Do you really understand GPA?
GPA is perhaps a new vocabulary that you pick up as you enter a university in Singapore. Like many other universities in the world, the four universities here adopt a Grade Point Average scoring system where a student’s academic performance is reflected as a number—the higher the better. Knowing the importance of GPA, Digital Senior would like to give you an introduction to the grading system on a personal basis and its differences in the three universities where strategies of getting a high GPA may differ in some important way. Interested in knowing how to stay ahead of the game? Please read on!
Max is 4 or 5?
Out of the four universities, NUS, NTU and SUTD have similar grading method. The maximum GPA is 5.0, corresponding to a grade A or A+ for a particular subject, meaning that if you score A or A+ for all the subjects that you take, you will get 5.0 GPA in the end. However, as the slogan of the SMU suggests, it is ‘a different U’, and the difference is seen in how SMU assesses students. The highest GPA is 4.0 instead of 5.0. Moreover, getting an A+ for a module in SMU actually gives the student a point of 4.3.
Grade Point Table of NTU and NUS
Letter-Grade Grade Point
Grade Point Table of SMU
Grade Grade Point Mark Range (%)
A+ 4.3 86 and above
A 4 83 to 85
A- 3.7 80 to 82
B+ 3.3 77 to 79
B 3 74 to 76
B- 2.7 70 to 73
C+ 2.3 66 to 69
C 2 63 to 65
C- 1.7 60 to 62
D+ 1.3 53 to 59
D 1 50 to 52
F 0 49 and below
If you look into the grading system used by SMU, you will realize that to get the same grade it is perhaps more difficult in SMU than in other universities. B+ in SMU corresponds to 3.3 out of 4.0, while B+ in other universities corresponds to 4.0 out of 5.0, creating a larger margin for students to maintain their grade. Moreover, B+ in SMU represents the mark range of 77 to 79, while that in other universities represents 65-70. Keeping all other factors equal, it can be seen that competition in SMU is stronger.
Pulling up your average
If you are coming from SMU, then you should have known that getting an A+ carries extra reward. A higher-than-maximum point for one or a few subjects can effectively pull up your GPA that is essentially an average of the grades for the subjects you take. If you are particularly good at one subject or are very passionate about it, Digital Senior advises you to work extra hard for the subject so that you can aim for A+. However, if you are coming from NUS, NTU or SUTD, getting an A+ is no different from getting an A, but to get the former you probably need to work much harder because as little as 5% of the cohort gets that grade. Hence, to maximize the value of your study time, Digital Senior advises you to aim for A and leave more time to pull up your weaker subjects. At the end of the day, it is about balancing your strengths and weaknesses.
The Magic S/U
The last aspect Digital Senior would like to bring across is a special ‘opt-out’ option that is currently offered in NUS and NTU. It is students’ favorite S/U option. You can choose to convert four modules, subject to specific requirements, into S/U modules and you are only required to pass the modules. Your GPA won’t be affected. It is recommended that you reserve the precious option only for cases where you make a mistake in choosing a module that you know you won’t score well. Don’t just use it as a kind of insurance for laziness. Lastly, if you are taking a minor or a second major, then you should have known that you cannot use S/U for any modules that are required by the minor or the second major.
Let’s getting harder when you do it later
Regardless of which universities you are considering, if you look into specifically how GPA is calculated, you will encounter a term called CGPA (Cumulative GPA). Your GPA of the present semester is dependent on the CGPA of all your previous semesters. The final GPA, the one you will graduate with, is calculated cumulatively. The implication of such a calculation is that CGPA towards the start of your university academic study, especially in your year 1 and 2, carries greater weight in determining your final GPA. That is why we often see students who do not do well for their year 1 struggling a lot to catch up, while students who get a relatively high GPA face fewer worries when they go to year 3 and 4. Digital Senior once knew a student who could graduate safely with a second upper even if he scored straight C for his last final in university. Do you want to have such a peace of mind? If yes, work hard now instead of later.
If you continue to read till here, congratulations! That means you know how to work hard and also how to work smart. Understanding the system is the first step to working hard and Digital Senior wishes you all the best in your studies!
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