To S/U or not to S/U


There’s a recent facebook group by NTU students that is going on a recruiting spree to petition NTU to allow for the S/U option to be exercised after the results are out. This is due to NUS changing it’s policy to allow us to exercise the S/U option after we got our results.

A little background information for the uninitiated. A typical undergraduate takes 5 modules each semester and each of the modules are graded. They count towards our final grade and hence each module is equally important. The S/U option is called the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory option, and allows for a certain module to be graded on a S/U basis, hence it will not affect our final grade, called the Grade Point Average (GPA) for NTU students, or the Cumulative Average Point (CAP) for NUS students.

In my opinion, I feel that both scenarios have their respective advantages or disadvantages, and it is a matter of what you prefer. Some people may like it that they can decide to S/U a particular module after the midterm examinations, and hence do not have to spend time on that module. They can then spend time on the four other modules, and hence have a greater chance in improving the scores. This would also mean that in the NUS system, we typically have to work harder for all the modules so that we can have a comparison, and decide the S/U the lousiest one. The disadvantage in this sense is that you have to work hard in all modules, though one can claim to give up on a module and S/U it afterwards.

The advantage of the NUS model, something that is well loved by most students, NTU or NUS, is that you do not know which module may end up being the worst one, and hence you can exercise the S/U option correctly. What if the module you dislike is the one you got an A for, but the one that you had the utmost confidence in turned out to be that nasty B? I guess I need not explain.

However, reading the facebook group, it has come to my attention that the NTU administration feels that changing the system to follow NUS will “compromise on the quality” of the degrees.

Personally, I feel that my NUS degree has not been compromised. Had NUS not changed it system, I doubt my CAP would change much. I will explain why.

The only part where my CAP will change will be the last semester. Just like the scenario I gave above, I actually had a module I disliked, and it ended up being an acceptable grade. Had I S/Ued before my examinations, I would have lost that grade. However, another module which I thought I’ll do not too badly for, actually was the one I S/Ued in the end. However, the difference would probably be quite negligible after the end of the four years when the proportion of difference this grade would make would decrease.

Why would I not be affected for the other 2 S/U options I have left? The reason is simple. I’m now in my Year 2, 2nd semester (in 2 weeks time), and I can S/U all my non Core modules from now on. I’ll have one Arts GEM (General Education Module) and one Singapore Studies module to clear, and I would probably S/U both. I doubt that my humanities side is strong enough to give me a grade that will actually pull up my CAP. The rest of my electives and breadths have all been cleared.

So then, I doubt it will compromise on the quality of my degree. That said, note that only the non-core modules can be S/Ued, and our degree is given based on the core modules that we learn. Seriously, do you think that Understanding the Universe contributes to the quality of my Electrical Engineering degree? I doubt that my future bosses would seriously consider that to be the basis of whether I am capable or not. Since the core modules form the backbone of our degrees, then how can it compromise on the quality when the modules to S/U are the non-core modules? Especially so when the other modules are just there to give us a greater exposure to other fields. Exposure and nothing else.

In conclusion, I feel that the NUS system has more advantages, especially since it takes away the element of a gamble. S/Uing a module before the results are known can be considered a gamble. You’ll never know if you’ll lose or win. But although it has more advantages, I do not think 3 modules of gambling will make such a big difference in our scores, taking into consideration my own situation. Hence whether to change or not will not make a difference to me if I’m in NTU.

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