The DSA Procedure

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Direct School Admission-Junior College (DSA-JC) into Year 5 from O Levels– The Process

Each year, following the release of O Level results, there comes a flurry of decision-making, open house hopping and late-night contemplations as students decide upon their next educational institution in the Joint Admissions Exercise (JAE).

Well juniors, if you are reading this, you are probably curious about or hoping to secure yourself a place in ACS (I) long before the JAE. This brief guide to the ACS (I) DSA process will give you a clearer idea of what to expect, and hopefully, help you along as you prepare for the process.

Do note that this details the DSA process for girls, and hence differs from the process for ACS(I) O Level students. Also, do keep in mind that this guide may not be representative of the views of ACS(I) and the DSA Selection Panel.

  1. Introduction
  2. Stage 1: Preparation for Applications
  3. Stage 2: Completing your Application form
  4. Stage 3: Interviews
  5. Subsequent Administrative Matters
  1. Introduction

 What is DSA-JC?

DSA-JC allows JCs to select current Secondary 4 students and grant them a place in their JCs the following year, regardless of their O Level Results (to a certain extent, see section 5). Typically, JCs look for students who have outstanding achievements E.g. Academics, Leadership, and/or talents E.g. Sports, Performing arts.

Why DSA-JC?

Traditionally, students who have outstanding talents but feel that they are weaker in academics seek to attain a DSA, lest their O-Level results do not meet the requisites for their intended JC. A successful DSA also provides students with a much greater sense of security, as they would be assured of a place in their desired JC. This reduces significantly the amount of worry and stress one would feel in the lead up to the O-Levels.

From the perspective of the schools, JCs will seek students who they think will add value to their school, such as in terms of sporting achievements, leadership abilities or with stellar academic results. This is why students’ academics are also considered by JCs, with academics often being a field through which students can apply for DSA.

What about ACS(I) DSA?

For many JCs, students DSA via one of several specific fields as stated by the JC E.g. academics, leadership, sports etc. However, ACS (I)’s DSA process does not have specified fields, and instead looks at applicant’s achievements and talents as a whole. As such, in addition to students with outstanding abilities in a particular field, well-rounded students will be looked favorably upon. As ACS(I) typically only accepts about 10 girls through DSA each year, having relatively good grades to complement your other achievements will also be beneficial.

To give you a better idea of what the panel may look for, here are some profiles of successful applicants from previous years:

Person A: EXCO Member of School Ambassadors, L1R5 raw: 9, Young Docent, Class Chairperson in secondary 1-2, Chairperson of Synchronised Swimming, Team Awards for Synchronised Swimming Nationals, School Accelerated Leader

Person B: Badminton Team Captain, GPA 3.66, Team gold for Badminton South Zone and Nationals in Secondary 1,2 and 4, House Cheerleader, participation in international academic competitions (E.g. ACM)

Person C: Vice-head Prefect, L1R5 raw: 6, Tennis Team Captain, A*STAR Award, National science competition award, School scholarship recipient, house representative

Do also take note that if you were admitted into an IP secondary school via DSA, you will not be able to participate in the ACS (I) DSA applications.

Stage 1: Preparation for Applications 

The DSA typically opens in late June to early July. However, many components are required for your application form, and hence it’s recommended that you start early.

  • Compile your list of achievements (CV) from your 4 years in secondary school. You will also need to have your CV prepared when you approach your teachers to write your student testimonials. For convenience, you may want to compile your CV according to the format required in the ACS (I) Application form. (See part 3) As a side note, it’s good to regularly update your CV so that in Secondary 4 itself, you will not need to struggle with trying to recall all that you have done.
  • From May – June, start asking your teachers to write your student testimonial. It will be beneficial to have more than 1 testimonial, so other than your form teacher, you may want to consider asking a teacher who knows you well E.g. Prefect Mistress, CCA Teacher-In-Charge. Do let them know that you wish to apply for DSA, so that they will prioritize writing your testimonial and help you get it out in time.
  • As you will be required to produce certificates as proof of each achievements stated in your application form, do start hunting for your certificates received over the past 4 years. Remember to ask for your certificates from teachers who may be holding onto them. Photocopies of your secondary 3 and 4 academic results in your report book will also be needed.
  • As a practical tip, do put in effort for your exams in Secondary 3 (if you are not yet in Secondary 4) as well as in the first half of Secondary 4. This is because the panel will look at your overall Secondary 3 grades and your Secondary 4 SA1 grades for an indication of your academic abilities.
  1. Stage 2: Completing your Application Form

 Keep an eye out for the ACS (I) Application Form, which will be uploaded onto the school website in around June, under the “Direct School Admission” Tab.

Some useful things to note:

  • The Personal Portfolio component is where you will list all your achievements. This is the format that follows:

1) Special Academic Awards and Achievements
a. International Level
b. National/Interschool/Zonal Level
c. School Based
2) CCA and Performing Arts
a. International Level
b. National/Interschool/Zonal Level
c. School Based
3) Leadership and Community Involvement
a. Leadership
b. CIP/VIA activity and hours
4) Special Achievements (E.g. EAGLES Award)
5) Others

  • You will have to write a personal statement of 300 words based on 1 of 2 questions provided. Try to write it on a topic you are truly passionate about, and you feel will reflect who you are as a person/student. An example of a past year’s question is: Write about a social issue that you think has a great impact on society and particularly on a teenager like yourself
  • You will need to submit your certificates together with your application form.
  1. Stage 3: The Interviews

 If your application was successful, you will be called for an interview, typically conducted on a one-to-one basis by the Deputy Principals. While it will be good to prepare for it, do go in with an open mind, as there may be unexpected elements or unorthodox questions as well.

From previous years, it appears that questions are largely tailored towards each particular applicant. However, you could also expect some typical questions such as how you can contribute to the school, or about your experiences in significant aspects mentioned in your personal portfolio.

Ultimately, the interview process will be your chance to let the panel understand better your personality, character and motivations, as well as to let them see how you can contribute to the school. As such, a final tip would be to try to be sincere, relaxed and confident during the interview.

  1. Subsequent Administrative Matters

If you are successful in your applications, you will receive a phone call from ACS(I) to invite you to the school to settle some administrative matters, together with the other successful applicants.

You will be given a period of several months to consider the DSA offer. If you do not submit a rejection letter by the given deadline, you will automatically be admitted into ACSI and will no longer be allowed to change JC.

The DSA offer is conditional. There is an eligibility criterion of 20 points or less for the O Level Examinations.

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In the event that you are unsuccessful, don’t be too disheartened, for remember that the results of a DSA application does not in any way define you or your abilities.  Just like the majority of students (excluding ACSI IP boys) who have gotten into ACS (I) via their grades, you can too! So look ahead, keep your eyes on your goal and let it motivate you to do even better for the O Levels.

 

All in all, while the DSA process may appear slightly tedious or daunting, a successful DSA is truly very rewarding. If you genuinely feel that you have something to contribute to ACS (I), don’t be deterred – give it a shot! Ultimately, no matter the results, the DSA application process will give you some very valuable experience and insight to prepare you for the many future applications to come.

Here’s wishing you the very best for your applications!

Alyssa Ling is from the graduating batch of 2016.

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