A one point entry for foreign students – Demystifying the AEIS

The Ministry of Education has introduced a one point entry system – Admission Exercise for Foreign Students (AEIS) to help simplify the process of application for a place in a local K12 school.

I chanced upon this when asked to help children of friends from Shanghai and other countries to get a place for their children. So while many Singaporeans feel that our local K12 system is not ideal, it is a seen as a coveted item for many of these parents.

I have seen how foreign parents sacrificed their time to be “study” parents so that their children can be adequately prepared to be one of the fortunate people to make the cut for our local K12 schools. The amount of time and effort they spent, esp Asian parents on trying to help their children get the Singapore brand of education always make me feel that we have taken our education system for granted.

In Indonesia, I have seen how parents work together to setup a school for their children just so the kids get a chance to learn Mandarin as a subject.
In China, a couple once waited for us for a whole day just to get a chance to talk to my principal, when we were there for an education assignment. The parents were from Nanjing and they travelled all the way to Wuxi just to wait for us.

Back to the AEIS. It is one stop shop – a centralised admissions exercise conducted by MOE around September or October each year for new international students who wish to join K12 primary and secondary schools in January of the following year.

The Centralised Test
The candidates are tested on English and Mathematics and general reasoning ability. Applicants who pass the test will be offered a place in a suitable school, based on availability of school vacancies, their test performance and declared address in Singapore. (Source: Ministry of Education)

What is the admission criteria?
New international students who do not have a place in a local K12 school and who wish to seek admission into Primary 2–5 and Secondary 1–3 levels in January of the following academic year are eligible to take part in AEIS.

You have to factor in how old the child will be when he/she enters the school the following year. The max age is +2 above the current cohort of students.

AEIS - admission for Primary School
AEIS - admission for Primary School

Stop Check!
This is a picture (Source: MOE) which shows the age and the level the child will be posted to. There is another similar table for Secondary schools.
This is the FIRST STEP that all parents who are interested to enrol their children for the admission test should take note of. If the child fails to have this criteria, it is a FUTILE exercise and a source of heartache.

There are a few steps you need to note for this admission exercise:
a) The dates of tests for 2011 AEIS.

AEIS dates
AEIS dates

b) The types of pass the parents hold
c) The eligibility of the students
d) Application Process and Documents required – these need to be carefully studied and comply with. The application process is via an online form and the person who is helping the parents to apply need to have these information ready and at hand.
e) Online Form – which is closed for this year already
f) Reporting Venue of AEIS test
g) How to prepare – There exists many private schools who claim they can help students prepare for the exams. The parents are advised to check out these premises and to see if they are certified by edu-trust. Some schools charge a bit more but give better quality. What I did the last time was to ask qualified ex-colleagues of mine who are teachers to help out. However, a private school setting could be more conducive for studying. Besides the academic preparation, those helping out should also take note of how the child feels. In many cases, the psychological aspects play a key role. To study and be immersed in an EL and foreign environment can be very intimidating to many students. Those who are successful in their own country may suddenly feel a deep sense of loss and rejection.
h) Finally the last hurdle will be the exams and the results of the AEIS. The bar is getting higher each year. It is very difficult to get a place in a local school as places for foreign students are very limited. Plus the fact that at the end of the year, local students could be also thinking of transferring to another school through the school’s own internal exams.

It is also important to note that all students who are staying on for a period of time longer than the regular tourist, needs to have a student VISA. The information for application process can be found through ICA website. Many credited private schools will be able to issue the student pass if the students are enrolled in their school.

If you are a Singapore parents, perhaps if you have friends or biz associates who are interested in enrolling for the Singapore Schools, this is one exercise you may want to get yourself acquainted with. All the best!

Useful links
International Students Admissions Overview
Studying in Singapore K12 schools
Applying for Student’s Pass from Immigration and Checkpoints Authority

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