8 Things to Know about Direct School Admission (DSA)

With Direct School Admission (DSA-Sec) into Secondary schools, your child a place in your child’s desired school even before the PSLE results are released.

Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) scores play an important role in a child’s road to a preferred secondary school. Scoring higher will give them more choices in choosing a favourable secondary school. Fortunately, awaiting the PSLE scores are not the only way for your child to enter a secondary school. Here is an alternative: Direct School Admission-Secondary (DSA-Sec).

DSA-Sec is a scheme that allows Primary 6 students to seek a placement in certain secondary schools based on their talents in other areas such as sports, CCAs or specific academic subjects. Students can secure a spot in the secondary school without having to wait for the release of their PSLE results if they made it through the interviews with these schools.

8 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About DSA-Sec

To help you and your child be prepared for the next intake, here are 8 things you need to know about the whole process of DSA-Sec:

1. Application Process and Duration

Generally, DSA-Sec provides more information on the year’s application around April of every year. Between January to April, you can take the time to do your own research for each participating schools. Application and criteria on the DSA application for each school can be found on the MOE website. Deadlines for application will be listed in the respective schools’ website.

Alternatively, you can find that some schools have already put up information on DSA on their school website for the upcoming cycle (i.e. 2019). These information can help you and your child to make the necessary preparation for the interviews and trials or auditions that will occur between July to August.

By end of October to early November, you can choose up to 3 preferred schools. The school placement will be announced around end of November alongside the release of the PSLE results.

Some participating schools include: Anglo-Chinese (Independent), Catholic High School, Cedar Girls’ Secondary School, Tanjong Katong Girls’ School and many more.

2. Selection Criteria Differs for Each Schools


Aside from conducting regular Q&A interviews between the school and student, secondary schools may require students to go for a selection trial or audition process. This process is more common for secondary schools that offer placement for CCAs, such as sports like basketball, badminton or performing arts. If your child excels and has achievements in their Sports or Performing Arts CCA, they can consider schools such as Zhonghua Secondary School. Shortlisted candidates for the school in specific sports or performing arts category will be invited to drop by the school for an audition or selection trial to showcase their talents.

Other schools that focus on academic subjects may simply look at achievements in specific academic subjects such as Mathematics or Science. Instead of inviting students for a test, schools may take a look at relevant CCA participation and soft skills, such as leadership or community service, as part of the selection criteria. All these are important skills for well-rounded development in youths.

3. Choosing the Right School to Match Your Child’s Talents

DSA karate

The purpose of the DSA-Sec scheme is to provide an opportunity for your child to showcase their talents aside from relying solely on their PSLE results. There are many types of intelligence that one can posses, therefore, purely basing a child’s potential on their academic achievements has become a thing of the past. Your child may excel in one area, be it sports or in an academic subject. While selecting the suitable secondary school in the application process, find out which schools cater to your child’s talents best. Different schools have different niche areas, either in specific academic subjects or in sports or performing arts.

If your son has an interest and talent in sports, you can consider choosing Anglo-Chinese School which offers a wide range of sports category under the DSA scheme. Or, if your child has outstanding achievements in their leadership CCAs (such as Scouts or Girl Guides and etc.), you can choose Dunman High School as a choice for their DSA application.

Different secondary schools also have different strengths in different sports, to find the right school for your child to unleash them to their fullest potential, you can use MOE’s eligibility search tool to shortlist these schools.

4. Document Preparations

Preparing prior to Primary 6 can help the process of the application better. When your child is in Primary 4 to 6, keep a documents folder to file away academic results, records of awards or participations during CCAs and competitions, and testimonials. This will make the DSA-Sec easier as all these document can showcase your child’s talents and soft skills in a particular area. This may take some painstaking effort, but it will be worthwhile once your child enters a school that fits his/her holistically.

5. Be Prepared for the Selection Process

With the different selection criteria required by each schools, you will need to ensure that your child is prepared to head down for the selection trials and interviews.

If your child is going for the DSA (Sports) category, they will have to be assessed on their sport skills. Spending an extra hour a week with your child to fine-tune their skills with them or get a certified coach to work on any weaknesses will boost their confidence for the trials.

Also, prepare your child for questions that may pop up during the interview session. Some of these basic questions can be found online. You can get your child prepared to answer them well by asking them to draft answers for these basic questions and practice by role-playing the interview with them. This will give them added confidence during the nerve-wrecking interviews.

As they say, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. So parents, do plan ahead!

6. PSLE Scores Still Matter

By end of August, you will most likely find out if your child has passed the selection process and offered a reserved place in the secondary school. In order to confirm their place into the school, your child’s PSLE score will need to meet the cut-off mark for that particular school.

DSA-Sec scheme can help your child to skip the Secondary 1 posting process and secure a place in the preferred school upon knowing their PSLE scores. If your child has a reserved place in a secondary school via DSA but does not meet the PSLE score to enter the school, they will have to go through the regular Secondary 1 posting process for other schools.

Therefore, do make sure to communicate with your child that balance is key.

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy and all play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.

7. There are Always Options Aside from DSA

Throughout the Primary 6 school year, your child can do these necessary preparations and application under DSA-Sec. Anytime along the way, your child can decide against going for the schools that they have been gone for the trials and interviews for. If your child decided not to go with any of the schools, you do not need to submit the school preference form.

Your child will then go through with the regular Secondary 1 posting process alongside other students. This is also the same if your child does not meet the PSLE score or does not make it for the selection process for the schools.

We can’t emphasise more that at the end of the day, the well being of your child is of upmost important. If DSA is not an option for them, the standard school admission is great too.

8. Consider your child’s feelings and wishes

As parents, it is natural to want the best for your child. DSA-Sec is a good way to secure a place in a preferred school. So, do spend some time sitting your child down and discuss with them on their choices and interests. They may excel in a specific sports or performing arts but it may not be what they wish to pursue in their secondary school days. Ultimately, it is up to your child on their comfort level and preference on the schools and paths they wish to pursue for their future.

Also, provide them with an alternative and speak with them on the event that the application is unsuccessful. Let them know that no matter what the end results are that you’ll be there to guide them.


No matter which route you decide to take, it is still important to be active outside of the classroom. Thinking of trying a new sport or keen to engage a coach to hone your skills? Find them on coachradar.co

Posted in: DSA