One phrase: It is never too early.
Some parents start as early as Secondary One for their children, while some would wait till the final results of the A levels have been released. There are no right or wrong answers but depending on the destination and course you are planning your child to enter, there are some timings that would ease your stress.
When your child reaches this stage, it is essential for them to explore subjects that they are interested in and brush up on those they are not particularly strong in. Most students tend to pursue subjects they feel they can excel in and miss out on the learning journey for the rest. For example, most female students feel they would excel more in Humanities such as Literature and History and feel that they should not pursue “hard” subjects such as Additional Maths and Physics. However, it is essential to note that the latter are hard not because they are tough to learn, but because not enough time and emphasis are given to these subjects. “Hard” subjects are usually better pre-requisites for majority of University programs thus it is good to have them in the list of chosen subjects for O levels to establish a good base. Parents can give additional support in finding techniques and methods to make learning more enjoyable.
The O levels (equivalent to Year 10) is a crucial moment for most Singaporean students (and parents likewise) as it would determine if a student would pursue Singapore GCE A levels or the Tertiary Diploma. Students who already know they would be going overseas to pursue a University program can use this O levels to apply for the UK A levels or Foundation programs available in most countries like the UK, Australia and New Zealand. The A levels (both SG or UK A levels) pathway is a MUST take if one is planning to pursue professional courses such as Medicine and Dentistry. The Tertiary Diploma is a great pathway if students already know what they plan to pursue. These students who already know what they want to do should explore doing a Foundation program, which is a bridging program of typically 8 months – 1.5 years (depending on student’s grades) that will lead to a University degree. It will be a shorter duration instead of doing the full 3 years in a typical Polytechnic here in Singapore. Parents, do take note of this opportunity cost.
Junior College Year 1:
This is a good gauge if your child is coping well in the A levels program. If they are not doing so well, it could be a sign for you to explore either the UK A levels (which is only 3 main subjects) or the Foundation programs.
Junior College Year 2 (mid year or prelims):
The A levels results will be out usually in late February or early March the next year after the exams. With this in mind, students and parents should have some contingency plans and start applying to the UK, Australia or New Zealand using the mid-year or prelims results which are usually out in August and October respectively. Do not wait till the last minute, otherwise you would realise that you would need to rush Universities for offers! Attend University fairs, start going for webinars, check on alternative pathways and googling on Universities you may be interested in attending if you do not get to local ones.
Still confused what the different programs are? Speak to me about your options!