Note: The post is a sharing from our experiences as educators and not meant to be exhaustive. All authority and decisions pertaining to the PSLE exam rest with the Singapore Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Singapore Examination and Assessment Branch (SEAB). Parents are strongly encouraged to work closely with your children’s form teachers/schools to seek the best advice arising from any contingencies you may face.
“My son has broken his wrist a week before his PSLE. What should I do?”
“I think my child has special needs and this is his PSLE year. What should I do?”
“My child has a high fever and he has PSLE tomorrow. What should I do?”
“My son is down with Chicken Pox and can’t sit for his PSLE Listening Compre. What should I do?”
The PSLE is a major milestone exam for all primary six children going through the Singapore’s mainstream education system. For most of them, it would be their very first major exam. As parents, we try our best to prepare our children to manage the rigour of this nerve-wrecking exam. However, what if something unexpected happens on the day of the exams? What should parents do to help our children remain calm in the face of these contingencies?
Here are some general advice:
1. Special Learning Needs:
If you are concerned whether your child has special learning needs and wonder how can the school help your child navigate the PSLE year,
- Get your child diagnosed early. This way, the school and community can start acclimatizing your child to school life (including tests and exams) so that when PSLE arrives, your child can be ready for it.
- If your child has been medically diagnosed with special needs, submit the diagnosis to the school for special ‘Access Arrangement’ (AA) by SEAB (Singapore Examination & Assessment Board).
- When must I apply for AA? As early as possible. Some children may need extra logistical help from SEAB and the school. There are AA cases that are submitted very last minute (e.g. due to delay in diagnosis) but it may mean that the child will have to adapt to a steeper learning curve to get used to the exam settings.
- Some students with special learning needs are allowed to take their exam in a separate room / venue depending on circumstances.
2. Personal Injury: What happens if my child has injured his writing arm? What happens if my child is hospitalised or down with severe vomitting?
- For any injury, inform the school as soon as possible and ensure that you have the doctor’s letter of excuse and/or medical certificate. The doctor will have to certify if your child is well enough sit for the exam.
- If your child has injured his writing arm, the school will appoint teachers as ‘scribes’ to help dictate the child’s answer. However, there are questions which the scribes may not be able to help write (e.g. questions that require drawing). For these cases, SEAB will take the injury into account when marking the questions.
- If your child is hospitalised but lucid enough to take the PSLE exam, SEAB may send an examiner down to the ward, depending on circumstances. There are some illnesses where your child needs to be totally isolated (e.g. contagious diseases).
3. Sick: What happens if my child is very ill or down with contagious disease (e.g. High Fever, Gastric Flu, Chicken Pox. HFMD etc.)
- Inform the school as soon as possible and ensure that you have the doctor’s letter of excuse and medical certificate. The doctor will have to certify if your child is fit to sit for the exam or not.
- Bring the MC and the doctor’s note to the school when your child reports for the exam.
- Parents cannot be with the child in the exam hall. The child may be isolated depending on the severity of the illness.
- The school will submit the MC and the doctor’s letter to SEAB for consideration when marking the PSLE paper.
4. Do all the above apply to Listening Comprehension and Oral exams?
- Generally yes.
- For Oral Exam: If your child is in the first session, the examiner may give your child the option to rest and then take the exam in the 2nd session (if there is one in the school).
- Otherwise SEAB will arrange for your child to take the Oral Exam at a separate venue on an alternative date.
- For Listening Comprehension: Generally there won’t be a make-up session for this. The school may have to supply your child’s P6 Prelim result for SEAB to approximate.
5. What if my child is too unwell to even report to the exam venue?
- As the parent, if your child is very ill or injured, you can opt for your child not to take the exam, with doctor’s certification.
- The school would normally take your child’s P6 Prelim results to SEAB to approximate.
Other Risks and Contingencies:
From heavy rain to forgetting stationery. Here are other ways to manage these contingencies.
1. Transparent Pencil Cases: Although not a PSLE rule, some schools mandate their students to bring only transparent pencil case into the exam hall. This is to prevent students from accidentally bringing in revision notes into the exam venue unknowingly. Another benefit is also for students to see their stationeries easily and not waste time foraging into the pencil cases for them. A transparent zip-loc bag works well too.
If the school practices this, then you may want to get your child a transparent pencil case early. Popular Bookstore sells them too.
2. Non-Digital, Analog Watch: Although not a PSLE rule, some schools discourage digital watches as they sometimes emit beeps and alarms which can be a distraction to other students. If that is the case, you may want your child to get used to using an non-digital, analog watch. Smart watches (those that transmit data) are not permitted to be worn during PSLE exam.
3. Water-resistant School Bags: Some children carry tote bags or simple plastic bags to school. After all, they only need to carry the books relevant to the subject tested for the day together with the stationeries
During the exam, all bags are placed outside the classroom, lined outside the corridor. If the rain is very heavy, and your child’s books and notes are not in a water-resistant bag, there may be risk of the notes and materials being wet from rain or water seepage.
4. Transport Break-downs: If your child travels by public transport to and from school for PSLE exam, it is good for him/her to carry some spare cash (for taxi fare), a card with the school address and those of the nearest schools as well as home address clearly printed.
If your child is unable to get to school on time for the PSLE exam due to a major transportation break-down or train service disruption, report to the nearest school from where he/she currently is. Inform the school’s key personnel at the school office of the situation and your child would be permitted to take the paper there. Chances are that there will be other students in the same plight. Alternatively, your child can quickly grab a cab to school where affected students will still be given the full duration to complete the exam.
Note that these special allowances are usually granted only if there’s a major transport break-down of our public transport system and not when the student is late due to personal factors (such as oversleeping, unable to book a cab etc).
Disclaimer: The Ministry of Education in Singapore (MOE) and the Singapore Examination and Assessment Board (SEAB) manage all major exams for Singapore schools. All decisions and special arrangements pertaining to PSLE are up to the final discretion of MOE and SEAB. The situations listed here are not exhaustive. Parents are strongly encouraged to contact your child’s school / MOE / SEAB as early as possible should you anticipate or encounter any contingencies.
MOE / SEAB Hotline: +65 68722220
MOE Website: https://www.moe.gov.sg