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What is the Direct School Admission-Secondary (DSA-Sec)?

The DSA-Sec allows students to seek admission to a secondary school on the basis of talents and achievements that may not be demonstrated at the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). The DSA-Sec enables students to enter suitable academic and non-academic programmes in Secondary Schools that can develop the students in these areas. For information on changes to the DSA announced in March 2017, click here.

Choosing DSA schools: A step-by-step guide

Step 1:

Students should discuss their strengths and interests with their parents/guardian.

Guiding Questions
  • What are your strengths and/or interests?

  • Which strengths or interests would you like to develop further through the DSA school?

  • Are you prepared to be committed to the programme and school for the duration of the course that you are admitted to, if you take up the DSA?

Before applying to a school through the DSA-Sec, students should ask themselves if they are committed to developing their talents in the chosen DSA area, in that particular school. In admitting students through the DSA, the school is committed to developing the student to his or her fullest potential in both academic studies and the area of talent for which the student is selected during the DSA Exercise.

Students who are not ready to commit to developing their talents in a particular school may wish to consider the Secondary One (S1) Posting Exercise instead, in which students are admitted based on their PSLE scores. Students successfully allocated to a school through the DSA-Sec Exercise will not be allowed to participate in the S1 Posting Exercise or transfer to another school after the release of the PSLE results.

Step 2:

Shortlist secondary schools with DSA areas that match the student’s strengths and/or interests.

Guiding Questions
  • Which schools offer a programme that can develop your strengths or interests? Consider visiting the websites of a range of schools to find out more.

  • What are the course(s) offered by the schools i.e. Express, Normal (Academic) and Normal (Technical)? (Note: You have to be eligible to attend a course offered by the school.)

  • Considering the school culture and all the school programmes, which of the one or two shortlisted schools best suit your learning pace, aptitude and strengths?

  • What other factors will affect your secondary school experience e.g. the distance of the school from home?

Students may consider applying for a secondary school through DSA-Sec if they are able to identify a school that offers a talent development programme in their area of strength. If not, students can continue to participate in the S1 Posting Exercise at the end of the year and be admitted to a secondary school based on their PSLE results. Majority of P6 students participate in the S1 Posting Exercise.

Schools participating in the DSA-Sec in 2017 offer talent development programmes in the following categories:

  • Creativity, Entrepreneurship and Innovation
    • programmes in creativity, innovation, business and enterprise
  • Languages and Humanities
    • programmes in debate and public speaking, drama, journalism, and the various languages
  • Leadership and Uniformed Groups
    • leadership programmes and various uniformed groups, such as Boy’s Brigade, Girl Guides, St. John Brigade, etc
  • Performing Arts
    • programmes in the various kinds of dance (Chinese, international, hip-hop, etc.), music (choir, band, various ensembles), and drama in various languages
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics
    • programmes in robotics, aeronautical engineering and other applied sciences, and specific mathematics and science programmes
  • Sports and Games
    • programmes in chess, outdoor adventure, and the various indoor and outdoor sports
  • Visual Arts and Media
    • programmes in traditional visual arts, such as painting and Chinese calligraphy, as well as photography, videography, journalism and info-communication

Apart from considering whether the school can develop their areas of strength, students should also consider the pace of learning and the overall range of programmes offered by the school. Finding a good fit will help students enjoy their learning at an appropriate pace, and benefit from the school’s programmes.

Step 3:

Apply to individual schools.

  • Parents and students are encouraged to obtain more details on the schools’ selection criteria by:

    • Visiting the schools’ website
    • Visiting the schools’ open houses

    Students are encouraged to consider applying to one or two schools that best cater to his or her needs. 9 out of 10 students participating in last year’s exercise applied to 3 schools or fewer.

  • Submit the DSA application form before the deadline. (Note: Please check the individual school website as the application period and procedures can vary from school to school.)

How do schools select students?

The selection process differs across schools, and for different DSA categories. Depending on the DSA area applied to, students may be asked to submit a portfolio showcasing their talents and achievements, primary school results, CCA records, a personal statement and/or a character reference. Schools may also administer interviews, tests, trials or selection camps.

What are the possible outcomes of a student’s application and what to do next?

By 31 August 2017, students will be informed of the application outcome by the individual schools. There are three possible outcomes:

Outcomes What does this mean? What is my next step?
Confirmed Offer (CO) The student has a place reserved in the school as long as he/she qualifies for an academic course (i.e. Express, Normal (Academic) or Normal (Technical)) offered by the school based on the PSLE results. Students who wish to take up the confirmed offer or those on waiting list who wish to be considered for school allocation would submit the School Preference online or at his/her primary school in October. If the student has more than one CO or WL, the student may select up to three schools in order of preference.
Waiting List (WL) The student will be given a place in the school only if students with COs choose not to take up those offers. On average, 50% of students on a school’s WL were successfully allocated a place.
Unsuccessful The student has not been given a place in the school in the DSA-Sec Exercise. The student will join the S1 Posting Exercise. The student may still opt for the same school that did not offer him/her a CO/WL under the DSA-Sec Exercise.

When is the DSA-Sec conducted?


Print Version (243kb .pdf)

Important things to note

  • P6 students have a choice of whether or not to participate in the DSA-Sec Exercise. If they choose not to participate in the DSA-Sec Exercise, they will continue to participate in the S1 Posting Exercise after the release of the PSLE results.

  • Students should consider carefully before opting for the DSA schools. Students can only amend or withdraw their submitted school preferences before the end of Exercise School Preference (ESP) stage. Any amendment or withdrawal from the exercise will not be allowed after the ESP stage.

  • Students successfully allocated to their DSA schools will not be allowed to participate in the annual S1 Posting Exercise to opt for secondary schools, and are expected to honour the commitment to the allocated DSA school for the entire duration of the programme. They will also not be allowed to transfer to another school after the release of the PSLE results.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions may be found here.