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What you need to know for the Direct School Admission (DSA) interviews

What you need to know before diving into the Direct School Admission (DSA) interviews

Swimming at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore Sports School

Ready to take the plunge?(Photo Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0, see below)

To do well in a test, you learn the correct answers to the questions and fill them in the blanks. If you are great at studying, you will reap the benefits. But an interview is quite different from a test, and the DSA interview is no exception. You cannot simply rehearse answers because there are no “correct” answers. This can be very daunting and a source of anxiety for many. However, fear not, because knowing what the interviews screen for and getting some practice would go a long way.

The DSA interviews look for students who can grow in and commit to their chosen areas of interest such as the humanities, leadership, bilingual/Chinese language, math, science, sports etc. Students are screened for their ability to overcome “barriers” to doing well in their interests. Therefore, there are a few areas the interviews will test proficiency in: personality, motivation, and practical skills.

1)Personality is not about being the loudest or having the cleverest responses in any situation. However, being confident and in the moment may convey that effect and may be a sign of a good personality. So what does it mean to have a good personality? Simply put, it is possessing an understanding of yourself and applying that understanding in a social situation. It requires maturity and experience to cultivate. Some interview questions that test your awareness are “what are your strengths and weaknesses?” and “how would your friends describe you?” 

2)Motivation is demonstrated through your portfolio and goals you set for yourself. Also, being able to engage at a high level is essential to demonstrate that your interest is more than just a pastime. It helps to know a wide breadth of related knowledge and a good grounding in current affairs, since knowledge empowers you to pursue those interests. Interview questions that test your motivation include “why do you want to apply to our school?” and “what do you enjoy doing?” Hopefully, the reason why you applied to the school is that you know how the school can support your interest and not that you like the prestige.

3)Practical skills questions test your ability to react to various situations using reasoning, problem-solving, ability to adapt, communication etc. Even though these skills may not seem closely related to your interests, they actually playing a vital role as you engage with your interest and the people who are working towards the same goal as you. Interview questions that test your skills include “why should we accept you out of all the candidates who apply?” and “how will you contribute to your CCA?” For example, you should not be making grandiose claims, such as “I will take my CCA to the Olympics because I have great ambitions and want to succeed badly”, but rather break down your contribution into modest portions based on the existing skills and areas in which you believe you can make a difference.

Last but not least, you want to come to the interviews well prepared, confident, groomed and punctual. Your non-verbal communication can say a lot about your character, so use it to your advantage. To find out more about how we can help with the DSA interviews and personal statements, come to our dedicated DSA page or call one of our client advisors at 6337 8807. You can also arrange to come to one of our complimentary DSA workshops held during the application season.

Photo Credit: by Flickr user "Jack at WikiPedia," titled 'Swimming at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics, Singapore Sports School' CC BY-SA 2.0. [link]

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