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Singapore ministry of education plaque from Shutterstock.com

Changes to Direct School Admission Exercise for Secondary Schools from 2019

All secondary schools can now admit up to 20 percent of their non-Integrated Programme (non-IP) Secondary 1 intake via Direct School Admission for Secondary Schools (DSA-Secondary). This is an increase from 5 percent for Schools with Distinctive Programmes, and 10 percent for Autonomous Schools starting this year. In the first year of this expansion, 3,000 students received confirmed offers, compared to 2,500 in 2017.

The Ministry of Education said on Thursday (8 November) that DSA-Secondary provides students with an opportunity to enrol in a school based on their talents, potential and achievements that cannot be demonstrated through the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE).

The ministry stated that at MOE’s Committee of Supply Debate in 2017, several changes to DSA-Sec were announced to better support students in finding a match between their strengths and interests on one hand, and a secondary school that offers suitable programmes on the other.

It also noted that it has also worked with schools to refine the DSA selection process, and co-develop a set of selection principles to support schools in identifying and recognising students’ potential in specific talents. From 2018, all schools have discontinued the General Ability Test (GAT) and High Ability Selection Test (HAST), since these tests select for general academic abilities that can already be demonstrated through the PSLE.

In order to simplify and streamline the DSA application process, MOE said that students and parents will make applications via a common online portal from the 2019 DSA-Sec Exercise.

All schools will have a common DSA-Sec application timeline, period of application will span over a four-week period from 8 May 2019 till 4 June 2019, and application will be via a centralised online portal. Applicants only need to fill in one online form to apply to multiple schools, and their details will be provided electronically to the schools.

The ministry also said that it has also simplified the application form. For example, school information such as the student’s Primary 5 and Primary 6 academic results, Co-curricular Activities (CCA), school-based achievements/awards will be automatically shared with the schools that the student applies to. Therefore, no certificates, transcripts or testimonials will be required from the students.

Application through the portal is free-of-charge, to remove financial barriers for any student with talent and potential, and to encourage students, regardless of background, to apply for DSA. Students can apply through the portal via one of their parents’ SingPass login. Parents who do not have access to SingPass can approach their child’s primary school for assistance.

Each applicant can choose up to three schools and three talent areas in their DSA-Sec application. Students can explore the secondary schools with development programmes for their talent area by visiting the schools’ individual websites and attending their open houses.

For students with multiple talents, MOE said that there is flexibility for them to use up to two choices to apply for two different talent areas from the same school. Below are examples of possible choice combinations:

Source: MOE.

MOE encouraged parents and students to choose schools judiciously, selecting only those offering programmes that can develop the student’s strengths and interests, and at a suitable learning pace.

More details on application procedures will be made known to the Primary 5 students through their schools. Students are encouraged to check the MOE DSA-Sec webpage for information on important dates, the DSA-Sec process, participating schools and their talent areas, at around April 2019.