1 Mezizshura

Nus Discretionary Admission Essay

The National University of Singapore (NUS) cast a wider net last year to admit students through a scheme that looks at talent and not just grades.

It interviewed a record 1,600 students last year under the discretionary admission scheme, where students who fall short of the entry score for a course are considered on attributes such as leadership or entrepreneurial skills or talent in the arts and sports.

NUS admitted 670 of them - 10 per cent of the 2015 cohort and the maximum allowed by the Ministry of Education (MOE) under the scheme. The year before, it interviewed 1,200 students and took in 600 under the scheme.

All local universities have discretionary admission schemes.

In January, MOE said tertiary institutions will place greater emphasis on holistic selection practices for admissions. MOE officials had also signalled that there is room to admit more students through the discretionary admission scheme.

In an interview with The Straits Times, NUS vice-provost for undergraduate education Bernard Tan stressed, however, that applicants considered through the discretionary process still need good grades. He said: " At the end of the day, we have to be sure that they will be able to take the rigours of a degree programme. So, generally, they are only short of a few points."

He explained why NUS was giving more students a chance to be considered under the scheme.

"Academic grades can only tell you so much about a student," he said. "Through the personal essays and interviews we use for the discretionary admission process, we are able to better assess their interests and aptitude for a particular field. Or if they have a talent, such as in the arts or sports, that will add to the vibrancy of the NUS student body," he added.

He said admitting as much as 10 per cent of the places through the scheme has helped the university inject more diversity into its student body. While NUS did not provide figures, the increased diversity is evident in its most competitive faculties, such as law and medicine. These have, in recent years, accepted more students from polytechnics and a wider range of junior colleges.

Professor Tan said students benefit: "Being exposed to people with different perspectives not only enhances their education but also prepares them for working life, which often requires them to relate to a diverse group of people."

While the discretionary admission scheme requires interviews, which take up more time and manpower, he said NUS believes in a rigorous admission process.

In addition to getting a more diverse mix of students through the scheme, NUS also started offering scholarships two years ago to those who excel in sports and the arts. These cover tuition fees and living expenses, as well as co-fund short enrichment programmes.

Prof Tan said the awards are part of NUS' efforts to broaden talent recognition and spur recipients to achieve greater heights in sporting and artistic endeavours.

Industrial design student Jon Chan Hao, 23, who secured a place through the discretionary admission scheme, said he is glad NUS has such a scheme. His grades were not good enough but he got a place by writing about his strengths in co-curricular activities, especially canoeing, he said. His contributions to NUS' canoeing team also won him a sports grant.

He said that he has found his "fit" in industrial design and maintains a high grade point average.

"If not for the discretionary admission scheme that looks at a student holistically, I would not have got a place in a course that really interests me and for which I have an aptitude."

What to write for discretionary admission?
Does discretionary admission really help?
Will there be an interview?
What kind of questions will they ask if I'm shortlisted?
What is DA / NAA ?
Da / naa what does it mean ?

Well, I get a lot of questions on this from my friends lately.

& Since I'm too lazy to talk about anything else, I don't mind sharing a piece of my pie to you guys.

So here's what you need to know about 

Discretionary Admission/ Non-academic Achievements a.k.a DA / NAA  

1. Do I have to fill up this portion? 

Okay, back to the point of using Zueet as a tool to look at the chances of you getting into your preferred course.


If you are borderline, and you are dying to get into the course, please do fill it up.
If you are far beyond borderline, you can still try if you have really outstanding achievements.

You will be completely safe if your IGP is higher than the COP.

2. Does DA / NAA really help?

Absolutely yes, for NTU at least.
Personally, with my experience with NUS, SMU and NTU during my application period, the school that respected the students (well, me) the most is probably NTU.

Like I mentioned, they look through your application with due respect and scrutiny at the same time.
This is hardly seen in other schools.

To be honest with you, "Singapore M***** *********y" even overlooked my application and only called me for an interview onlyduring the deadline for accepting the University posting, and how can I forsake my posting to NTU on that very day? Moreover, my results were above its COP.

3. What do I fill in here? First person or third person? 

Personally, I filled in based on a first person perspective, be it my essay or my achievements.
I believe that it does help if there is a personal touch into what you fill in.
This is especially true for NTU applications because they really look into every application very carefully (based on my own experience).

However, I would urge you to be honest in this portion, you will need supporting documents and also you will need to go through a strict examination from the interviewers.

4. Will there be an interview?

As mentioned above, yes.

5. What kind of questions will they ask if I'm shortlisted? 

As for my own interview for Accountancy, they asked me a lot on what I learnt, and how I felt about my achievements. Sometimes they can really ask something out of the box and what determines your admission isn't your knowledge but probably the insights you are able to derive from them on the spot.

However, some interviewers would be more lenient and ask you more on why you are so passionate about the course, which you have written in your essay to them in the beginning.

Also, almost every interview comes with an essay. Do take note of the time while you're doing it!

If you have any more questions, feel free to drop a comment below! 

Hope this helps~

Leave a Comment


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *