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Q&A on UWCSEA Admissions

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Our Admissions team are always happy to help, but here we’ve answered a few of the questions we are often asked about applying to UWCSEA.

Entrance and Selection Criteria

How do you review applications and make admission offers?

We follow a two-step process:

Step 1: Application review to determine if our entrance criteria are met

  • All applicants are carefully reviewed to determine if they meet our entrance criteria, described below.
  • If we need further information after reviewing an application, we may either contact the applicant’s current school and/or request the applicant to come in for age-appropriate testing or assessments. This is particularly the case if the applicant may need additional learning support or support with their English skills.
  • Once we are sure that an applicant meets our entrance criteria, they are placed in a pool of eligible applicants, from which we then select students for offers.

Step 2: Offers of places to those in our pool of eligible applicants

  • Offers to applicants for K1-G8 are made in 2 offer periods (see Application and Offer Timeline below): November and February
  • Offers to applicants for G9, G10FIB, and G11 are made in March and April, following the mandatory Immersion Day in Singapore or assessment during an Overseas Outreach visit (see details below).
  • See the section below on how we allocate places if we have more eligible applicants in our pool than available places.

What are your entrance criteria?

Applicants need to demonstrate age-appropriate qualities and skills that will enable them to thrive in all five elements of our learning programme. These include but are not limited to:

  • a positive approach to learning, as reflected in effort grades (typically, eligible applicants will be consistently in the upper levels of effort and approach within their current school’s assessment bands); please note that this is just as important to us as academic attainment
  • an academic profile that indicates the applicant can progress with confidence in our learning programme (typically, eligible applicants will be consistently in the upper levels of assessment within their current school’s assessment bands).
  • positive and collaborative classroom behavior and social interactions with peers, as reflected in report comments
  • active engagement in activities and extracurricular interests, in relation to opportunities available in the child’s current context
  • English proficiency levels that will enable the student to access our learning programme, possibly with additional EAL (English as an Additional Language) support that we are able to provide
  • individual learning needs that can be supported by our Learning Support provision

All applicants who meet our entrance criteria, and so are eligible to be offered a place, are placed in the application pool to be considered for available places in the upcoming academic year.

How do you allocate places if there are more ‘eligible applicants’ than there are places?  

The factors considered when allocating places depend upon the section of the school your child is applying to join. Above all, our allocation policy is driven by our mission, along with our commitment to diversity and variety of experience, as described below.  We are looking to build balanced and diverse cohorts in each grade level, taking into consideration a range of factors, including but not limited to:

  • personality
  • background and variety of experience
  • interests and activities
  • proactive involvement in school and community life
  • the applicant’s potential to flourish within our learning programme
  • the applicant’s potential to embrace the College mission and values (for applicants to Grade 6 or above)

Other factors we take into consideration include:

  • gender balance within the grade applied for
  • applicant’s age within the age-range of the grade applied for
  • whether the applicant has a sibling currently enrolled at the same campus
  • placing siblings applying at the same time, where possible and appropriate*
  • whether or not the applicant, or their parents, previously attended UWCSEA
  • whether or not the applicant previously applied to UWCSEA

How do you define diversity and variety of experience?

In keeping with UWCSEA’s mission and ethos, we seek to build a diverse student community that represents a variety of backgrounds and experiences. We believe that our students’ learning, interactions, and growth through the five elements of our learning programme is all the more exciting and enriching when they interact with peers who bring a diversity of backgrounds, life experiences, and perspectives to campus.  We therefore look for diversity and a variety of experience in a number of ways, including but not limited to the following:

  • gender, ethnicities, nationalities
  • cultural, religious, and linguistic diversity
  • countries or regions of current and previous residency
  • variety of personalities (along the continuum from extroversion to introversion, among other things)
  • educational backgrounds (including types of schools, curricula studied, academic and other educational opportunities and experiences)
  • academic interests, talents, and skills; future aspirations (for older applicants)
  • extra-curricular interests, hobbies, and pursuits
  • variety of family backgrounds (nuclear, extended, interdependent, single-parent, blended families, career backgrounds, number of siblings, and other aspects of family situations)
  • special educational and other needs or circumstances

Admissions assessments, EAL and Learning Support

Do you test and interview all applicants?  

K1, K2 and Grade 1: if there is not enough in the application that allows us to decide that an applicant will be ready to join our Infant School programme, we invite the applicant to come to the College for a school readiness observation session. This is a chance for the applicant to play in a classroom setting, interacting with other applicants and teachers. It is considered along with the application to help us to understand the degree to which a child is ready to begin in K1 or to join K2 or Grade 1.

Grade 2 to Grade 8:  if full reports are not available or are unclear, or if learning support or EAL support may be needed, interviews and assessments may be required.

Grade 9, Grade 10 FIB, and Grade 11 IB Diploma Programme: all eligible applicants are required to participate in an immersion day, which includes interactive activities, assessments and an interview.  This will take place on campus if you are in Singapore, or during one of our overseas visits

During the immersion day or overseas outreach visits, applicants will have assessments in Mathematics, English (if English is not the applicant's first language) and, if applicable, alternative Language A (first language or mother tongue) and/or Language B (second language). The test results are used as a guide for subject selection: they typically do not play a role in the process of allocating places to eligible candidates.

IB Diploma Programme applicants requesting Design Technology must complete an additional questionnaire and those requesting Art or Music must provide evidence of their performance standard, generally via a CD or DVD portfolio.

When do assessments take place? 

K1 to Grade 8: assessments and interviews are held during term time, beginning in September ahead of each new offer period.

Grades 9, 10 FIB and 11 (IB Diploma): testing and interviews are held during the College’s overseas visits (if required) or at the College over a number of immersion days from January to March.    

Does UWCSEA offer an English as an Additional Language (EAL) programme?

K1 to Grade 5: applicants must have a level of English that allows them to thrive in the mainstream curriculum. Grade 1 to 5 applicants may be admitted to the English as an Additional Language (EAL) programme if they demonstrate a level of English that will enable them to progress well with this additional support. 

Grades 6–9: applicants to either campus may be admitted to our EAL programme if they demonstrate a level of English that will enable them to progress well outside the EAL programme and proficiency in their first language (mother tongue).

Grade 10 FIB and IB Diploma: applicants to either campus need to demonstrate sufficient proficiency in English to allow them to pursue their studies in all subjects. They are tested in English and any other language(s) suitable for the 'Language A' group 1 option in the IB Diploma.

Do you accept students with individual learning needs?

Yes, if we are able to provide the support required and if we believe that with that support the student will be able to progress with confidence in all of the elements of our learning programme. We review applications on a case-by-case basis. If your child has benefited from individual or small group support in the past, please contact Admissions before applying.

Admissions policies, procedures and timelines

Immigration pass requirements for applicants

For UWCSEA to be able to accept and process an application, we need to understand the immigration status of the applicant. This is particularly important for Singapore Citizens who require a waiver from the MOE (see below for specific information); details on the required immigration pass documentation, and associated vaccination requirements, is summarised here.

Do you accept applications from Singapore citizens?

In line with Singapore Government regulations that require Singaporean citizens to attend MOE schools, we accept applications from Singaporean citizens applying to Grade 1 and above and only in limited circumstances. Our prevailing policy on applications for Singapore citizens is explained here.

Do you admit students above (or below) your age-grade boundaries? 

K1 to Grade 8: placement is strictly according to age by 1 September of the year of entry. It is possible to request placement in a grade below if that follows the educational history of your child.

Grades 9, 10 FIB and 11: out of grade placements will be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

Can my child join the College and live with a family friend or guardian in Singapore?

All students must reside with at least one parent who is also resident in Singapore and is present in Singapore for at least 90% of each term. This policy is strictly applied and a student who is found to not be living with a parent, or where both parents are more than occasionally absent from Singapore, will be asked to leave the College.

Students applying to Grade 8 and above can apply to join our residential boarding community. Day to boarding transfers are possible, but dependent on the availability of a boarding place and subject to an application process, including a boarding interview.

How far in advance can I apply?

UWCSEA has an annual application cycle. This means that each September, families can apply for entry the following August. Although it is not possible to apply further in advance than this, we do have a Registration of Interest. Please complete the form if you would like to be sent a reminder email before applications open for the year of entry you are looking for and when Open Days are coming up. 

We are not moving until after your school year has started - can we apply?

Yes, but only for K1 to G8. We fill vacancies that arise in these grades up to the start of Term 2 in January. We are not able to accept new students into High School (Grades 9, 10 or 11) after the start of the academic year in August. Please contact Admissions before submitting an application.

How do I apply? 

All applications need to be submitted via our online system. This allows us to capture a full profile of your child to use in assessing their application against the entrance and allocation criteria explained above. Here is a link to the application system, which contains a user guide.

What is the student statement?

If your child is applying to join Grade 6 or above, they will need to complete a handwritten Student Statement, outlining the reasons they would like to join UWCSEA. It must be completed by hand by the student and then scanned and uploaded as part of the application. 

Does UWCSEA have a wait list? 

Places are not allocated on a first come first served basis, but in most grades we do have more applications than available places. These places are then allocated according to our allocation policy.

Is UWCSEA a selective school?

Since in many grades more students apply than there are spaces available, we have to select. However, our selection is not based solely on academic performance. Each application is reviewed individually and places are allocated according to a holistic approach that takes into account the individual student’s background, experience and potential ‘fit’ with the school.   

Above all, we aim to have balanced and diverse cohorts and particularly in the older grades, we look for students who are committed to our mission and core values and who will embrace the opportunities offered by our learning programme. 

Is it true that because you prioritise siblings, single children have no chance of getting in?

Not at all. While having a sibling is one of the factors we take into consideration when allocating places, we admit between 800 and 1,000 students each year, and a proportion of these are always students without siblings.

Is it true that some students are asked to leave after Grade 10 because the school thinks they will not do well enough in the IB Diploma Programme?

No. Transition from Grade 10 to Grade 11 is not subject to any academic thresholds.

Current students select their preferred High School and IB Diploma subject options in Term 2 of Grade 10. In the vast majority of cases these options are accommodated. In the rare cases where we are concerned about a student’s choice, the Head of Grade invites the student and parents to discuss subject options. The goal is to ensure that the combination of subjects for IBDP will allow each individual student to enjoy a successful outcome. 

Is one campus easier to get into than the other?

On the basis of entrance criteria, both campuses are the same. However, the number of places opening each year at each campus is different for some grades. As an example, K2 on East Campus has an additional 22 spaces opening up as well as those created by students who leave, while K2 on Dover Campus does not open any additional spaces apart from those created by students who leave.

Can we transfer between campuses? 

Transfers between campuses are not possible once a place has been accepted at one campus.

Why don’t you open applications for K2 at the Dover Campus?

We do not have a new class of K2 students opening at the Dover Campus. Although we do replace leavers from Kindergarten 1, traditionally there are very few and these places are generally offered to families who already have a child at the College so that the family can stay together. We do not feel it is fair to open the system and accept a large number of applications for K2 when there is such a small chance of success. 

Families who wish to apply to K2 are welcome to apply for a place at the East Campus.

How will I know if a place does come up in K2 on Dover Campus?

Please contact Admissions to place your child’s name on a Register of Interest for entry in K2 at the Dover Campus, and we will contact you if we have more places available than predicted. In this instance, we contact you to arrange for you to complete the online application. We then process the application based on our entrance criteria.

Am I able to defer an offered place? 

Deferrals are not available. If you are offered a place and are unable to take it up, a fresh application must be submitted for the new proposed year of entry.

If I am unsuccessful in gaining a place, when can I reapply?

Please talk to your Admissions Officer regarding your child's eligibility for consideration in a future year. They will also be able to provide an indication if additional information may be necessary to support any re-application. Parents can re-apply for entry in a later academic year when applications for that year open, by submitting a new application (which will involve updating the previous application), including payment of another application fee.