What do oil refining, Hainanese chicken rice and exam papers from top schools have in common? Why, these are all Singaporean exports! Although the last one isn’t exactly legal. Oops.

A middle-aged couple have been re-selling exam papers from schools such as Raffles Girls’ Primary School, Anglo-Chinese School (Primary) and Nanyang Primary School online. Parents from Hong Kong believe the exam papers will challenge their kids, and are picking them up like they’re going out of style.

Singaporean parents are known for their kiasu-ness, especially when it comes to education. This trait is apparently shared by HK parents as well. Whether HK parents lie about where they live in order to secure a slot in a better primary school is not something we have knowledge of though.

Seng-ka-por English more powderful wor!

English and Mathematics papers are more popular among HK parents as Singapore’s English papers are of a higher standard, and Mathematics is taught similarly in the two countries. But before we pop the champagne and celebrate this minor victory, Chinese papers aren’t as in demand because standards are lower and thus not as challenging. Ah bummer.

But before we can begin making exam papers an official export of Singapore, MOE has stepped in to stop the party, as the sale of exam papers is not authorized and the unauthorized reproduction and selling of exam papers is not condoned.

Despite MOE’s stern disapproval, the sale of exam papers doesn’t look likely to cease any time soon due to high demand.

Singapore’s educational strength

It’s one thing for Singaporean parents to covet exam papers of top schools to put their kids through, but it’s another thing entirely for foreigners to snap up the same papers for their own children. Due to the similarity of the two countries’ school systems — Hong Kong’s primary school education is between 6-11 years old — Hong Kongers have use for the more challenging Singaporean exam papers.

This is also indicative of something else — the gulf in quality of exam papers of better schools compared to those of neighbourhood schools. As every Primary 6 student takes the same PSLE paper, students from good schools have an inherent advantage, as the tendency is for these schools to set more challenging papers.

Meanwhile, students from other schools do not get this privilege. Then again, communism isn’t the most encouraged ideal here. Some exam papers are more equal than others.

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