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73% make the cut for Sec 5

98% of Normal (Technical) students pass; overall performance similar to last year's
The Straits Times - December 20, 2013
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73% make the cut for Sec 5

WITH five distinctions, 17-year-old Nur Amirah Amir, one of 12,419 Normal (Academic) students who collected their N-level results yesterday, finds herself in a happy dilemma.

She can choose to go on to Secondary 5, or apply for one of the 1,200 places available under the Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP). The scheme, introduced last year, lets students skip the O levels for a one-year preparatory course before gaining direct entry into a related diploma course.

The Pasir Ris Secondary student's aggregate of seven points puts her well below the maximum of 11 needed to qualify for the PFP.

The questions she now faces about her future stand in stark contrast to the ones she confronted midway through Sec 3, when a cancerous tumour near her heart was discovered. She had to take a year off school for treatment.

But with the support of her parents - her father is a cargo coordinator and her mother, a housewife - and her own can-do spirit, the plucky schoolgirl is one of this year's success stories.

According to yesterday's results, 72.8 per cent of the N(A) cohort did well enough to go on to Sec 5.

N(A) students with a score of not more than 19 points can also opt for one of around 1,000 places offered by the Institute of Technical Education in its Higher Nitec course.

At the end of the course, those with the required grades can go straight to the first or second year of a related poly diploma course.

Of the 5,510 Normal (Technical) students who also took the N levels, 98 per cent passed. Both sets of results were similar to those of last year.

This year also, 32.5 per cent of N(A) students sat Express-level subjects at the O-level exams. They will receive their results next month.

In line with the Education Ministry's policy of not revealing top scorers to reduce the focus on just academic performance, schools shied away from revealing their very best performers.

Instead, Pasir Ris Secondary gave special mention to all its good performers, such as 16-year-old Sukraaj Singh, who scored five distinctions. The N(T) student was offered the option to transfer to the N(A) stream twice, but declined because of the "extra stress".

"My parents always told me that whichever way I go, I'll reach my goal in the end if I work hard," said the student, who has set his sights on pursuing an accountancy degree one day.

Gan Eng Seng School also called onto the stage N(A) students who got an aggregate - computed by totalling the grade obtained for English, Maths and the next best three subjects - of 11 points and below, and N(T) students with three As and above.

One of them was 16-year-old N(A) student Lim Tze Han, with six points.

Since she was in primary school, she has been battling social phobia and panic attacks, which caused her to miss school a few times. But with the help of a school counsellor, she pressed on. "I'm glad I did not give up," she said.

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