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:

http://www.september21.com.sg/contact.html

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DSA PREPARATION COURSE

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)

DSA Book – As seen on Talking Point on 26 May 2016 is Out of Stock at J Carter Centre

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Dear Parents,

Thank you for your support in purchasing my book on DSA. For those of you who are keen to get a copy of my book, please purchase it directly from my publisher as my centre has run out of stock! I understand that my publisher still has copies of the book in stock. 

This is their contact information:

September 21 Enterprise Pte Ltd
No. 13 Toa Payoh Lorong 8, #04-06
Braddell Tech, Singapore 319261
TEL: 62560226
Email: info@september21.com.sg

Operating Hours
Monday to Friday: 10am to 6pm
Saturday: 10am to 3pm
Sunday & Public Holidays: Closed

 

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.


SCHOOLS OFFERING ACADEMIC (ENGLISH) / COMMUNICATIONS DOMAIN

SOTA
http://www.sota.edu.sg/
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)

RAFFLES GIRLS’ SECONDARY SCHOOL
http://www.rgs.edu.sg/
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.

RAFFLES INSTITUTION
http://www.ri.edu.sg/
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.

RIVER VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL
http://www.rivervalleyhigh.moe.edu.sg//
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.

DUNMAN HIGH SCHOOL
http://www.dunmanhigh.moe.edu.sg/
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

NATIONAL JUNIOR COLLEGE
http://www.nationaljc.moe.edu.sg/
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

CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL
http://www.catholichigh.moe.edu.sg/
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.

VICTORIA SCHOOL
http://vs.moe.edu.sg/
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

CHIJ ST NICHOLAS GIRLS’ SCHOOL
http://www.chijstnicholasgirls.moe.edu.sg/
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

CEDAR GIRLS’ SECONDARY
http://www.cedargirlssec.moe.edu.sg/
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

ANGLO-CHINESE SCHOOL (BARKER RD)
http://acsbr.moe.edu.sg/
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
http://www.chijstjosephsconvent.moe.edu.sg/
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
http://www.chijkatongconvent.moe.edu.sg/
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
http://www.tkgs.moe.edu.sg/
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
http://www.greenridgesec.moe.edu.sg/
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
http://www.holyinnocentshigh.moe.edu.sg/
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
http://www.mayflowersec.moe.edu.sg/
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
http://www.prcss.moe.edu.sg/
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
http://www.westwoodsec.moe.edu.sg/
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
http://www.mgs.sch.edu.sg/
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

IMG_1588

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

5 Reasons why you should consider an Integrated Programme (IP) School

(This is an updated version of the article that first appeared on Smartification)

 

In 2013, the principal from Jurong West Secondary School asked a daring question during a discussion at an education forum on the topic of making every school a good one.

“How many of our leaders and top officers who say that every school is a good school put their children in ordinary schools near their home? (Only) until they actually do so are parents going to buy (it),” she was quoted as saying in The Straits Times. Her question went viral on social media and she was even hailed a ‘hero’.

Since that incident, there has been a divide between IP schools and non-IP schools. Many parents wonder why they should send their child to an IP school.  If every school is a good school and all the teachers are just as qualified, is it really worth the hassle of going through the Direct School Admissions (DSA) process and spending huge amount of money on tuition lessons to ensure a high T-score in the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE)?

First let me clarify the statement by former Education Minister Heng Siew Keat. When he used his now famous tagline, what he really meant was that every school in Singapore is a good school because each school can nurture a student to perform his/her best; the teachers are supportive and caring; parents are willing to work hand in hand with the school/teachers to motivate the students to succeed. Minister Heng was not talking about academic excellence! Therefore the attraction of IP schools is offering all of the above including the assurance of academic excellence. It is this component that parents are most concern about thereby making IP schools extremely attractive to many.

If you are still not convinced that IP schools are the better choice, here are 5 reasons for your consideration.

  1. Low Student-Teacher Ratio in the classroom

IP schools have an average of 25 students per class. Why are small classes important? Small classes ensure that your child will not be lost in the crowd or fall through the crack. Non-IP schools have an average of 40 students per class. The heavier workload will make it difficult for teachers to reach out to students who need more help. Students in IP schools come from the top 10% of the Primary 6 cohort each year and the learning structure in these schools is self-directed learning. This means that should a student have any difficulty, the form teacher will have time to help the student in need.

Using Temasek Junior College as an example, the school practices the following to ensure that their students will succeed in their programme:

“TJC prides itself for a warm environment and a caring culture.  In Year 3, we dedicate 2 form teachers to each class of a small class size of not more than 25 students to engage them at a more in depth and personal level to better understand their development needs.  Our student welfare team consisting of full time counsellors and a strong team of teacher counsellors work together closely to ensure that students are provided with effective support to handle the rigour and demand of the programme.’ (http://www.temasekjc.moe.edu.sg/home/4-year-integrated-programme/faqs-on-tjc-4-year-integrated-programme)

  1. Professional Development for Teachers

NIE has been doing a good job training and preparing teachers. The problem is teachers in non-IP schools do not have a choice as to which schools they are placed. The stress level of these teachers are high and the high turnover rate reflects that too. Many teachers become disillusioned after a while and some good teachers leave for the private sector to set up tuition centres or provide tuition services. IP schools on the other hand are allowed to recruit their own teachers. As such you can find highly qualified teachers from Singapore and other foreign countries teaching at these schools. Teachers are hired based on qualification, experience, competence and passion for the subjects they will teach.

Some of these schools also provide and encourage professional development through foreign universities for their teachers as with the case of Hwa Chong Institution. HCI runs a Graduate School of Education for their teachers offering Masters of Education and Doctorates of Education in collaboration with The University of Western Australia. (http://www.hci.edu.sg/about/careers/3)

  1. Unmatched Facilities

Although the Singapore Government spends a lot of money on education by upgrading all the schools, the money allocated to each school is not always the same amount. No one can deny that IP schools have the best facilities. The money to build these facilities do not come just from the government but also from donations. Their libraries house the widest range of books and research materials that rival any public libraries. They use the latest technologies in the classroom to enhance learning. They have first class sporting facilities with some of the best coaches to manage the sporting programmes. CCA is also a major part of IP schools and they offer the widest array of activities for the students to participate in. Raffles Institution, for example, boasts the following facilities:

“At Raffles Institution, our students are provided with state-of-the-art facilities – both for academic and non-academic pursuits. Our facilities include:

  • 6 Lecture Theatres (LTs)
  • Computer laboratory with 40 workstations
  • Fully-equipped gymnasium
  • 2 Libraries with over 105000 items
  • Media Studio
  • Olympic-sized swimming pool
  • Performing Arts Centre
  • Running track with field
  • Students’ Lounge
  • Wireless campus”

(http://www.ri.edu.sg/file/1-6Map.jpg)

  1. A Holistic Education

Not having to take the O’levels frees students from mugging for a national exam thus having more time to learn life skills. This can take the form of elective studies such as philosophy, psychology, social etiquette, public speaking, leadership, character development, problem solving just to name a few. More time can also be spent on participating in competitions from sports to academic. Students are also given opportunities to plan events for schools and their communities which teaches them responsibility and empathy.

Cedar Girls’ Secondary for example, requires secondary 4 students in the IP Programme to work during a gap month. Students are required to apply for internship with a local company and work for a period of one month. This exposes them to the working world from a young age. They will learn about the importance of having a good education, the difficulty of earning a living and the responsibility of working hard.

  1. Entry to Top JC followed by a place in University.

Being in an IP school means that your place in a first tier Junior College is more or less guaranteed. Although there have been cases of students who did not succeed in an IP programme, the numbers are relatively small. These students are instead coached to sit for the O’Levels and later move on to Polytechnics or second tier Junior Colleges and eventually to local and overseas Universities.

For those who enter the first tier Junior Colleges, majority move on to Ivy-League Universities overseas or enter Law and Medical Faculties in NUS. Many receive scholarships too. Some students from RJC and HCI were given a place in overseas universities even before they received their A’level results. These schools also provide education councilors to advice students on completing University applications.

Beyond the 5 reasons I have shared with you, there are more I have not mentioned. For me personally, a holistic education that does not follow the standard Singapore education system allows our children to compete better in a competitive society like Singapore.

However as parents we must be realistic and allow our children to progress at their own pace. Success comes to those who are willing to work hard and it does not always have to be through an IP school.

As long as you choose the school that best fits the learning ability of your child, with caring teachers and a great learning environment, success will most likely be the outcome.

To listen to Minister Heng Siew Keat’s speech in Parliament, go to this link:  https://youtu.be/tHS7PWnxc6s

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Jackeline Carter is the author of ‘Success Strategies for Direct School Admissions DSA’. She is the Founder of J Carter Centre for Public Speaking offering courses in DSA preparation and communication skills for children, teens and adults in Singapore. For more tips on DSA preparation or to enroll in our communication workshops and courses, you may ‘Like’ our facebook page: www.facebook.com/dsasuccess or visit http://jcartercentre.com/