i‑Learner Education Centre

Steps to Success » Secondary School Application

Preparing for the School Application Process

Preparing for secondary school applications in Hong Kong can be challenging. With competition for limited spots in top schools, it’s important to understand the process and requirements. In this article, we will provide tips on how to prepare for the secondary school application process in the Secondary School Places Allocation (SSPA) System, including key dates and admission procedures.


  • Being a Hong Kong resident
  • Studying in a primary school participating in the SSPA system
  • Not previously been allocated a Secondary 1 place

Procedures for Admission to Secondary 1

The EDB has put together a handy flowchart of the procedures (see thumbnail below) that you can download here.

Important dates

Early December – Distribution of two copies of Application Form for S1 Discretionary Places (DP) and a handbook that lists schools accepting DP

3-17 January – Application period for DP

31 March – Successful DP applicants receive notifications

12 April – Deadline for parents who receive notifications to decide whether to accept the offer from a non-participating Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) secondary school (if any) in order to retain the DP

Mid-April – Distribution of Choice of Schools Form and the Secondary School List for their school net

11 July – Release of SSPA results (of both DP and Central Allocation)

13-14 July – Registration

Discretionary Places Stage

  • Parents should consider the following aspects before applying to a school
    • Educational philosophy
    • Culture
    • Religion
    • Admission criteria
    • Class structure
    • Medium of instruction
    • Extra-curricular activities
    • Their child’s abilities and interests
  • Each student can apply for not more than two schools, regardless of the district.
  • Successful DP applicants will not be allocated a place in Central Allocation.

Central Allocation (CA) Stage

  • 10% of CA places are for unrestricted school choices; 90% are for restricted school choices.
  • There are 18 school nets; the secondary school net is determined by the location of the primary school the student attends.
  • CA is based on a student’s (1) allocation band, (2) parent’s choice of schools, and (3) a random number.
  1. Allocation Band: The students’ P5 final assessment and P6 mid-year and final results will be taken into consideration. Students will be divided using these results into three Territory Bands, with the allocation preferences being given in band order.
  2. Choice of Schools: Parents should consider all aspects, including the school’s culture and operation, as well as their child’s abilities and interests. Seeking advice from teachers is recommended. When filling in the Choice of Schools Form, parents can choose up to 3 secondary schools in Part A: Unrestricted School Choices and up to 30 schools in Part B: Restricted School Choices.
  3. Random Number: This number is generated by the computer to determine the order of allocation within the same allocation band.


Securing an S1 place in the SSPA system requires a lot of preparation work, and parents are recommended to learn about the difference between this system and applying to other schools not belonging to this system (e.g. international schools). For more details, please feel free to consult i-Learner Education Consultants or visit the EDB website.