One of the things I discovered when Andre hit p5 this year was that the academic leap from p4 to p5 is like an Olympic high jump event. This is also true for the transition from p2 to p3 but I felt it more keenly this time.
I think part of the reason for this is the change in format. In English, for example, the paper is now divided into two sections, with Paper 1 being the MCQ portion and Paper 2 the open-ended section. Paper 2 is where the kids tend to have more problems. Accounting for 65 marks out of a total of 95, it comprises a few challenging parts, including the open-ended cloze and the comprehension passage which now contains 10 instead of 5 questions.
For maths too, there are now two papers - Paper 1 and Paper 2, with calculators allowed for Paper 2. The issue becomes a question of speed. For Paper 1, the kids need to complete 15 MCQ and 15 short questions in 50 minutes. This translates into 3 questions for every 5 minutes. Not a lot of time, considering this doesn't even leave any time for checking.
For Chinese, I think there's only a slight difference, with two comprehension passages instead of one. Science is the only subject where the format remains the same, since the curriculum is now taught based on topics from p3-p6.
Apart from format, the difficulty level across all subject too, increases significantly. At Andre's school (and I suspect this is true for many primary schools), they start setting papers at the p6 standard for p5. This is presumably an attempt to prepare the kids early for the PSLE but for the parents and students, it's extremely stressful.
Andre just had his CA1 before the one-week holidays and it was a mini culture shock for us. The bar was raised two steps, causing many kids to stumble. I heard through the grapevine that in some classes, more than half the kids flunked the maths paper. Similarly for English. Perhaps the school wants the exam to be a wake-up call for the kids but I've always been ambivalent about this issue. Will it spur the kids to work harder or simply demoralise them? My friend, Lilian thinks the Singapore school system makes students feel stupid and parents feel inadequate.
We'll keep chugging along of course, nothing else we can do about it. But the PSLE feels like a chain around my neck - I can't wait till it's over.
Performing for Ghosts - Hungry Ghost month came & went. I don't miss the ashes flying about or watching out where I walk in case I trip over some offering. But I do look forward...
8 months ago