Everything You Need to Know: Integrated Programme (IP) Vs O-Level


Making the transition to secondary school is a major milestone for all Primary 6 students, as a new environment with new friends and new academic demands awaits. Parents, especially those experiencing the transition for the first time, can often also be swept up by all the information flowing in and the important decisions that have to be made regarding your child’s future. You have the practical considerations on one hand, such as the distance from home to a prospective school. But many parents and children will also be considering the variety of educational pathways open to them, one of which is deciding whether or not to enrol in the Integrated Programme (IP). The Learning Lab peels back the layers of what parents and children can expect from the IP, so that you can fully understand what the IP demands from and instils in students before you make your choice.


What Is the Integrated Programme (IP)?


The Integrated Programme (IP) is a 6-year programme targeted at the top 10% of each graduating cohort from primary school, or about 4,000 students every year. Students on this programme bypass the O-Levels for a direct route towards the A-Levels, the International Baccalaureate (IB), or NUS High School diploma.


The distinguishing feature of the IP route is that, in lieu of taking the O-Levels, students are exposed to a broader range of learning experiences in both academic and non-academic areas. There are currently 17 schools that offer the IP, up from the initial 8 when the IP was introduced in 2004. The IP leading to the A-Levels is offered at 13 schools, while 3 schools offer the IP leading to the IB, with the last being the NUS High School of Mathematics and Science. 

Each of these sub-routes offers a slightly different experience in catering to the varying and highly differentiated learning needs of high-ability students. It is important for parents and students to look beyond cut-off scores, with the current PSLE scoring system,  for the best fit.


How Does the IP Benefit My Child?

Academically, the IP offers two main benefits. Firstly, it challenges your child by the inclusion of higher-level topics in his or her subjects. This could mean that a Secondary 1 IP student is exposed to topics that he or she would not see until Secondary 2 on the O-Level track, for example. Your child can also expect to be pushed to explore certain topics or real-world issues in greater depth during his or her upper secondary years without the time pressures of adhering to the O-Level syllabus.  He or she may be asked to think critically about and articulate an opinion on the role of foreign labour in Singapore society during classroom debates, for instance. 


For students who are especially strong in one or two subjects, the IP also offers specialised tracks tailored to their strengths.

Secondly, the IP places greater emphasis on the development of qualitative skills that extend beyond the classroom, such as leadership, public speaking, and industry attachments. Students in IP schools are given structured support to develop their fledgling talents and interests through a wide range of elective or extra-curricular programmes. It is not uncommon for IP schools to provide a certain amount of latitude for student-led and student-organised initiatives as well. 


Is My Child Suitable for the IP?

The IP offers some clear and significant benefits to students from bypassing the O-Levels, but it is important for you to understand that the IP may not be suitable for every child.

Firstly, the IP’s relatively open-ended and exploratory nature may not be a boon for students who require more structure in their learning. The IP is designed for independent learners which may not suit some students. 


And it’s not a cut-and-dried decision should you opt for the O-Level track for your child in Secondary 1, as the Ministry of Education gives O-Level students who perform well the option of transferring to the IP at Secondary 3.

Secondly, choosing the best secondary education for your child comes down to much more than just the IP vs O-Level question. You should consider, in a holistic fashion, your child’s interests, personality, learning style, and most importantly personal preferences and passions when selecting a school.


How Can TLL Help My Child?

We have lessons suitable for both O-Level and IP students. The IP curriculum in TLL has been carefully designed by our curriculum specialists to support your child’s journey along the IP track.

Across English, Maths and Science, our curriculum is pitched at a higher level to stretch our students further. Constant assessment and regular practices are also put in place to help your child keep track of his or her progress.



For English

Our curriculum focuses on building the high standards of critical thinking, reading, speaking and writing skills that all IP students will need.

We train students for crucial examination skills including comprehension question analysis, summary writing and essay writing, among others. Furthermore, in class, your child will actively discuss a wide range of topics, including recent developments in social issues, politics, technology, the environment, and so on. 


This encourages students to develop their own opinions and equips them with a wide range of knowledge, eventually leading to excellence at the pre-university examinations.

Our English IP classes can also give your child a head start by introducing them to the components of the A-Level examinations (including the Application Question, in which students are asked to relate an author’s argument to the local context) as early as Secondary 2. 


For Maths

The strength of our Maths IP classes lies in systematic progression: we use topical booklets to introduce learning outcomes for each chapter, helping your child to develop sound fundamentals in the various topics. This is followed by an exposure to a comprehensive range of question types, through a large pool of Maths tutorials that our teachers can select from, depending on the academic needs of the class. Our Maths tutorials focus on achieving exam excellence, with wide coverage ranging from the foundational all the way to more advanced problems, which are similar to those found in the various IP schools' exam papers. 


Besides topical quizzes and practice test papers which help our IP students better track their own learning progress, our available Maths tutorials also allow our teachers to dish out additional practice or further stretch the stronger IP students, where required. 


For Science

At TLL, classes are available based on the secondary school that students are posted to. There are some school-specific classes, which cater to the academic needs of students who are learning topics that are different from most other secondary schools, for example, Lenses for Hwa Chong Institution and Hydroponics for Anglo-Chinese School (Independent).


IP students from other schools can enrol in our Thematic Classes if these schools follow the MOE's thematic approach of teaching science. In these classes, science topics are taught according to the MOE textbook “Science for Lower Secondary”.


Registration for Our 2022 Programmes Is Ongoing

Give your child an added advantage in their personal and academic growth. Our engaging lessons will equip your child with the necessary knowledge to excel in school and beyond.

Click here to discover the enriching topics that we have in store for our Nursery 2 to Junior College students.



The Learning Lab is now at 8 locations. Find a location that suits your needs.

If you have any questions about our programmes, please email us at [email protected] or call us at 6733 8711 and we will be happy to assist you.



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