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The 2018 DSA-Sec Exercise School Preference Stage will commence from 9am on 29 October 2018 to 3pm on 2 November 2018. Students may submit their school preference(s) via DSA-Sec Internet System during this period.

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

The DSA-Sec allows students to gain direct entry to secondary schools on their talents and achievements that may not be demonstrated at the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). Upon admitted, students can develop these talents further in their secondary schools. Information on changes to the DSA announced in March 2017 can be found on this page.

Choosing DSA schools: A step-by-step guide

Step 1:

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

Guiding Questions for students
  • 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 school for the entire 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 studying in that school to develop their talents in the chosen DSA area. In admitting students through the DSA, the school is committed to developing the students to their fullest potential in both academic studies and the area of talent for which the students are selected during the DSA Exercise.

Students who are not ready to commit to studying in a particular school to develop their talents may wish to consider the Secondary 1 (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 for students
  • 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 courses 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 2018 offer talent development programmes in the following categories (Click on each category below to show the list of secondary schools offering the DSA categories.):

  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship
    • programmes in innovation, business and enterprise
  • Languages and Humanities
    • programmes in debate and public speaking, drama, journalism, and the various languages, etc.
  • Leadership and Uniformed Groups
    • leadership programmes and various uniformed groups (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, Design 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

    Students are encouraged to consider applying to one or two schools that best cater to their 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, selection camps, trials or tests specific to the talent area applied for.

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

By 31 August 2018, students will be informed of the application outcome by the individual schools. There are three possible outcomes:

Outcomes What does this mean? What is the next step?
Confirmed Offer (CO) The student has a place reserved in the school as long as the student 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 CO or those on WL who wish to be considered for school allocation would submit the School Preference online in October. Students with more than one CO or WL, may select up to three schools in order of preference.
Wait List (WL) The student will be considered for 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 the student a CO/WL under the DSA-Sec Exercise.

When is the DSA-Sec conducted?

Refer to the Flowchart of Stages to understand the timeline of the DSA-Sec.

2018 Flowchart of Stages

Print Version (138kb .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 who are successfully allocated to their DSA schools will not be allowed to participate in the annual S1 Posting Exercise to opt for secondary schools. They 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.