How will students be assessed in GEP? What are the major projects for GEP students? How do GEP students perform in PSLE and DSA?
The Gifted Education Programme (GEP) was started in 1984 in order to have a differentiated curriculum for gifted students and create an environment suitable for teaching gifted students. Since then it has caused much anxiety in parents who have many queries about this program. Here are some of the most frequent questions regarding the GEP:
Screening assessment for gifted elementary students is conducted by the Ministry of Education. The GEP selection consists of two rounds of stringent tests. All primary three students are invited to take the first round of tests which are typically held in August. The second selection test will be held in October for pupils who managed to clear the first round.
The first round assesses the child’s
The second round assesses the child’s suitability for the GEP. The child will need to display exemplary English and Mathematical abilities. For English, the test questions cover areas such as verbal relationships, sensitivity towards words, analogies, etc. For Mathematics, the child’s spatial, visual and logical skills will be tested.
The two rounds of tests are designed to identify intellectually gifted students who are suitable for the gifted program and are considered very reliable based on our experience.
The GEP selection process is multi-faceted and is NOT the same as an IQ test. IQ is just one indicator. There is no guarantee that your child will be able to get into the GEP just because he or she has a high IQ. The GEP tests are crafted to also suss out other factors such as your child’s self-learning capability, English ability and whether he or she is the right `fit’ for the program. IQ and strong academic results are no guarantee of being selected for the GEP.
As English language testing forms a component of the GEP selection process, pupils with poor English skills may not qualify. This is seen in students who may have no problems with gifted math but who may struggle with English because it is not their first language.
GATE has looked into the profiles of pupils who have managed to qualify for GEP and identified two groups.
The first group consists of high achievers who display excellence in all domains of their lives. They are driven, highly-intellectual and able to succeed in school, be it academically, or otherwise.
The second group is what we call the dreamers. This group of pupils may have inconsistent or average results but display exceptional proficiency in the areas they are passionate about. Perhaps they are gifted in visual spatial reasoning, voracious readers, dabble in number theories or are highly creative and innovative.
Some students may not be the top academic scorers in their schools but may be chosen for the GEP. Why is this so? Because some intellectually gifted children are not interested in topping their school exams. They see the pursuit of knowledge as an end in itself and not the means for obtaining good test results.
This answer may come as a surprise, but in short, the answer is: nobody can prepare a student to pass the GEP test if the child is not intellectually gifted.
What do we mean? Well, there is a misconception regarding the GEP selection test. The test is designed to identify the top 1% intellectually gifted children. Parents believe that the child can prepare for the selection process. However, the test is highly reliable and accurately identifies this group of children. If your child is exceptionally gifted, one thing that needs to be done is to ‘unlock’ the child’s potential through a differentiated curriculum that maximizes your child’s exposure to cognitive and reasoning skills. Early exposure to a differentiated curriculum will unleash the potential of a gifted child to the fullest.
Exposure is the key. An extensive vocabulary and critical reading skills such as predicting and inferring can be built up by getting your child immersed in the world of books. Spatial-visual exercises also improve your child’s logical reasoning. The daily activities that the child does at home are not exactly preparation for any examinations or enrolment tests but part of a long process of learning. Therefore making your child enjoy learning every day is paramount to his or her success. An enrichment programme which is catered to high ability learners with a focus on critical reasoning skills can be beneficial to the gifted children.
The questions in the selection tests are not released to the public. Test information is strictly confidential.
As mentioned, there are ways to build the critical reasoning skills in your children through a structured and well-planned curriculum. As the child develops intellectually and his or her thirst for knowledge is quenched, he or she will naturally excel academically. We believe that every gifted child can be nurtured for success. However, it should not be through hothousing preparatory classes and overloading them with information.
The GEP tests only require knowledge of mathematics topics found in the primary 3 math syllabus. Knowledge of advanced maths topics will not aid your child in the selection process. The test focuses on complex problem-solving skills. Vocabulary worksheets that you will normally find in assessment books will not be especially useful for the test as pupils are expected to be able to understand vocabulary used in context and display critical reading skills.
If your child did not make it for the GEP, it does not mean that your child is not bright or lack any intellectual ability. Your child is still in the top 2% to 10% category of high ability learners which require differentiated curriculum. There are many other options available to your child.
For high ability children, they can join high-ability classes in schools (many primary schools have high ability classes, or subject-based high ability classes). There are also ample opportunities for your child to study a subject at a high level. Don’t be disappointed or lose hope as your child will still be exposed to the curriculum he or she needs.
Other burning questions that you might have:
Every year, there are parents who choose to not let their child enrol in the GEP for a number of reasons.
For many years, students who enrol in the GEP need not depend solely on PSLE scores to go to secondary school. However, in recent years, many GEP students need their PSLE scores for admission to their dream secondary school. As a result, some parents feel that there is no difference between the GEP and mainstream program and choose to let them continue in a mainstream school. At GATE, we do not think it is a wise decision to link the GEP to PSLE. The GEP is a special education programme to stimulate and inspire gifted learners. It should not be treated as the shortcut to a top secondary school.
Others may worry that their child may not be able to adapt to a new school environment. Some feel that the GEP schools are too far away from their houses.
Every year, only 1% or less than 1% of students qualify. In our opinion, this is one of the most challenging tests in the world.
Based on our observations over the years and not on any official statistics, there are approximately 3 males for every 2 females. This does not mean that males are naturally more intellectually gifted than females. The tests rewards males who are risk takers when encountering novel problems. Male students at the age of 9 are more willing to try and guess, and therefore this is reflected in the male to female ratio of students.
Compared to the Australian and USA tests, the GEP selection process is even more stringent. Only 1 percent of students in the primary cohort will be selected. Some gifted education programmes overseas are subject-based gifted programmes, while the GEP requires high aptitude in both Mathematics and English. The passing rate is much higher than the Singapore GEP. We have students who were enrolled in the Australian gifted programme or USA gifted programme. However, they were unable to get admission to Singapore GEP. It is common that every country, or even every school, to set its own standard for the admission to gifted programme.
Can we prepare for the GEP tests? How to nurture your high ability kids to optimize his performance? Is GEP an elitist course? Follow our blogs for more exciting stories as we give you more insights on GEP and gifted education.
Written by Gifted and Talented Education
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The DSA interview may seem daunting at first, but with preparation and confidence, your child should be able to ace it.
Q1. Does every school require interviews?
Q2. What are some interview questions to expect?
Q3. If my child applied DSA based on his or her exceptional talent in mathematics, will there be math theory related interview questions?
Q4. What do interviewers expect from their applicants?
Q5. In a group interview, how vocal/outspoken my child should be?
Q6. How can we prepare our child for the interview?
Q7. Do we need to enrol our child for any special DSA preparation programmes found in the tuition centres?
Gifted and Talented Education offers programmes such as Classroom to Boardroom which focuses on communication skills and critical reasoning process. We also conduct DSA interview camps to help students manage the interview process effectively. The DSA Interview is likely to be the first interview in your child’s life. Sufficient preparation and warm up exercises will make a huge difference.
Group A questions
Routine questions about the applicant’s strengths, weaknesses, personality, related to the profile of the applicant
The applicant’s portfolio/academic track record/achievements
The applicant’s potential to contribute to the DSA school based on applicant’s experience and opinions
Group B Questions
Non-routine questions about the applicant’s reasoning process and the applicant’s ability to think on the spot and handle surprise
Group C Questions
General knowledge, current affairs questions; Questions about general knowledge and whether applicant can apply them
Questions about social issues and currents affairs
(For group interviews) Questions related to teamwork. Interviewers also look out for the interactions between the applicants and problem-solving skills.
In the next blog post, we will discuss on the Gifted Education Programme (GEP) selection test, how to prepare your child for it and also address other frequently asked questions.JOIN OUR DSA HOLIDAY CAMP!
Started in 2004, the Direct School Admission (DSA) is a process allowing students to apply for admission to secondary schools of their choice. This is an entirely discretionary process based on the admission criteria of the school that your child has applied for.
The domains targeted for DSA are sports, music, languages and humanities, leadership, academic talent, visual arts, design and media.
Most parents will only target the top Integrated Program (IP) schools for DSA, though there are many other secondary schools that offer DSA.
IP schools offer a 6-years through train programme, bypassing O’levels. By the end of the 6th year, students will either take the A’levels or International Baccalaureate (IB), depending on what their school offers them. In NUS High School of Maths and Science, students will receive a high school diploma.
These are some of the DSA schools:
Each secondary school is mandated to have a minimum quota of students admitted through DSA. This makes sure that the MOE is not merely paying lip-service to the idea of allowing students admission to secondary schools based on their non-academic merits. However, DSA to the top schools is getting more and more competitive. While the number of DSA spots has increased for all secondary schools, intake via DSA to the top schools has faced a declining trend.
The DSA focuses on the child’s talents in a specific domain, or area of achievements.
Broadly, there are three fields:
1) Sports, music and art
3) Academic talent
The top schools are really tough. For the sports domain, the child needs to be in his or her school team at a competitive level, have demonstrated great success and ideally have attained a national ranking.
For the music domain, students who play popular instruments such as violin and piano may face more competition. This is because more students who play these instruments will apply for DSA compared to less common instruments such as cello. If there are no vacancies, the child may not be successful in his or her application. Performances at the school orchestra or national level are highly valued as well.
For the academic domain, academic talent does not refer to scoring well in examinations or doing well in PSLE. For Maths and Science, schools are looking for students who demonstrated exceeding potential to do well in Secondary school and have achievements in Maths or Science Olympiads.
Some schools also look for bilingual talents who can speak and use two languages with native competency. For English, students may need to have achievements such as doing well in debate and writing competitions.
Some students may be talented in the STEM field, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. With achievements in robotics and engineering projects, these students might stand a chance as well.
In the next blog post, we will delve into the DSA selection process and share the top DSA interview tips. More information on building the portfolio of your child and how to prepare for DSA will be given.
“Since gifted children are so smart, they can succeed without help”.
This is just one of the many myths surrounding gifted children. You’d be surprised by the number of mistaken and prejudiced views that still exist today about intellectually gifted children and their needs.
So let’s take a look at some of these myths and misconceptions and tackle them one by one:
Ironically, it’s the opposite that is true.
According to an article in Psychology Today, giftedness does not guarantee success; in fact, the world is full of gifted failures (Taylor, 2009, para. 1).
Firstly, if your gifted child achieves success at an early age, and is not taught to work hard for his success, he will not be able to connect effort with outcome, and thus cannot take pride in his success. He may also develop the mistaken and dangerous belief that he will always succeed in the future without putting in effort (Taylor, 2009, para. 3).
Talented athletes still need proper coaching to maximize their potential. Joseph Schooling showed great aptitude for swimming. But he would not have won the Olympic goal if he hadn’t trained with skilled coaches.
In the same way, your gifted child will need guidance from well-trained teachers who can challenge and support him to fully develop his abilities.
If your gifted child is not coached and guided in the principles of hard work, patience and discipline, he will be in for a rude shock later on in life when he reaches a level of learning where everyone in his class is equally gifted (for example, in an Ivy League University or an advanced research programme). At this point, he will find his giftedness is no longer sufficient to be successful. What separates a child who is gifted from another who is gifted and successful is whether he possesses the perseverance and disciplinary skills to maximize his gifts (Taylor, 2009, para. 5 & 6).
A gifted student who does not receive proper guidance can get bored, frustrated and develop poor discipline and study habits.
All children are gifts but not all children are gifted in an intellectual sense. Most will be on the same level academically as their peers. To be considered intellectually gifted, your child will have to have the advanced capability to learn and then apply what she knows at a level way beyond her years.
This advanced capacity requires modifications to the regular curriculum to ensure she is challenged in education and gets to learn new material at a pace that will match her ability. Gifted does not imply good or better; it is a term that allows students to be identified for educational programmes that meet their unique learning needs.
In the next blog post, we will discuss on more myths, misconceptions and misunderstandings about gifted kids. Subscribe to our mailing list for more blogs about gifted education!
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If you feel the need for another unbiased opinion regarding your child’s ability, you can opt to send him or her for a professional assessment. Or if you suspect your child has behavioural concerns or a learning problem, you should take him or her to see a qualified psychologist. Your child may be twice exceptional; gifted but has a learning issue with social development.
Before sending your child for testing, do keep the following pointers in mind:
You cannot prepare your child in the sense of studying for a test or doing past year papers. You can, however, develop your child’s potential. Provide him with as many books as he asks for. Take him to the library. Send him to classes that will improve his visual-spatial reasoning and analytical skills. Remember, IQ is not static but fluid. Given proper nurturing and exposure, it is possible for a child’s IQ to grow by 10 to 20 points!
This possible rise in IQ is called the Flynn Effect and named after James Flynn, an intelligence researcher from New Zealand who discovered that there has been an increase in each successive generation’s average IQ test scores (Flynn, 1987).
Flynn’s research data was gathered from 20 countries including China, Britain and the United States. The results were consistent. IQ test scores were seen to increase over time in all countries without exception! There was an average 10 point increase with each subsequent generation. And this without any form of deliberate intervention.
So imagine the potential increase in IQ for your child if you began nurturing him from young.
IQ tests can be useful for several reasons. Firstly, it can help you understand your child better. And if you understand your child better, you can make more focussed plans for her education so as to maximise her potential.
Secondly, if the report discovers or confirms some form of learning concern or special need, it gives you the opportunity to arrange for therapy and early intervention. The earlier the issue is discovered, the better the chance your child has to cope and overcome it.
A word of caution: Some parents think an IQ report is a `passport’ or a guaranteed entry to a gifted programme. No, it isn’t. Most international gifted education programmes run their own assessment tests (which cover more than pure IQ) rather than depend solely on IQ reports. IQ is not equal to how well your child will perform during the assessment test.
While an IQ evaluation is useful in confirming giftedness, there are other ways to spot giftedness. At the end of the day, an IQ score is just a snapshot of your child’s intelligence at that particular point of time. It can be influenced by subjective factors like your child’s mood during the time of the test, the timing, the place and even his feelings towards the psychologist!
That’s why experts have determined that the most accurate method of spotting giftedness is this: Observation and Experience
Traits of giftedness in a child are often noticed by teachers, especially those trained in gifted education. Many a parent has said that he was made aware of his child’s giftedness through the teachers of the preschool that his child attends.
The teachers will give feedback on how quickly the child finishes assignments and how they have to give more challenging work so the child doesn’t get bored or how the child is reading a few levels ahead of his classmates or maybe even how the child can seem disruptive but will have completely understood the lesson when questioned.
If you receive such feedback, it may be a sign that your child is gifted.
It should come as no surprise because you (and also other caregivers) get to see and interact with your child day in day out, and are very likely to notice any unusual behaviour. In fact, according to Dr Linda Silverman, director of the Gifted Development Center in Colorado, 84% of 1000 children whose parents felt they exhibited three-quarters of the traits from the Characteristics of Giftedness Scale did actually turn out to be intellectually superior or gifted when tested (Silverman, 2012)!
What does this mean? If you suspect your child of being gifted because she has shown many of the traits from the list of characteristics that have been observed in gifted children, there is an 84% chance that she probably is!
In the next blog post, we will share about the myths, misconceptions and misunderstandings about gifted kids. Subscribe to our mailing list for more blogs about gifted education!
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Many parents think the best confirmation of giftedness is through IQ (Intelligence Quotient) tests. This, however, is not completely true. While IQ tests do give a number or score to the child’s intelligence, they are not the only way of spotting a gifted child. We will discuss other more well-rounded methods of determining giftedness in our next blog, but first, let’s take a look at an overview of IQ tests.
There are many different types of IQ tests including Stanford-Binet, Wechsler, Woodcock-Johnson, Raven’s, Kaufman’s and others. They are based on various scales and designed by different institutions. However, the two most internationally recognised tests for children are by Stanford-Binet, known as SB-5 and Wechsler, which goes by the acronym WISC-V or WPPSI-V, which is the version used for pre-schoolers.
In 1906, Lewis M. Terman, a psychologist at Stanford University developed the Binet-Simon test (Human Intelligence, 2016). This test went through a series of revisions to eventually become the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales. The latest version, the fifth, was revised in 2003 and is called SB-5 for short. The advisory panel for the SB5 included experts in the field of gifted education who helped design, test and eliminate or retain subtests.
The test measures five factors of cognitive ability and consists of both verbal and nonverbal subtests (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017):
Test results will show the Full-Scale IQ (FSIQ), nonverbal IQ (NVIQ) and verbal IQ (VIQ).
FSIQ measures general ability to reason, solve problems, and adapt to the cognitive demands of the environment. It reflects five major facets of intelligence, including reasoning, stored information, memory, visualisation, and the ability to solve original problems. The FSIQ is usually an effective predictor of long-term educational attainment, school-based achievement and vocational advancement.
Here is an example (for illustration purpose) of the results of an SB-5 test done on a child, Sarah, age 4 years and 5 months:
Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale 5th Edition (SB-5)
Index scores for Sarah at 4 years and 5 months includes:
*Standard scores have a mean of 100 and standard deviation of 15.
*A percentile signifies the percentage of score expected to fall below the reported score.
*The 95% confidence interval indicates a 95 % likelihood that an individual’s true score falls within the band of score reported.
*It’s a fictional report for illustration purpose
As can be seen from the results, Sarah’s FSIQ of 134 puts her in the 99 percentile and the `Superior-Gifted’ range.
Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children or WISC-V for short is the other internationally recognised IQ test. It was developed by David Wechsler in 1949, and the latest version which was developed in 2014, is the fifth edition (hence the `V’).
Children ages two years and six months to seven years and seven months are tested with the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI) (Pearson, 2017).
Like SB-5, WISC-V also measures five factors:
Each index above requires two subtests; thus, a total of 10 subtests are needed for all 5 indexes. And the Full-Scale IQ (FSIQ) is derived from 7 of the 10 subtests: Both Verbal Comprehension subtests, one Visual Spatial subtest, two Fluid Reasoning subtests, one Working Memory subtest, and one Processing Speed subtest.
In the next blog post, we will address concerns if there is a need to send your kid for an IQ test and how useful will the IQ report be. We will also be sharing some pointers you can look out for towards spotting giftedness in your kid!
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It has been our observation over the years that high ability or gifted children in the academic field are seen as being very blessed or lucky by the society at large. After all, these whizz kids only need to spend very little time to achieve excellent academic results compared to their peers of average intelligence. These are the group of students who will eventually go to your top institutions and universities and end up the nation’s policy makers, organizations’ leaders and the movers and shakers.
The world sees that this group of people are already very privileged, having IQs significantly higher than most people and are naturally fast learners and high achievers. Why then, should society invest more resources into these “already blessed lot” rather than the less privileged group with real learning difficulties like Down’s syndrome, autism or the physically challenged? It is very logical for most to think that way.
The reality is that the members of this crème de la crème “privileged lot” are also special learners. We assume that they are all fast learners and high achievers from birth, if born with high IQs. There are numerous scientific research and studies to show that if this group of high ability children are not identified, intervened and nurtured, many of them may perform less than your average kids and may lead sub-optimised lives. The high IQ gift from the creator is a double-edged sword; it can either be an edge or a curse in life, and my colleagues and I have seen far too many cases in our years of interactions with these precocious children. It always saddens us when we see a demotivated bright spark on that downward spiral.
From Joseph Schooling, the Olympiad gold medallist to Lang Lang the piano prodigy, the world has recognized these special talents in music, sports, art and are prepared to provide resources like professional training and coaching at a young age to nurture these talents. In Singapore, we have SOTA, Singapore sports school, special music and art elective programmes to develop the performing arts and sports talents. Schools/Programmes to work on the gifted and talented children in art, music and sports are well received by society.
Why then, are there so many controversies raised when it comes to the intellectually gifted/talented? Is it really an elitist approach perceived by part of our society? Or should this “privileged lot” be categorised under children with special needs in education, who require our early intervention and nurturing from young, and to bring out their potential for the good of themselves and our society where human capital is our only ingredient in success. To further push this envelope, some developed countries like Australia, New Zealand and the United States already have laws protecting the rights for a special education programme to this group of children with special education needs.
Despite the multitudes of research papers and experiences supporting the needs for Gifted Education, there are still far too many criticisms by society at large against putting in more resources for this already gifted lot. Not providing special education to these high ability children is actually tantamount to deliberately asking the potential Olympians like Joseph Schooling to slow down or even stop for the rest to catch up, so that we can all relegate them to the lowest denominator for a more inclusive society.
As a group of educators who have been working with gifted children, some with special needs, it gives us great motivation to help tell their side of the story…their frustrations, challenges, loss and discrimination which they may suffer from anti-intellectualists. And for those who have the real privilege of continued blessings; their joy, actualisation and achievements when they are identified, motivated and given the growth mindset to be both high ability learners and achievers.
As a nation without natural resources, a society who has scarcity of human capital, let’s protect, and nurture this group of talented children. They could be talented in one domain or even multiple domains and give them the equal opportunities to learn at the pace, and content which will stimulate and nurture their talent.
Equal opportunities in education doesn’t mean equal results for everybody. Different children need to have different diets to bloom. The beauty of diversity enriches our human capital pool, and our future movers and shakers will emerge from this pool of gifted learners.