DSA exercise to be held online this year
Due to Covid-19, students must find new ways to showcase talents for Direct School Admissions exercise
Coaches in both sports and the performing arts said the Direct School Admissions (DSA) exercise may be more challenging for students this year.
The DSA exercise for admission into secondary schools and junior colleges for next year opened today, with 146 secondary schools and 20 junior colleges participating.
This year's selection process will be held online because of Covid-19, the first time this is being done on such a scale.
Schools will not be able to hold any physical trials or face-to-face interviews, said the Ministry of Education yesterday.
It added that all interviews and selections for shortlisted students will be done through electronic modes, and will be conducted at the applicants' school during the selection period to avoid inter-mingling of students across schools.
It will also provide students with standardised access to video-conferencing capabilities, suitable venues and equipment, to ensure fairness in the selection process.
Ms Kuo Po, chief executive officer and creative director of The DSA Centre, which prepares students for DSA admission interviews and auditions, said that in addition to showcasing their skill, students would have to learn how to do so effectively through online platforms.
She said: "It's hard to get your personality across through a video camera, just like how there's a difference between watching a show live and pre-recorded. It will be like watching an act, and engagement will be even more important."
She said learning how to project energy through a video and technical aspects such as the appropriate distance for one's face from the camera will be even more important.
Table tennis coach Andy Lau said it will be hard for students of skill sports, such as table tennis or badminton, to showcase talents through video.
He said: "The school will only be able to tell if a player has basic foundation through a video, but it will be hard to test how the student performs in a competition scenario."
But school principals said students will be assessed holistically. And students should be able to adapt as they have been doing home-based learning for almost a month.
Raffles Institution principal Frederick Yeo said the school received more than 1,000 DSA-Secondary applications last year across 21 domains, of which 15 are sports. He said scheduling trials for all applicants would be a challenge.
"But we will liaise with their schools to work out something. We will also rely on interviews and CCA records to gauge aptitude, and get brief remarks from the applicants' school if required," he added.
Swiss Cottage Secondary School principal Sherwin Cheng said: "For some components that we cannot assess through e-modes, such as for team sports, we may look at their CCA records to assess if the student is a team player, and what qualities or attributes they have. It will not be just based on how they perform in the video."
Miss Lo Yen Nie, principal of Haig Girls' School, which has 40 to 50 students per year expressing interest in DSA, said: "No matter the platform, the spirit of DSA is still the same, which is to ensure that students are assessed holistically and are best fitted for the school."