O-Level results don’t meet expectations? Here’s what you can do

So, your O-level results are out.

Perhaps you didn’t do as well as you like and aren’t sure what to do next.

If you belong to the latter, don’t despair! Get yourself a sweet treat to reward your efforts, then come back here and get to reading. Tag Heuer replica

Done? Let’s get started.

1. Know that your results don’t define your potential

It may seem impossible, but be assured that your O-level results will not be a dark blip casting its shadow over you for as long as you live. For one thing, local universities no longer factor in O-level results for admission (the examination will be replaced with a new national common exam come 2027).

This assurance also comes from an individual who slept through her classes and ended up with a mish-mash of grades that were far from expectations…who might have sunk to the floor and bawled her eyes out while apologizing to her mother over the phone during results day. Definitely not one of my proudest moments.

Years on, I’ve graduated from university. Apart from a disappointing D7 in Chemistry, I struggle to remember my O-level letter grades.

You could have just been too stressed, or spotted the wrong questions, or ran out of time. It’s okay. You can’t change the past, but you can make things better. Here’s how.

2. Consider retaking your O-levels

If you have a dream course or school in mind that you cannot get into after trying all avenues (like appeals), give this some serious thought. Being a year behind your peers is perfectly okay; everyone takes different paths and you’ll see this especially in polytechnics, where you can have classmates twice your age!

If you decide that this is what you want to pursue, please be reminded that you’ll have to pay to sit for the exams again. There are two ways to go about it:

  • Retaking your O-levels as a private candidate
  • Retaking your O-levels in your current secondary school, which needs you to meet certain criteria

Retaking as a private candidate demands a lot of self-discipline. You’ll need to work out a studying schedule and keep to it, find out when and where to register for the papers and remember that the extra year you’re taking is an investment of your time and money. Make it worthwhile.

If you don’t have the confidence to manage things by yourself, consider enrolling in a private institution that offers preparatory courses for O-levels. Alternatively, ITE offers a General Education (GE) Programme that offers part-time classes for English, Combined Humanities, Maths, Additional Mathematics, Double Sciences, Literature, Geography, Chinese, Tamil as well as Principles of Accounts. Classes run up to 32 weeks.

3. Take a Foundation Course

Private institutions here offer foundation diplomas that you can take—these last anywhere from 6-12 months full-time and give you the qualifications to progress to relevant diplomas offered by the same institution. Admission criteria are manageable for foundation diplomas; typically, all you’ll require is one GCE O-level pass and an O-level grade in English ranging from A1-D7, depending on the private institution.

Alternatively, you can explore pre-university entry programmes from private universities like James Cook University (Australia) or even foundation year programmes abroad (which give you the chance to gain admission to overseas universities).

Do note that this option can be very costly, however. One example here: Bellerby’s College, a popular preparatory school in the UK, charges a whopping £7,213 (approximately SGD 12,405 at the time of writing) per school term. You’ll need to multiply this by three or five, depending on your choice of programme, and also factor in costs of living.

4. Slow down and study in a Centralised Institute

A Centralised Institute offers three-year pre-university courses under three streams. These are the arts and science streams that a typical JC offers as well as an additional commerce stream. Previously, Singapore had four such institutes. Today, two have closed and two have merged into the Millennia Institute we know today.

The three years will give you a little more time to catch up on your studies and mug for the A-levels if you need some time (again, you’ll still need self-discipline). You’ll need an L1R4 of 5-20 to be eligible for admission.

Specific subject requirements are as follows:

EnglishHigher Chinese/Malay/TamilChinese/Malay/TamilChinese Basic/Malay Basic/Tamil BasicE Math/A Math


If you find yourself unable to meet these requirements, Millennia Institute has a conditional student programme which will require you to re-sit for the relevant language and/or mathematics papers O-levels. You can re-take them twice before your offer is revoked.

For more information about MI, check out this Reddit thread by a former student!

5. The tortoise and the hare: Poly Early Admissions Exercise

You can consider studying for a NITEC or Higher NITEC in ITE, before applying for a place in a Polytechnic via the Early Admissions Exercise (EAE). The EAE is a centralised aptitude-based admissions exercise, which allows students to apply for and receive conditional offers for admission to polytechnics prior to receiving their final grades.

This will be a longer route that will require a lot of resilience, but there are many who have taken it before you and succeeded. It’s also a suitable option if you’ve already set your heart on a polytechnic course, or have narrowed down an area of interest. You might need to submit portfolios and undergo interviews and aptitude tests, so start preparing early!

We hope you feel a little less confused and lost, now that you have more information on how and where to proceed from here. Using an adage from my favourite lecturer, this is merely a missed take and not a mistake.  Don’t let this get you down too much and press on! We’re sure that you’ll find a way and emerge stronger. Best of luck!



  1. Hi, i’m currently in a poly course im not interested in. i was thinking about retaking my maths o level, its the one that pulled my overall. but i have no cluse how private o’s work. if i intend to retake maths, will they use my previous grades of the other subjects?

  2. Hi,

    You have talked about foundation diplomas. I was looking at the diploma courses offered by PSB academy. Where do their diplomas stand vis-à-vis the poly diplomas? Can a student of PSB only go to private universities after getting the diploma?
    Also, while doing the diploma at PSB, can you parallelly prepare to improve your O level scores in select subjects and retake them next year?
    Thanks in advance

    • Hi Meera,

      Private diploma programmes are typically a means to either a)upskill or b)gain the foundation needed to progress to degree programmes offered by the same private institution. This means that xx institution’s diploma qualification would enable you to apply for relevant degree programmes that xx institution’s partner universities offer.

      There’s no reason that you can’t study for an O-level exam retake while doing your diploma — you’ll just need a lot of self-discipline and time management! Many people aren’t able to do this as it may get overwhelming, but you know yourself best.

      Local autonomous universities require candidates to present a local polytechnic qualification to apply. Hope this helps!

      – The DS team


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