The Gifted Child

To stand out from the crowd. To be the best of the bunch. To make Singapore great again. These are the things any typical Singaporean parent would want to see from his/her child in this ever-competitive society.

As our education system wants to sieve out the best from the best, the Gifted Education Programme (GEP) undoubtedly appeals to the academically obsessed parent.

GEP Eligibility

To enter the programme, selected Primary 3 students must take three screening tests to determine their eligibility – Mathematics, English and General Ability. If the pupil passes all three rounds, he or she will be considered part of the top 1% and placed in a special curriculum from Primary 4 to Primary 6, and maybe even up to Secondary school.

The successful parents, oops we mean children, will then have bragging rights over their peers.

GEP Test Bragging Rights


Sample Questions

So, do you think you’ve got what it takes? Do you think you are gifted enough? Well, here are some sample questions for pupils taking the GEP screening test, taken from erstwhile tuition teachers who specialize in that sort of thing, to prove you completely wrong:

1. Square Up To It

How many routes are there from A to B, by passing through x?

GEP Sample Question Hard


The solution lies in some forms of permutation and combinations, both of which are concepts we mere mortals are unqualified to explain. (Answer: 30)

2. Wave Of Questions

A fish tank is connected to three taps. Tap A can fill the tank in 2 hours. Tap B can fill the tank in 3 hours. Tap C can drain the tank in 6 hours. If all three taps are turned on at the same time, how long would it take to fill the empty fish tank? (Source:

gep test


Pretty sure we got a headache trying to even understand that, what more 9-year-olds? Also, we really feel like peeing now. (Answer: 1.5 hours)

3. Ds Are Numbered

Find the number represented by each letter.GEP Sample Question


Well, this just requires some attempts at guess-and-check which, unfortunately, require quite a lot of time. (We took around 10 minutes.)

Given that the duration for one GEP test paper is just 30 minutes, I sincerely wish all test-takers good luck. (Answer: A=1, B=4, C=6, D=7)

4. Ballsy Moves

There are a total of 62 tennis balls. A long tube can hold 5 balls. A short tube can hold 3 balls. What is the maximum number of long tubes? (Source:

GEP Hard Test


This is another trial-and-error question. This time I highly suggest bringing your own tennis balls in the likely case your brain gets fried by the time you reach this question. (Answer: 10)

5. Triangulated Query

How many triangles are there in the figure shown below?

GEP Sample QuestionsSource

If your eyes glaze over before you even start counting, you may be more obtuse than you think. It may even be an acute case of dumbness. Just kidding. (Answer: 30)

Worth It?

After these mind-numbing questions that we don’t see any real-life use for, we have one last question: Is this all worth it? 

Are the GEP preparation exercise books, tuition programmes and mugging time we subject children too really worth the money and time, just to get into the GEP?

Encouraging Elitism?

It’s important to note that the entire curriculum involves a separation from the mainstream primary school curriculum, with differentiated examinations and activities specially catered to the “gifted bunch”. Although that may be appealing to some parents, the formation of an elitist divide seems imminent.

The majority of schools implementing the programme are already considered elite schools:

GEP Test HardGEP Test Hard

MOE’s Aims

It’s also worth noting that the Ministry of Education’s (MOE’s) aim for creating the GEP is not to create a place for elite students, but rather to stimulate those who are already outpacing their peers intellectually.

This is what the MOE website says:

It has been recognised that children have varying abilities and it is not a sound practice to give every child the same education and expect him/her to move at the same pace as his/her peers. The intellectually gifted need a high degree of mental stimulation. This need may not be met in the mainstream classroom and the gifted child may become mediocre, indifferent or disruptive in class.

In other words, the MOE created the GEP to help the children who are already gifted. There’s no point training your child to ace the GEP test, because if he doesn’t get in to the GEP, it means he isn’t gifted and he does not need it.

Academics Aren’t Everything

With the existing stress pounding our primary school students today, it may be time for parents to allow their children to take a breather. After all, academics aren’t everything.

If you want your child to get in to the gifted programme just to get bragging rights over others, then that’s a selfish motive that goes against the spirit of education.

The measure of how gifted one is doesn’t entirely rest on academic abilities or IQ. Instead, talent, personality and even EQ are equally, if not more, important qualities that we should emphasise more on.

 Featured image from The Asian Parent