Direct School Admissions (DSA) Preparation Course for Primary 5 students starting soon – Register today!

DSA Preparation Course – 10 Weeks

Direct School Admissions (DSA-SEC) – Overview

We offer a holistic DSA preparation for Primary 5 students with a focus on Integrated Programme schools (IP), Specialised Independent Schools (SIS), Express, and International schools. This course is developed to include a wide range of activities that will prepare students for the DSA selection process in the following talent areas:

  • Sports and games
  • Infocomm and Innovation
  • Debate and public speaking
  • Science, Mathematics, and Engineering (STEM, STEAM)
  • Languages and humanities
  • Leadership (for example, prefects)

This course is conducted by our founder, Jackeline Carter who has 12 years of experience coaching students successfully through the DSA-SEC selection process for IP, SIS, Express, and the 3 International schools- SJI International, ACS International, and Hwa Chong International. As an expert in communication skills, she has extensive experience training students to perform at their best during the selection trials and interviews. This course will cover the following areas and more:

  • Matching talent to schools and domains
  • Best practices for submitting online applications
  • Presentation skills
  • Impromptu speaking 
  • Group discussions
  • Problem-solving activities
  • Viewpoint essay writing
  • Creative Portfolio
  • Interview etiquette
  • Mock interviews

Jackeline Carter is the author of ‘Success Strategies for Direct School Admissions (DSA)’. One of the first books on DSA which was published in 2014, provides an easy-to-understand guide to preparing for DSA-SEC. Although this book is no longer in print, the updated version of the book will be given to students who enroll in the 10-week DSA Preparation Course.

Post-Course Materials and Support

  • Individualised feedback based on the participant’s performance during the course.
  • Guidelines and Interview list specific to school(s) and domain(s) selected by the student
  • Video recordings of student’s participation in the various activities including mock interviews
  • On-going support via email to parents and students if needed until the completion of the DSA selection process

For more information about our programmes or updates on vacancies, please email info@jcartercentre.com. You may also contact us at 67372700 during centre opening hours.

DSA is the Abbreviation for …?


Everything you wanted to know about DSA but didn’t know what to ask.

The New Year has come and gone in the blink of an eye. Our children are back in school and this year more than 39 000 students will attempt the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) in 2019. The race is heating up and parents and students have already begun the preparation. In fact, many of our own students started preparing during the second half of Primary 5 last year!

Why the rush some of you may wonder? Well for one, the PSLE results in 2018 turned out to be very good overall with many students achieving a high T-score. As a result, the same old rumour has already begun circulating.

You know the one where students claim that a school teacher or a tuition teacher say that PSLE is going to be more difficult in 2019 as MOE is going to set the paper at a higher level to reduce the number of high T-scores!

This may also explain why our June P5/P6 Oral Exam Workshops are already full and I have had to open up more workshops for June!

At this point, you may be wondering why I brought this up and how it concerns DSA 2019. Well, if parents and students are panicking over PSLE so early in the year, it is a premonition that the number of students who will attempt DSA this year is going to be even greater than last year. Couple with the new changes to the DSA registration process where it will be easier to submit an application and there will be no cost involved, competition is going to be tough.

So let me go ahead and answer some of the questions parents who are unfamiliar with DSA are constantly asking.

  • What does DSA stand for?

DSA is an abbreviation for Direct School Admissions and in the context of this article, I am referring to Direct School Admissions to Secondary 1.

  • When did Singapore introduce DSA?

Direct School Admission (DSA) is a program introduced in 2004 for students who are studying Primary 6 to be guaranteed a place in a secondary school. All secondary schools in Singapore are allowed to offer DSA. This includes Normal Academics, Express, IP and SIS schools.

  • Why are schools allowed to offer this option for admission?

MOE wants to allow secondary schools more autonomy in choosing their own students instead of accepting just students who have achieved the required T-score through PSLE. Students who participate in the DSA selection process may receive a “Confirmed Offer”, “Waiting List” or “Rejected” as an outcome. Students will be ranked base on their performance during the series of testing held by the school. “Testing” may involve, trials, auditions, half-day selection camps, written tests, and interviews. Schools are not required to give a reason why they “Waitlist” or “Reject” a student.

  • How does DSA works?

The first few number of students in the ranking determined by the school are given a confirmed offer. The student will then receive a School Preference Form from their primary school. The form will include the DSA-Sec Pin for you to log in online to submit your child’s preferences. This takes place in late October after PSLE. Once the form is submitted, your child will not participate in Secondary 1 Posting Exercise. However, eligibility will still be based on the T-Score achieved during PSLE. For SIS, IP and Express schools, students have to attain the lowest academic score to qualify for Express stream. For schools offering Normal (Academic), they have to attain the lowest score to qualify for Normal (Academic) and for schools that offer Normal (Technical), they have to attain the lowest score to qualify for Normal (Technical). If students do not achieve the minimum require scores they will lose the DSA offer and they will be returned to the Secondary 1 Posting exercise.

  • How do I apply for DSA?

From 2019, students and parents will submit their applications via a common online portal. All schools will have the same application timeline and applicants only need to fill in one online form for multiple schools. The details provided will be sent electronically to the schools selected. Certificates, transcripts or testimonial will no longer be required and only Primary 5 and Primary 6 academic results, CCA, and school-based achievements/awards will be entered into the online application. Application will be free-of-charge and can be made by logging in with a parent’s SingPass. Parents without SingPass can approach their child’s primary school for help. (SOTA and Sports School will not be participating in the online portal and applications will have to be made directly to the schools.)

  • How many schools can I apply to?

Each applicant can choose up to three schools and three talent areas in their DSA-Sec application. For students with multiple talents, there is flexibility for them to use up to two choices to apply for two different talent areas from the same school.

  • Please provide examples of DSA-SEC choice combination.

Example 1

The applicant can apply to three different schools, with no restrictions on the talent areas.

Choice (unranked) DSA school choice DSA talent area
1. School A Art
2. School B Art
3. School C Art

Example 2

The applicant can apply to only two talent areas from the same school. He will still be able to apply to another school and talent area if he wishes to.

Choice (unranked) DSA school choice DSA talent area
1. School A Art
2. School A Tennis
3. School B Art

Example 3

If the applicant only wishes to apply to one school, he can apply to two talent areas from that school and leave choice (3) blank.

Choice (unranked) DSA school choice DSA talent area
1. School A Art
2. School A Tennis
3. Blank Blank
  • What are the changes to DSA in 2019?

All secondary schools can now admit up to 20% of their non-Integrated Programme (non-IP) Secondary 1 intake via DSA-Sec. IP schools are advised to take in 30-35% via DSA. SIS schools will take in 100% of their cohorts via DSA. (SIS schools are NUSH, SST, SOTA, and Sports School).

MOE will now work with schools to refine the selection process and even co-develop a set of selection principles to support schools in selecting the students’ with potential. This means MOE is now controlling the DSA selection and not leaving it solely to the schools. However, this does not apply to SIS schools who will retain full control of the selection process.

All schools have discontinued the General Ability Test (GAT) and High Ability Selection Test (HAST), but this does not mean that the schools are not allowed to administer their own academic tests to replace these National Tests.

  • Whose eligible to apply through DSA?

It varies for every school as each school will choose their own DSA domains. However, the domains will fall into one of these criteria and students need to show a strong ability in one or two of the criteria:

Sports and games,
Visual, literary and performing arts,
Debate and public speaking,
Science, mathematics & engineering,
Languages and humanities,
Uniformed groups,
Leadership (e.g. prefects).

  • How long does the whole process take?

Preparation, application and the actual selection will take place from January to July and sometimes even to August of Primary 6 year when the results will be released.

  • Can I reject a DSA offer?

Yes, you can. Just do not submit the Preference form in October of Primary 6 year. If you have already done so, just log into the online portal and edit your submission before November dateline. Your child will then return to Secondary 1 Posting Exercise.

  • Why should my child attempt DSA?

DSA selection process is a good experience if your child prepares well for it and has a positive mind-set going through the process. This will not be the only selection process your child will undergo during their long academic career and every opportunity to participate in such a process will allow your child to gain the experience needed to do better in the future. If your child does not get a “Confirm Offer”, it is also a good opportunity to reflect on what could have been done differently and to not repeat the same mistakes in future selection processes. Such experiences are life skills that our children need to learn. It also includes handling disappointments and failures positively.

On the other hand, if your child chooses an SIS school, this is the only route available so there’s no choice in the matter. As for IP schools, the requirement for an extremely high T-score means that attempting DSA may be the only option to get into the schools unless your child is an extremely High Achiever academically and will certainly attain the high T-scores required.

Finally, students who managed to gain a place via DSA tend to be more relax during PSLE and end up achieving better than expected T-scores. The knowledge of having secured a place in a secondary school puts your child in a better frame of mind during PSLE which in turn allows them to perform better.

  • Where can I get more information about DSA?

You can check out this MOE website by clicking here or drop me a “Comment” and I will try to answer your questions.

  • I think I want my child to attempt DSA. Is there any preparation course I can send my child to?

I am glad you asked this question. I have been preparing students for DSA since 2010 and I have a very good and effective DSA Preparation Course which you can sign your child up for. Click here for more information about my course.  The 8-STEPS system I have developed to help your child excel during the DSA selection process will allow your child to master the strategies needed to get a Confirm Offer.  He or she will be able to display an incredible performance by being able to think, say and do what is necessary in front of the interviewers.

I hope that this extremely long blog entry has answered most of your questions about DSA. Whether you decide to attempt DSA or not, don’t wait till the last minute to make your decision. Every day that passes is one day less you’ll have to get your child ready for DSA.

To your success in DSA,
Jackeline Carter

Communication Skills and DSA Success Expert
Founder of J Carter Centre for Public Speaking PL
10 years in the business of inspiring students

Our DSA Successes

Trinity College London Communication Skills Examinations Results – May/June 2016

Once again our students at J Carter Centre for Public Speaking have achieved amazing results in the Trinity College London Communication Skills Examinations for May/June 2016. Congratulations to all of our students. I am very proud of your achievements. Thank you for your hard work. 

Jackeline Carter 


  1. Lakshana Kumar – Joint Top in Grade

  2. Leon Long Zeyu  – Joint Top in Grade

  3. Laranya Kumar – High Distinction

  4. Kelly Ong Si Hui – Distinction

  5. Carman Chew  – Distinction

  6. Charlene Chong Jia Xin – Distinction

  7. Long Zepeng – Distinction

  8. Toh Qian Qi –  High Merit

  9. Koh Bei Li – High Merit


  1. Michael Lang Li-Yuan – Top in Grade

  2. Julian Tay Yong Sheng – High Distinction

  3. Ng Yan Khai Ryan –  Distinction

  4. Yue Shi Quan Sean – Distinction       

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Michael Lang Li-Yuan


  1. Lau Shen-I – Top in Grade

  2. Loh Yih-Hang – High Distinction

  3. Maya Raisha Zainudin  – High Distinction

  4. Joanne Yate  – High Distinction

  5. Gabriel Alexander Wong Jun Yi – High Distinction

  6. Emmanuel Chong Chen Wei – Distinction

  7. Loh Xian Guo Bryan  – High Merit

  8. Loh Xian Yang Brendan – High Merit

Lau Shen-I


  1. Wee Li LIng Zara Grace –  Top in Grade

  2. Chong Rui Ting – High Distinction

  3. Sanshray Karthikeyan – High Distinction

  4. Xan Ng – Distinction

  5. Chong Chan How – Distinction

  6. Loh Li Ing Amelia – High Merit

  7. Jacob Tay Zhi Sheng – High Merit

  8. Stacey Jade Lo – Pass

Wee Li Ling Zara Grace


  1. Jermaine Ang (Hong Zhuomin) – Top in Grade

  2. Lim Xin Ni – High Distinction

  3. Alwyn Tok Hong Sheng – High Distinction

  4. Joye Lim Qian Qi – High Distinction

  5. Tan Wei Jun – High Distinction

  6. Khua Yan Han Cedric – High Distinction

  7. Chua Yaw Hong Frederick Vyner – Distinction

  8. Chong Kaelie – Distinction

  9. Hong Chun Yong Brendan – Distinction

  10. Nicholas Yee Sheng Cheung – Distinction

  11. Reyna Ong Si Ting – Distinction

  12. Stephanie Louisa Lo – Merit

Jermaine Ang (Hong Zhuomin)


  1. Jethro Lim Lei En – Joint Top in Grade

  2. Skylar Gen Johnson – Joint Top in Grade

  3. Koh Khee Png Mathew – High Distinction

  4. Yee En Ning – High Distinction

  5. Elizabeth Lang LI-Yuan – High Distinction

  6. Isaac Tay (Zheng Yiliang) – High Distinction

  7. Megan Lim Pei Xuan – High Distinction

  8. Janelle Teng Mei Xuan – High Distinction

  9. Darius Lye Ze Qi  – High Distinction

  10. Lim Sheeann  – Distinction

  11. Donald Chan Deng Tin – Distinction

Jethro Lim Lei En

If you would like to see your child achieve excellent results in communication skills, you can consider signing up in 2017. The 2017 schedule is now available. Do call our centre at 67372700 for information.

Schools offering Communication/English Domain under DSA scheme

On April 8, 2016 – MOE has announced, “The Direct School Admission (DSA) scheme will be reviewed to recognise achievements and talents in specific areas – which was its original objective – instead of general academic ability.”

Like many parents, I was worried that it could mean denying a large group of students from the DSA scheme. For the last 8 years, I have been coaching many students on their speaking and interviewing skills and the majority of students that pass through my centre opted for the Academic domain when applying for DSA to the schools of their choice. I was silently praying that the changes would not be implemented until next year.

On May 9, schools across Singapore posted information on DSA selection criteria on their school website and I have to say it turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Some schools did take away the Academic domain but they replaced it with domains related to it. For example, River Valley High School introduced “Communication” as a new option. For schools retaining Academic domains, they were asking for talent and qualifications in specific academic related areas – such as participation in Speech, Storytelling, Debates and Writing competitions under the English domain.

I am happy  for the majority of students who have come through my doors over the years because their LAMDA Speaking in Public or Trinity Communications Skills International Certification in Graded Exams can now play an even bigger role in helping them succeed in Direct School Admissions.

For  parents with younger children who may consider opting for these domains in the future, my advice to you is to start investing time and effort improving your children’s skills in Public Speaking, Spoken English, Storytelling, Debating and Creative Writing in order to build their portfolio in these areas. To help you, I have compiled a chart listing all the secondary schools which offer domains related to communication skills. I have also created a list of certifications and competitions that your child can participate in so as to boost their abilities in these areas.

Do bear in mind that primary schools do not always offer these competition experiences to every student. As a parent you have to speak to your child’s form teacher and tell her that you want your child to be considered for these competitions. As I come across more competitions, I will update the information in my blog.


Domain – Literary Arts

  • Creative Writing Portfolio (4 to 10 original works completed in the last 12 months)
  • Personal Story of 500 words (describe an event or incident which has made an impact on them or someone close to them)
  • Published Works/Relevant Credentials (Optional)

Domain – Academic (English)

  • Able to demonstrate interest and talent beyond the abilities of students in the same age group and/or have a history of consistent high academic achievements in English.

Domain – Academic (English)

  • Demonstrate interest and talent in English Language beyond the abilities of children in your age group, and/or have a history of consistently high academic achievement.

Domain – Communication / Literacy (English)

  • Candidates should possess strong communication skills with achievements in writing or speaking in English
  • Achievements at the national/international level would be an advantage. Applicants will need to attach evidence of achievement at an appropriate platform that illustrates a high level of competence.

Domain – Academic (English)

  • 80% or higher score (or 70% or higher score for Gifted Education Programme students) for P5 Overall and P6 Mid-Year Examination or its equivalent,
  • Special Achievements in English Language

Domain – NA

  • Academic excellence and potential
  • Leadership qualities
  • Active participation in CCAs
  • Effective communication skills
  • Ability to be both a team player and an independent learner
  • Sound character: has integrity and is responsible, resilient and compassionate

Domain – Academic (English)

  • Special achievements in English
  • Attained excellent outcomes for national and international competitions and proficiency assessments;
  • Demonstrated contributions to the advancement or spread of knowledge in English.

Domain – Academic (Languages)

  • Excellent academic results for P5 overall and P6 Mid-Year Examination or its equivalent, and
  • Participation and achievements (e.g. competitions) in the talent areas applying for:
    – Languages
  • Shortlisted students will be requested to bring their portfolio of work for the interview

Domain – Creative Expression Talent

  • Students who are accomplished in the creative / literary / oratorical arts such as bilingual orator, published writer, music composer, etc.
  • Portfolio and/or published works (in PDF) / awards / other credentials

Domain – Academic (English)

  • Special Achievement in English Language
  • Excellent results in national/or international competitions in English Language such as the University of New South Wales Competitions
  • Any other academic competitions/achievements

Domain – Applied Learning Programme (ALP) in Language and Humanities (Debates and Public Speaking)

  • Students will be required to come to auditions with a prepared speech (1 minute) on one of the following topics:
    -Social Media: Good or Bad?
    -Respect should be earned.
  • Students will also be given an impromptu topic to speak on during the auditions. They may also be required to discuss any points of interest with the auditioner/s.
  • They will be assessed on Style, which will include voice projection, articulation, clarity and expression.
  • They will also be assessed on Content, which will include their knowledge of current affairs, the nature of their arguments and how they express their opinions.
  • We will personally call all applicants who meet the requirements to attend the audition.

CHIJ St Joseph’s Convent
Domain – Applied Learning Programme (ALP)
The Art of Communication through Theatre and Debates.

  • A high level of confidence when conversing about social issues. Interested applicants would demonstrate a genuine interest in current affairs or national, community issues and are able to articulate their thoughts in a clear and organized manner,
  • Experiences in either debates and/or theatre. This means that candidates have had experience related to debating and acting in productions, especially in the presence of an unfamiliar audience,
  • Possess a strong command of the English Language as reflected in candidates’ written and oral communication,
  • Applicants will perform a short dramatic monologue as part of the audition process (dramatization). The choice of monologues will be provided to applicants.
  • Oral presentation during the interview process.
  • Achievements at national competitions/ internationally recognized certification (Drama and Debates)/ Participation and level of representation in school/public performances.

CHIJ Katong Convent
Domain – Communicative Arts

  • Strong oracy skills and a flair for public speaking
  • Top honours or awards won at Inter-school Oratorical or Debate competitions
  • Carried out master of ceremony duties for school-wide/community events e.g. Speech Day

Tanjong Katong Girls’ Sch
Domain – Debating

Students will be eligible if they have excellent performance (with commendations) in one of the following:

  •  National oratorical, public speaking, storytelling or debating competitions (e.g. Wits & Words, organized by MOE) or
  • Other oratorical, public speaking, storytelling or debating competitions

Greenridge Secondary
Domain – Learning for Life Programme (Literary Arts)

Interested applicants must produce a portfolio to show evidence of ability. The portfolio could include:

  • Records of participation (for CCA, competitions etc.) and achievements
  • Records of any involvement in school wide projects or community level programmes or projects
  • Records of any other achievements which are relevant to support your application
  • Testimonials or recommendation letters by primary school teachers or aesthetic coaches/instructors
  • Letter of reference from external coaches/instructors (if any)
  • Interview
  • Auditions or trials (where applicable) – Recite a poem, story-telling etc.

Holy Innocents’ High School
Domain – Journalism & Broadcasting

  • Portfolio: Comprising achievements in journalism and broadcasting related performances, competitions, publications, etc.;
  • Audition: Quality of voice / writing and confidence in presentation;
    Demonstrate commitment and passion in Journalism and Broadcasting and participate actively in the related programmes throughout their 4 years in the school;
  • Take up Journalism and Broadcasting as the core CCA throughout their 4 years in the school.

Mayflower Sec School
Domain – Public Speaking & Debate

  • Participation in Oratorical/Public Speaking /Debating competitions
    Equivalent certification in area of participation
  • For Public Speaking requirements:
    Present a 3 minute speech on a given topic
    Be fluent in spoken English Language
  • For Debate requirements:
    Present a 5 minute argument on a given topic
    Be fluent in spoken English Language

Pasir Ris Crest Sec School
Domain – Effective Communication

  • Applicants must demonstrate a passion for communication related programmes /competitions and be committed to contribute to PRCS in the area for which they have been given DSA.
  • Shortlisted applicants will be invited to go through a selection test as well as an interview.
  • Demonstrates strong communication skills (e.g. public speaking, debates or drama)
  • Achievement in competitions and performance experience are preferred.
  • Do well in the selection test. The selection test involves an audition that serve to assess the applicant’s mastery of the following: Confidence, Vocal Projection,  Clarity, Fluency, Stage Presence

Westwood Sec School
Domain – LEARNING FOR LIFE PROGRAMME: Arts for Life! (Speech and Presentation)

  • Display project management and good interpersonal skills
  • Excellent past performance in debate/story telling competitions or qualifications in the respective disciplines

Interested applicants must produce a portfolio to show evidence of the above. The portfolio could include:

  • Evidence of participation and achievements in a particular art form (can be in the form of an official certificate, photographs, drawings, video etc)
  • Testimonials or recommendation letters by primary school teachers or aesthetics coaches/instructors outlining qualities of creativity, resilience and
  • Letters of reference from private coaches/instructors (if any)

Selection Process

  • Stage 1: All applicants will be expected to go through a selection interview conducted by a panel chaired by Principal, Vice-Principal and Dean. Applicants who successfully clear the interview will move on to Stage 2.
  • Stage 2: Shortlisted applicants from Stage 1 are required to attend a selection test / audition.

Methodist Girls’ School
Domain – NA

  • I have added MGS IP as an option because they will consider students base on academic ability only.
  • The feedback from the DSA talks is that more emphasis will be placed on English in the areas of writing and communication.

Areas of Achievements which you can use for DSA consideration

  • Trinity Graded Exams in Communications Skills.
  • Top scorer for TRINITY College London Graded examinations in Communication Skills.
  • LAMDA Speaking in Public
  • SPAF – Singapore Performing Arts Festival – (Public Speaking, Impromptu Speaking and Creative Writing)
  • International Competitions and Assessments for Schools (ICAS) – English and Writing – Distinction/High Distinction
  • University of New South Wales (UNSW) Medals – English or Writing
  • YMCA Plain English Speaking Awards (PESA)
  • Babble & Speak Competition
  • The Moo-O Awards (Story-telling)
  • National Story Challenge (Story-telling)
  • Wits & Words: Inter-school Debate Championship
  • Primary School Debate Open
  • SOTA Creative Writing Competition
  • Young Authors Award
  • International Scenario Writing Competition
  • Commonwealth Essay Competition (Junior Under 14)
  • Budding Writers Competition
  • Odyssey of the mind (An international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for primary students. Team members apply their creativity to present their own interpretation of literary classics)
  • School Base competitions
  • Zonal/Inter-school competitions


Heema Zainudin – LAMDA Grade 5 Distinction – Top Student November 2015