Monday, 18 April 2011

Direct School Admission

This is posted by LL's mum. The Direct School Admission – Secondary Exercise (DSA-Sec) for Primary 6 students has started. Lim Li has applied for the NUS High DSA. The selection test will be held on 25 June, which is about 2 months away. I do not think it is necessary to prepare for the selection test – it is hard to prepare anyway, since there are no past year questions for reference. Both Lim Jeck and Lim Min took the NUS High selection tests some 4 or 5 years ago, respectively. According to them, the Maths questions were easy (as they had been exposed to Maths Olympiad competitions like SMOPS, RI World Maths Contests) but the Science questions comprising Physics, Chemistry and Biology components were more challenging, though they could not remember what kind of questions were being asked.
While both Lim Min and Lim Jeck attempted two DSAs each during their times, Lim Li is going to try only NUS High. In my opinion, it is not advisable to try more than 3 DSAs. It may be emotionally draining for the kids as there will be a series of selection tests and camps (and possibly interviews too) - this could happen from June to August, which coincides with the all important preliminary exam and PSLE preparation period. I would think that students should only attempt DSA for schools of their first-choice (i.e. their dream school(s)), and not their second-choice or even third-choice schools. Why? There is a flip side to the DSA exercise – if you are successful in your second/third-choice school but not the first-choice school, are you going to accept the school? Once you accept the school, you will not be allowed to participate in the S1-posting exercise. What if your PSLE results turn out quite well, qualifying you for the first choice school? Yes, it is possible to appeal to your dream school after the PSLE results are out. However, there is no guarantee that a place will be offered. Your dream school may request you to sit for tests, or call you up for an interview, and there may be a long agonizing wait for the appeal results (which could be soon after the appeal, or as late as end December, or even early January, after the school sorts out all the acceptances and rejections). There will be emotional upheavals while waiting for and receiving that important call.
Some top secondary schools will give priority to students from the MOE primary gifted education programme (GEP), and these students will apply under a GEP track. Mainstream students may apply under sports/art/music/performing arts, or academic track (math/science/english/mother tongue). For mainstream students, they have to prove that they are very outstanding in sports/art/music/etc., or way above their peers in the academic subject that they are applying. Some other schools like NUS High do not give preference to GEP students, but students who did very well in Maths and Science competitions (e.g. Platinum in SMOPS, Gold in SPSO) will have a higher chance of being selected. I have heard many parents lamenting that their above-average children who are non-GEP and do not have any special talent (in sports/art/academic area) do not stand a good chance in DSAs. I kind of agree with them. I think it is fine to try 1 or 2 DSAs, but don't take it to heart if the DSA is unsuccessful, and parents should encourage their child to focus on the PSLE and do well enough to qualify for his/her dream school.

Good luck to all the P6s who are applying for DSAs this year!

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