Guide to WKWSCI Admission Interview

Hello everyone!

PLEASE READ: Please direct all questions to the comments section below so that they will also be visible for other prospective students. Do note that I will not be entertaining any NTU-related enquiries through e-mail from now on. Thank you for your understanding!

The time of the year is here again, when prospective students frantically scour through the internet for tips to ace their college/university admission interviews. I hope what I documented prior to my acceptance to NTU help shed some light on how the interview works. I have also received numerous e-mails pertaining to this so I thought I should share some frequently asked questions here for the benefit of those who’re too shy to approach me.

Please bear in mind that I’m merely a student of the school and not some ambassador who is authorised to speak on behalf of WKWSCI, so everything that is written here are merely my thoughts. It’s always advisable to seek second opinion before forming your own judgement 🙂

You can still e-mail me at should you have queries not answered here. I’m always very happy to help prospective students!

I also appreciate feedback about the accuracy and helpfulness of this entry! Do share your joy with me if you succeed at your interview as well! 🙂

Before I begin the FAQs, there is ONE thing you’d need to know about WKWSCI before you go for the interview because it’s one achievement that we’re so damn proud of and it’d be a shame if you don’t already know it:

According to the 2014 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings by Subject, NTU’s Communication & Media Studies is ranked 6th in the world…. NTU said the subject Communication & Media Studies jumped an impressive 17 positions within two years since QS started ranking this subject, to become No 1 in Singapore and in the Asia-Pacific.

Source: TODAYonline

Interview FAQs

1. I do not come from a Communication Studies (CS)-related diploma programme. Is my chance of getting accepted into WKWSCI slimmer?

I had received tons of emails about this which makes this the most frequently asked question. This is very subjective so my opinion on this is: yes and no. ‘Yes’ because you may not have relevant portfolio to show that you’re suitable for the course and ‘No’ because you MAY not need to even produce any portfolio (with exception of NAA), thus categorising you with the JC applicants who also have no experience in this field.

In fact, I think that people with CS background stand a slightly lower chance of getting in because they’d expect higher standards from us. When I went for my interview, I had to make a short impromptu speech on top of producing my portfolio which showed my designing AND writing capabilities even though I already expressed my interest in the advertising field clearly from the start. Some of my friends who graduated with Business diplomas on the other hand got it way easier – they didn’t have to produce any portfolio because the interviewers refused to see them so all they did was talk. Of course, a handful of my DBA (a Business course offered by Singapore Poly) friends briefly showed what they did to a different interviewer so it all really boils down to the one(s) interviewing you!

But if you want a definite answer, I think it’d be a ‘No’. I always have the impression that WKWSCI assesses every applicant fairly. They don’t shun people with no CS background nor do they only favour those who have. However, you definitely need to possess 2 sets of IMPORTANT skills in order to be considered, regardless of the specialisation you intend to pursue. They are writing AND public speaking. If you don’t have these skills, CS is probably not the course for you.

2. What should I do if I do not have any CS-related portfolio to show?

First and foremost, I recommend that you decide what specialisation track to pursue if you were accepted into WKWSCI as doing so makes you seem less indecisive. WKWSCI offers the following tracks to concentrate:

  • Journalism
  • Broadcast & Cinema Studies
  • Advertising
  • Public Relations
  • Communication Policy & Research
  • Inter-Disciplinary


For me it was, no doubt, advertising like duh… I spent my entire Poly life trying to perfect my advertising/design portfolio hahaha. I had no problem answering any advertising-related questions. What stumbled me was the interviewer’s request to view my writing because I had just too many design works that didn’t show my writing proficiency at all.

Having a track in mind makes your more focused on improving on your portfolio. You can modify it according to what you want to pursue. For example, if you want to be a journalist/PR, you should have more write-ups than anyone else to show your flair for writing. Or if you want to be in the advertising field, you should have some mockups WITH COPY (learn from my mistake). They DON’T have to be perfect/professional because if you’re so good, then why are you applying to University? You can start working already! FYI that was exactly what my interviewer told me -_- I was repeatedly shot down by him when I answered that my works were amateurish. “No no no! What is there to improve on? These are very good! You shouldn’t waste your time here! Go apply into SUTD or SIT!!!111”

Since having good command of English is what makes the cut, producing anything that shows your proficiency in the language should be sufficient in that aspect. Personally I think you can show reports you had done during your Poly course (or GP/History essays done in JC), or you can do a write-up/essay about anything that interests you. I believe the interviewer (typically a professor) will be interested to read about your thoughts. If you were part of a CCA in Poly that required you to write (a writer for the school magazine or something), you should also include that in your portfolio. Once again, it doesn’t have to be of top-notch standard and LONG but it has to be grammatically correct. I showed my copy for a newsletter (about 5 lines) and the interviewer seem pretty satisfied with it. Haha.

During the application process you would have already indicated your course of study in Poly, hence the interviewers would most probably know that you do not have anything really CS-related to show. Just show what you did during your 3-year course and if possible, select those that are closely related to CS (e.g. event planning, marketing plan etc.).

Always, always bring something to show to your interviewer(s) even though they MAY not look at them (it depends on how lucky you are). Going there empty-handed = bo chup, okay?

3. Since I do not have any background in CS, would it be difficult for me to keep up with the lessons?

NO OF COURSE NOT. You basically start from scratch in Uni and study the fundamentals of everything media before you choose your specialisation. That means you have to, at least once in the course, design a newsletter, write a press release, shoot a short film, study media law, study the history of media and other not-so-fun stuff. The only difference between one with CS background and one without is the ABILITY TO EXEMPT FROM COURSES and end your programme 1 semester earlier. But there are MANY people I know who came from Mass Comm in Poly who chose not to accelerate the programme because the graduation ceremony will be held on the same day anyway.

4. What were some of the questions thrown at you during the interview?

Okay I hope my memory doesn’t fail me. I am not feeding you my responses because if you guys are passionate about the course, you should have your own answers!

“Why did you choose WKWSCI and not elsewhere?” (elsewhere – if you get what I mean)

“What do you like to do?”

“Why do you want to apply into WKWSCI and not enter the working industry since you already have so much experience?”

“Why not SUTD and SIT?” 

“In WKW, we value good writing and public speaking skills. Do you have anything to show your proficiency in writing?”

“Now, give me a 3-minute speech about someone who inspires you or someone whom you look up to.”

And lastly… “If you can’t get in this year, try applying again next year okay?” to which I replied, “This is my second application.” He was a little dumbfounded. “Oh..”

5. What should I wear for the interview?

Anything not too formal, casual, fanciful and revealing. For girls, just be donned in a knee-length dress and for guys, short sleeves top with long pants should do the trick. Jeans are fine too.

6. How long must I wait for the interview results to be out?

I waited for close to 2 weeks but that was during the appeal period. If you had your interview before that, it should be faster.


Other WKWSCI-related FAQs

1. What are some essentials I need to have?

There are no needs per se because the school has almost everything. As long as you’re a student there, you get free access to the computer labs and printers (have to pay but through credits). Of course, your life would be much easier if you have the following:

  • Macbook
    … but I’m still coping very well with my HP laptop. Go Windows!!!
  • Adobe Design and Web Premium
    … Basically all you need from there are Photoshop, Dreamweaver and InDesign. Contrary to popular beliefs, it is not expensive to own the authentic Photoshop. You can get the Adobe Design and Web Premium at student price from
  • Final Cut Pro (FCP)
    … to edit videos but it’s only available for Mac. Windows users have to edit their videos in school 😦 The authentic copy can cost you thousands of dollars though so usually students get it by other *sinister look* means.
  • Sony Vegas Pro / Adobe Premiere Pro
    … Another alternative for FCP. Sony Vegas Pro and Adobe Premier Pro are also Windows-supported. Likewise, you can only get them by other means.
  • Microsoft Office
    … For report writing and creating presentation slides. MO isn’t that important now that we have Google Drive. But nowadays students also like to act cool and 一个 artsy fartsy and use Prezi instead for their presentation. Huh why? I find Prezi too complicated and error-prone. I have never encountered any group that managed to go through all Prezi transitions smoothly without exclaiming, “Oops!” and then clicking several times before getting to the right frame. I get massive headache just by looking at the slides zooming in and out in fast motion.


2. I missed the Freshmen Orientation Camp!!!!! O SHIT WHAT SHOULD I DO!?!?!

NOTHING. Relax and let nature takes its course. If you’re intending to stay in hall, you don’t have to worry at all. If you’re not, you can still meet nice people through group projects and elective classes! Or if you’re free, through clubs and other CCAs. Please always remember that you go to school to study okay, not to be the most popular person or something. Life will still be equally awesome with just 432 Facebook friends and 3 likes on your statuses LOL. Life will still be equally fantastic even if you have to eat, travel and study alone sometimes.

To read more about my friend-making process, click here.

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That’s all from me 🙂 I will update this post as and when I have new questions but please don’t ask me about FASS because I don’t think it’s fair for someone who know nuts about the NUS/FASS to answer them.

Thanks for reading!

Some useful WKWSCI-affiliated links:
WKWSCI Official Facebook
WKWSCI Facebook (student-run)
Wee Write (campus news)
Wee Shoot (compilation of videos shot by the Wee kids)


University Freshman: Year 1 Semester 2

Helloooo I am back!

PLEASE READ: Please direct all questions to the comments section below so that they will also be visible to other prospective students. Do note that I will not be entertaining any NTU-related enquiries through e-mail from now on. Thank you for your understanding!

I’ve been super unmotivated to update this space because blogging would mean I’d have to spend hours inserting pictures and ensuring quality in my content. But I’ll still try whenever I have enough time to spare since this blog is going to be a keepsake of my early adulthood 🙂

This is a second instalment of my University life. As mentioned on my first, I would document all the highlights of my time in NTU which hopefully would help or enlighten prospective students about the school’s culture and system. I am really delighted to know that my first University Freshman entry had helped a few incoming students and that probably spurred me to do more. 🙂 Please leave a comment if you need me to elaborate or explain anything not included in my entries. I will try to to the best of my knowledge!

The year-end school holiday after semester 1 ended way too soon so I felt like I hadn’t energised enough for semester 2 (moreover, my Chengdu trip was rather energy-draining, even though it was so-called a vacation, with all the early morning calls and harsh cold weather). Not feeling as enthusiastic as before. I kinda dragged myself to school. While everyone was being super chatty in the first lecture of the semester, I was craving for sleep. Really man, damn tired I was!! And this feeling lasted throughout the whole semester – no drive for projects, constantly giving more attention to entertainment until I felt like I neglected my studies. But thankfully it didn’t really affect my GPA. It did go down, however still acceptable by me. Haha.

But a small part of me was excited for school, because I only had 1 exempted WKWSCI module (CS2008) which also happened to be my last and I was also allocated 3 core modules, leaving me with little time for electives unlike last semester. This meant that I could finally (fully) experience being a WKWSCI student, attend WKWSCI lectures and get to know more WKWSCI students from my cohort. 🙂 Despite not being in WKWSCI most of the time in semester 1, I was (and still am) really lucky and thankful to still be in contact with one of my first friends I got to know during orientation week, so we did projects together whenever we could, saving me the trouble of finding team mates (which is so difficult in a cliquish cohort).

Add/Drop period this time had been really kind to me, allocating me to every module which I placed on wait list and those modules are the highly popular ones. I can’t remember how many times I cheered when I accessed my NTU e-mail account at 10.00pm. The feeling is akin to striking lottery la, seriously. But this probably attributed to me already placing my choices on wait list from the onset instead of from the second day of the add/drop period like last semester. Even though the school claims that the system is unbiased, I still think it is as it gives priority to those who express their interests earlier in the period (i.e. higher chances for those that put the modules on wait list earlier during the add/drop period as compared to those who put them later). But well, no concrete evidence to prove my hypothesis so it’s all up to you guys to decide!

* * *

I didn’t make any huge discoveries during my second semester so I’ve got nothing much to explain like my first freshman entry. But I do have reviews on the modules I took, which can aid you in your timetable planning for the upcoming semester.

1. AAA183 Life Drawing (UE)

One of the very popular courses offered by NIE but it comes with a rather hefty price tag of $60 for the art materials. You’d have to pay that amount by the third or fourth week of the semester to the NIE office. Being one of the oversubscribed courses, I only got this module on the second week.

It hurt my wallet but it was a good learning experience even though I did regret taking this up midway through the course simply because my peers were already pros at life drawing. Honestly they were a threat (please take this as a compliment) and it was seriously detrimental to my grades which almost costed me an S/U option. Drawing is supposedly one of the better things I could do (and score) but I felt extremely overshadowed by students from ADM who have compulsory life drawing modules during their first year, if I am not mistaken. It’s like, walao they are already SO GOOD so why are they not exempted from this module? They just have to splash random paint on a blank canvas and they’d produce a masterpiece. While I gritted my teeth, fretting over the correct drawing techniques, they just stood in front of the easel looking so at ease and could produce an A+ worthy art piece so effortlessly in just seconds 😦 But well of course there were a few talented ones not from ADM who progressively improved throughout 12 weeks.

With my art teacher :)

With my art teacher at the end of the final lesson 🙂

The teacher was Mr David Chan and he is really nice and humorous 🙂 However I am not sure if this module would still be available in the next semester because of budget constraints. Apparently the $60 each student has to pay is not sufficient to cover the cost of the art materials! (And we were pretty wasteful too, oops)

Also, being a NIE module, it is non-examinable thus no projects or assignments or whatsoever. Everything has to be done and assessed in class and.. this is not good news to those who occasionally cut classes.

2. AAI385 Voice (UE)

Another non-examinable NIE module added to clear my electives (I’m halfway there). I deliberately chose non-examinable modules because I had 4 written papers at the end of the semester – 3 of which were my CORE.

Anyway, this elective requires you to go for an “audition” before you could officially have it on your timetable. I put inverted commas because it’s not really an audition, but a briefing and direct selection process. I went to the “audition” without prior preparation and true enough the professor (and also the course coordinator), Dr Chia, was not expecting any performance from the students at all, hence proving that the selection was not based on anyone’s singing abilities. What he did was to go through the course overview frankly (so honest that a student left the room halfway) and enrol students based on their year of study at the end of the briefing. For example, if you are a graduating student, you are guaranteed a slot. Then he’d go down the list where the remaining slots would be given accordingly to the juniors (Year 3s), the sophomores (Year 2s) and then to the freshmen. There is a limit to the number he could take in (I think about 30 since this is the only Voice class he was conducting) so by the time he reached the sophomores, the freshmen stood no chance at all. I technically was a freshmen but thanks to my course exemptions, I have earned enough AUs to qualify as a sophomore. Hahaha so I got it, while other freshmen in the room left disappointedly.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, this module is not all about singing. Yes, you can choose to sing for your assignment but you can also choose to say a speech! Because ultimately the aim of this course is to improve your voice usage, and not to train you to be a professional singer. It’s really a very useful course if you tend to shout a lot (teachers, for example) or if you think your voice projection is your major drawback in presentations. What I like about Dr Chia is his dedication in improving your voice. He would assign a time just to coach you when nearing the deadline of your assignment and you’re really encouraged to attend. You can see everyone improving tremendously after 12 weeks of “drilling”. I also like how he speaks to students as if we’re adults and reasoning with us instead of shouting and threatening like some professors always do. I always have the impression that older professors who have many years of experience under their belts tend to talk students down but he is definitely not one of them.

This elective comprises of 3 assessments – the first requires you to say a 2-minute speech (can be an extract from a book, or a poetry or anything that you can find on the internet), the second can be any 5-minute item (speech or song) of your choice and the  finally, a 15-minute video of you doing the McClosky’s Voice Techniques (which you’d read about in the course). Dr Chia was really nice to not fix a submission date for the last assignment because he wanted to give us time to study for our finals. Of course he fixed a deadline, but he was always open to negotiations. So I submitted mine like, 3 days before he had to submit all his collated marks to the office because I had 2 papers in one of the weeks?? LIKE OMG HE’S DAMN NICE RIGHT!?!!? And no, no deduction of marks or any form of penalty for late submission. Seriously, he is THAT nice, he even sacrificed his Labour Day to grade us, when he could have completed the marking before because most of us submitted “late” of course. So relieved to know that such professors exist. :’)

Honestly, you can easily do well for this course and I really recommend this to anyone who wants to pull up his/her GPA because unlike Life Drawing, the probability of you having professional voice actors in your class is pretty low (with the exception of my class. I had one and he’s damn good because he does epic voiceovers for films. But that’s just ONE). You may sing well but that does not mean you use your voice well 🙂 Everyone there starts off as a blank piece of paper so you don’t feel as much pressure as in Life Drawing.

Oh, you would also be asked to purchase a McClosky book which you’d have to read before every lesson. It’s not compulsory though Dr Chia is going to say that you have to buy it, but it is going to be really helpful when you’re doing your last assignment, trust me on that. If you know anyone who had been to that class, you can probably get it from him/her. I’m not selling mine though 😛

I am also aware that Dr Chia teaches NIE Choir (another non-examinable module) and I am probably going to take that next semester!

3. CS0203 Media in Singapore (CORE)

One of my cores which I think I should have exempted from but thankfully didn’t because it was here I got to know an awesome professor – whom many people should have known by now – named Dr Cherian George. Just to digress a little, you would not be able to understand the disappointment and disbelief we felt when we learned about his denial of tenure if you haven’t been taught by him! He was my reason for always being punctual for his classes at 9 freaking a.m. because he could be so enlightening and yet politically neutral at the same time. This was evident as I gradually arrived late when other professors started rotating to give lectures. For the record I was never punctual for early morning classes since SP days. He was also entertaining and funny and this was one of the main factors that kept me awake during his lecture. His first few lectures happened to coincide with the Punggol by-election (not the actual day but the whole campaign, rallies.. you get the gist) and those were probably the most interesting ones where he talked and critiqued about all the parties. What he said made me ponder (no matter how sleepy I was) because he made sense. I thought he was doing a great job as a professor so I still do not understand why his tenure was denied.  I’m sorry WKWSCI juniors that you won’t get to experience his awesome lectures.

As mentioned briefly earlier, there were 2 other professors giving lectures on certain weeks besides Dr George. No group projects but there were 2 quizzes (all MCQs. Can be tricky. I didn’t really study much and I relied on what I remembered from my poly lectures), and a final written exam. I also had to do a term paper which did not have to be submitted but the topic I researched on would be tested in exams. Because of that I only did it half-heartedly at the very last minute (with my friend) because I had to study for my finals.

4. CS2002 Information Literacy and Interpretation (CORE)

The professor (or coordinator) of this module was actually my interviewer for my appeal for change of course last year. He is a very laid-back, impartial professor, everything also “don’t worry, you will be fine”. But hearing that somehow makes me even more worried. Haha.

He has the habit of not using the microphone in all his lectures because he could project his voice well – no doubt about that – but unfortunately not audible to me :\ So I spent a lot more time on studying this module because I just couldn’t catch what he was lecturing. But anyway all’s well because I did surprisingly well for this.

This course was the only one that required excessive use of clickers from me last semester. Participation marks were derived from clicker questions in lecture (no mini tutorial groups) and there would be 8 in-class clicker quizzes. Other marks come from term papers (done as a group) and the final paper.

5. CS2006 Visual Literacy and Communication (CORE)

The most taxing module thus far because well, it’s basically film-making and editing (and film theory), so don’t expect sufficient sleep if you are the video editor. You shoot and edit with little to no guidance from your professors since everyone’s concept is different so you are expected to learn everything on your own. Luckily for me, I am not totally handicapped since I have learned editing in Poly before, so I kinda led the team. But sadly I still suck at handling cameras because I still got the over-exposed shit !#%&$! Argh. And yes, I also wonder why I didn’t exempt myself from this module -_-

This module made me realise how poor the school’s inventory is, their lack of good filming equipments (seriously, only 5 clip mics?!) and how pointless the booking system is… because the person in-charge of the equipments never uses the booking system to check if you have indeed booked the items before allowing you to collect them (then anybody can wayang and collect right?!). We booked a clip mic and were very sure it was available when we did the booking, but was told they ran out of clip mics when my team mate went to collect the equipments! Luckily he insisted that we’d booked it and that pressured the guy behind the booth to search high and low for one (walao, still must search so thoroughly, never keep properly right?!). We got the very last piece in the end. Then right, the booth closes ON THE DOT or even EARLIER despite us telling him that we would return our camera on that day (because late returns would incur fines). We rushed to the booth to find it shut! Panicked, we told the technical people on the third level and managed to get hold of the person in-charge of the filming equipments on the phone. Still couldn’t return on that day since the person had left, so my poor team mate had to drag it to her hall -_- We were spared from the fine.

Anyway, we collaborated with a non-profit organisation for our film because we chose to do the topic on creating social awareness. We wanted to reduce the social stigma towards ex-offenders (something like Yellow Ribbon project) and we e-mailed to many many NGOs to express our interest to work with them, only to have them turned us down 😦 except for one! Highpoint Halfway House agreed to work with us without hesitation! We were soooooo grateful! They even provided us with real ex-offenders to interview. But we were only given one day to shoot thus there were no rooms for improvements or retakes – it’s do or die. But I must say that speaking to ex-offenders really enlightened me about their lives (why they committed the crimes, and the struggles they faced upon release from prison and many of them had been in and out of prison several times). It taught me not to judge a book by its cover and true enough, many of them have turned over a new leaf. What really surprised me was their willingness to talk to us about their pasts because they wanted to inspire others, and they were totally fine with being filmed. Of course, the video cannot be broadcast or uploaded online due to obvious reasons.

Many hiccups happened on the day of shoot. Due to the very limited time we had with our cameras, we only booked them out on the same day. However my team mate who went to collect the equipments were stuck in the morning jam on the way to the halfway house, so we were late in filming for about half an hour 😦 Felt so bad letting them wait. That was the first hiccup.

Second was what I mentioned earlier – the over-exposed scenes! Way too many of them because most of our footages were shot outdoors and I had to trash most of them. Sigh pie. Totally regret adjusting the ISO (lol 不自量力) and agreeing to shoot outdoors when the Sun was so blaring.

Third and also the most epic one… well, because we were making a short film on ex-offenders, I thought of adding footages of barb wires. I managed to find some really good ones during my recce in the vicinity of Changi Prison. I didn’t seek permission since I thought we were just going to shoot from afar and we weren’t sure which barb wires we wanted. So my team mate drove us around and we spotted this row of barb wires which looked SO PERFECT for the video. We got off the car, set up our equipments and we shot the barb wires for a good 10 minutes. But just as I was about to stop, somebody from behind the wires shouted at us.


He asked this question thrice and we just froze there.


“…Filming the barb wires..?” We answered timidly.


Wtf man we really didn’t know we were just right outside Changi Prison! We saw a shipping company’s name displayed on a building next to it so we automatically assumed that they were both owned by the same company! Then we were told to go to the guardhouse where one of my team mate’s particulars were taken down because he was the only one who brought along his identity card. Damn suay!! We had to delete our beautiful footages of the barb wires (it’s only the wires and the sky) in front of the guards. But the guard who shouted at us probably saw how nervous we were and he tried to play nice la.. telling us not to worry and we would not be charged for anything. They needed our particulars just in case the video got leaked somehow and they’d know who to look for. -_-

I was so depressed, not because we were stopped by the guards but because the barb wires footages were deleted! THOSE WERE REALLY PERFECT FOR THE VIDEO -_-

Back to my review. That was the second assessment by the way. I’m not sure if you guys saw this video about the happiness of Singaporeans that was floating around on Facebook a few weeks back, but it was actually done by one of the groups for this module. It’s amazing how a video for a school project could end up viral and being watched by people across the nation! 🙂

Anyway just to give a brief description of the course assessments, the first graded assignment was actually to curate your family portraits. Because of that I had to ask everybody for old family photographs and literally ransacked my storeroom. You’d also need to present your findings to the class and you’re only given 5 strict minutes to do so (my tutor timed. Yes, timed. She cuts you off at the fifth minute). Oh boy I really hated that assignment. The last assessment was of course the final paper which I don’t think I did well, hence a drastic drop in my final grade.

6. LS9002 Spanish II (UE)

My third and final UE in semester 2. I initially wanted to take French 2 instead since I have so-called passed my placement test but looking at the placement test made me super demoralised and fearful that I’d do badly for French. I am still interested in the language but I wouldn’t want to risk my grades for it, so I chose to continue with Spanish. Not a bad decision after all because my level 1 teacher was the teacher for this class! 🙂 It was great seeing her again!

Level 2 is a lot more challenging of course but I am able to understand and read simple Spanish words now.

Like level 1, you’d be graded through a 7-minute (instead of 5) oral examination where you’d have to carry on a conversation with your partner in Spanish, 2 bring-home assignments which weighs 5% in total (#whut), a listening comprehension, a class test and a final paper. It’s more or less the same structure as level 1 so if you’re keen to know more, do refer to my first freshman post instead!

With my Spanish teacher :)

With my Spanish teacher 🙂

My LS9002 classmates

My LS9002 classmates

I didn’t do as well as I expected but I will definitely continue with Spanish again 🙂

Okay that’s about it! As you can see I didn’t exercise my S/U option at all this semester and I am glad my decision didn’t affect my grades that much. 😉

Will blog about my long overdue Chengdu trip soon!

Read also:
University Senior: Year 4 Semester 1 & 2
University Junior: Year 3 Semester 1
University Sophomore: Year 2 Semester 2
University Sophomore: Year 2 Semester 1
University Freshman: Year 1 Semester 1

University Freshman: Year 1 Semester 1

(Wordy post ahead)

PLEASE READ: Please direct all questions to the comments section below so that they will also be visible to other prospective students. Do note that I will not be entertaining any NTU-related enquiries through e-mail from now on. Thank you for your understanding!

Phew! I finally got the time to blog now that the semester has officially ended! Actually my last paper was 2 weeks ago but procrastination got the best of me as usual 😛

Anyway I hope I am able to document every semester at the end of it because this is probably my last education stage if I have no means to further my studies financially (unless I decide to join the teaching force, that is!). And hopefully it’ll give a very good insight of University life especially for those who are gunning for a spot in NTU.

If you have followed my stories on University application, you would have figured that I had missed out on orientation camps or other freshmen activities planned way before I was admitted. That did not bother me since I am not a camp person to begin with, so even if I had the chance to go, I’d most likely not attend as well (haha). But to be honest, I was a little jittery when I went to school for the very first time for an orientation programme because I knew no one there. And to make it more awkward for me, the orientation started off with a lunch reception, so imagine my horror when I discovered myself surrounded with cliques who knew one another from camp. But I knew the feeling would be temporary, and I was right!

I forced myself to mingle (man I’m amazed at myself sometimes). I took some food and attempted to look for a table with a space big enough to fit me in. Unfortunately each clique was rather big so many tables were fully occupied! But then I found a table that had only 3-4 students.

“Can I sit here?” I asked.

So took the seat after getting approving nods from everyone at the table. Then one of the girls (a senior just there to mingle with the freshmen) there spoke.

“Do you know one another?”

And surprise, surprise! All of us shook heads! I count my lucky stars! Apparently I was at a table with.. how can I put it? Rejects? Nah, just people who never went for camp! That was how I made my first batch of Uni friends 😛 Very impromptu right? Oh and also at that table, I know one from Singapore Polytechnic too! But 2 years my junior 🙂

So you don’t need to go through torturous days of camp to make friends. In fact I never went for orientation camps in my entire life, haha! If you are thick-skinned enough, you should be able to make friends during orientation programmes (and group projects) too!

The first 2 weeks in NTU were a blurry mess to me but I figured everything out all on my own without the help of any seniors. I practically read up on STARS, STARS Planner, AUs, subject exemptions for Poly graduates and other NTU jargon when I’m at home most of the time because it is just so different in Poly! Now I have to be fully responsible for my timetable and the planning part of it really takes up a lot of my time -_-

Because I understand the pain and confusion freshmen go through during their first semesters, I shall compile a detailed list of what to take note of for the benefit of (potential) NTU freshmen who have no one to seek help from! 🙂

1. Add/Drop Period

The first 2 weeks of the semester are the second most important period (apart from exams period of course!) because that’s when you have to register for courses and apply for exemption of courses (if you are from Poly like me). The former is also what we call the Add/Drop period because you are able to add courses to your timetable and drop them if you don’t like them subsequently after attending the lessons! You can do so during these 2 weeks without any penalty and after which, any courses that remain in your timetable would be your confirmed ones throughout the semester. To me the Add/Drop period is like 2 weeks of trial lessons, hahaha! I once wrongly registered for a Translation class without realising that it was conducted entirely in Mandarin! I was in a state of shock throughout the 1.5 hour-tutorial and immediately dropped that course when I went home. But do bear in mind that lessons are conducted as per normal during these 2 weeks, so do not have the silly thinking (like me) that the lessons would be all introductory during this period! Hence it’d be good if you read up on the previous weeks’ lecture notes or watch recorded lectures before turning up for the next (and your first) one so that you know what’d be going on in class. If there are no recorded lectures (or if you do not have high perseverance level to watch the 1.5-hour long video), it would be better to print out the powerpoint slides.

I am sure many have heard of NTU’s very own STARS Wars, right? Basically it’s a system (named by NTU students) whereby courses are allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis, so the fastest fingers always get their desired courses. However with effect from this academic year (I think), courses are now allocated randomly on a daily basis (hence the name is now Add/Drop instead of STARS Wars hahaha!). So it does not matter if you are the last to register the courses on that day because ultimately the system would CHOOSE by drawing lots -_- You only know if you get the course(s) after the Add/Drop system closes for the day, perhaps around 10pm, through e-mail. I personally prefer STARS Wars though because response is immediate.

2. Planning your timetable

Prior to that, students usually plan their timetable first and then attempt to add the courses on the first day of the Add/Drop period using the STARS planner with just a click of a button. The list of courses on the planner (which you can select directly from) are not exhaustive as some may be left out, so I’d usually refer to this list which has a more comprehensive description of each course. If I like what I read, I’d copy the course code and paste it into the empty field. If it is a valid code AND is offered in that semester, you should be able to choose your preferred time slot (i.e. index number) under the drop-down menu after clicking “Plan” (unless there is only one available time slot). Otherwise, the drop-down menu would not show anything! Also ensure you have fulfilled the prerequisites (if any)! Usually Poly graduates are the only freshmen to have fulfilled them in their first semesters 😛

I took 6 courses in Semester 1 and it was quite manageable (apart from having to take 5 papers). So I guess 6 (18 AUs) is the norm? And just because NTU offers foreign languages as electives for free like that, I wouldn’t recommend loading your timetable with more than 1 foreign language because 1 I already cannot tahan. It really takes up a lot of your memory space!

3. Your pre-allocated courses by the school before Add/Drop period

If you are a freshmen, you would already have certain CORE courses allocated to your timetable so that you won’t begin the first week of school with no classes to attend. You can check what courses you have been registered for here (under Print/Check Courses Registered) and they should already be reflected on your timetable before your orientation programme (so that you can use it as a common topic/ice breaker when mingling around LOL SERIOUS). Of course, you may drop CORE courses and take them again in another semester. But I wouldn’t do it in exchange for non-CORE ones la.

4. Course exemptions for Poly graduates

So anyway back to course exemptions for Poly graduates. The deadline to apply for exemptions is NOT on the last day of the add/drop period. If I remember correctly, it should be at the end of the first week or in the middle of the second. You have to download a form from the WKWSCI website (if you are going there. Otherwise it should be on your faculty’s website?) and submit it to the in-charge via e-mail. It can be done even before the first week of school and of course, you can also submit the hard copy to the office. But before submission, you’d also need to contact your Poly course coordinator and request for a course syllabi to be sent to your school as well (or to you if possible) because they’d need it to determine if you can be exempted. Oh and not forgetting all your Poly transcripts! Don’t ask me why they need the copies again… Do be sure that you had attained at least a B+ for that module you are matching against!

I tried matching  my Poly modules with the list here (only Year 1 and Year 2 courses though) and I was eventually exempted from 8 modules (4 of which are CORE) worth 24 AUs. The maximum number of AUs you can exempt from is 32 but subjected to approval. But even so, I went all out and tried to match as many modules as I could because there is no guarantee that I’d be exempted from all! What I didn’t know until 5 weeks ago (-_-) was that this course exemption exercise is not restricted to courses just in WKWSCI. In other words, if you have gone through a Business module in Poly for example, you can also match it against a Business course in NTU which would eventually be your exempted elective! Sigh, I could have exempted from more courses if I knew about this earlier! Because all exemptions have to be done during the first week of your first semester 😦

EDIT (6 May 2015): With effect AY2015/2016, polytechnic students can only be exempted up to 12 AUs (instead of 24) for GERPE/UE type courses only. In other words, you can no longer get exempted for CORE modules even if you have gone through something similar in Poly. [source]

5. Academic Units System (AUS) and other NTU jargon

Also, exempted courses are not graded and would not be included in the computation of your cumulative GPA. But the AUs tagged to your exempted courses will be awarded to you 🙂 However do note that you’d need at least 69AUs of graded courses AND 128AUs in total to graduate! So you cannot exempt like shiok only (actually it’s also not possible since the max is 32AUs, LOL)

With effect AY2011/2012, all Year 1 students admitted to the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information will adhere to the following curriculum structure. CS students MUST complete a minimum of 128 AUs (CORE- 47, Major PE/CORE Elective- 24 AUs, GER-CORE – 12 AUs, GER-PE/GER- Electives – 15 AUs and GER-UE- 30 AUs).

– WKWSCI website

  • CORE are compulsory courses required to satisfy programme requirements. To know what the CORE are in WKWSCI, click here by concentration or here by year of study! Technically the CORE in Year 1 are CS2002 Information Literacy, CS2005 Speech and Argumentation, CS2006 Visual Literacy and Communication, CS2008 Fundamentals of Research. The other CORE are GER-CORE which are also CORE to us la somehow.
  • Major PE/CORE Elective are courses for specialisation in a particular degree programme (e.g. journalism). You can also refer to the two lists I’ve hyperlinked above pertaining to this.
  • GER-CORE are courses relating to Communication Skills (CS0201 Foundations of Communication Studies, CS0204 Basic Media Writing), Singapore Studies (CS0203 Media in Singapore) and Environmental Sustainability (CS0900 Communication Strategies for Sustainability and Social Changes)
  • GER-PE/GER-Electives are courses that can be outside of WKWSCI but has to be one of the sub-areas of studies – Art, Humanities & Social Sciences (AHSS), Business & Management (BM), Liberal Studies (LS), Science, Technology & Society (STS).  In other words, you need to have at least 1 GER-PE from AHSS, BM, LS and STS categories. You can find out the categorisation from the STARS Planner!
  • GER-Unrestricted Electives (or just UE) are ANY courses around NTU, such as foreign languages and other japalang courses which may interest you. Some courses can be opted as either GER-PE or UE. It’s totally up to you!!

6. Getting to your classes

The best way, I swear, to familiarize yourself with the school is by getting lost. I get lost everyday ALONE on the first 2 weeks because NTU is so damn huge (but after awhile it doesn’t look that huge anymore), getting caught in the rain and subsequently late for my class, missing my stop, alighting one stop earlier.. Wow, hahaha

But of course, you should do some research at home first, like finding out where the nearest bus stop is, where the classroom is nearest to, so on and so forth. Maybe give yourself 30 minutes of buffer time. And if you are really lost, ask any passers-by! These are times you really shouldn’t bother about people thinking that you’re a freshie because really no choice ma!

The next thing to know is the shuttle bus service around NTU which is VERY VERY useful for days which you have classes all around NTU and walking would take like 15-20 minutes? There are 4 shuttle buses (including Weekend Rider) in the school and one of them goes to Pioneer MRT station but because it’s to the train station, the bus does not go to every bus stop in school to prevent overcrowding! More details on the shuttle bus service here (it looks less cluttered and more user-friendly on mobile but if I’m not wrong, the stops are not sorted in order on mobile). Not forgetting that the service is free………….. Okay not really la, you pay through your school fees.

7. NTU culture

Another difference in culture between Poly and NTU is probably how we identify/call the courses. In Poly (not sure about the others), we call the modules by their initials (or rather, acronyms) like for example, we call Mass Media Research MMR for short even though they also have module codes tagged to them. But hor, in NTU I don’t know why everyone likes to call the courses by their code number, like CS0900 Communication Strategies for Sustainability and Social Changes, they call it 900? Why, is it because the acronyms are too long?? Being mathematically and numerically-challenged, I find it so difficult to adapt. Even freshmen automatically get this habit after awhile. I once tried to identify to someone a course by its acronym and all I got was a blank look, followed by a “You mean 2005?” a few seconds later.

Also, don’t expect scoring rubrics for projects you are tasked to do, because THEY DON’T HAVE THEM! 😦 So sometimes you really don’t know which part of the project to beautify and put in more effort on because you just don’t know how the marks are allocated. Oh well I guess NTU just wants its students to put in effort for every single thing la!

8. Using clickers

NTU is so cool we have to use clickers in some lecture theatres. I’m lying it’s not cool. I actually hate it.

Anyway every freshman is given a clicker (together with your matriculation card) just in case you’d need it la. But it’s on loan. HAVE TO RETURN ONE once you graduate!! So I really don’t know why some people go and bling it..

How to use the damn clicker:

If you’ve been to any NTU lecture theatre, you would see some numerical digits printed on a white paper pasted near the projector screen. That is the channel of the lecture hall. You have to set the channel first before you can respond through the clicker:

  • Press and release the “Ch” button (“GO” for the older model).
  • While the light is flashing red & green, enter the 2 digit channel code (i.e., Channel 1 = 01, Channel 21 = 21 and so on).
  • After the second digit is entered, press and release the “Ch” button.
  • A steady green light should appear. If not, repeat steps 1 to 3

NTU Clickers Website

Then comes the next and final part which is not mentioned anywhere! WALAO Because of this I lost 25% of my marks for one of my courses which required clickers!! I am so so pissed. More details later.

So to respond through the clicker, you just have to press the button with the number that corresponds with the option number of the answer! THAT’S IT! JUST ONE BUTTON. IT’S SO EASY BUT I DIDN’T KNOW. You know what I had been doing? I followed the same steps as channel setting! Actually how would anyone know!? GRRRRRRR.

9. Getting your textbooks (or required text)

I won’t say that it is compulsory (unless your profs decide to be difficult and test you on the content of your required text) to buy textbooks if you pay attention in class and jot down notes diligently, but they will definitely come in handy when you do your revision. University textbooks, especially for specialised subjects like Art, Design and Natural Hazards, are hardly ever available in the school’s bookshop (used to be Yun Nan Bookstore until mid 2014. Popular has since taken over). To get them, you often have to place an order with the shop and the books would only be available in a few days’ time. Sometimes it could take weeks.

However, textbooks are mostly very expensive because they are not like your secondary school books that are written and printed locally. They are authored by renowned experts and a lot of them are imported from somewhere far away. But I don’t find it worthwhile to spend so much on something that you’d only use for one semester. The solution? Get a photocopied version (some campus bookstores may do it discreetly but you gotta find out which yourself), find an online free version or buy a second-hand one. Before you do so, do ensure that the book is in the correct edition.

Here are some platforms which students use to sell their textbooks:

Carousell (app)

If you can afford to wait, sometimes even sites like Amazon would offer your textbooks at a relatively lower price.

10. S/U option

If you find yourself doing not so well for courses you have added and confirmed, you can exercise your S/U option (which stands for Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory) on them! Once you have converted them to S/U grading, you will only be graded S (if you pass or even if you get an A) or U if you fail or if I’m not wrong, get below a C? These grades will not be included into your GPA so it’s like you’re taking the courses for fun (but still must pass la otherwise you’d have to retake I guess and it won’t look nice on your transcript). But of course good things come with a limit. You can only use this option 4 times in your 4-year course (and 3 for 3-year). 😦

This option is available 2-3 weeks before your final paper so you’d have plenty of time to consider and evaluate after getting your marks for your first few quizzes for example! Otherwise, you can still decide after sitting for the paper as the declaration period lasts ’til the final examination week. Read more here.

With effect from academic year 2014, freshmen can automatically exclude up to six courses for Grade Point Average (GPA) computation, if they do not attain a pass for their first attempt in their first year. They will retake the exams for those exempted courses and the grade for the second attempt will then be used to compute the student’s GPA. These changes were made to ease the freshmen’s transition into university. [Source]

11. Bus 179/179A

I thought I have to add this in because like many freshmen, I didn’t know the difference between 179 and 179A when I was in my first semester. All I knew was both buses go to NTU from Boon Lay interchange.. so, what’s that ‘A’ for? Seeing 179A buses drive past and refusing to stop despite getting flagged down at the bus stop opposite Pioneer MRT station never failed to puzzle me. It happened too many times to be ignored so one day, I took out my phone and Googled it on the spot.

Apparently, bus 179A does not stop at any of the bus stops outside NTU, hence making the journey faster especially during the morning rush hour (9.00am classes) when almost every bus stop is packed with people waiting for the bus. Thus, you can only board 179A from Boon Lay bus interchange (just 2 berths away from the 179 queue, on the left near the exit) but the service is only available until 9.30am. Any time later, you’d have to take bus 179. This service is not available during weekends, public holidays and NTU holidays.

Do not be alarmed if you see terribly long queues for bus 179A in the morning because it’s really not as bad as it seems. With the surprisingly high frequency for 179A and its amazingly short intervals (one behind another), be rest assured that there’ll be enough buses to carry everyone in the queue! So don’t be deterred and join the queue for 179 instead which is a really stupid decision because it’s such a waste of time.

Having said that, bus 179A does ferry students from the campus to Boon Lay bus interchange during the evening peak hours even though they don’t pick anyone up from the interchange itself during that time. Likewise, they skip all the stops outside NTU and go straight to the interchange. So, please ah, don’t be a suaku and press the bell for the bus to pull into Pioneer MRT bus stop. Everyone immediately knows that you’re a freshie if you do that and trust me, it’s super embarrassing.

* * *

Okay now let’s talk about what courses I took in Semester 1! Some courses.. really ah. I must WARN you all first before you register them. Don’t say I didn’t tell you guys! (-_-)

1. AB0603 Business Gone Green (UE)

This is a course from Nanyang Business School and a CORE for business students. The best thing about this course is that it’s NON-EXAMINABLE! So it’s purely graded based on your coursework which include 2 essays, 2 group presentations and other individual tasks. This is a relatively new course and I was in the pioneer batch! Because it’s non-examinable, I really didn’t pay much attention in class honestly (also because the lessons were super profound) and I just relied on the seminar notes when doing projects and I did okay! 😀 The class was fantabulous, full of energy and so-ever enthusiastic and I made a couple of friends from there. All groups tried so hard to make their presentations creative and interactive so there was a stiff competition! I actually added this course LAST because I wanted 6 courses and this was the last option. But I never regretted my decision!

2. BU8301 Fundamentals of Business Law (GER-PE, BM)

Let me just say that I loved this course so much (even though I may not get an A) because the content is so interesting and the professors are really engaging (with the exception of 1….). I have learnt so much from this course to the extent that I’m even applying what I’ve learnt in real life! I believe this is one of the more beneficial courses which really teaches you something. This is also a rather relaxed course because the final grade is dependent just on your class participation (20%) and your final paper (80%). No projects and no presentations! Just do your tutorial diligently every week and volunteer to answer them in class and you’d get your A+ for class participation! 😉 Oh but some tutorial groups replace their class participation with group projects (as in every week one group is assigned to present their answers for a tutorial and in my opinion, that’s super hard to score). However I believe the weightage for the final paper is a little too much ah.. So that’s one bad thing about it. But it is an open-book examination 😉

3. CS2023 or COM223 Publication Design (Major PE)

This is a course supposedly only for second year students because there is a prerequisite! But because I am exempted from the prerequisite course, I was allowed to take this. This is a very project-intensive course which uses InDesign very heavily, as well as a little bit of Photoshop. There is homework every week and 3 assignments spread out across the semester. The last assignment is a group project which involves creating a 20-page school newsletter. So.. perhaps take this if your design skills are not too bad? And even though there are design tutorials, you really need to do your own reading and research too because not everything will be taught in class! Oh and a Macbook is really recommended for this course because you’d be taught how to create eBooks using a software that can be only installed on Mac unless you don’t mind going back to the lab to complete your assignment. The final paper is also an open-book one!

4. DV2003 History of Graphic Design (UE) – S/U

I have a love-hate relationship with this course. Love because I enjoyed doing the group project and I am very sure I did pretty well for that. Hate because I flunked all my (pop) quizzes and I dislike the professor’s teaching style! No lecture notes would be provided and you would be expected to pen down the key points the professor said from scratch (and I am not very good at this). Because it’s conducted in the school of Art, Design and Media (and also its students’ CORE), I feel so overshadowed by their overwhelming knowledge in art. NOW I KNOW WHY I DON’T DESERVE A SPOT IN ADM. So as you can see, I didn’t do as well as I expected so there goes my first S/U option. The final paper is in essay format and requires a lot of memorizing to do well. Kinda reminded me of Social Studies..

5. ES8001 Natural Hazards, Climate Changes and Society (GER-PE, STS) – S/U

Whenever I tell a non-NTU student about this module, I’d always get a positive response because the name already looks cool on its own. But looks are definitely deceiving because I hated this course from the very first lesson. I couldn’t catch up on the lecture (it is a once-a-week, 3-hour lecture which covers 2-3 topics every time) because when I joined the class on the third week, it was already on the SEVENTH topic. There would also be in-class clicker quizzes worth 25% of the overall grade at the start of the lecture (so if you’re late, you’re dead) hence you would need to spend at least 1 hour watching online lectures before going for class. It was so time consuming and despite feedback from students, they still refused to change the structure of the assessment! Moreover, I wasn’t very familiar with the clicker so somehow my response for the first 5 quizzes didn’t get recorded and I got ZERO for them. Informed the course coordinator (or rather, his assistant) and was promised a solution but until now, I have not heard from her. I even followed up with her during my recess week and I even went up to her during lecture to voice my concern) and she assured me that she had not forgotten about us (apparently it wasn’t only me who was wrongfully marked zero). But it seems like she has indeed forgotten about us! -_-

There is no way you could understand the lesson without watching the videos because the notes were all pictorial with little to no text. -_- And don’t expect this course to be like the Seconds From Disaster documentary because it is NOT. It is so dry and technical. Can you believe that my very first lecture was on tectonics or measuring of earthquakes? :\ Calculations are totally not for me man.

There are 2 papers for this course – one mid-term and one final paper. Mid-term has a weightage of 25% and the final one 50% with 100 MCQs. Yes, even though the exam questions are all in MCQ, they can be really tricky too :\

But as much as I hated this course I couldn’t drop it because my first class was after the Add/Drop period 😦 So I had to S/U this! I’m probably the only freshman to have S/U two courses in her first semester!! But even though I had already S/U this, I probably will not even get an S 😦 Sigh, *fingers crossed*

6. LS9001 Spanish Language I (UE)

I wanted to continue with my French study but was denied the chance because I missed the placement test (couldn’t take the lowest level because I already learned a little of French in Poly). My next choice was Italian but because it was a highly popular course I couldn’t get it in the end. Thus I settled for Spanish, and I never once regretted my decision! I enjoyed the lessons (1.5-hour, twice a week class) so much that time passed so quickly when I was in the class. I really liked my Spanish teacher because she is engaging and really cares whether you understand what she teaches. Her name is Arancha (her real name is longer than this) and she usually teaches  the Tuesday and Thursday 12pm/1.30pm slots in case you’re wondering 🙂 There are in total 4 levels of Spanish language offered in NTU but they are still not enough to prepare you for DELE (Diplomas of Spanish as a Foreign Language) though.

Knowing a little of French really did help me grasp the Spanish language better because they are rather similar. But because it is a completely foreign language altogether, you’d really need to spend some time practising and memorising vocabulary for example otherwise you would be lagging behind in class. But even though I like the language, I don’t think I did well for the final paper because the comprehension portion of it killed me. :\ You’d be tested through an oral examination (25% weightage. You and your partner have to converse in Spanish in front of the entire class and it was very stressful HAHA), a listening comprehension (10% weightage), 2 bring-home assessments (10% weightage each) and 2 test papers (total of 25%, one of which is the final paper) which cover Comprehension, Vocabulary, Grammar (conjugations) and Composition.

And that’s about it!

In less than 2 weeks’ time I would be getting my final grades for this semester (will be looking at my mail all the way in China) and I am really praying hard for a Pass for my Natural Hazards course! I have been hearing a lot about the bell curve and its horror stories but I am not a victim of it yet. Hopefully the bell curve does more good than harm to me 😦

Ok I really hope this post has benefited you in one way or another. Do drop me a comment if you need to know anything else not mentioned here! 🙂

Read also:
University Senior: Year 4 Semester 1 & 2
University Junior: Year 3 Semester 1
University Sophomore: Year 2 Semester 2
University Sophomore: Year 2 Semester 1
University Freshman: Year 1 Semester 2