Whether GEP, or non-GEP, the worrying and always frustrating questions is, how many schools should I apply for?
The truth is many students would only have one or two 'dream schools' but many times, they worry that they may not get into their 'dream school' and hence they would apply for other schools through DSA. However, the problem is DSA may not let these students secure a place in their 'dream school' and only for their less desired schools. Out of anxiety, they would just accept their fate and select for these less desired schools. Disappointingly, and not surprisingly, when these students receive their PSLE score sheet, many students find out that just based on their T-Scores they can actually apply and get in successfully to their 'dream schools'! Unfortunately, they had already opt for the less desired schools which they got in through DSA. There is hardly any chance of turning back now.
This is the truth and it is not something rare to see since the introduction of the Direct School Admission programme. It is pretty much just like making any decision in life - if you know you want something, why settle for second best? Our advice to students? Only apply for schools through DSA which you really want to get in. No point applying for a school which you do not want to get in. Most likely, you would regret your choice.
So back to the point, how many schools should you apply for? We must weigh the pros and cons here. One, there is a lot of stress every time you apply for one more school. We know Primary Six students are really just 12 year olds and their PSLE preparation period will clash with the DSA selection tests and interviews. So if unnecessary, we think that students should apply for only schools that they want to get in. Three should be the maximum. Spend the rest of your time preparing for PSLE! Who knows, maybe it would be YOUR PSLE T-score which brings you to your desired school.
Two, waiting for the results of your DSA is definitely going to be a depressing time. Why depressing? Many times, it is only MONTHS after your DSA interview when you get back the results. Even then, it may not be a definite yes or no. Sometimes, you get into the waiting list, which makes it all the more a hanging-on-the-thread feeling. This may not be the case for everyone, but there are students who would be very distracted by this waiting time, and they may not be able to concentrate on the preparation for PSLE.
Of course, if you are accepted into your desired school of choice. Congratulations. A large load of stress has just been unloaded off your back and your parent's back. PSLE would have been reduced to a little hill from a fearsome mountain everyone else still has to fear. But NEVER not prepare for your PSLE. Still work hard, many secondary one programmes in your desired secondary school will still look at your PSLE T-score. So, prove your worth through PSLE.