Understanding every child

GEMS (Singapore) is a culturally rich school in which children have come from many different parts of the world and many of those children have had extremely diverse educational experiences in other countries. As a school, it is important that we know each student in terms of their social, emotional and academic development. We use a range of assessment methods (CAT4, PASS, PIVOT, ISA, WIDA) to pinpoint students’ strengths and areas for improvement so that their education can be tailored for greater levels of personalised learning.   

Assessment is a vital tool and takes a variety of forms.



We see assessment as a tool to support and promote student learning

Teachers administer appropriate sets of assessment tasks and rigorously apply the prescribed assessment criteria defined for each subject group. The type of assessment tools available to teachers includes all forms of:

  • oral work
  • written work
  • practical work

Formative and summative tools are used for assessment practices at GEMS World Academy (Singapore), which assist with ongoing teaching and learning. Assessment feedback provides a measure of current success and directs future study.

Diagnostic assessment

Diagnostic assessment is a form of pre-assessment that allows a teacher to determine students' individual strengths, weaknesses, knowledge, and skills prior to instruction. It is primarily used to diagnose student difficulties and to guide lesson and curriculum planning.


Formative assessment

Formative assessment is used to gather information and indicates progressive evidence of student learning, in order to guide students on future learning needs. We recognise this as an assessment for learning. Formative assessment tools include, but are not limited to teacher/student discussions, practice tests, self-assessment, peer assessment, reflective writing exercises, teacher observations, group presentations, quizzes and homework tasks.

Summative assessment

Summative assessment is used to gather information and evidence of student learning at the end of a defined learning period, in order to provide achievement information aligned to the expected standards for the course. Summative assessment tools include, but are not limited to student presentations, written tasks, unit tests, assignments, scientific reports and examinations.


Primary Years Programme Assessment  

In the PYP, learning is viewed as a continuous journey, where teachers identify students’ needs and use assessment data to plan the next stage of their learning. Teachers use a wide range of assessment strategies to collect information on each of the elements represented in the written curriculum: the understanding of concepts, the acquisition of knowledge, the mastering of skills, the development of positive attitudes and the ability to take responsible action.

Formative Assessment

Assessment of prior knowledge at the beginning of each unit and Unit of Inquiry (UOI) Assessment with the help of a wide range of age-appropriate formative assessment tools based on best practice to demonstrate understanding Consistent and continuous formative assessment through the unit and UOI. 

Summative Assessment

An outline of the summative task will be accessible for parents and the criteria and task outlined for students no later than a week ahead of beginning the task Summative assessment is designed to assess knowledge and understanding of the central idea Consistent assessment across grade levels through collaboration.

International Benchmarks

International Schools Assessment

GEMS students from Grade 3 - 10 participate in standardized ISA testing annually. The International Schools Assessment (ISA) is a rigorous assessment designed for students in international schools and schools with an international focus. Each year, students participate in assessments for Mathematical Literacy, Scientific Literacy, Reading and Writing. The data collected from these globally recognized assessments allow us to benchmark our students’ academic performance with students around the world. We also rely heavily on the various data points these assessments provide us to inform future teaching and learning practice.

We have conducted the International Schools Assessment at GEMS World Academy (Singapore) for the past four years and during this time we have been encouraged with the high academic results our students have achieved. Most recently, this year our student academic average across most areas of assessment has either been at or above, the global benchmark. We are proud of our rigorous academic programme and the international partnerships we have.


In the Primary Years, we closely monitor our English language learner's progress through an internationally benchmarked assessment. The assessment we use is called the WIDA MODEL assessment and is provided by the WIDA Consortium. The WIDA MODEL assessment is a rigorous range of diagnostic tests which are used extensively around the world. Over 400 international schools currently use WIDA assessments to track their English language development.

WIDA MODEL provides opportunities for our students to demonstrate their English language proficiency in the four language domains: Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. Each of these domains is assessed separately and provide highly detailed reports which are available to parents.

We conduct the WIDA MODEL assessments three times per year. These three data points allow our teachers to tailor their teaching to meet every child's academic needs. We are proud of our EAL program and leverage these internationally accredited assessments to streamline our teaching and learning.


Middle Years Programme Assessment 

Grades 6-10

The MYP uses a criterion-referenced model of assessment. Assessment throughout the five years of the programme is against criteria linked to specific objectives.

The IB publishes criteria and descriptors for year 5 of the programme, which cannot be changed by individual schools and are therefore common to all students across the world. The school uses the published criteria and descriptors for students in MYP year 4 (Grade 9) and MYP year 5 (Grade 10) of the programme.

In the MYP (Grades 6 to 8), students are assessed against criteria and descriptors published by the IB that have been modified to best suit the age group of the students.

For each assessment criterion, a number of band descriptors are defined. These describe a range of achievement levels with the lowest represented as 1 and highest as 8. The descriptors concentrate on positive achievement, although failure to achieve may be included in the description for the lower levels.

Our MYP students in Grades 9 and 10 have a choice of completing IGCSE examinations. IGCSE qualifications as assessed through external examinations.


Grades 11-12

Internal assessments are mandatory assessments completed during Grades 11 and 12 that focus on skills as well as the subject content. These assessments are graded by the classroom teacher using the rubric published by IB. The internal assessment scores are submitted to IB for moderation to ensure all internal assessment scores worldwide are consistent.

External IBDP/CP assessments are mandatory assessments that are completed during Grade 12 that are not scored by the classroom teacher. These assessments include IB examinations that are administered during the May testing session.


The marks awarded for each course range from 1 (lowest) to 7 (highest). Students can also be awarded up to three additional points for their combined results on the theory of knowledge and the extended essay.

The student will be awarded a diploma if they gain at least 21 points, subject to certain minimum levels of performance, including successful completion of the three essential elements of the DP core. 

In order to attain the IB Diploma, a candidate must fulfil a number of requirements, including:

  • gain at least 21 points in total
  • a grade A-D in TOK and the EE
  • 12 points or more on HL subjects
  • 9 points or more on SL subjects
  • CAS requirements have been met

Award of the IB Career-related Certificate requires the student to pass all elements, scoring no less than 3 points in each Diploma Programme course taken.

All students who successfully complete requirements for graduation will also receive GEMS (Singapore) High School Diploma, which is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

International Benchmarks 



The Cognitive Abilities Test (CAT4) is a diagnostic assessment that is designed to help teachers better understand how their students learn and what their academic potential might be. It assesses how students think in areas that are known to make a difference to learning. While many tests focus on a child's attainment in core subjects, CAT4 is designed to give schools a much broader, more rounded view of each child, their potential and how they learn. Results help teachers decide about the pace of learning that is right for a student, and whether additional support or challenge is needed.

CAT4 data provides our teachers with information that can form the basis for discussions about how best a student can learn and reach his or her potential in school. Teachers are provided with an individual profile of learning preference along with a range of indicators of likely future performance. Used with other information and assessments from the classroom, this data can support teaching and learning for all children. Students will complete the CAT 4 assessment once per every two years.


PASS (Pupils Attitudes to Self and School) is a psychometric assessment which consists of a series of questions designed to spot attitudinal or emotional issues in students before they impact school performance. The assessment is administered twice throughout the academic year - during quarter 2 and quarter 4.  The assessment in quarter 2 enables class teachers, pastoral leaders, and school administrators to identify students of concern in addition to better understanding the individual needs of all students.  The assessment rollout in quarter 4 provides an opportunity to measure the efficacy of our interventions in addition to once again having a closer look at the individual needs of our students. The data provided also helps inform our Personal Social Health Education offering each year as it identifies trends and themes that need to be addressed across a particular grade level.


International evidence has shown that, if done right, student surveys can provide fair and accurate insights into teaching practice while also delivering student agency. GEMS (Singapore) have recently introduced a student survey platform which will provide our teachers with the opportunity to gain feedback from their students regarding their individual teaching practice. This is a reliable way for all teachers to better understand their impact and effectiveness in the classroom - focusing on strengths in addition to areas for growth and development. 

The student survey window is open twice per academic year - during quarter 2 and quarter 4.  

How to find out more