S'poreans share PSLE scores on Instagram to show that it doesn't define them

It's that time of the year again.

Fasiha Nazren | September 15, 2018, 12:35 PM

The Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) written papers will officially start on Sept. 27.

This is the period where a lot of 12-year-olds will be buried deep in their revision books and cramming as much information they can because, to some of them, this national examination can be a pivotal and defining moment in their lives.

But is it really all that?

Life Beyond Grades initiative

Life Beyond Grades is an initiative started earlier this week by five parents - Tjin Lee, Dolores Au, Aarika Lee, Derek Ong and Charmaine Seah.

In a report by The Straits Timesthis movement stemmed from the concern with rising rates of depression in children and aims to bring about "a mindset shift away from the relentless pursuit of results".

To show their support for the #LifeBeyondGrades movement, the following local personalities shared their PSLE grades on Instagram.


Royston Tan, filmmaker

PSLE score: 168

At a young age, Tan's teacher told him that he would be a nobody if he didn't excel in his studies.

Years later, he directed critically-acclaimed feature film 881.

However, Tan stresses that it doesn't mean that studies aren't important:

"It does not mean that studying is not important. You just have to give your best in whatever you do and believe that the dots will connect in the future."

View this post on Instagram

When I was in primary school, my teacher used to tell me that if I don’t excel in my studies, I will be a nobody. She said that there is no future in pursuing the arts, unless if I want to paint HDBs in the future. However, I believe that learning is not confined by the classroom. It is a lifelong process. It does not mean that studying is not important. You just have to give your best in whatever you do and believe that the dots will connect in the future. Share your scores and your stories in the comments section, looking forward to hear your life journey😀 @lifebeyondgrades #lifebeyondgrades #morethananumber

A post shared by Royston Tan (@filmr) on

Joakim Gomez, radio deejay

PSLE score: 197

The Singapore Idol alumni was a go-getter even all the way back in secondary school, participating in various school activities.

He also never let his PSLE score of 197 define him but instead, had the courage to do his best:

"I’m not saying don’t study. I’m saying have the character to give whatever you do – whether studies or in life – your best."


Andie Chen, actor

PSLE score: 219

Chen cried for days after receiving his PSLE results.

As a 12-year-old, he felt that those results meant that he was a "mediocre human being that would never amount to anything".

But now as a father, he doesn't understand why he was so fixated on his results and just wants his children to be free and happy.

"I want them to understand that success comes in many forms and it should not be determined by anyone but yourself."


Ahmad Syarifullah, entrepreneur

PSLE score: 183

Better known as Syarif, the former member of Malay hip-hop group SleeQ shared that his PSLE score helped him to realise that numbers will never determine his failures, success and future.

If anything, he believes that in order to achieve his goals it had to start with him.

"If you're passionate about something, be hungry for it."

View this post on Instagram

Thats me standing tall with my PSLE aggregate. Not impressive i know but i thank those 3 numbers for instilling drive in my life, for strengthening my perseverance and for making me realize that numbers will never determine my failures, success and my future. • It starts with you. Your character, your drive and dedication towards the goals you want to achieve. If you’re passionate about something, be hungry for it. Persevere to succeed (thats my primary school motto btw) • Those are the values i want to instil in my kids. As they grow I will constantly identify their strengths and weaknesses. I would want to learn and feed their interest. Not judge them by how well they perform in school. • The thought of pressuring young minds over grades is just sick. Hearing how students have depression or some even committed suicide over grades? I cant even digest it. • I am really honoured to be part of this movement. Life is definitely beyond grades and i live by that. Charles and keith is a living proof, bill gates is a living proof, Jerome Rezel is a living proof. • Spread this awareness, share a photo of your PSLE score with your story on why you believe in #lifebeyondgrades tag me too. I wanna hear your story.

A post shared by Syarif (@syarif.ig) on

Jamie Yeo, radio deejay

PSLE score: 263

Scoring above 260 may have been an amazing feat for anyone.

But it didn't really matter for Yeo, who had to move to the U.S. by the end of her first year in secondary school.

To her, that was when her, "real education" began.

"Going to school there taught me the confidence to speak up and be heard. We were taught to question everything. Even the occasional racism taught me useful life lessons."

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This is my PSLE score. Sure, I might have done well but many hours of play were sacrificed for it. The score and the sec school I went to didn’t really matter. I had to move to America at the end of the Sec 1 year and that’s where my real education began. Going to school there taught me the confidence to speak up and be heard. We were taught to question everything. Even the occasional racism taught me useful life lessons. When I came back to Singapore at age 17, no way was I gonna sit through A-levels. I couldn’t get into university here as my American high school diploma was not recognized, so I happily went to Poly and did Mass Comm. And now, I could not be more grateful for the education I received. I see now that everything I do for a living, from presenting in videos and on TV/Radio to emceeing events, has benefited from that very culture of speaking up. There is life beyond grades! . . @lifebeyondgrades is an initiative started by a group of parents concerned with the rising rates of depression in our children. It’s based on the premise that the results we got at age 12 do not define us or determine our future. Together, we aim to raise children who live their life to the fullest, happy and successful, understanding that there is life beyond grades. . . If you believe in #LifeBeyondGrades, share a photo of yourself with your PSLE score and tell your story. More parents and children need to hear it. Maybe it might remind children going through PSLE that no matter what their score will be, their life ahead is full of potential and possibilities! . . . @lifebeyondgrades #lifebeyondgrades #morethananumber

A post shared by Jamie Yeo (@iamjamieyeo) on

Top image from @syarif.ig, @joakimgomez and @filmr on Instagram