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Direct School Admission applications to open May 12, selection process tweaked due to COVID-19

Direct School Admission applications to open May 12, selection process tweaked due to COVID-19

File photo of secondary school students in Singapore.

SINGAPORE: Students applying to secondary schools and junior colleges through the Direct School Admission (DSA) exercise for entry in 2021 will be able to do so from Tuesday (May 12).

DSA exercises will proceed despite the COVID-19 situation and will not be delayed “unnecessarily”, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said in a press release on Monday.

“As part of our continued emphasis on holistic education and broadening definitions of success, we want to preserve this pathway for this year’s primary and secondary school graduates, and not delay the exercises unnecessarily.”

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung previously announced that the DSA exercise this year will proceed, with some adjustments in how schools evaluate students in light of COVID-19 social distancing measures. This includes conducting interviews through video-conferencing tools.

READ: Direct School Admission exercise to continue amid COVID-19 pandemic with tweaked evaluation method: Ong Ye Kung

No physical trials or face-to-face interviews will be part of the DSA selection process, MOE said on Monday.

“Instead, all interviews and selection for shortlisted DSA candidates will be done via electronic modes (e-modes).

“This avoids inter-mingling of students across schools, in line with safe distancing measures.

“It would also provide all students with access to video-conferencing capability, suitable venues and equipment, with standardisation of the setting and equipment to ensure fairness in the selection process.”


During the selection assessment, MOE explained, DSA schools will use e-modes which students are already familiar with like video conference and performance tasks.

“Students may also be asked during the e-interviews to perform simple tasks that can demonstrate their attributes and potential in a specific talent area, such as via simple pencil sketches or musical performances.

“We recognise that there might be limitations in assessing students via e-modes for certain talent areas, like team sports,” MOE said, noting that events like the National School Games and Singapore Youth Festival Arts Presentation cannot be used to assess students.

“DSA schools will need to rely more heavily on students’ track records in school and information provided in their application.”

Schools will also look at other information about students, like their co-curricular activity (CCA) records and past achievements.

Addressing whether this would put students with little or no prior training or formal certification at a disadvantage, MOE said DSA schools will also consider various qualities and attributes.

“Schools will continue to shortlist students with potential, exemplary character and desirable personal qualities, regardless of whether they had prior training or formal certification.

“This ensures that students from less advantaged backgrounds, who may not have the resources to acquire formal training, are given due consideration.”


The DSA allows students to gain direct entry to secondary schools or JCs based on their talents and achievements, beyond their performance at the national examinations.

However students are still required to take the PSLE or the GCE O-Level examination. If a DSA offer is made, students will need to make a decision to take up the offer by the deadline, which will be before the release of the national examination results.

READ: COVID-19: More than a third of GCE coursework subjects to have assessment tasks reduced

For students applying to a secondary school, they may do so through an online portal from May 12 to Jun 5.

Applicants need to fill in one online form to apply to multiple schools and talent areas, and can indicate up to three choices. A parent’s SingPass login will be needed for application through the online portal.

For those applying to JCs, MOE urged applicants to check the DSA-JC website for important dates and timelines or the respective JC websites.

There will also be financial assistance for students who need it through schemes like the MOE Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS), Opportunity Fund, Independent School Bursary (ISB), the Edusave Scholarship for Independent Schools (ESIS) and the UPLIFT Scholarship.

In total, there are 146 secondary schools and 20 JCs participating in the DSA this year.

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Source: CNA/aa(ac)


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