Direct School Admissions to Raffles Institution – Speech by Brendan Hong

Majority of parents in Singapore dream of their children entering a top school. They will do everything in their power to help their children succeed.

As most of you are aware, entry into secondary schools is usually based on the results of the Primary School Leaving Examinations or PSLE. However, this route can be the toughest as you need to achieve a near perfect score in order to gain a place in a top school. Recognising that not all students can achieve such high academic scores, top schools will admit students via the Direct School Admissions scheme or (DSA).

What is DSA? For those who don’t know, the DSA exercise is an admission exercise that allows participating secondary schools to select Primary 6 students for admission to secondary one. The selection will be based on the students’ achievements and talents before the PSLE results are released.

There are many secondary schools in Singapore and some of them are more “popular” than others. I wanted to get into either Raffles Institution (RI) or Hwa Chong Institution (HCI), both of which are considered by many as the top boys’ schools in the nation. So, it was not easy to get an offer from either schools.

As I have a talent in playing table tennis, I knew that I had a chance of entering one of the top school through DSA. My parents did not want me to try for RI as they preferred HCI instead. However they allowed me to decide which schools I wanted to DSA to and since there was nothing to lose I decided to try both schools. Over the next few days, I felt that my decision was a little rash. There were many students trying for RI and most of them were the best of the best. It would be an incredibly difficult challenge. My table tennis coach decided to train me even harder for the DSA trial for RI, and it was a tiring process. I had to run 6 rounds in the stadium during every training session instead of the usual 3.

The DSA process also included interviews and selection tests. To increase my chances of being selected by the schools, my parents decided to enroll me at J Carter Centre to prepare me for the interviews. I was taught many useful techniques by the helpful Teachers to prepare me to succeed. I was painfully shy during the first lesson but after a few more lessons, I warmed up to the sessions and I had a memorable time learning from the teachers.

Three months to the DSA trials, my table tennis coach began training me harder than before. I was introduced to a lot of new but tedious techniques that was tougher than what I had been doing previously. To make it worse, I had to change the rubber on my table tennis bat to a completely different one. It was hard to adapt and get used to playing with a totally different rubber bat.

I was extremely anxious that the last minute changes would affect my performance during the DSA trails.

On the day of the Raffles Institution’s trial, there were a total of twelve players, ten of which were from the national youth squad. Upon looking at them, I could tell that it was not going to be an easy road ahead for me. I was extremely afraid when the coach arranged for me to play with the singles champion in my age group. It was surprising that I managed to defeat him after an extremely tough fight. All the workouts and training had paid off! After that, I played with a few more youth players and even though I lost to some of them, I felt that I had outdone myself on that day.

Hwa Chong Institution’s trial was a breeze compared to RI but there was still the selection tests which assess the students on academic ability. Both the tests and the interview were difficult but thankfully my teachers at J Carter Centre had prepared me well enough so it was simpler than what I thought it would be.

The weeks before the release of the DSA results, I could feel the tension at home. I could tell my parents were extremely anxious about the DSA results. I was also worried that I would not be able to get a ‘Confirm Offer’ from either schools.

Finally, the letters with the RI and HCI school crest came through the mail. I was over the moon to receive confirmed offers from both schools. I was thus in a dilemma. I did not know which school to choose as I favoured both schools. However, after a long consideration, I decided to go to Raffles Institution as their Table Tennis record in recent years were better than Hwa Chong’s. I also felt that the programs and learning environment in RI would be better for me.

I have now completed my first year in my dream school and I have not regretted my decision to go there.

The school is huge and the learning environment has been good. The classrooms are air-conditioned and the facilities are amazing. The seniors are friendly and not afraid to share their knowledge with the rest of us. The teachers are helpful and creative, often planning interesting activities to enable us to learn better. Direct School Admissions was not only a route to the school I wanted to be a part of but it was also a learning opportunity for me. Surrounding myself with supportive people like my parents, teachers and coaches also prepared me to go through the process with confidence and ease.

The experience also taught me that hard work and perseverance is necessary to get what I want in life.

Thank you.

Brendan Hong – Trinity Communication Skills Grade 5


P.S. Thank you Brendan for the vote of confidence. Ms Joyce and I enjoy having you as a student at our centre.

Regards, Ms Jackeline


This is a speech written by my student Tan Tag Han. It is about his personal achievement in gaining entry into NUS High via DSA.  I am greatly humbled by this speech because it is very inspiring. The message in this speech is that dreams can come true if you work hard to achieve it. Most importantly, one needs to believe in oneself.  Tag Han was a student in my Trinity College Communication Skills Grade 5 class.


Have you ever achieved something that you feel really proud of?

I am sure many of you have. Everybody love achievements. They are hard to accomplish but  the feeling you get when you succeed is a really sweet taste.

One year ago, I was a primary 6 student, studying hard to achieve good grades in order to get into a good secondary school.  I was under a lot of stress; the grades I was going to get could determine my future and what type of education I would receive. I had my eyes on this school, NUS High. It was love at first sight, the moment I heard about this school – I knew it was meant for me. Its name “School of Mathematics and Science” suggested that it was strong in the areas of Math and science.

The only obstacle in my way was that I didn’t believe I had the ability to pass the entry test. Students all over Singapore flock  to take the entry test every year.

I have never thought for the whole of my life that I would gain entry to such a prestigious school. It was a dream to me.  I did not even know what to do.  Then what destroyed my confidence was that I didn’t do well in the Semester Assessment 1. I achieved low marks for the subjects and had very low morale. I did not understand why? I had studied so hard yet achieved so low marks. I was very sad and did not talk much for a few days. My teacher was curious to see the drastic change in behaviour and talked to me. One of them told me a phrase I would never ever forget: ‘failure is the mother of success’.

With sound advice from my parents and teachers, I decided to put all my effort in trying my best. I read secondary school textbooks in order to prepare myself.

I signed up for the NUS High Direct School Admission or DSA test without much confidence. I did not really understand the topics in the secondary school syllabus and spent more time studying it.  I had to sacrifice time for homework to study for the test. I was really in a dilemma. Eating times became studying time and I ended up not doing my homework at all at home. I rushed through homework during other lessons in school. But for some miraculous reason, I managed to complete  my homework in time.

My parents searched the internet for ways to help me gain  confidence and learn how to succeed in DSA interviews. They chanced upon a training centre called J Carter centre for Public Speaking.

I signed up for DSA interview coaching sessions. The teacher was very friendly and my first impression was that she was very professional. She spoke with a warm smile and encouraged me to study harder.  Her name was Ms. Jackeline and she inspired me to become more of a confident speaker. After a few sessions, I knew exactly how to talk better and I thought it was really worth it attending her lessons. I went for the DSA test with a lot of confidence. I told myself, “I will not let myself down. I came here to achieve something; I’m not going to leave empty handed.”

After what seemed like years of waiting, I received the invitation to the second stage of the DSA process.

During one of my sessions with Ms. Jackeline, she taught me some motivation quotes. One advice she said was “Situation + Action = Result”. For example, if you meet with a tough situation, you have to change your reaction to it and hence change the result. Thus there was no such thing as ‘impossible’ or ‘cannot be achieved’.  This advice inspired me and I learned a lot from it. I just had to change my actions and thinking. That was what I had to do in order to achieve a wonderful result.

During all the  testing and the interviews, these words and advice went through my mind. In the end I was accepted into NUS High because Ms. Jackeline helped me to believe in myself.

Nothing is impossible! If you wish to achieve something, just do it. You don’t let your dreams stay as dreams. Some people dream of success, when they should actually wake up and try for success. If you’re tired of redoing or starting over, stop giving up and put in your very best. You just have to help yourself up. If you fail, it’s okay. Everybody fails in something, but I’m sure if you really wish to achieve something, just put in a lot of effort, you will succeed.

Luck is one thing, hard work is another, but the attitude is really what’s important. 

A bad attitude is like a flat tire, you can’t go anywhere till you change it. You have to have a good attitude to achieve something. Once you change your attitude to a better one, I’m sure you will start achieving a lot of things.

Thank you for listening to my speech

Tan Tag Han, Secondary 1, NUS High School of Math and Science

Copyright J Carter Centre for Public Speaking PL, 28/12/2015. Please do not reprint this speech without permission.


Over the years, I have had many students who have written wonderful speeches and achieved Distinctions for the LAMDA and Trinity exams. I will begin posting some of these amazing works so that more people can enjoy reading them. The first one is by my student Lau Shen-I titled ‘Holidays’


What type of holidays do you enjoy?

There are many different types of holidays such as relaxation, shopping and adventure holidays. Today, I am going to tell you about my holiday to Chengdu in China which was a shopping and adventure holiday. These two types of holidays allow you to explore and see what the place that you are going to has in store for you instead of just staying in your hotel. However, if you are usually very busy, I recommend that you go for a relaxation holiday as you can get away and rest from the rush of your daily life.

My holiday to Chengdu was a very memorable one as I went to many interesting and fun places and it was also the first time I visited a country during winter. I went to Chengdu for a total of five days. On the first day of the trip, my family was very tired from the flight so we rested. On the second day of the trip, we went shopping in a shopping mall called Global Centre. I enjoyed myself as I was able to interact with the locals and shopped for items that were inexpensive. I bought many art supplies as my hobby is painting and drawing. I also went ice-skating with my cousins and sister. After that, we went to an ancient building that has been around for more than 100 years. All the shops there were very old and they sold items that were related to ancient Chengdu. I bought some souvenirs to remind me of that place.

On the third day, we went to the panda reserve. Chengdu takes a lot of pride in its panda reserve, as it has been so successful that it has managed to breed its pandas and they are now thriving in their 5-star reserve. I saw many healthy-looking giant pandas and I even caught a glimpse of a cute red panda! Not only that, I managed to carry one of the adorable baby pandas. After looking at all the panda enclosures, my parents bought some unique panda stamps for me. I learnt that the Chinese worked extremely hard to have their own panda reserve which they finally succeeded in doing.

On the fourth day, my family and I went tobogganing on Chengdu’s snow mountain. We took a cable car up the mountain as it was very steep. As it was my first time seeing snow, I was very thrilled by the sight of it. We each bought a toboggan and slid down many steep slopes. Later, we ate the local food for lunch and it was really delicious. My family and I really enjoyed eating the Chengdu hot pot, which was great during cold weather. It consisted of a spicy broth and many vegetables and meat inside. On the last day of the trip, I felt very reluctant to go home as I really enjoyed my trip to Chengdu.

 All in all, I had a great time in Chengdu and I was also  exposed to the culture and different way of life of the Chinese. I know that you will enjoy your experience too and look forward to leaving for your trip.

Thank you

*Copyright J Carter Centre for Public Speaking PL. Please do not repost this speech. 

Adopt and Save a Life by Shen-I

This speech was written and presented by my Grade 5 LAMDA student Shen-I. This video was recorded during one of the practise sessions which explains why it is a little rough around the edges. The reason why I am posting this video is because of the message in her speech – responsible pet ownership. I hope that her speech will encourage more people to adopt instead of buying their pets because there are many dogs and cats in Animal shelters who have been waiting for years for a home to call their own. As a pet lover, this is something very close to my heart. Enjoy the presentation and do re-post it to encourage more people to be responsible pet owners. Thank you, Jackeline Carter


Ms. Jackeline once said, “To taste success you first have to pay a price.”

I am sure it is not easy to settle into a new school. Especially when you do not know anyone, as it is a whole new environment. It becomes even more challenging when you have to fit into a school, which accepts the top 5% of students in Singapore.

After my Primary School Leaving Examination, I was accepted into Raffles Girls School. Today I am going to tell you about three things that will help you in a similar situation to the one I faced. First I will tell you what were the problems I faced, followed by how I tackled the problems and finally other solutions you can use to adapt quicker to a new environment.

When I started the first week of school, I thought I would be able to adjust to the school system easily. However, I was so wrong.

Although I had come into RGS through Direct School Admissions, I thought I would be able to cope easily as my PSLE score was very close to the cut-off point for the school. However, I soon felt that the teachers were teaching too fast and I could not seem to understand what was going on in class. My chemistry teacher announced that we would be having an assessment in the fourth week of school itself.

I was finding it extremely difficult to balance everything. I had CCA three times per week and each session was two hours, I had private training once a week which was two and a half hours long and I had third language every Friday and it was three hours per each session. I spent Saturdays and Sundays trying to complete my homework. I just could not seem to find the time to study or revise anything. I always felt that there was never enough time and struggled to complete my assignments. On certain occasions, I even stayed up till 2.30am to complete my projects, I was very tired every day in school and could not pay attention in class, and I even fell asleep sometimes. By mid-term I had failed almost half my subjects and barely passed the others. Going to school started to become a nightmare for me and I came home crying almost every day.

My mother had discussed with me about changing schools. But, I did not want to throw away all the hard work it had taken to get into this school. I had always excelled in primary school and I did not want secondary school to defeat me. Math is my strongest subject and when I failed my math assessment I realized I really needed help with my studies.

I started off by taking tuition for maths, physics and mother tongue. I sacrificed my weekends, which was the only time I had to relax during the week. I stopped watching television for two months until I caught up with what was happening in class. I pre-read most of the topics before the teacher went through them, and when she started it, I felt like I could understand the topics so much more. I asked my seniors for their past year notes and studied it at home. I went for math supplementary lessons every Thursday morning and met some teachers after school to clarify my doubts. I printed out past year examination papers from the library and had my teachers mark them for me. My grades rose gradually. I studied hard for my end of year assessment. By the end of the year, I had improved by 200% for math.

I had achieved a GPA of 3.31 which was a vast improvement compared to the 2.91 I received for my mid-term exams.

The answer to achieving any goal is ‘discipline’. This is what I learnt from my experience.

If you put your mind to it, it is not hard to be disciplined and to manage your time. You must be willing enough to sacrifice some things you like even if you do not want to. The feeling of accomplishment you get at the end is well worth it.

If you ever faced the same problem I did, I suggest you sort out your priorities first. Always do what you need to do before what you want to do. Even if there are shows you want to watch, you should always complete your homework first. You could set aside thirty minutes to an hour before you sleep to relax. However you should use the time before that to study. Even if you have completed your homework for the day, start on projects or homework, which are due on the following days. This will ensure that you do not do it at the last minute. During weekends it is good to set aside two to three hours for revision and to get a head start on other topics. If you are ever unclear about anything you could always ask your teacher or your seniors to clarify. However, do not forget to take a break after long hours of work. Your mind needs to relax. If you follow these steps, I am sure that you will be able to do well in your studies.

Remember all work and no rest makes Jill a dull girl. Do not forget to have enough sleep to recharge your body and brain for a new day,

It is natural to feel that stress is unmanageable at times. However, you should never let it lead you to a state of depression. There are always people you can approach should you need help such as your family, friends and teachers. Nothing is impossible if you try your best and put your heart and soul into what you do.

Success is a difficult journey that requires hard work and perseverance. However, when you reach your journey’s end you will realize you have become a much stronger person.

Lakshana Kumar

Grade 5 – Trinity Communication Skills

A message from Ms. Jackeline:

Lakshana, thank you for quoting me in your speech. I am very happy that you were able to write such a wonderful and inspiring speech. By sharing it with others, I hope it will help all those students who are facing some difficulty in school to not give up. Your final statement is so true and I know that you will become a very strong and successful person one day. Remember to always believe in yourself.