Qualifications After ‘O’ Levels: Poly vs ‘A’ Levels vs IB

Qualifications After ‘O’ Levels: Poly vs ‘A’ Levels vs IB
Qualifications After O-Levels : Poly  Diploma vs A-levels vs IB Diploma Epigami has 1000s of qualified tutors in all areas, levels & subjects. Get $10 OFF your 1st booking if you quote OLVL16: Unsure about how the polytechnic, ‘A’ Level and International Baccalaureate (IB) routes are different? Compare the differences in our Poly vs ‘A’ Level vs IB infographic. If you need more information about admissions or have other doubts, check out our ultimate guide to the post-‘O’ level experience. If you’ve found this article useful, do leave a note in the comment section below!
  Qualifications after ‘O’ levels Polytechnic diploma vs GCE ‘A’ levels’ vs International Baccalaureate Diploma

Part 1: The Decisive Factors

Polytehnic diploma GCE ‘A’ Level International Baccalaureate diploma
Admission to school 5 Polytechnics offer the 3 year diploma
  • Singapore Polytechnic
  • Nanyang Polytechnic
  • Temasek Polytechnic
  • Republic Polytechnic
  • Ngee Ann Polytechnic
To apply:
  1. Joint Admissions Exercise (JAE)
  2. Joint Polytechnic Special Admissions Exercise (JPSAE)
  3. Direct Polytechnic Admission (DPA) Exercise
*Uses ELR2B2 aggregate score
18 Junior Colleges (JC) & Centralised Institutes (CI) offer 2-3 year GCE ‘A’ Levels
  • Hwa Chong Institution
  • Raffles Institution
  • Victoria JC
  • National JC
  • Anglo-Chinese JC
  • Anderson JC
  • Nanyang JC
  • Meridian JC
  • Catholic JC
  • Temasek JC
  • Serangoon JC
  • St. Andrew’s JC
  • Innova JC
  • Tampines JC
  • Jurong JC
  • Pioneer JC
  • Yishun JC
  • Millennia Institute
To apply:
  1. Joint Admissions Exercise (JAE)
  2. Direct School Admission (DSA-JC) Exercise
*Uses: L1R5: 20 or less for JC L1R4: 20 or less of CI
21 schools offer the 2 year IB diploma
  • Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)
  • Chinese International School
  • ISS International
  • Chatsworth International
  • Australian International (AIS)
  • German European School (GESS)
  • Global Indian International (GISS)
  • Hwa Chong Institution (HCIS)
  • Canadian International (CIS)
  • National Public School (NPS)
  • School of the Arts (SOTA)
  • Overseas Family School (OFS)
  • Nexus International
  • Singapore Sports School
  • St. Joseph’s Institution (SJI)
  • Stamford American International (SAIS)
  • Tanglin Trust School (TTS)
  • United World College Singapore (UWCSEA)
To apply:
  1. Joint Admissions Exercise (JAE)
  2. Other qualifications ie IGCSE and overseas equivalent education
L1R5: 20 or less
School fees per month Singaporean: $209Singaporean PR: $417International students (ASEAN): $696*Fees above are for tuition fees. There are supplementary fees that cost ~$120 per year. Normal JC:Singaporean: $6Singaporean PR: $160Independent JC:Singaporean: $300Singaporean PR: $550International students (ASEAN): $1,200Others: $1,600 Singaporean: $450Singaporean PR: $645International students (ASEAN): $1,455Others: $1,675*Fees are obtained from ACSI. Fess will differ among schools.
Course Requirements Select 1 out of 163 diplomas.ELR2B2 Requirements (averageacrosspolys)
  • Applied Arts: 13-22
  • Architecture & Building: 13-26
  • Business & Administration: 7-22
  • Engineering Sciences: 12-26
  • Health Sciences: 14-28
  • Humanities: 18-24
  • Information technology: 13-22
  • Science & related technologies: 10-26
  • Services: 20-26
Aminimumof10academicunitsis required.For example:Core subjects:3H2subjects1H1 subjects*one must beacontrastingsubjectOthers:H1 MotherTongueH1 Project WorkH1 General Paper/Knowledge & Inquiry Atotalof6subjectsare required (3 HL, 3 SL)
  • 5 of the subjects must each come from group 1 to 5
  • 6th subject – free choice from group 1 to 6
*In addition, students must complete the 3 compulsory components.

Part 2: The Mechanics

Curriculum In each diploma course, students will take core modules thatare fixed for each course. There is around 10-15 modules per year.Besides core modules, students can also take prescribed and complementary electives 3 Levels of study:
  • H1: each subject has the same depth but half the content of a H2 subject
  • H2
  • H3: H3 subjects are optional; they emphasise increased depth of understanding in a subject
Subjects: Knowledge skills subjects:
  • General Paper
  • Knowledge & Inquiry
  • Project Work
Content-based subjects:
  • Languages
  • Humanities and the arts
  • Mathematics and Sciences
2 Levels of study:Standard level:150hoursHigher level:240hoursSubjects:6 Discipline groups:
  1. Studies in language and literature
  2. Language acquisition
  3. Individual and societies
  4. Experiemental sciences
  5. Mathematics
  6. The Arts
3 Compulsory Components:
  • Theory of Knowledge
  • Creativity Action and Service
  • Extended essay
Assessment Assessment inpolytechnicsare based on modular assessment which include:
  • Quizzes
  • Tests
  • Exams
  • Practicals
  • Projects
  • Activities
  • In-course assessment
External:H1 Mother Tongue (examinable at the end of the first year)The remaining subjects will have a written exam at the end of thesecondyearInternal:Project work (at the end of the first year)*Release of results usually in March External:Written exam forallsubjectsattheendofthesecondyearInternal:All subjects:
  • Oral exercises
  • Projects
  • Portfolios
  • Class presentations
  • Practical lab work
  • Mathematical investigation
  • Artistic performances
(20%-50% grade weightage) *Release of results usually in January  

Part 3: The Facts

Overview A 3 year programme which provides practical industry experience for a career or further studies A 2 or 3 year curriculum emphasising depth within each subject discipline A 2 year curriculum emphasising breadth across a range of subjects
Admission to local universities In 2013, 17% of polytechnic students NUS, NTU &SMUAccumulate at least a GPA of 3.5-3.8 depending on eachcourseIn 2013, 2,500 placesIn 2020, 5,500 places Admission depends on the university admission score (UAS), computed as follows:
  • The best four subjects (3 H2 and 1 H1)
  • H1 GP/KI
  • H1 Project Work
Each H2 has a maximum score of 20 Each H1 has a maximum score of 10 Maximum score: 90
A pass in 3 HL and 3 SL subjects, and a good scoreis required for candidates to make a competitive application.Universities will give conditional offers requiring a specific number of points. The offers will depend n the standing of the university and popularity of the subject.
Passing rate Students must pass all modules associated with their course to complete thediplmaIn 2012 & 2013, the completion rate was: 90% Percentage of students with at least3H2 passes & a pass in GP/KIIn 2003: 81:In 2012: 91% In Singapore: 96.82% pass the exam with an average score of 36.52Globally: 80% pass the exam with an average score of 29.95
What to consider
  • If you’re really passionate about a specific career in the future
  • Do you prefer practical based learning instead of more theoretical subjects?
  • You want to get real world experience as soon as you can
  • You wan to get more control and flexibility over what you study
  • You would like to delve deep into subject areas
  • You want to have a variety of learning opportunities to pursue areas in which you have interest and exceptional aptitude (i.e. H3)
  • You prefer working on your own. You know what you want to do. Especially for those who want to specialise in the research area of mathematics and the sciences
  • You want to have an international understanding and holistic education
  • You have the ability to keep up with consistent work needed for continual assessment
  • You have interest in many disciplines and prefer not to focus on only a few areas
  • You have a strong command of the English language
  • You are keen in developing inquiry, creative & critical thinking
Other factors
Average school week (lectures, tutorials and praticals) 25 hours 40 hours 35 hours
Average starting salary (excluding further studies) $2,000 $1,000 $1,100
Changing course is possible 40-50 Polytechnic students switch to JC
400-500 JC students switch to Polytechnic

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