Singaporean parents are paying good money to send their children to tuition centres that claim to prepare them for admission into the Gifted Education Programme or GEP in short. Admission into the GEP in Singapore is only based on two stages of testing:
- In August each year, standardised English Language and Mathematics tests are given to all Primary 3 pupils,
- Following which about 4000 pupils are shortlisted to sit for the GEP Selection Test in October. This test comprises English Language, Mathematics and General Ability. The General Ability Test or GAT, is a form of IQ test where students are asked questions such as recognizing a pattern and predicting an outcome from the pattern.
After the selection, 500 pupils are accepted into the GEP at Primary 4. These pupils are then given an enriched and differentiated curriculum so that they can learn at their own pace and enjoy more individualised attention from the schools that they join. Teachers in the GEP are required to attend additional courses to be equipped with the skills to differentiate curriculum and understand the affective development of GEP students.
It is also a common belief that entry into the GEP guarantees entry into the top secondary schools (usually an Integrated Programme school that also offers the GEP), and hence, secures their future.
Not necessarily a good thing
Over-preparation for the GEP selection test is not necessarily a good thing. Consider this: if a student who is above average in cognitive abilities but is not quite in the gifted category is drilled on English language, Maths and General Ability questions that are similar to the GEP Selection questions, and by doing so, end up qualifying for the GEP, they will be studying together with students with genuine giftedness who will be learning at a significantly faster pace in the later years than them.
This might affect their self-confidence which might in turn cause them to lose interest in class. In the end, parents will have to laden them with more tuition in order to keep up with their peers in the GEP when they could have had a much more enjoyable time in the mainstream programme, excelling within their cohort and taking up leadership roles.
So we say, for the good of your children, let them sit for the GEP selection test with their own ability so that the system can accurately place them in a programme that best suits them.
We might have just made ourselves enemies of all those tuition centres which offer these programmes.