SINGAPORE June 17 — This is the first year that Primary 6 students will not have to sit for mid-year examinations at school, but 12-year-old Ziya Hasna’s joy at the reprieve has been short-lived.

She is due to sit for a mock mid-year exam for mathematics at her tuition centre next month, as part of her preparations for the end-of-year Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE).

Ziya, from Princess Elizabeth Primary School, told TODAY last week: “I feel stressed but I feel like if I didn’t do any exams all the way until prelims and PSLE... I’ll be unfamiliar with the (exam) environment and I cannot concentrate."

Prelims are preliminary examinations run by schools in the weeks ahead of major exams such as the PSLE to prepare students for the exams.


Although it's difficult to quantify precisely, TODAY has found that the demand for mock exams run by tuition centres has jumped following the Ministry of Education's (MOE) move to do away with all mid-year exams for primary and secondary schools from this year.

These mid-year exams have been progressively scrapped at various levels since 2019.

There will be no mid-year examinations for students of junior colleges and the Millennia Institute for cohorts entering the schools from 2024 onwards.


Parents and students said that while sitting for such exams can be stressful, they felt it was necessary to prepare for the gravity and pressure of the upcoming national exams.

At one tuition centre, 300 have signed up for its first ever round of mock exams being run in response to strong demand from parents, while at another, 200 are sitting for such exams. At least one centre is bringing back mock exams after dropping them in recent years.

A number of Pri 6 students who face their PSLE at the end of the year have expressed interest in mock exams. Those sitting for O- and A-Level national exams are also keen on taking them.

Jonathan Lim, a Secondary 4 student sitting for his O-Levels this year, will be taking mock mid-year exams offered by his tuition centre, Overmugged, later this month.

The 16-year-old, who takes tuition for pure physics, has signed up for mock mid-year exams for six other subjects, including English and chemistry.

The Chung Cheng High School (Main) student said he felt that there was “a certain urgency” to do mock mid-year exams this year as there are more subjects tested in O-Levels at Sec 4 level.

Tuition centres told TODAY that students and parents alike are worried that the lack of mid-year exams in schools will leave children inadequately prepared for the national exams.

Since 2019, schools have been doing away with mid-year exams at the Pri 3, Pri 5, Sec 1 and Sec 3 levels.

Education Minister Chan Chun Sing had said last year that the move would allow students to “focus more on their learning and less on marks”.

Mock exams as training for exam conditions

Some tuition centres here offering mock mid-year exams are doing so as an added complementary service for existing students, or as a paid service for both existing and new students keen to have extra practice.

Overmugged, a tuition centre set up in 2021 for upper secondary and junior college students, said that it is offering mock mid-year exams for its students for the first time this year, following feedback from students taking their O-and A-Level exams, as well as their parents.

“When we asked parents if they think mock exams will help their child, they said they would love to have mock exams," said the centre’s founder, Mr Darrell Er.

"We are also close to our students, and asked if they would like such exams, and they expressed keen interest to have them.”

He added that students who are sitting for the O- and A-Level exams were especially worried about the removal of mid-year examinations and felt that mock exams would help them gauge their academic progress so far.

About 300 Overmugged students, of whom most are existing students, have signed up for the mock exams. Subjects tested include A Math and E Math for O-Level students, and physics and chemistry for A-Level students.

The exams, which will be held in the last week of June, are free for existing students and S$20 for others.

Another tuition centre offering mock mid-year exams is Master Maths Education Centre. It will host complementary mock mid-year exams next month for its PSLE and O-Level students.

The centre is doing so after a successful run of mock exams in June last year for Pri 6 students. At the time, a full class of about 50 students were set to take the mock exams, said the centre’s founder, Mr Irfan Mustapha.

Mr Irfan said that parents, especially those of Pri 6 students, have been enquiring about mock exams as early as the start of the year as they wanted their children to practise under timed conditions.

“I had one father who said he is pretty worried that his child does not have time management skills to manage all the questions in an exam at once,” he said.

Another tuition centre offering mock mid-year exams is Cognitus Academy. The centre, which provides maths and English tuition to students from primary, secondary and junior college levels, is offering mock English mid-year exams for Pri 6 students this year.

It had previously offered mock English exams for Pri 5 and Pri 6 in 2020 as parents were worried that the Covid-19 pandemic had disrupted their children’s education and made them less prepared for the year-end exams.

However, it stopped offering mock exams due to the resources required.

“(This) year because of the removal of mid-year exams, we have parents who ask us whether we are going to do anything to assess the students.

“We thought it would be good to bring (the mock exams) back, and we decided to tweak our syllabus a bit... and run the exams for Pri 5 and Pri 6 students combined,” said the centre’s founder, Dr Daniel Chua.

In 2020, the centre offered all four English papers, which included the listening and oral examinations.

This year it is offering only English Paper 2, which covers vocabulary, grammar and comprehension, as parents feel that these are the areas in which their children need more practice in, said Dr Chua.

As of last week, Mr Chua said that slots for the mock exam are fully booked at its GoldHill Plaza branch, with all 20 slots taken up.

Most of the sign-ups are by Pri 6 students, he said. Similarly, the centre’s Parkway Centre Branch had eight out of 12 slots taken up by students last week, said Dr Chua.

Each mock exam session costs S$130 with sessions from June 13 to 23.

Are mock exams adding to stress?

Students and parents said that mock mid-year exams added to children's stress ahead of exams. Nevertheless, they felt it was necessary if they wanted to be prepared for the year-end national exams.

Jonathan, the Chung Cheng High (Main) student, said that he was “relieved” by the removal of mid-year exams in school as it gave him more time to participate in other school activities and do his own revision.

However, he added that he was worried that he would get no exam practice until his prelims later this year.

“I do feel stressed in terms of the preparation, but turning stress into motivation knowing that putting in the effort first before slowing down and looking through my work is something that drives me to do the mock exams. It would serve as a realistic checkpoint early for me,” he said.

Ziya’s mother, Ms Thasneem Begum Kader Hasna Marican, acknowledged that she was stressing her children, but said that parents would still want their children to sit for mock mid-year exams so long as there are year-end national exams to prepare for.

“They need to experience sitting through the paper, the sort of questions they can expect, the weightage of the questions and the gravity of the national exam,” said Ms Thasneem, who also has a 12-year-old son sitting for the PSLE this year.

Mock exams at a tuition centre will give her children additional exam practice outside of school-based tests and ensure that they do not feel pressurised as PSLE nears, she added.

If parents are to stop pushing their children to sit for mock exams, national exams will have to be removed entirely, the 42-year-old manager said.

“We can’t do away with (mock exams) because we still need to follow a system (where children sit for PSLE),” she said. — TODAY