Education structure of Singapore

Category: Study Destinations
Posted on September 29, 2019

The Singapore education system

The education system in Singapore beams at perfection for its students, giving various choices in preschool, primary, secondary, and post-secondary education. The Ministry of Education aims to help the students to discover their abilities, to make the best of these abilities and actualize their full potential, and to cultivate a passion for learning that persists through life.

Pre-school is allowed from age three, in Singapore, during primary education from the age of seven. Children move onto Secondary School after completing their primary schooling. To go to university or other institutions, teenagers must attend a two or three-year qualification course, which is optional and points awarded on a merit basis.

Education in Singapore has a moderately complex form, with many diverse school types. The English language is the primary language of instruction that is used for almost all subjects in Schools, although students also study their mother tongue language. Other languages commonly used in the region can be the additional language subject.

  • Pre-school is optional for children starting the age of three. There are companies, community groups, and charities who run Preschools and is payable.
  • Primary School is compulsory for children starting age seven, and the government provides free education to all.
  • Secondary School is mandatory and runs for five classes for children in the age group of 12 to 17.
  • Post Secondary is optional that conducts University preparation or vocational training


Children aged between three and six are placed in playschools with fees often payable. Childcare and basic learning methods in preschool help children to get ready for their primary level. Community groups, charities, and independent companies run Preschools in Singapore.

Primary School

Primary School lasts for sixth grades, split into:

  • A four year foundation period, and
  • Two years of 'orientation' to prepare children for secondary education.
  • The main aim of the first years is to grasp the English language, the local mother tongue, and maths. Students can select subjects which play to their strengths beyond these core areas.

Secondary School

The compulsory secondary education spans four or five years, and students take a final exam at the end of the term. On completion, they choose to take pre-university education based on the scores. Pre-university education is a two or three years course that is tailored according to the needs of students who wish to attend university. It is not a straight forward process to get admission to Universities. However, acceptance happens on merit, and it is competitive.

There is an alternative to choose after secondary studies, and it is to continue with post-secondary education at a technical institute or polytechnic institution. The main focus here would be to develop more vocational skills.

What are the school calendar and hours?

  • The school year forms into semesters according to the state system of Singapore.
  • The first semester is likely to start from January through to May, and a vacation to follow.
  • The second semester from July, which continues until a break in November and December


What is the cost of education?

State schools are free in Singapore, but parents pay small miscellaneous fees under certain circumstances. Private or international schools have higher expenses.


Special Needs Schools

Some schools provide to give special attention to children who feel out of place at a regular primary school. Highly trained teachers with good experience take care of children with minor learning disabilities. There are excellent opportunities for kids who do not benefit from mainstream education and receive a viable alternative for their improvement.


Junior Colleges/(Pre) Universities

On completing the General Certificate of Education examination, pupils apply for admission to a junior college for a two-year pre-university course. Moreover, also apply for centralized institute for a three-year pre-university course. Junior colleges and institutes help the student to prepare for their entry to the university provide the necessary foundation for tertiary education.

The curriculum of junior colleges comprises :

  • Two compulsory subjects - General Paper and the Mother Tongue
  • A maximum of four Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education
  • Advanced GCE 'A' Level subjects like Arts, Science or Commerce
  • Students sit for the GCE 'A' Level examination at the end of the term



Singapore is a place known not only for its home-grown Universities but Universities that have been set up with the collaboration of renowned international Universities.

There are three local universities in Singapore.

  1. National University of Singapore
  2. Nanyang Technological University
  3. Singapore Management University

Popular courses

  • MBA/ Business/ Management
  • IT/ Computing
  • Engineering & Science
  • Tourism/ travel/ hotel management
  • Creative Arts/ Design Courses
  • Architecture
  • Medicine


Grading system

  • AD   (4.0) Distinction (Top 5% score in the subject)
  • A       (4.0) 80% and above - Excellent
  • B (3.5)  75% to 79%    Very good
  • B (3.0)  70% to 74% Good
  • C (2.5 )  65% to 69% Above Average
  • C (2.0)  60% to 64% Average
  • D (1.5)  55% to 59%   Pass
  • E (1.0)  50% to 54%   Borderline pass
  • F (0)   Less than 50%  Fail


The Universities in Singapore molds outstanding graduates with internationally recognized degrees. Masters and research, along with scholarship opportunities, are also available to post-graduate students in most of the Universities. We hope that the information provided will be useful and helpful to equip with the necessary skills and knowledge to move up in your career. All the Best.

Bhumika Sharma
Bhumika Sharma

Bhumika has more than 4 years of experience as a software engineer. Having done MCA from Dayananda sagar Institutions, Bangalore and BCA from Sikkim Manipal University, Sikkim, she found her calling as the head researcher at PlanAll. In her free time, her 5 year old daughter, Mishka, keeps her busy and happy.

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