Guide Series: DSA for Secondary School

DSA interview tips

This guide provides comprehensive  Information on DSA (Direct School Admission) process for secondary school.

DSA Interview and How to Ace It

Articles In this Guide

Direct School Admission, or DSA, is an alternative way of enrolling your child into a desirable secondary school or junior college (JCs). DSA candidates are evaluated based on a different set of criteria apart from PSLE or academic scores. This makes it an excellent option for children with great talent in specific areas of interest. 

One of the crucial components of a DSA application is the DSA interview. Many parents look for DSA interview tips and DSA interview common questions online, which can get overwhelming and confusing. To simplify, here are some of our best DSA interview tips for your child to be fully prepared! 

If you are new to DSA – Read our article New to DSA-Sec? Here are 5 Things You Need to Know

How Important is a DSA Interview?

DSA Interview

DSA applicants are usually shortlisted based on their proven aptitude and achievements in their area of interest. These shortlisted candidates are then given an opportunity to undergo an interview and audition or try out. 

While the weightage of the interview is undisclosed and may vary from school to school, it is definitely a vital component of the DSA selection process. Doing well in a DSA interview will help the student to stand out. When fighting for a few seats, it can also make the difference between qualifying for or being rejected in their enrollment. 

Interviewers typically look for confidence, the ability to think and communicate clearly, and a logical train of thought. These are challenging even for adults, not to mention children who might be appearing for the interview for the first time in their life.

Training in DSA interview questions beforehand can help your child be fully prepared and express themselves more eloquently. It will also help if your child can capture the interviewer’s interest with unique facts and stories about themselves.

Tips to Ace in DSA Interview

Research About the school: You and your child must research the school and its involvement in the Talent area through which you have applied for DSA. You should understand the school’s expectations, what they may look out for in potential candidates and what the school life may be like if your child gets selected. 

Take an interest in current affairs: Encourage your child and make it a habit to read the news daily. Have a quick discussion with your child and share views on what’s happening worldwide. Assessing a candidate’s knowledge of current affairs is a common practice among interviewers. They aim to determine whether the candidate is interested in various global and social issues or primarily focuses on personal development. Additionally, interviewers evaluate whether candidates can confidently express their opinions on contentious topics clearly and respectfully.

Practice but don’t over-practice: Maximize your child’s comfort level with being interviewed by engaging them in mock interviews at home with you,  friends or family members. However, remember that over-practice can make candidates robotic-like in their demeanor. An experienced interviewer can easily identify candidates who speak from memory and lack genuine sincerity. 

While interview questions may differ for each talent area, here are some frequently asked DSA interview common questions. Encourage your child to think about how they would answer these questions.

  1. Describe yourself in 1 word / 3 adjectives.
  2. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  3. What are your studying habits?
  4. What about yourself do you want to improve on the most?
  5. What do you hope to achieve when you come to our secondary school / JC?
  6. What choice would you rank our school among the schools you have applied to?
  7. Why did you choose our school?
  8. Why should we choose you?
  9. How would you contribute to our school if you were to join?
  10. What hobbies do you enjoy?
  11. What was the last book you read/ movie you watched or enjoyed?
  12. How would you balance your interests and a busy study schedule?
  13. What is your biggest achievement, and what steps did you take to achieve it?
  14. What is your greatest Failure / Setback? How did you handle it
  15. How did you contribute to your CCA as a leader?
  16. What is a recent news event that struck you and why?

Additional Tips to Do Well in DSA Interview

There is only so much you can prepare for. At some point, your child must also be able to listen to the questions carefully, Adapt and Answer accordingly. Mentally preparing your child that the interview questions may vary on the day and encouraging them to simply try their best may produce better results.

Additional DSA interview tips include Dressing up well and appropriately, Maintaining positive body language and eye contact throughout the interview, Listening carefully and Answering honestly. These are general interview best practices that apply here as well!

Training in DSA interviews can be done at home or by professional coaches. Either way, it is important to prepare your child for as many scenarios as possible and arm them with good interview skills, including communication skills, self-confidence, ability to manage nerves, situational aptitude, critical thinking and more. 

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Charmaine writes about education, lifestyle and personal finance tips. She tutors part-time and is well acquainted with the local education system. In her free time, Charmaine loves to explore food and date places in Singapore.

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