What is S/U in University and How Does it Work?

Not Pressured in School

A new word that you will pick up once you enter the university is S/U. It stands for Satisfied/Unsatisfied. You may have heard that it allows you take a module without worrying about the grade, as long as you pass it. Yes, you get the gist. It is basically a kind of insurance policy to protect your grades from being negatively affected, subject to certain conditions. But just like before you purchase any insurance you need to understand its terms and conditions, the same goes for S/U options.

Understanding S/U

How does it impact your GPA?

The policy is currently being implemented in NTU and NUS. Both universities give an allowance of 12 credits, namely 12MC for NUS students and 12AU for NTU students. It is a right, but not an obligation to exercise the option. Hence it is possible for you to graduate without exercising a single credit of S/U.

The option is to encourage you to explore more possibilities of learning. Want to learn something about drama but are afraid you can’t compete with those having prior experiences? Don’t worry. You can convert the module into an S/U module, so the only worry you need to have is getting a reasonable grade of C and above.

Once you pass the module, a letter S(Satisfied) will appear on your transcript. No matter what grade you really achieve for the module, it will not be taken into your GPA calculation. In fact, you will not even know what specific grade you have obtained. You just earn the credits for free.

But what if you achieve a grade below C? Unfortunately the credit that you can otherwise earn for free will have to be returned to you, meaning you have to take some other new module next semester to use up the credit. But the good thing is you GPA will still not be affected. Instead, a letter U(Unsatisfied) will appear on your transcript.

U on a transcript?

Is that too bad that you have a letter U on your transcript? Well, if you are applying for a job, recruiters generally only care about your GPA. They either skim through your transcript or only check if the GPA on your résumé matches the one on your transcript. But if you are applying for a graduate school, your transcript will be scrutinized in greater detail. In that case, having a blemish-free transcript is more important.

unsatisfied on transcript

Not every module can be S/U

Now that you get the basic idea about S/U option, there are a few more things you need to take note of. First and foremost, S/U option is only applicable to certain categories of modules, usually the electives. If a module is part of your core or major curriculum, it is unlikely it can be converted into an S/U option. Check out the school policy carefully.

Don’t forget to S/U

You can only exercise the option during a certain period. Now NUS and NTU have the same policy that requires a student to exercise the option after the final exams end. The duration for exercise is usually very short, only a few days. Hence don’t forget to submit the request; setting a phone reminder is good habit in case it slips out of your mind when you are happy celebrating the end of exams.

And do not forget, the exercise of S/U is irrevocable. That means once the option has been exercised, you cannot change your mind. Hence you need to make a careful decision. Whether you should use it or not depends on a variety of factors. At least you should know your bottom line of grade. If you expect the grade for a particular module to fall below the bottom line, that may call for the exercise of S/U.

A holistic consideration for S/U options

However, you need to take a holistic view of the S/U choice. You only have 12 credits in total. Ideally they should be used for the modules that you do least well in. There is a tendency among some students to use up too many credits in their year one, out of a desire to achieve perfection at the start of their university. That may not be smart. As you progress through your university study, the subjects become more difficult and you may be in greater need of insurance.

Returning your S/U options to school

On the other hand, some students do not exercise any of their S/U options at all, because of the need to pull up their GPA by taking graded electives that are easy to score well in. Digital Senior believes that university is a time of exploration and we should make use of the resources of the university to find out more about ourselves. Many of the courses offered in university would cost a bomb if taken outside. S/U option gives you the liberty to take a hobby class by taking the pressure off learning.

To end the discussion, let digital senior clarify a potential confusion among some students. You may be taking some pass/fail modules, such as some immersion programs or modules taken during the exchange. Even though they operate on very similar basis, they won’t use up your S/U quotas. They are under separate categories.

It is interesting to see how psychology is at play when it comes to S/U exercise. Be the master of your psychology and make a smart choice.


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