S.T.E.M Domain? What is that?

You are attending a DSA talk by a popular secondary school. They are talking about the revised domains that the school will be offering from 2017. There are the usual domains such as Sports, Aesthetics, Bi-lingual and S.T.E.M. Wait . . . what in the world is S.T.E.M? How will my child be able to qualify for this domain when she is only 12 years old!

Don’t despair, let me explain in layman terms what it all means. This abbreviation is well-know to many who are in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths because it was introduced years ago in the United States to encourage students to focus more in these areas of studies. When it was introduced in the United States, it was considered “the next big thing” in education. The reasoning behind STEM education is that the United States was not preparing  sufficient number of students, teachers and practitioners in the STEM fields. Secondly, their industries needed more workers in these fields due to an aging workforce and an increasingly innovative world market.

Now this sounds very familiar especially since our Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong said that he wants to convert Singapore into a “Smart Nation”. Thus we are in need of workers who are able to work in STEM fields and are innovative as well. So, how does all this result in a secondary school coming up with a STEM domain for DSA?

Let me try to enlighten you on the logic behind this choice of domain. When the Education  Minister announced that IP schools should not offer academic domains for DSA, it places IP schools into a conundrum because they need highly proficient students to DSA into their schools. Without strong academic abilities especially in Maths and Science, the school will have difficulty preparing students for the A’levels with a focus on these subjects. (In general the humanities students are usually fewer in these schools or discouraged to take this route, if possible). So how can a school create a talent for students without non-academic talent?  The answer is S.T.E.M.

This domain is so broad that many students including GEP students can easily select this domain and successfully get a Confirm Offer (CO). The range of abilities that can fall under this domain are plenty and very subjective. After all IP schools still have full autonomy to make the final selection.

So what will students learn to do if they are place in the STEM programme? Hopefully they will be taught how to apply their knowledge to real world problems. After all that is the original purpose of a STEM education.

So how should you position your children’s list of achievements to quality for this domain? You can use the strategy describe below to help you submit an attractive application to the school:

  1. Excellent results in Maths and Science. (In STEM education, success in science and maths is important. Technology and Engineering is only integrated into the syllabus when appropriate.)
  2. Maths Olympiad and Science Olympiad successes make a great impact on your child’s application. (Students must also know how Maths and Science are used to solve real world problems. This question will most likely be asked during the interview.)
  3. Other areas of achievements/abilities to enhance your application:
    • Creativity, Design and innovation (All those E2K school projects/competitions where students had to create and build something is going to come in useful now)
    • Robotics
    • IT skills (e.g. coding which is the rage now)
    • Problem-solving skills
    • Critical thinking skills
    • Able to work in teams
    • Public Speaking Skills (You need to be able to present your project ideas)

The good news is that 2017 is the first year this domain is introduced so they will focus more on those students who show a strong ability in Maths and Science. In the following years when it becomes a more popular domain, they will start looking beyond just Maths and Science and look for qualities similar to those I have highlighted in bullet no. 3.

As more schools start announcing new and unique domains, I will try to break it down  into layman terms for everyone. All the best on your DSA journey.


Jackeline Carter (Public Speaking/DSA Coach)


Recommended Workbooks for GAT & HAST (Abstract Reasoning) Tests

Your child is sitting for an important Abstract Reasoning test. Many people advised you that it is not necessary to prepare your child for it so you did not think twice about the matter. On the day of the test, your child nervously enters the examination centre, he opens his test papers and is overwhelmed by  a series of diagrams that stares back at him. He doesn’t understand the questions. His six years of primary schooling has never prepared him for such a test. How is he going to answer all the questions in the allotted time?

Every year, thousands of students sit for the GAT or HAST test in order to gain entry to IP schools. This is usually the first phase of the DSA selection process and if your child is unable to test well for this segment, he/she will not move on to the next phase of the process. There are several ways to prepare your child for this test however the easiest and most inexpensive way is to purchase workbooks for your child to practise with. Unfortunately, such books are not produced in Singapore so most parents end up signing their children up for GAT preparation classes which can be expensive.

As a DSA coach, I am constantly looking out for workbooks produced in other countries that will be suitable for your children to use in preparation for these tests. When I find them, I will ask my publisher to order the books and recommend it to parents who are helping their children prepare for the tests. Early this year, I came across 3 new publications which I ordered from overseas. (It was very expensive as I had to order direct from the retailer). I was very excited upon receiving the books as it is perfect to use in preparation for GAT and the Abstract Reasoning segment of HAST.

For the past few years, I have been giving out GAT worksheets which I have compiled over the years to my students who are enrolled in the DSA Preparation Course. Last year the feedback I received from my students was that the worksheets were too easy. Upon hearing this, I started looking for replacement workbooks that would have clear explanations and more challenging questions. I am happy to announce that I have succeed in this aspect so now I would like to share these books with you.

The publisher of my book, Success Strategies for Direct School Admissions – has kindly agreed to take orders for the books and bring it in from her supplier. This will be more cost effective as she can offer the book at a better price if she is ordering in bulk. It will also save you a lot of time and money using this route as I have compared the cost verses what I paid for when I ordered it from overseas myself.

My publisher, September 21 Enterprise has also agreed to extend a 5% discount when you put in your order if you mention my name, Jackeline Carter or the name of my centre, J Carter Centre for Public Speaking. You can call them at 62560226 or visit their website for contact details:


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If your child is in Primary 5 this year and intends to sign up for the DSA Preparation Course at J Carter Centre for Public Speaking in July, please don’t purchase the books as I will be issuing all 3 copies to my students as part of the course materials.

Registration is now open and the classes in July are filling up fast. The details are as follows:

Saturday, 4.15 pm to 5.45 pm – 2 places left 

Sunday, 10 am to 11.30 am – 6 places left

Classes start on 1 or 2 July 2017 and runs for 19 weeks. For more details please call our centre at 67372700 and speak to Nanz. She will furnish you with all the information. (Only for Primary 5 students in 2017)