Every year, hordes of Primary 3 students all over Singapore gather at their school halls, classrooms, auditoriums to take the GEP selection test (One in English and One in Math). It is a rite of passage that every generation of Primary 3 students in Singapore mainstream schools has to go through since 1984.
In Singapore, where education has been a national pride for decades, the Gifted Education Programme (GEP) has been thought synonymously as a programme for children of high IQ, was developed to nurture intellectually gifted students. The pioneer batch of the GEP selection test saw 40,000 Primary 3 students taking the GEP test in September 1983. Only a mere 100 best were chosen to pilot the Primary 4 Gifted Education Programme at Raffles Girls’ Primary School and Rosyth School.
Students will go through a two-stage exercise: a screening in August and a selection in October. This screening exercise involves two papers, one for English Language and another for mathematics.
Subsequently, students shortlisted for the selection stage will sit for three papers, this time English Language, Mathematics, and General Ability. Parents of successful students will be notified by schools, and these students will receive an official letter of invitation to join the primary school gifted programme in Primary 4.
As of 2018, nine primary schools offer GEP.
- Anglo-Chinese School (Primary)
- Catholic High School (Primary)
- Henry Park Primary School.
- Nan Hua Primary School.
- Nanyang Primary School.
- Raffles Girls’ Primary School.
- Rosyth School.
- Saint Hilda’s Primary School.
Not all schools have a GEP Programme, there are only nine primary schools in Singapore with a GEP programme, check here for schools offering the Gifted Education Programme. At a secondary school level, gifted students are normally channeled to top IP schools like Nanyang Girls, Hwa Chong Institution, Raffles Girls, Raffles Institution, NUS High School of Mathematics and Science, Dunman High School, River Valley High School, Catholic High School, ACS Independent and St Joseph’s Institution.
The GEP programme has since garnered positive feedback and praise for effectively providing all-round development for high-ability students. A survey conducted in 2005 and 2006 revealed that majority of former GEP students gained admission into prestigious overseas universities, obtained scholarships and outperformed their peers in national exams and critical thinking tests. For parents who put their hearts and souls in preparing their children to be a “GEPPER”, this is certainly great news.
But there is a dark side to GEP.
Singapore is already a pressure cooker society and our students have reported higher than average level of anxiety compared to students of other countries. The GEP can most certainly intensify this pressure. GEP can be a potentially a double edged sword. It can have some potentially deleterious effects on your child as the programme comes with extremely high demands, if your children cannot cope with the pressure. It will most certainly break them. Some kids who had to be trained to pass the selection process could ultimately succumb to stress and low self-esteem when struggling through the primary school gifted programme.