Are you looking to enrol your child into a local government school in Singapore but unable to do so given that they would be considered as international students? Well, fret no more as the AEIS test which stands for “Admission Exercise for International Students” is a preparatory course for international students into local government schools. AEIS and S-AEIS are centralised admission exercises conducted by Singapore’s Ministry of Education(MOE) yearly for new international students.
Singapore’s education system has a long standing education and its rigorous yet efficient education model has served as a template for other countries to emulate. Given its reputation and recognition, it is no wonder why parents of international students are keen on sending them to receive quality education in local government schools. While international schools in Singapore are equally as prestigious, enrolling their child in a local school would provide them with a more authentic local experience of their stay in Singapore.
Understandably, transitioning into a totally foreign and new environment may be daunting and overwhelming. Hence, this article hopes to summarize everything you need to know about the Admission Exercise test for international students and hopefully to ease the anxiety that expatriates are facing.
In case you didn’t know, there are two options for the admission test exercises which the Ministry of Education conducts. The first being AEIS (Admission Exercise for International Students) and S-AEIS (Supplementary Admission Exercise for International Students). International students looking to be admitted into Singapore public schools will have to sit for the admission exercises conducted by MOE in September (AEIS) and February (S-AEIS).
Details of AEIS
The AEIS admission tests are only for international students seeking admission into local schools in Singapore. Besides enjoying the full local experience and quality education by respectable teachers, the cost of education in a public school will be drastically more affordable than in an international school. School fees in an international school can be as high as SGS 20,000 and more while public school fees are about SGD 6000 to 7000 per annum. Therefore, it is no wonder why parents would wish for their children to be enrolled in a public school in Singapore.
The admission test requires a one time registration fee of SGD 672. Application is fuss free and smooth as students and parents are required to apply online. Fees can also be paid through credit or debit card, via online banking. In addition, supporting documents such as your child’s birth certificate (translated to English if it is in other languages) and passport (with a validity of 6 months) should also be submitted during the application process. Should application and payment be successful, an email would be sent to you regarding the exam date and entry proof details.
Difference between the AEIS and S-AEIS
Parents may be confused as to why there are two forms of admission tests. There is not much difference between the two tests. The two main differences lie in the time period in which the child takes the examination and the amount of preparation your child has for the examination.
For the AEIS, the admission test date would be around the end of September till early October while the S-AEIS would be from the end of February till early March. This is so that if you missed the test in September or October, there is still another opportunity for students to take it in February (S-AEIS). In addition, for the AEIS, admission year would be the following year after which the admission test is taken whilst for the S-AEIS the admission year would be the same year as the admission test. As such, it depends on your preference as to when you would like your child to be enrolled into the mainstream local schools. If you would like to transition into the public schools as soon as you pass the test, S-AEIS allows students to join mainstream public primary and secondary schools during April or May in the same academic year. Additionally, some parents have their children take the S-AEIS test so as to provide for more buffer time and preparation time. For AEIS, which is taken in September or October, students can join mainstream students in school in January the following academic year.
The AEIS is for international students seeking admission from P2 to P5 and Sec 1 to Sec 3 while the S-AEIS for international students seeking admission from P2 to P4 and Sec 1 to Sec 2.
As such, the main difference lies in the time period of the admission examinations as well as the amount of preparation that the child has. The structure and format of the two tests are the same as well, students have to be familiar with the English and Mathematics curriculum taught in mainstream schools as those subjects would be tested. A key administrative point to note for both tests is that once you have successfully passed the test and have been enrolled in a place in a mainstream school, parents and students are not allowed to reapply for either the AEIS or S-AEIS test in hopes of changing schools.
Preparing for the tests
As international students taking the test have a desire to be enrolled into mainstream public schools, they have to be familiar with the English and Mathematics curriculum in mainstream schools. There are tests suitable for the different academic levels. There is the Primary 2 or 3 test, Primary 4 or 5 test and Sec 1,2 and 3 tests. It should be noted that students should be familiar with the level preceding their current level of admission. What it means by this is that students seeking admission to Primary 4 in the next academic year should be familiar with the Primary 3 curriculum.
For the detailed breakdown of the admission exercise tests, more can be found on the Ministry of Education (MOE) webpage. For instance, the P2/3 test would include 34 multiple questions on comprehension and language use, and students would be given an hour to complete the test. For the mathematics test, it comprises two parts. The first part would be multiple choice questions and the second part would be the short answer questions. Also, just a reminder to arrive 15 minutes earlier as there would be some administrative things done before taking the tests! Better to be early than late and flustered!
Should you and can you prepare for the tests?
Of course you should prepare for the test! There are thousands of applicants vying for a spot in public mainstream schools, as such competition is rife. Preparing for the admission exercise test is certainly a step in the right direction. It will give your child an edge and boost their confidence level especially since they might not be very familiar with the education curriculum in Singapore. International students who are not proficient in English or if English is not their first language, should consider going for preparatory courses that will aid in improving English language proficiency. This is because a large component of subjects in Singapore’s mainstream schools will be taught in English, hence it is vital that students master English so as to understand the content.
There are many preparatory courses in Singapore designed to cater to students to help bridge the gap and prepare them to excel in the admission exercises. For example, SSTC (School of Preparatory and Languages) is one such preparatory school that offers in class learning. There would be 25 students to 1 teacher so it is relatively attention based. Other such preparatory schools offer free assessment to identify the student’s weaknesses and strengths. Subsequently there would be live online classes with elite AEIS tutors.
All in all, it is understandable that expatriates would wish to place their children in a local mainstream school so as to experience education in Singapore and also for the reason that it is cost effective as opposed to an international school. Given that priority is conferred to Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents, the barrier to entry into mainstream schools for international students is relatively high. Thus, preparing well for the exam would definitely be of some help and allow them to be familiar with the curriculum. Knowing the details of both the AEIS and S-AEIS would significantly aid in making an informed decision and being prepared for it.