The Ultimate Guide To PFP (Singapore)

PFP Guide

As a former ‘N’ Level student, I know the stress and panic that comes with the dreaded examination days approach.

The feeling of not knowing what is next and being overwhelmed on which path to choose. 

Fret not, I was once in your position and made my way out!

Here’s my experience with PFP which will hopefully help you make a more informed decision on the path you would like to embark on. 

What is PFP?

For those that aren’t too sure, PFP stands for the Polytechnic Foundation Programme. The programme allows you to enter polytechnic without the need to take ‘O’ Levels if you achieved significantly good results in their ‘N’ Levels. This is a great alternative as you might be able to get a chance to get into polytechnic directly, instead of having to do your ‘O’ Levels. 

That is a huge win in my opinion.

How do I get into PFP?

Your total score from your EMB3 (English, Math, Best 3 subjects) must be less than 12 points to be able to apply to the PFP. As such, you will need a minimum of 11 points to apply for PFP. 

However, do take note that the more popular a course (eg. NP Business Studies), the more students would try to apply for it. As such, you may want to aim for a lower score in order to increase your chances of entering your dream course! 

If you have further questions on the grades you need to get in order to enter the course you want, click here to find out more!

Is it difficult to get into PFP?

If you are eligible to enrol into PFP, only half the battle is won. Getting into the course you want is the other half!

I have had friends that qualify for PFP but did not get the course they wanted. This was probably because the course they wanted was in demand and they did not have a low enough EMB3 score to make the cut

Furthermore, as there are no interviews for you to sit through, getting into the course you aim for would be solely based on your own merit. If unfortunately you do qualify for PFP but do not get the course you want, this would then put you in a tiresome dilemma as you have a choice to make. 

Would you rather go through poly with a course you might not like or take your chances with ‘O’ Levels? 

The best advice I can give is to always have a few courses that you might be interested in and work towards it. Of course, aim to get your EMB3 as low as possible!

Can Normal Technical or O-Level students apply for PFP?

Luckily for us, this programme is catered only for the Normal Academic (NA) stream of students. 

I know there are some of you who are taking 1/2 ‘O’ Level subjects and please remember that if you achieve a B3 grade or higher, you would be able to convert that into your ‘N’ Level score. 

For example, if you get a B3 for ‘O’ Level math, you can convert that into your score for ‘N’ Level math as an A1. 

Hence, though it might be difficult, do your best to secure a B3 for your ‘O’ Level subjects as it can be converted into an A1 for your overall EMB3 score. Remember, the goal is to get your score as low as possible and every point counts!

Can I use CCA points for PFP?

For ‘N’ Levels, your EMB3 matters more than your CCA points. Your CCA points would not have any bearing on your final EMB3 score. However, when it comes to applying for courses, your CCA points would be taken into consideration as it would be used as a basis of comparison against other applicants. 

Therefore, your EMB3 should be your main priority but if you are striving for excellence, an A1 for your CCA would definitely help your cause. 

Can I appeal my PFP application?

Appealing for PFP would only work if you are eligible for PFP. The appealing period only happens once the results of which course you have been accepted into are out. 

If you would like to appeal for another course, that would be the time to try. If, however, your appeal is unsuccessful, you can either choose to accept or reject the original course offered to you. In which case you can either choose to go back to school to take your ‘O’ Levels or head to ITE to take a diploma there.

Other than that, there is no other way to appeal to PFP as it is solely based on your own merit.

Can I change course while in PFP?

You might be wondering, what if you have a change of heart whilst going through your foundation year in poly. Depending on your polytechnic’s procedures, you are able to change courses most of the time. 

I can’t speak for other polytechnics, but as a student from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, I have witnessed people changing courses before but it’s within the same faculty. 

From experience, I have seen someone change their course from Electrical Engineering to Mechanical Engineering

In order for them to change course, an application must be submitted and it would be reviewed by a board (most likely the teachers from your faculty or the teachers in charge of the PFP programme in your school).

Depending on a case by case basis, if they deem that you would perform better in the course you would like to change to, the swap would be approved. However, not everyone would have success as there are many variables to consider.

To avoid this headache, you might want to do your research and set a goal for the course you would like to get into.

What do PFP students learn?

Across the entire PFP batch, there will be some common modules that we would have to take (eg. English, Math and more). 

For example, here are some of the common modules that you will need to take if you are entering the PFP at Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

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Depending on your faculty, you would be learning a few different topics that are centered around that. 

As I was in business school, we learnt the basics of economics and finance which would help us as we proceeded to Year 1. You can click here for an example!

Does PFP have a GPA?

The beautiful thing about PFP is that the grades that you would receive have no bearing on your polytechnic life. You would have no GPA but only individual grades for the subjects that you took! You will only be graded through various assignments, group projects and tests.

This means that your entire PFP year can be considered to be a holiday!

Of course, this does not mean that you can flunk all your subjects as the threat of failing PFP is very real! 

Is PFP difficult?

In my opinion, PFP was definitely a holiday as compared to my secondary school life. 

During secondary school, I studied from day to night to get into the course I wanted. 

To me, PFP was the most stress-free and fun year of my poly life. In terms of the modules we had to take in PFP, it was more manageable compared to secondary school for me, as there were real-world applications to the things we were learning. 

As cliche as it sounds, that made learning easier and more enjoyable.

What happens if I fail PFP?

In my experience, It is extremely difficult for you to fail PFP as the school will do its best to ensure you graduate and move on to Year 1. However, if you do end up failing, this would mean that you would not be able to continue your education in the polytechnic you are currently in.

This may mean that you might need to go back to your secondary school to take your ‘O’ Levels or apply for ITE’s Higher Nitec programmes

You can find out the differences between ‘O’ Levels and ‘N’ Levels here.

As scary as that may sound, I would advise you to be disciplined and work when it’s time to work and you’ll be fine! 

If you are fortunate enough to get into the PFP programme, I would strongly encourage you to make full use of it and don’t let this opportunity slip as someone would kill to be in your shoes. 

Can PFP students go to university?

The point of PFP is to provide opportunities to students in the ‘N’ Level stream to enter polytechnic and if you continue to do well, you will be able to apply to local universities!

Once you finish your foundation year and are promoted into Year 1 in polytechnic, you should be on par with everyone else who took their ‘O’ Levels to get into the course you are in. 

As such, getting into University would be based on your own merit. 

Most of my PFP friends are in local universities today. I would encourage you not to doubt yourselves and think that because you are from PFP, you are not as smart as others! You have been given the chance to get back on track, do not let self-doubt stop you from reaching your goals. 


I personally believe that everyone should strive to get into the PFP programme, unless you have set your sights on JC. To me, PFP is a ‘lifehack’ whereby as an NA student, you have another chance to get into local universities without taking the extra year for ‘O’ Levels! 

I can guarantee you that once you get into PFP, it would be the best decision you would have ever made. The friends you would make, the experiences you would have and the things you would learn are all invaluable. I hope that the information you have read would be useful one way or another. 

Remember, the goal is to get as few points as possible.

With that, I wish you good luck in your upcoming examinations! 

If you have more questions regarding the PFP programme, you can click here or here

For the details of the PFP programmes of each poly respectively:

You can check out my comparison between PFP and DPP to see which one is more suitable for you.

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Darius Tan

Darius is a driven individual that would leap at any opportunity that would challenge him in all aspects. Also an acute problem solver, Darius strives to bring great value to the world one step at a time.

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