Best O-level results since 1978
STUDENTS who sat the O levels last year have outperformed their seniors at the national exam, putting in the best showing in nearly four decades going back to 1978.
Of the students who took the exam, 83.8 per cent attained at least five passes, surpassing the 83.3 per cent mark set by the 2014 cohort, which was the first to breach the 83 per cent mark.
In addition, 96.1 per cent attained at least three passes, while 99.9 per cent passed at least one subject. Normal (Academic) students and private candidates also did better than in the previous year.
Jason Tan, an education policy expert at the National Institute of Education, said the solid showing was due to schools here doing a better job of preparing their students for the crucial national exam, which determines their eligibility for post-secondary education.
The exam passing rate will likely continue to improve or remain steady in the future, said Associate Professor Tan.
Timothy Chan, director of SIM Global Education's academic division, said better teaching and learning resources provided by schools played a role.
"Many schools have adopted differentiated learning that caters to the different needs of students. Students these days are encouraged to think and communicate their ideas with their teachers and peers," he added. "This helps teachers understand their students better."
Dr Chan also pointed out there have been fewer students taking the O levels in recent years, with more skipping them and moving on in the Integrated Programme (IP).
A total of 29,723 students took the O-level exam last year, compared with the 30,964 students in the class of 2014. In the few years before that, more than 34,000 would take the exam.
As with recent years, the Ministry of Education did not name the top scorers when it released results yesterday. This did not stop schools celebrating their top achievers.
At Bowen Secondary, the top three and three most improved students from each class were lauded by classmates. The school also recognised those who showed resilience under difficult circumstances, such as Secondary 5 student Nicole Wee.
The 17-year-old, who had a blood viral infection weeks before the exam period in October, had to prepare and sit for her papers from a room inside her ward at the Singapore General Hospital.
But she never had to feel alone, as her classmates and teachers would visit her with notes and practice papers.
Bowen Secondary principal Bernard Chew said: "At the end of the day, we are celebrating more than the results. We want to celebrate the values and lessons they've learnt along the way."
At Chung Cheng High School (Main), the students who had received at least five distinctions were named when principal Chan Ying Yin presented the results.
Among them, Jessica Glazov, 16, who received six A1s and three A2s, said: "The teachers too have worked hard and they would go the extra mile to help us in our studies."