Friday, May 3, 2013

Testimony of a boy who chose the DSA path

I am re-posting the story of one of my students who had been through the DSA path a few years ago. Even though, the story was written a few years back, some of the decision making processes or struggles may still be relevant to the students who are planning to apply for DSA this year.

Now, this boy or perhaps I should say this young man is already in JC and is really enjoying his school life. As he looked back at his PSLE year, he felt that the DSA process actually helped him to be more mature in decisions making. His advice to parents - let your child be involved in decisions making for the DSA. Listen to their hearts. Parents can guide them along by listing down the pros and cons but do not force them down their throat. 

He was an average student in the Gifted Education Programme in Singapore 4 years ago. From an all boys school, he had very little knowledge of the strong competition he would be facing soon not only in the DSA interviews but also the Primary School Leaving Examination. Although he was not extremely excellent in his subjects, he understood his passion for Science. Maths was a breeze for him too, having achieved several awards of distinction in local mathematics Olympiads and competitions, albeit many others being ranks above him too. His languages was not as strong on the other hand, still passable though. Maybe A* for Chinese and English would require a little more effort?

He ultimately decided to enter the DSA exercise even before the Open House, understanding that there is a slim chance he may not do well in the PSLE. He went for RI, HCI, NUSH and DHS DSA exercises. Some found it a little too overboard, but he just wanted a safety net for himself. Of course, along with it came much anxiety of anticipation. 

Dunman exercise was a breeze, only a set of his portfolio was needed and there was no interview (due to his GEP status). Weeks after he received the letter of confirmation. NUSH was pretty exciting for him, he went for the selection test and got back in shock. Many questions required prior knowledge, he thought he would never get in. But still he was accepted, and went for the selection camp some time later. Again the selection camp was another shock. But maybe it was just a test of inquiry he thought. Indeed it was, he received the letter of confirmation along with another 100-200+ students.

Having two out of four confirmations, he thought he was safe, but of course his aim was either RI or HCI. During his time, many people agreed that the RI open house was not as fantastic as Hwa Chong's. Insider information stated that Hwa Chong spent much more money on their elaborate open house than RI did. Nevertheless, he left with an open mind for both schools.

During his HCI interview, he sat in front a panel of two teachers along with two other students, one from his school. With not so much confidence, he managed to answer the teacher's questions with some wit. He even responded them with several questions such as, "will HCI continue to provide stellar programmes from individuals and groups even if they may seem not as cost-efficient." A pen-and-paper test later proved that HCI was definitely one of the more stringent schools in terms of selection. He remembered that one question was, if he was to bring to Mars one item, what would it be.

RI's interview, he felt was not as tough, but sitting along with other great minds from other Primary schools gave him a nerve wreck. Teachers there were no doubt looking for precise answers and logical thinking. Besides all that, they were hoping to sieve out not only academically achieving students, but also those with a heart of service and those active in sporting activities. One question which he remembered till today was, why will he choose RI over other schools.

A nerve-wrecking experience lasted till late Term 3 for him before he received letters from either of the schools. Perhaps it tossed him a little of course for his PSLE preparations. But soon, he received letters of CONFIRMATION for both of the top schools.

That no doubt was good news, but however he had not done as well for his PSLE than his teachers in school thought he would have.


So Yes, go for the schools you love and be prepared. But always remember that it is for a good cause to concentrate more on your PSLE preparation. There is only one PSLE, do not let it go away while you regret not spending as much time and effort as you could have. Good luck to all Primary 6 students this year!

DSA interview skills Workshop
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