From this year, Primary 6 pupils preparing for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) will be able to attempt actual past year exam papers.
This is a departure from the current practice, where past year PSLE questions are published but categorised according to topics for mathematics and science, and item types for English and the mother tongue languages.
Publishing exam papers in full "will allow parents to have a clearer picture of the overall expectation of the PSLE", said Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) chief executive Tan Lay Choo yesterday.
It will help parents "understand the spread of questions from the basic, average, to the slightly more challenging questions", she added.
The booklets containing PSLE papers from 2012 to last year will be out in major bookstores today, at between $2 and $4 each.
They will contain exam papers from the last three years. The existing booklets will remain on the shelves, the Ministry of Education said yesterday.
If publishers want to, they can still publish new booklets in the old format as well.
The answer sheets in the new booklets contain only answers for multiple-choice questions and questions with fixed answers.
Ms Tan said the exam board accords some degree of flexibility in the marking of scripts, and will accept answers that "demonstrate an understanding of what we are testing".
"It is very difficult for us to list... the possible answers for each (open-ended) question. With a finite list, we are afraid that people will think we accept only these answers and not the rest," she said.
In a Facebook post, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said the change will help pupils prepare well for the exams - "not to overprepare and spend excessive time on drill-and-test, but to free up time for play... and not to underprepare as PSLE can serve as a good gauge of their mastery of the subject for the next phase of their learning journey".
Mr Stephen Yap, 41, a senior director in the finance industry, whose son will take the exams at the end of the year, said: "He can practise past year PSLE questions by topics, but at the end of the day, the actual exam is not grouped by topics. Being able to see the actual exam paper from end to end and its structure will surely help my son."
This article was first published on Feb 7, 2015.
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