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The Ultimate Guide To Entering SOTA and other Top Secondary Schools using Visual Arts DSA

Image credit: SOTA

Is SOTA your child's dream school? School of The Arts, Singapore (SOTA) is one of the few schools in Singapore that offer the holistic International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) and has become a top choice for many.

In this guide, we summarize what it takes to enter SOTA or even other top secondary schools like Raffles Institution (Secondary) or Victoria School using Visual Arts to secure your child's spot using Direct School Admission (DSA).

What is Direct School Admission (DSA)?

Students can apply to various schools before taking the PSLE thanks to Direct School Admission for Secondary Schools (DSA-Sec). Students are selected based on their aptitude in several academic disciplines, CCAs, and sports.

Primary 6 students can apply for DSA based on a wide range of talents, including:

  1. Visual Arts

  2. Sports and games

  3. Science, Mathematics and Engineering

  4. Language and Humanities

  5. Leadership

In this guide, we will be focusing on using Visuals Arts to DSA.

Why should I use DSA?

Individuals usually DSA for the following reasons:

  1. You want to secure a spot at your desired schools based on your talent before taking your Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) or GCE 'O' Level Examination. DSA provides a pathway for students to gain acceptance to secondary schools or JCs through their abilities in co-curricular activities outside of national examinations.

  2. Academics might not be your strong suit - DSA might be beneficial for students who are not academically confident, this can be a way to use their talent to secure a spot at a good school.

  3. You want to develop your talent in a specific school - Certain schools are known for their specific programmes and alumni. For example, if you want to pursue a career in sports, you might want to consider admission into Singapore Sports School.

When should I apply for DSA?

Primary 6 students should apply. Applications for Direct School Admission typically take place from May to June.

The following timeline usually applies:

Jan to May: Explore school choice

May to June: Applications

September: Attend Interviews or Auditions

October: Select Preferred Schools

November: Receive School Allocations

A more detailed overview can be found here.

What is required for using Visual Arts DSA?

The requirements differ slightly from school to school but these are the core components needed:

  1. Portfolio submission and showcase

  2. Live drawing, painting or sculpture exercise

  3. Interview with a panel of judges

  4. Writing test

What is the difference between SOTA and other Secondary Schools?

SOTA is an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School. Other Secondary Schools typically offer the GCE Ordinary Level examination or the Integrated Programme which is a scheme that allows high-performing students in secondary schools in Singapore to skip the GCE Ordinary Level examination and proceed to sit for the GCE Advanced Level examination.

At SOTA, arts and academics share the same stage. SOTA’s vision is to produce “Creative Citizens for the Future”. SOTA graduates are not expected to pursue art careers, but to bring about a positive impact through creativity in whatever profession they choose to pursue.

What are the schools that offer DSA under the Visual Arts Route?

The list below is not exhaustive, the list of schools changes yearly:

  1. School of the Arts, Singapore (SOTA)

  2. National Junior College (Secondary)

  3. Victoria School

  4. Raffles Institution (Secondary)

  5. Nanyang Girls' High School

  6. CHIJ Katong Convent

  7. St. Margaret's Secondary School

  8. St. Andrew's Secondary School

  9. St. Joseph's Institution (Secondary)

  10. Nan Chiau High School


Artistori's SOTA/DSA Preparatory Art Bootcamp

The DSA application process can be daunting and overwhelming. For some guidance along the way, Artistori has a SOTA/DSA Preparatory Art Bootcamp that offers a holistic preparatory programme to help your child enter the school of their choice using the Visual Arts route.

Artistori's SOTA/DSA Preparatory Art Bootcamp Programme Overview:

Artistori’s SOTA / DSA Preparatory Art Bootcamp is designed to guide Young Artists in creating a portfolio of artworks which will give them an advantage in their application to School of the Arts, Singapore (SOTA) or their choice of Secondary school through the Direct School Admission (DSA) Programme via the Visual Arts route.

Our focus is to help Young Artists create a portfolio that demonstrates a strong coverage of subject matter areas required by the admissions committee, and give them a distinct advantage in the application process.

From beginners to seasoned Young Artists, we offer a bespoke programme designed to help develop artistic and creative potential and hone clarity of thought when developing ideas that best reflect our Young Artist’s artistic vision.

For Artistori’s existing Creative Fine Arts Students, you will be eligible for our Accelerated Pathway (20 hours) and will be focusing on curating the body of works that you have developed in your Creative Fine Arts and Creative Visual Arts Module.

We are having an information session on Nov 9 and 11 from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm. Sign up through the link below:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

What will Young Artists be prepared for during the SOTA/DSA Preparatory Art Bootcamp Programme?

  • A body of artworks to be used in their Portfolio. Each student will learn to build their personalised website which will contain their portfolio.

  • The ability to talk about their artwork and express their ideas and thought processes.

  • Presentation skills for the entrance interview.

  • Live drawing, painting or sculpture tasks are given during the application process. Young Artists will be given a task to be done on the spot which will subsequently be judged by the admissions panel.

What will Young Artists be doing during the SOTA/DSA Preparatory Art Bootcamp Programme?

  • Assessment of students’ backgrounds and artworks prior to the course.

  • Completion of artworks required for their portfolio.

  • Young Artists will gain knowledge and skill in understanding their own approach to art making.

  • Careful analysis and critique of their ideas, research and working processes and gaining valuable insight into building a coherent body of work.

  • Refining technical skills in drawing, painting, sculpture or printmaking.

  • Interview and presentation skills.

How old does my child have to be to join the SOTA/DSA Preparatory Art Bootcamp Programme?

For new students, we encourage you to join us at Primary 5, this will give us sufficient time to build your portfolio.


Secure Your Child's Future, Learn more at the SOTA/DSA Preparatory Art Bootcamp Infomation Session

We will be hosting an information session with the following details:

Date: November 9 (Wed) and November 11 (Fri)

Time: 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Location: Facebook live


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