Guide Series: DSA for Secondary School


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

SOTA – Everything You Need to Know About School of the Arts Singapore

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SOTA, The School of the Arts is Singapore’s first pre-tertiary specialised arts school. Demand is high as the arts scene in Singapore grows more vibrant. Many parents and students are  starting to see the value of an arts education. Studying the arts develops creativity, critical thinking, concentration, reasoning skills and also helps in making a lucrative career.

If your child is passionate about visual or performing arts, consider visiting a SOTA open house and preparing them for the SOTA DSA process to help them pursue arts as a career goal.

What is SOTA or the School of the Arts?

SOTA School of art SINGAPORE


SOTA is Singapore’s first national pre-tertiary specialised arts school for youths aged 13 to 18. The academy offers a six-year integrated arts and academic curriculum with an International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma. SOTA was set up by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) to provide a learning environment where both artistic and academic potential can be realised.

SOTA’s mission is to nurture artistic and creative learners who positively impact Singapore and the world through a vibrant learning environment anchored in the arts. They approach teaching with a future-oriented curriculum that is learner-centred and holistic.

SOTA Arts Programmes

The SOTA Specialised Arts Curriculum aims to establish fundamental knowledge and skills in the arts disciplines, develop creative thinking, enable inter-disciplinary collaborations, teach an understanding of the relationship between arts and society, and more. 

Specialised training is offered in Dance, Film, Literary Arts, Music, Theatre and Visual Arts. Students undergoing specialised courses will develop understanding, expression and mastery of their art form.

Outstanding students will also benefit from additional resources invested in their growth. Temasek Foundation Nurtures funds its Arts Excellence Programme (AEP) to provide advanced learning opportunities via masterclasses and workshops by prominent experts for outstanding students. Selected students are also given the chance to participate in overseas arts programmes.

Academic Programmes at the School of the Arts (SOTA)


In their fifth year, students are given the option of specialising in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) or the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme (IBCP). Both six-year courses are internationally recognised.

The IBDP qualification is recognised by top universities worldwide. It demonstrates an arts-enriched educational experience that prepares students for diverse career options in journalism, law, architecture and other industries.

The IBDP aims to impart breadth and depth of knowledge and understanding. It also involves studying at least two languages to help increase the understanding of cultures, including their own. Furthermore, the IBDP explores the nature of knowledge through the unique Theory of Knowledge course. It requires students to undertake in-depth academic research into an area of interest in their Extended Essay course.

Apart from the two core subjects mentioned above, students must also take Creativity, Activity, and Service as a core subject, three subjects at Higher Level, including an Arts subject, and three subjects at Standard Level.

The IBCP comprises a specialised arts curriculum in Years 5 and 6 of the six-year programme. The IBCP is designed to allow students to undergo deeper training in the arts. This aims to prepare them for artistic or arts-related careers and to gain admission into undergraduate and professional programmes at arts institutions and conservatories.

The IBCP enables students to develop a broad range of career-related competencies and prepare for effective participation in the marketplace. IBCP students must study four core subjects: Reflective Projects, Personal and Professional Skills, Language Development, and Service Learning. SOTA IBCP students must also complete three modules of Career-related Studies and two Diploma Subjects.

SOTA Admission process

SOTA admission is mainly based on DSA applications. The school does not participate in the post-PSLE posting exercise to admit Secondary 1 students. However, SOTA may conduct a Supplementary Intake Exercise (SIE) in November post-PSLE if vacancies are available after the main intake.

SOTA DSA for Secondary school (for Primary 6 Students)

All applicants must be 12 years old, primary 6 pupils studying in a local MOE mainstream school and taking the PSLE that year to apply for SOTA DSA.

Shortlisted DSA-Sec applicants must complete an individual audition or portfolio presentation and interview. Candidates must also undergo group activities, a panel interview, and online questionnaires. Candidates may be selected on criteria such as their talents and leadership qualities.

SOTA DSA for JC (for Secondary 4 Students)

SOTA has another intake for secondary 4 students who wish to complete their junior college education at the academy. SOTA admission is always based on a student’s DSA application; the same process applies here.

DSA JC candidates must be at least 16 years old. They may be either Secondary 4 Express students or Secondary 5 Normal Academic students studying in a local MOE mainstream secondary school and should be taking the O Level examinations that year. IP students are not eligible to apply.

Candidates who wish to apply through the DSA JC exercise should expect to go through an individual audition or portfolio presentation and interview. They must also complete group activities, a panel interview, and online questionnaires.

You can also read : DSA interview and how to ace it

Portfolio plays a key role in admission

The success of a DSA application does not depend on PSLE or O Level results, although certain minimum criteria must still be met. Instead, it considers the candidate’s regular achievements, such as their artistic aptitude, leadership experience, positive character testimonials and most importantly SOTA portfolio

In conclusion, SOTA offers rigorous arts and academic programmes. This makes SOTA admission highly competitive and selective. SOTA DSA is the main way for interested candidates to enrol into the school.

SOTA is also well-supported by the government and has great resources to nurture its students. Many SOTA alums have gone on to bright careers in the arts, business, law, architecture and other industries. 

You are recommended to visit the SOTA open house, which usually takes place in April. The SOTA open house can be very useful in helping you find out more information about admissions and their programmes. This will enable you to make final decisions and prepare for the application process.

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Explore Klassbook for more Art Classes

To explore more classes, go through our list of Art classes here. Why not start with an art trial class to gauge your child’s interest?

Images Credit : SOTA website


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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