• Learning Point

What You Need to Know about DSA as a Parent

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

What is Direct School Admission (DSA)?

So what exactly is Direct School Admission (DSA), an exercise you hear every parent around you talking about?


For convenience, here is an explanation taken from the Ministry of Education (MOE) website:

(DSA-Secondary exercise) “The DSA-Sec allows students to seek admission to a secondary school on the basis of talents and achievements that may not be demonstrated at the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). The DSA-Sec enables students to enter suitable academic and non-academic programmes in Secondary Schools that can develop the students in these areas.”


The DSA exercise allows students to be considered for admission into a secondary school or junior college based on talent or outstanding performance/achievements in a particular area which might not be academically-related. An example would be how one can possibly secure a place if he or she has been doing very well in a particular sport or performs well with a musical instrument.


In this article, we will be looking at the Direct School Admission – Secondary (DSA-Sec) exercise and how both you and your child can make use of this opportunity to secure a place for your child in the secondary school of his or her choice.


What’s Important

1. Keep track of all the deadlines!

In our paragraphs below, we have highlighted some of the important dates and information you would need to be aware of. Do note them down so that you do not miss any!


2. Prepare documents for your child’s application

Documents such as your child’s recent photograph, academic records, CCA records, certificates for his or her external achievements, list of awards he or she has been given, and most importantly, a portfolio, are some of the essential ones you need prepared for the DSA application.


3. Approach your child’s Form or CCA teacher

Your child’s teachers in school would have a clear idea of how your child has been performing and the strengths he or she possesses. Find time to speak to them and understand more about how your child is performing away from the textbooks.


The Process

June – APPLY

If your child is interested to apply via DSA-Sec but still hasn’t figured out which school(s) to apply to, he or she’d better hurry!

The DSA-Sec exercise has already begun as different secondary schools have different application windows for the exercise. At this stage, it is crucial to identify the school(s) your child can and should apply for based on his or her preference(s) as well as the school(s)’ specific selection criteria, niche areas, or distinctive programmes.

From there, you can then as a parent, identify a match between your child’s strength(s) and what the school is looking for in particular to determine which school(s) to apply for.


July to August – ATTEND INTERVIEWS/AUDITIONS/TRIALS

In stage 1 – the “Selection Stage” – students who have applied would receive the outcome of their application(s) from the school(s) that he or she has applied to (i.e. typically consisting of three statuses: “Confirmed Offer (CO)”, “Waiting List (WL)”, or “Unsuccessful”). They should receive the application outcome latest by End August. Shortlisted students will be informed to attend selection tests, camps, or interviews at the respective schools.


Late October – SELECT PREFERRED SCHOOLS

This period is stage 2: the “Exercise School Preference Stage”. At this stage, parents will be able to indicate their child’s school preference(s) for up to three schools on the DSA-Sec school preference form. Thereafter, parents will then need to submit the form either online or in person at their child’s primary school.


Late-November 

This is the last stage of the DSA-Sec Exercise, the “Results Release Stage”. Your child will be able to collect his or her allocation results along with the PSLE results from his or her primary school. If your child was unsuccessful in his or her DSA-Sec application, he or she will be notified of the outcome and will need to participate in the Secondary 1 Posting Exercise.


The Tips

Make the decision with your child

Make sure that the secondary school you are keen to enrol your child in is a school that he or she likes as well!

As much as you would love for your child to enrol in a school of YOUR dreams, the school is ultimately a place where your child would have to spend four years studying in. If your child is not keen to enrol in a school which he or she is unable to identify with, it is good to take his or her opinion(s) into consideration.


Prepare for the interview

Get your child ready for the interview by going through some common interview questions with him or her. As this would possibly be your child’s very first formal interview, it will be foreign and intimidating to him or her and your support would be critical. Guide your child through how an interview would feel like in general and take time to conduct interview simulations with him or her so that the actual one would not be so much of a surprise when the time comes.


We hope that this article has been helpful for you and your child! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below and do leave some tips for your fellow parents if you have any!

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