The Gifted Education Programme (GEP) in Singapore - Part 1 of 4
If your child is now in his/her Primary 3 level, studying in a mainstream government school, he/she would have already received notification of this nation-wide exercise called the Gifted Education Programme (GEP) that will be carried out in August (Screening Stage) and October (Selection Stage) respectively.
The eligibility to participate in the Selection Stage is based on pupils’ performance in the 2 papers at the Screening Stage (English Language and Mathematics), and selection for entry into the GEP is based on all the 3 papers at the Selection Stage (English Language, Mathematics, and General Ability). - MOE GEP website
The August Screening Test is open to all Primary 3 students. Parents who do not want to let their children take part in this test can opt out of it. It is not compulsory to participate. There will be a consent form given out to all students around August and parents can indicate their desire on it.
AJ took his GEP tests last year
The August Screening Test will be held in the students' schools during school hours. This year, 2016, the Screening Test will be held on 26 August. The subjects tested are English (1 hour 15 min) and Mathematics (1 hour 30 min), basing on what they have learnt from Primary 1 to 3 but the questions are more difficult than those usually assigned in schools. There will be multiple-choice and open-ended questions. After the Screening Test, about 10% of the top performers in the cohort will then be invited to participate in the October Selection Test. That would be about 3000-5000 students, depending on the size of the cohort.
Should you allow your child to participate in the GEP August Screening Test? The answer is really up to you. I do have friends who opted out of Screening Test because they are very sure their children would not be able to make it to GEP. These parents know their children well. Their children's academic results have all along been borderline. They see no value-add in taking these tests. They also find that, given their children's abilities, these tests do more harm than benefits. Their children might get more discouraged about their abilities. Of course, their teachers will also give them advice whether to opt out or not.
Should you decide to opt in for the Screening Test, whether or not your child got invited to participate in the next stage (the Selection Stage), the results will not be made known to you. All test results are kept confidential in the GE department with Ministry of Education (MOE) for their studies.
If your children are selected for the next stage (the Selection Stage in October), it is highly possible that, even if they are not gifted academically, they are of high ability. If they have outstanding performance in the Selection Tests but not selected to join the GEP, it is likely that they will be invited to participate in E2K Science and Mathematics programme in Primary 4. I will not be discussing about E2K here. You may click on this link to find out more.
And the next hot discussion topic is: Whether you should prepare your child for this Screening Test. If you ask the MOE, they will say 'No'.
We urge parents not to enrol their children in test-preparation activities for the identification exercise. Test-preparation activities could inflate pupils’ scores and not reflect their actual potential. Pupils who are not ready to handle the intellectual rigour and demands of the GEP will struggle to cope with the enriched curriculum and not benefit fully from it. - MOE GEP Website
There are quite a few reputable enrichment centres which run GEP preparation courses, particularly during the June school holiday. I believe these prep courses will not be able to 'improve' your child's giftedness, but they do provide a good exposure for your child in terms of the test format, the types of questions asked, etc. If you have spare time (because they are intensive) and money (because they don't come cheap), there is no harm attending them as they will expose your child to those questions as long as you have the understanding that it is highly unlikely that your child's IQ will increase as a result. Do note that these GEP prep courses may backfire too. Your child may get discouraged by the difficulty and as a result, developed an inner fear for the Screening Test which might hinders his/her performance in the real tests.
The GEP route is not a bed of roses, neither should it be deem as elitism. It is really just an alternative route for high intellectual potential students to develop at different rates and allow them to blossom at their own pace. The curriculum (which is different from mainstream) is rigorous and it does not suit everyone. Forcing your child through to this path might bring more harm to him/her than not. GEP or not, ultimately both parties (GEP and mainstream) have to sit on the same judgement throne - the PSLE.
More importantly, you recognise that your child may have other strength other than academic intelligence or cognitive ability. Every child has one or more unique intelligence factors, be it in sports, music, interpersonal, etc. The MOE GEP only sieves out the more academic intelligence ones. The rest of the the intelligence factors have not been taken into consideration.
I happened to come across this blog post about a child going through GEP. You might want to read it. And another one right from the mouth of a GEP student here.
For more information about GEP, please read up on MOE's website.
I will write about the Screening Test and the Selection Test in July and October respectively. Do stay connected via my Facebook Fanpage or Google+ for updates.
Updated on 28th July - Part 2 is here.