Singapore-Cambridge Secondary Education Certificate (SEC)


Who will be affected?

The Secondary 1 students of this academic year 2024 will be affected by this change. They will be the first cohort to take the SEC national exams in 2027.

Education Minister Chan Chun Sing announced on 1 March 2024 in Parliament that the new Singapore-Cambridge Secondary Education Certificate (SEC) exams in 2027, will be replacing the familiar traditional O- and N-level examinations that most of us grew up with. 

What has changed? What must I know?

  1. Goodbye O’LEVELS / N’LEVELS  – The Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level (GCE O-Level) examination was introduced in 1971. It was delinked from the United Kingdom’s GCE O-Level examination in 2006, as part of the Ministry of Education Singapore’s efforts to gain greater control of the management of the examination. The GCE O-Level examination is closely aligned to the Singapore school curriculum that is designed by the MOE. The SEC Singapore-Cambridge Secondary Education Certificate will replace the current O’Levels and N’Levels examinations. 
  2. 1 Chance Only. No more second attempt for MTL – Students will have one written exam sitting for their mother tongue language (MTL) subject and will not be able to retake the exam. At the moment, secondary students are able to choose from two exam sittings for MTL, one that they will take in the middle of the year, usually in the first week of the June holidays, and if they feel that they did not do as well, the students can attempt another time and this is usually taken during the O-level written exam period around November. 

With this new change, it means that students will have one less chance to improve their MTL grades, say goodbye to second chances. 

3.  Language Exams will take place earlier (1 month ahead) – Language subjects like English and MTL (Chinese, Malay, Tamil et cetera) will take place in the second week of September, other subjects will start exam in October. 

With this new change, it means that students have to start focusing on key subject like English earlier! Some parents tend to send children for tuition nearer to their national exams, with this change, parents are well advised to start the SEC preparation earlier from Secondary 3 onwards given the fact that they will have 1 month less to prepare, complete and revise for English and MTL in school. Components tested like Oral will have to start earlier and students will have to start preparing and putting more time and resources on English and MTL first so that they can prepare adequately for these exams. Language takes time to strengthen, this change will motivate most students to start focusing on English (which is still the compulsory and main determinant of their aggregate score) much earlier. 

Source: MOE Website 2024

4. Where is SEC from? Who is the awarding body? Will it be recognised? 

According to MOE, the Singapore-Cambridge Secondary Education Certificate (SEC) will continue to be jointly awarded by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and Cambridge, the certificate will be co-certified by both Cambridge Assessment and Singapore which are both strong international brand names in education, which will enhance the recognition and value of the certificate. According to Minister Chan, there will be no change to the examination format, though students will sit for the papers at their respective G1, G2, and G3 subject levels. 

5.  What else must I know as a concerned parent or student? 

Poly Admission – Changes to ELR2B2 

Other than introducing the new SEC certification, MOE has also make some key adjustments such as changes to polytechnic year 1 admission criteria. This will affect the 2028 intake of students who are applying to enter polytechnic. 

Right now, all students keen to attend Poly are required to select five G3 (or O-Level equivalent) subjects, which are factored into an ELR2B2 aggregate score. This acronym of ELR2B2 stands for English Language (EL stands for ENGLISH) which is the compulsory subject and students will choose two subjects relevant (R) to their chosen polytechnic course, and 2B2 means the two best (B) subjects with the highest scores they have achieved. Do note these subjects should be at G3 Levels (aka Express level)

From 2028 onwards, students will be able to include one (B) subject taken at either the G2 or G3 level, in their aggregate score. With this change, all students will be assessed on a common benchmark of four G3 subjects and one G2 subject, instead of five G3 subjects. So hip hip hurray for this change! 

Changes in minimum entry requirements to POLY

Currently, to be eligible for consideration for admission to the various courses at SP, applicants must obtain 26 points or better for the net ELR2B2 score and meet the minimum entry requirements. In 2026, the net aggregate cut-off for admission to polytechnic in the first year will be adjusted from 26 points to 22 points. 

Hope these information have been helpful to you. Let our experienced MOE teachers help you achieve good grades, get a MOE tuition teacher today. 

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