Retake A Levels

After three months of worrying, the A Level results are out today! Are you disappointed with your grades? Should you retake A levels?


In the latest news, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung has stated that the cohort participation rate for local universities is 40%. This figure is expected to rise to 50% in consideration of mature learners. 


Why are more than half of the cohort not able to enter local universities? This is because universities having limited openings for popular courses. Additionally, our local universities are ranked highly in the world – that’s why they are so highly sought after. With such a high demand for our local universities (such as NUS, NTU and SMU), the entry requirements would naturally be more rigorous.


Therefore, how should I go about with life after receiving my lower-than-expected grades?


This leaves you with the following main options:

  1. Readmit back into JC
  2. Enrol into a private university in Singapore / an overseas university;
  3. Enrol into a Diploma programme with your O/A level results;
  4. Retake A levels as a Private Candidate


We will go on to explore the four options with you!


  1. Readmit back into JC – 

If you have failed your GP or a H2 subject, all hopes are not lost yet! There is a cut off date to re-apply as a ‘Year 3’ back to your former JC and you should keep an active lookout for this date. Otherwise, you risk having an ‘incomplete’ certificate.


That being said, readmission back into your JC is on a case-by-case basis – schools are very strict on their readmission criteria. 


  1. Enrol into a private university in Singapore / an overseas university  –


Singapore has many private universities that offer external degree programmes like MDIS, SIM and Kaplan. Alternatively, DigiPen and James Cook University are overseas universities with a local campus. 


However, foreign universities are perceived as inferior to local universities. For your first job, given that you have no track records, you are judged based on your university. Think as an employer – would you want to hire someone at the same pay from NUS or from XXX university?


Furthermore, the government sector of Singapore only recognises local degrees (and maybe SIM only). So if you want to pursue a public sector job, enrolling into a foreign university is not a good option.


Lastly, foreign universities (both in Singapore and Overseas) are costlier as compared to local universities courses. Unless your family can finance your overseas education, this may not be a viable choice for everyone.


  1. Enrol into a Diploma program with your A/O level results –


According to the Ministry of Education, about 200 A-level graduates take up Diploma studies every year.  


This option involves a higher risk as compared to the first one. First, you are going to specialise in a very niche programme which you may not suit you (it’s just like JC – you won’t know whether you like Physics or Econs until you are stuck in the program). That being said, this new environment might be beneficial to students who know what to do!


Second, you have effectively wasted two years of your precious time attempting to pursue an A level certificate. Now, you are going to invest another three more years into getting a Diploma. How many 5 years in life do you have?


While it is highly unorthodox, some students might actually find themselves enjoying the diploma programme instead of the JC programme. Learning in a polytechnic deviates greatly from the environment in secondary schools.


However, this option is only viable if you have a clear picture of what you want to pursue. If you are still unclear of what you want to achieve in life, this is a poor choice. Moreover, students also need to understand that for those who are still aiming to enter university after getting their diploma, they lose out to their A-level counterparts.


  1. Retake A levels as a Private Candidate – 


Your grades are not “fantastic” enough for you to re-do your A levels in your former JC.  And if you have crossed out the previous three options, you will have to re-do your A levels yourself.


You may be thinking – “what’s the big deal? I have more time to study by myself. This time sure okay!” Statistically speaking, private candidates don’t do better. Why is this so?


  • Guys – National Service will take a physical and mental toll on you. Imagine being out in the field for the whole day, would you still be disciplined to take out your notes to study? Peer pressure is also a determining factor. Seeing your bunkmates play Clash of Clans or PUBG while you study, isn’t it enticing to join them as well?


  • Girls – You are slightly better off than guys. However, many girls think that they can handle a part-time job and study at night, but the studying result is greatly diluted as you will be largely distracted (trust me, I have coached many private candidates before).

  • Being out of touch with the exam syllabus is a big problem. Answering requirements might have changed and it is tough to do this yourself. Your JC teachers are no longer there to guide you too. You are left alone to fend for yourself.

To add on, retaking the A Levels requires you to retake your 3H2 and GP again. In order to score better than your previous attempt, more effort should be placed in studying! 


So does that mean you should strike out this option?


NO – Nothing is impossible!


Here’s a tip for those considering this option: 


Form a study group. Building a proper support system is extremely important to prevent yourself from burning out alone.


Additionally, try to tap on your ex-teachers to provide you with free consults if possible. They are still in touch with the latest syllabus and can help you for free (that’s if they are willing to)!

For those that are doing A-level Econs and are struggling, refer to out private candidate programme. We will be able to help you to overcome the above barriers and provide a school-like environment for you to excel in!