DSA : What is it?
If your child is gearing up to take the PSLE examinations this year or even the next, the acronym ‘DSA’ will not be foreign to you. DSA, or Direct School Admission, is exactly as it says.
It offers a direct school admission to selected secondary schools and allows students to apply to those schools before taking their actual PSLE.
Interested students can apply based on their talent in these various areas:
Sports and games
Visual, literary and performing arts
Debate and public speaking
Science, mathematics and engineering
Languages and humanities
Leadership (for example, prefects)
Generally, students opt to go through the DSA route if they exhibit a particular talent for something and they want to make sure that they enter a school that will harness and hone that talent, or sometimes, they have their eye set on a particular secondary school and are unsure if they can meet the cut-off point for the school.
Do note that if a child is admitted to a secondary school through the Direct School Admission for secondary schools (DSA-Sec), they will not be allowed to submit school choices during the Secondary One posting process, nor will they be allowed to transfer to another school after they have accepted a place in their DSA school.
There are a range of schools that offer DSA places, so it would be good to start early on your research to the different schools you have your eye on. It would be helpful to know that each school will have a different selection process, and if your child manages to make it through to their shortlist, he or she will have to attend interviews and auditions conducted by DSA schools.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these interviews have moved online. Therefore, find ways to ensure that your kids are comfortable in front of the camera and online.
Practise interview skills, and try to find out what the school values are at the school they are applying to. It would also help if your child knows his or her strength(s) and is able to talk about them when prompted.
Your child would probably need to be able to showcase skills and talents. ‘Tests’ for categories like sports can be a physical fitness test on video or perhaps recorded games; while for other categories, it might be a recording of their talents and skills, or performances and the like. It would be useful if your child were to keep a portfolio of these to send to the school of their choice.
Different guidelines for different schools
Some schools are stricter than others in certain areas; submission videos (for example), while others may place more focus on other areas. It is always best to do your research, and when in doubt, remember that your child’s primary school teachers will also be able to provide some form of help and guidance.
Be mindful of the timeline
Schools’ websites are incredibly useful as sources of information regarding selection criteria and processes. In general, information is updated by late April.
That being said, it is up to you and your child to note when DSA starts for the school you have in mind, and start your application process. Many students have missed the deadlines that schools have set, and some schools can be fastidious about deadlines.
If students are shortlisted, they will then be notified by the schools to attend any interviews, auditions or trials which will typically be held between the periods of late-June and mid-September. The entire process can take until late October, though your child’s admission will only be confirmed when the PSLE results are released in November.
Parents should take the time to be sure that this is really what your child wants. Not just with regards to the school he or she is applying to, but also the area of talent that he or she is applying under. Your child will be dedicating the next four years of their life in that CCA, so he or she needs to truly have an interest and love for it.
Lots of students apply for multiple DSA spots at a go just for ‘insurance’; and as schools see large amounts of DSA applicants each year, it becomes fairly obvious to those conducting these interviews, or for those overlooking the selection process to be fairly adept at spotting applicants who are not truly invested.
Common DSA interview questions
When the time comes for your child to attend a DSA interview. You would want to think about how to respond to these questions:
Give a brief introduction about yourself.
Why do you want to apply for this programme at our school?
What are some ways you can contribute to the school?
What are some of your strengths and weaknesses?
Would you rather be a leader or a member of a group?
How do you manage stress?
How do you manage conflict?
Based on our experience, students may be invited to group or individual interview sessions and should be aware of how to manage the dynamics of the interview in both scenarios.
We believe in nurturing talented and confident children at Cognitus Academy, and our CRW programmes and DEPTH framework for English and Mathematics are designed to do that. Some children find their strengths in surprising areas, and our goal is to help each child find a love for what he needs to be good at, and to keep your child’s confidence and interest in it going strong.