Common national exam to replace O- & N-Level exams in S’pore starting from 2027

One common national exam for secondary school students in Singapore 2027 onwards

Starting from 2027, secondary school students in Singapore will sit for one common national exam.

The new Singapore-Cambridge Secondary Education Certificate (SEC) is part of the new Full Subject-Based Banding (Full SBB) system introduced by the Ministry of Education (MOE).

“Under Full SBB, there will no longer be separate N- and O- Level exam periods,” said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing.

“Instead, there will be one common SEC exam period, with different papers for different subject levels.”

Today, students in the Normal stream sit for N-Levels in September, while Express students sit for O-Levels in October.

O-Level students also have two exam sittings for Mother Tongue Language (MTL) — mid-year and end-year — while N-Level students do not.

Secondary school students will sit for common exam starting from 2027

Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing shared the news in Parliament on Friday (1 Mar).

From 2027 onwards, students will sit for the SEC instead of the O and N-Level examinations and receive their results in January of the following year.

MOE and Cambridge will continue to jointly award the SEC to preserve its standing.

The SEC certificate will also replace the O-Level and N-Level certificates when students receive their results, reflecting their subject combinations and the grades awarded.

1 exam sitting available for MTL subject

Mr Chan announced that as the Ministry will be streamlining the multiple exam sittings, there will only be one written SEC exam sitting for all MTL subject levels.

“I understand that some may be concerned that they will have one less chance to improve their MTL grades,” Mr Chan said.

“But we need to strike a careful balance between striving for excellence, chasing the last mark, and allowing our students to learn at a better pace.”

Source: MCI Singapore on YouTube

He noted that in 1980, when MOE introduced the mid-year O-Level MTL exam sitting, less than 40% of students passed both their first and second languages.

The ministry thus allowed students to take the exam twice to meet the second language requirement for pre-university.

New system allows for better pacing

Today, almost all O-Level MTL students meet the language requirement with their first sitting, said Mr Chan.

Analysis showed that taking the second sitting changed the post-secondary posting outcomes for less than 2% of candidates taking the MTL exam.

“The new system will allow our students and teachers to better pace the MTL curriculum, with four more months of learning, rather than to squeeze everything into less than 3.5 years in preparation for the June sitting,” Mr Chan noted.

Students will take their English and MTL written exams in the second week of September, a month ahead of other subjects to spread the load.

Other subjects’ written papers will also have one common exam period, starting in October.

MOE to expand Edusave awards to recognise non-academic talents

Mr Chan also announced that MOE will expand Edusave awards to acknowledge non-academic competencies as well.

From 2024, the Edusave Award for Achievement, Good Leadership and Service (Eagles) will recognise students’ 21st-century competencies and life skills.

These include creativity, generating ideas to solve problems, interpersonal and collaborative skills, among others.

An additional 21,000 students could thus receive the award every year, bringing up the ratio of academic and non-academic awards given to 60:40 from the previous 70:30.

“This signals our commitment to reducing the overemphasis on academic results, and balancing that with better preparation of our students more holistically for the future,” Mr Chan said.

The education Minister also addressed calls to remove the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE).

“Let me state that if we see our worth as being defined by exam results only, removing the PSLE will not remove stress. Neither is removing all stress our goal,” said Mr Chan.

“Exams like the PSLE and SEC are not an end in themselves, but they are means to help our children find a suitable learning environment in the next stage of their learning journey.”

Also read: S’pore Secondary Schools To Have Mixed Form Classes, Students Will Take Common Cambridge Exams

S’pore Secondary Schools To Have Mixed Form Classes, Students Will Take Common Cambridge Exams

Have news you must share? Get in touch with us via email at

Featured image adapted from Chan Chun Sing on Facebook for illustration purposes only.

Drop us your email so you won't miss the latest news.

  • More From Author