the difficulties learners face using more traditional methods of learning.

The Chinese-learning barriers faced by students preparing for PSLE include:

  • Loss of interest in Chinese language subject

  • Insufficient attention on each learner in large-class sizes

  • Gaps in Chinese language foundation that were not diagnosed and corrected

  • Insufficient exposure to the Chinese language at school or home, where English is the dominant language

  • Tuition concentrated on memorization or dry practice

  • Parents unable to impart updated exam techniques critical at upper primary

We tackle this in our specially created Blended learning classes.

Immersive, Not Intensive

Intensive 3-hour bootcamps are the typical approach parents take in a bid to get their child to improve.

However, if students have difficulty with the Chinese language as a subject for PSLE, they will find it especially tiring and demotivating to sit through these intensive 3hr bootcamps. We need a more effective way to help our fatigued students to learn smarter and better!

Enter the blended learning approach.

Instead of the forced learning of syllabus, blended learning helps the learner improve through a format created specially to reduce the examination stress that PSLE students face. In this new format, students acquire and assimilate knowledge prior to weekend class, and review class content at their own pace. During separate weekend sessions, they go to face-to-face lessons to do their homework on the spot with their teacher. In these classes, they take part in small group discussions to break down exam question answering steps. Dedicated 1-on-1 interaction helps them to reinforce the vocabulary, oral, comprehension and composition that they have learnt during the weekday online live downloads.

Blended learning is the new and more effective approach to help students clear hurdles in their PSLE preparation, through an accelerated yet modular way. In a building block style, children build confidence instead of feeling overwhelmed. They can better absorb and pick up what they are required to do.

Build confidence to speak, with individual attention in class

Our small class sizes (less than 10 students per class in our blended learning classes) build up your child’s confidence to speak the Chinese language fluently, giving them the space to develop and practice with the teachers during classes. The online class format helps create a place where children can open up, as lessons are usually done in the comfort of home.

Develop children who are confident Chinese speakers, writers, readers and listeners

A word of encouragement

PSLE should not be the end of the journey. Our goal is to nurture learners who are not only fully equipped for their PSLE Chinese paper but also are confident to make meaningful interactions in Chinese in their daily lives. With the new PSLE scoring system shifting towards individual focus, the student taking ownership on his/her own mastery and understanding of subjects, and the focus on actual learning and understanding, this goal has never looked more applicable.

LingoAce makes it possible to learn from the best. Co-founded by a parent and a teacher, our award-winning online learning platform makes learning Chinese, English, math, and music fun and effective. Founded in 2017, LingoAce has a roster of more than 4,000 professionally certified teachers and has taught more than 10 million classes to PreK-12 students in more than 100 countries.