Getting a First Class: To S/U or not to S/U

When I decided to write down my experiences and methods used to achieve academic success in University, I didn’t think about writing such a post on whether to S/U a subject or not. However, when I was looking at the search results that came to my site, it seemed to mean a lot to many different people. Hence, here is a post talking about using the S/U option.

Now if you are here on my website, you would most likely come from two groups of people. I’m not neglecting SMU, but I have no idea how it works there and hence it is not right to assume. It isn’t really a NUS vs NTU kind of situation; rather, it is a comparison of the way we use the S/U option in both universities.

As of the time in writing this post, NUS students are allowed to exercise the S/U option after the results has been revealed. NTU students, however, have to decide whether they S/U their modules before they take their final paper. I find that the NUS method benefits the overall grades more, and actually forces you to study for all modules. It might make you a more all rounded individual if you treat all exams seriously.

I have found myself in situations where I wanted to S/U a module, only for it to be an A, and the other module where I had confidence in was the one I eventually exercised my S/U option on. Therefore, this S/U option actually helped me to improve my overall grades.

So, how do we decide
I’m actually surprised someone would ask me that. Generally the simplistic method to decide is whether it pulls your grades down, and by how much. Remember drawing the best fit line in science classes? The one that doesn’t fit into your best fit line is considered an outlier and can be neglected. Should your GPA be 4.0, and your grade for this module is a 3.5. Chances are you will have a lot of 3.5s and 4.5s that make up the average of 4.0. Hence you will not waste your S/U on a 3.5. Rather, if it’s an outlier, say a 3.0, it would make sense to S/U it.

Another way is to see whats your desired end point when you graduate, and see if this puts you off track. If it doesn’t, then you are still on the safe side by not choosing to S/U. If it does, please do S/U it.

Now what about the future
So what if there is another module that I do worse in the future? Well you will never know. But what you do know is the impact of this module on your grades, and you can choose to let it affect your grades, or you can S/U it. Personally I will look at the number of S/U-able modules for the future to decide. Not every modules can be S/U-ed since they represent the core of your degree.

You can also plan for the future by deciding what are the electives that you will be interested in taking for future semesters. If you can choose something which you know you have plenty of interest and capability in, then chances are that module shouldn’t do as badly as the one you have in your hands right now.

If there are only 2 modules left with 2 S/U options after you exercised this one, then stop reading on for you are just wasting your time.

But really, if you are really interested in the whole series of what I have to say regarding “Getting a First Class”, you shouldn’t be worrying about the future. You would S/U this outlier and then tell yourself, “I will make sure this doesn’t happen again”. And with the study techniques that I will eventually go into, you will do well.

Actually, the reason why I didn’t think about writing such a post is because you shouldn’t need to be troubling over this. What you should do is doing so well that you need not use your S/U. So well that it becomes blatantly obvious when you HAVE to use it.

If you would like some special advice from me, do leave a comment on your situation and I will do my best to advise you accordingly. Do give me some time though, as there are other high priority tasks to do everyday.

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