By the end of tomorrow, more than 20,000 school-leavers should have sent in their applications for a place in a course of their choice at one of the five polytechnics.
But about 1,200 students secured a place for this year even before they sat their O levels last year.
They were given places through the Direct Polytechnic Admission (DPA) exercise, in which students are admitted based on their abilities and interest in a specific course.
The polytechnics use various methods, including interviews and evaluation of portfolios, to determine who enters by the DPA.
But, to ensure they are able to cope with the rigours of a polytechnic education, students must have no more than 26 points for their O levels and meet other requirements.
Figures released by the Ministry of Education to The Straits Times show that more students are trying the DPA route and more of them are securing a place in a course they want. The five polys received over 4,700 DPA applications last year - about 600 more than the year before. Over 1,200 were successful, compared with 900 in 2014.
Figures released by the Ministry of Education (MOE) to The Straits Times show that more students are trying the DPA route and more of them are securing a place in a course they want.
MOE said the five polytechnics received over 4,700 DPA applications last year - about 600 more than the year before. Over 1,200 were successful, compared with 900 in 2014.
For those who missed out on the exercise, a ministry spokesman said around a thousand places are available this year via another route: the Joint Polytechnic Special Admissions Exercise (JPSAE).
Students who fall short of the entry score can fill in an application form online to be considered under the JPSAE. They must submit the form by the end of tomorrow, and can apply for up to three courses through the scheme.
Polytechnic officials said that, as with the DPA, students asking to enter via the JPSAE are likely to be interviewed and have their portfolios evaluated. They will also be assessed on their ability to cope with the demands of a diploma programme.
Some O-level school-leavers who gained entry this year via the DPA said the scheme is a good way to encourage those who have career aspirations in a particular field.
CHIJ Katong Convent student Sarah Hyder, who will be pursuing a diploma in early childhood studies at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, said she was not confident of doing well enough in the O levels as she has dyslexia.
"Because of the various people, including my teachers, who helped me overcome my dyslexia, I have always wanted to work with children with special needs.
"The direct admission scheme enabled me to show my passion for the early childhood education field," said the 16-year-old, who submitted recommendation letters and attended an interview.
Ms Teo Hui Leng, director of the school of humanities and social sciences at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, said students admitted via the discretionary schemes are very motivated.
Serangoon Garden Secondary student Harish Balamurugan, 16, said he decided to apply via the DPA as he was sure of his choice of course - the Nanyang Polytechnic diploma in cyber security and forensics.
"Since Secondary 1, I have been interested in two things - IT and joining the police force. This course enables me to combine the two.
"So, since I was sure that this is what I wanted, I decided that I might as well secure a place through the DPA."