PFP vs DPP – Which Should You Choose?


If you are an ‘N’ Level student that is taking your exam this year but are yet to decide on the route you want to take, this article is for you.

I know how overwhelming it might be as there are so many things to take note of. However, with the information I would be providing you, it might give you some clarity in your decision making. Here are the important things about DPP you would need to know.

The application process

The process starts when you receive your ‘N’ Level results. Once you have received your results, you would then be able to start applying for the courses you are eligible for. Upon completion, all you have to do is wait for the results of your application. 

After the results are released, you would then be given the choice to either accept, reject or appeal. After settling the acceptance of courses, you would start your DPP preparation programme in ITE after the release of ‘O’ Level results. 

For the students that took ‘O’ Level subjects, you would be able to reassess your EMB3 score. If your score is improved from your ‘O’ Level subject(s), you would be able to reapply to the courses you want or you might be able to apply for PFP. 

Lastly, once the results from the final phase of applications are out, you would then start your term as a student in ITE.

Admission requirements

What is the EMB3 requirement for each programme?

The Direct Entry Scheme to Polytechnic Programme allows students who have performed well in the GCE ‘N’ (Academic) Level examination and who would like to benefit from a more hands-on preparation at ITE. You will subsequently be assured of a place in a related polytechnic course, provided you achieve the qualifying Grade Point Average (GPA) score in your 2-year Higher Nitec course.

 In order to qualify for DPP, you have to make sure that your EMB3 has to be at a minimum of 19 points, excluding CCA bonus points.

Going into detail, there is a difference in the required grades for some of the courses. For example, for courses in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Info-Communications Technology, you would need to get a minimum of a B4 for English, Maths and 3 other subjects. 

Whereas for courses in Business & Services, you would need to get a minimum of B3 for English and a minimum of B4 for the other Business & Services subjects.

Hence, if you are aiming to get into a course related to Business & Services, you would need to have a stronger command of the English language.

As compared to PFP, your EMB3 has to be a minimum of 11 points. This means that you would have to score a minimum of A2 or less on average for all subjects excluding CCA points.

Furthermore, if you are eligible for PFP, you would be able to choose from the courses offered by the 5 Polytechnics. Not only does this give you more options to choose from, but it also gives you access to the communities and facilities the different polytechnics have to offer.

Hence, there are more opportunities for you to be exposed to if you were to go down the PFP route. The only catch is that you would need to work harder in order to achieve the minimum score of 11. 

My advice to you is that regardless of the route you are planning to choose, try your best to get your EMB3 as LOW as possible in order to have a better chance of entering the course of your choice! The lower your points, the lesser the competition.

Place of study

Where will you be studying? (PFP is in poly, while DPP is in ITE? Please correct me if I’m wrong)

If you do get offered a course in the DPP programme and you choose to accept it, you would be spending the next 2 years of your time on ITE campus grounds. 

Once you have completed the DPP course and you meet the criteria given, you would be able to advance to polytechnic!

As compared to PFP, you would be spending 4 years in the polytechnic of your choice. Your first year would be your foundation year, while the remaining 3 years would be spent getting your diploma. 

My advice is that if you choose to go down the DPP route, you should have fun in your 2 years there but also remain focused as your main goal is to get into polytechnic and graduate with a diploma!

Courses offered

Are there any differences in the courses offered? You can list down some that are in one programme but are not found in the other.

For DPP, there are quite a number of courses to choose from. In this pool of courses, you would be able to find and research on each course and the curriculum that you would be going through. 

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I encourage you to do your research into the courses and select a few that you see yourself studying for 2 years. Once you have identified your courses, make a plan and strategise for the best possible score your EMB3 should be at and work towards that goal!

However, for PFP, you would be able to choose courses offered from 5 different Polytechnics. This gives you a wider range to choose from and you would be able to explore new things that might interest you. 

In my opinion, I believe that everyone should strive to enter PFP as you will be exposed to more choices and opportunities which would ultimately benefit you in the long run.

Number of years of study

DPP is a 2-year programme.

Once you have completed your DPP programme, you would then be able to secure a spot in the polytechnic of your choice provided you achieve the minimum requirements.

Unlike PFP which is a 1-year programme, you would already have a secure spot inside the course of your choice.

Hence, the only difference between PFP and DPP would be in terms of years spent studying. Eventually, both roads would lead to the same end result which would be trying to get a placing in university!

H2: Prospects after completing programme

What can you do after completing the programme? PFP can apply to uni, how about DPP?

If you considered both options, you can also mention why you chose PFP over DPP.

Once you have completed DPP, you will be able to progress to polytechnic which would take another 3 years. However, it comes with a catch. In order to be eligible for a diploma in poly, you have to meet certain GPA criteria. 

For instance, all students in the DPP courses for Business & Services must have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA in order to be eligible to enter polytechnic.

If you do manage to get into the polytechnic of your choice, Congratulations! However, the battle is far from over. Your next objective is to do well in your 3 years. If you do manage to complete this task, you would be able to apply for a course at any local University!

As compared to PFP, the only difference is that it is a faster route than DPP if your end goal is getting into university. It still takes hard work and dedication to make it into the university of your choice.

Hence, do not feel discouraged. Regardless of the route you are on, hard work and discipline is necessary. I have friends that were from PFP and from DPP that made it into local universities. It is a very attainable goal and all you have to do is work hard!


When my ‘N’ Level results were released, my friends were deciding on whether they should go for the PFP route or the DPP route. Though many were eligible for PFP, many still chose to go for the DPP route as they were not eligible for the courses they wanted in PFP. They then decided to go into the courses that would interest them in DPP and moved on to study in their polytechnics from there.  However, those that managed to qualify for their dream courses applied for PFP directly.

To prevent yourself from ever facing that dilemma, I strongly encourage you to set a goal for yourself to allow yourself to work towards the course that you would want to enter. Nothing is more painful than the feeling of regret when you miss the mark by a single point. Remember, every point counts.

Personally, when it was my year to take my ‘N’ Levels, I weighed the options and decided that PFP was my goal. In the grand scheme of things, every student’s goal is to graduate from a University of their choice with a degree in something they like. 

In order for me to reach that goal in the shortest time possible, PFP was the obvious choice and I worked hard towards it.

Now if you are still having doubts and uncertainties about what to choose, here is a table that would help you compare these 2 programmes: 

Admission Requirements1911
Place of studyITE CampusPolytechnic Campus
Years of study21
GPA needed to graduateYesNo
Able to enroll in Uni after?YesYes


Remember, it does not matter where you start, it only matters where you end. As the PFP route takes a shorter time to complete, the EMB3 requirement is lower. However, if you feel that you rather aim for the DPP route, I strongly encourage you to think and plan ahead so you would be able to achieve your goals! 

Remember, the goal is to always score AS low as possible

I hope that this gives you some clarity and guidance in making the best decision for yourself. I wish you all the best and I hope that you achieve the goals set for yourself!

If you would like to find out more about PFP, you can check out my guide here.

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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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