Integrated Programme vs ‘O’ Level: Which One Should Your Child Go For?

Written By: Cudy

24th April 2023

Integrated Programme vs ‘O’ Level: Which One Should Your Child Go For?

O’ Level is the most common type of secondary education programme. It is also called as academic secondary education or A-Level. It consists of two parts, namely the ‘O’ Level and the ‘A’ Level.

In Singapore, students will be taking their O’ Levels at the end of their four years in secondary school.

The Integrated Programme (IP) is a two-year programme that combines the GCE ‘O’ Level curriculum with an additional year of polytechnic education. Students in this programme are taught in English language,

which means that they do not have to take mother tongue subjects (Chinese, Malay or Tamil). This enables them to gain exposure to more subjects than those who are taking O’ Levels and ‘A’ Levels separately.

Which one should your child go for? There are many factors that you need to consider before deciding on which one your child should go for. The following article will help you make a better decision on this matter.

Advantages of O’ Levels over IP:

The main advantage of taking O’ Levels is that students can start applying for university admission at age 17 as opposed to age 18 if they were to take IP instead.

Many tertiary institutions prefer applicants who have taken O’ Levels instead of IP. Because it is an internationally recognised qualification while IP is not yet fully recognised by all universities overseas.

Another reason why many parents prefer their children to take O’ Levels. Because they believe that studying only for two years in polytechnic will leave their children less equipped.

When it comes to applying for university admission and landing a job upon graduation. Compared with those who had studied three years in polytechnic and took ‘A’ levels too.

Universities that accepts both programmes

There are some universities abroad that do accept students from both programmes. But generally speaking, if you are looking at applying for university overseas.

It would be better if your child takes O’ Levels instead of IP as most foreign universities prefer applicants who have taken O’ Levels over those who have taken IPs instead.

Because they consider it more academically sound than those who had taken only two years in polytechnic after secondary school graduation.

In addition, if your child does not perform well in his ‘O’ level exams and gets less than six points (out of a total score of seven), he will not be able to enter any local junior colleges even if he has taken IP.

However, if he has taken ‘A’ levels instead, he will be able to enter a junior college as long as he has at least five points.

In addition, students who take O’ Levels will also have more choices when it comes to selecting their subjects. This is because they can choose from a wider range of subjects as compared to those who had taken IPs.

Disadvantages of O’ Levels over IP:

There are many disadvantages of taking O’ Levels instead of IP. One of the biggest disadvantages is that it takes longer for students to graduate from secondary school.

If they had chosen to take O’ Levels instead of IP because they have to spend an extra year in secondary school.

In addition, students who take O’ Levels will also have to spend more time studying and preparing for their exams because they have to take ‘A’ levels as well.

This means that they will have to spend an extra year in polytechnic too, which means that they will graduate later than those who had taken IPs instead.

It is also more expensive for parents to send their children to school. if they have chosen to take O’ Levels instead of IP because they will have to pay school fees for an extra year.

In addition, there are some universities that do not accept students who had taken IPs. So if your child wants to apply for a course in a university that does not accept students who had taken IPs.

You will have wasted your money and time on sending him or her to a polytechnic instead of secondary school.


Finally, some parents believe that studying in the same class with other people who had taken O’ Levels would make their children less motivated as compared to those who had taken IPs.

Because they feel that their children would be less likely to excel in their studies. If they are in the same class with students who are considered more academically sound than them.

However, this is not true because it is usually the motivation of the individual student that determines how well he or she performs in his or her studies and not the academic ability of his or her classmates.

In conclusion, parents should consider all these factors before deciding on which one their child should go for.

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