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Normal (Academic) course for secondary school

Normal (Academic) is a 4-year or 5-year course leading to the GCE N-Level examination in Secondary 4. Some students go on to take the GCE O-Level examination in Secondary 5, and progress to junior college, Millennia Institute, polytechnic or Institute of Technical Education (ITE).

Overview Subjects

Normal (Academic) course at a glance

Course type

Academic

Course length

4 or 5 years

Subjects at lower secondary

Students are exposed to a wide range of subjects at the lower secondary level to:

  • Help them make informed choices on their subjects at upper secondary level and beyond.
  • Prepare them to cope with these subjects at upper secondary level.

The subjects offered are:

  • English Language
  • Mother Tongue Languages
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Character and Citizenship Education
  • Humanities, such as Geography, History and Literature in English
  • Design and Technology
  • Food and Consumer Education
  • Physical Education
  • Art
  • Music
  • Project Work

Compulsory subjects at upper secondary

English Language, Mother Tongue Language, Mathematics, Science, Humanities

Options and electives

  • Eligible students may take some subjects at the Express level through Subject-Based Banding (SBB).
  • Elective subjects available at upper secondary
  • Elective programmes available

Certifications offered

  • Secondary 4: GCE N(A)-Level and/or GCE O-Level (for subjects offered at O-Level)
  • Secondary 5: GCE O-Level

Next educational level

After N-Level:

After O-Level:

  • Junior college, Millennia Institute, polytechnic or Institute of Technical Education (ITE)

Taking Express level subjects

Lower secondary students can take certain subjects at the Express course level through Subject-Based Banding (SBB). Your child can take subjects at the Express course level if:

  • They scored an A or A* for that subject at the PSLE.
  • They do well in the school-based examination, and their schools find them suitable after starting Secondary 1.

Note: From 2024, all secondary schools will adopt full SBB. Learn more about it.

Transferring to the Express course

Your child may transfer to the Express course at the end of Secondary 1 Normal (Academic) or the end of Secondary 2 Normal (Academic).

Transfers are based on student performance, and the professional assessment of their teachers and principal. Speak to your child’s school for more information on transfer criteria.

GCE N-Level and O-Level examination

In Secondary 4, your child will will sit for the GCE N-Level examination. Most students in Normal (Academic) take between 5 and 8 subjects.

If your child is taking any Express course subjects, they may sit for the O-Level examination in that subject at Secondary 4.

Some Normal (Academic) students may be placed in the direct O-Level track. If your child is eligible, they will not need to take the GCE N-Level examination in Secondary 4, but will take the O-Level examination at the end of Secondary 5. Most students in this track take between 6 to 8 O-Level subjects.

After Secondary 4

Depending on your child’s results at the GCE N-Level examination in Secondary 4, they can:

  • Enrol directly in ITE for a National ITE Certificate (Nitec) or Higher Nitec course through the Direct-Entry-Scheme to Polytechnic Programme (DPP).
  • Continue to Secondary 5 and sit for the O-Level examination. Based on their O-Level results, interests, strengths and learning goals, they can consider progressing to junior college, Millennia Institute, polytechnic or the Institute of Technical Education (ITE).
  • Eligible students can apply for the Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP) and enrol in a Polytechnic.

Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP)

PFP is a one-year programme taught at polytechnics, as an alternative to Secondary 5.

If your child passes all their PFP modules, they will be admitted to a polytechnic diploma programme.

PFP eligibility is based on students’ N-Level aggregate score.

More on PFP eligibility.

Direct-Entry-Scheme to Polytechnic Programme (DPP)

DPP allows students to take a two-year Higher Nitec course at the ITE as an alternative to Secondary 5.

If your child successfully completes the course with the minimum grade-point-average (GPA), they will be admitted to the first or second year of a related polytechnic diploma programme.

DPP eligibility is based on students’ N-Level aggregate score.

More on DPP eligibility.