How a poly student with an initial GPA of 2.59 got into NTU

I think that I am one of the best persons to give advice to the young poly student who wants to get into a local university like NTU. Not because I am a 4 pointer, not because I am a National athlete that wins medals, but because I am just like you, average.

I am not the perfect-GPA-4.0 kid in the block.

In fact, during my first semester, I nearly dropped out of Poly. I am also not one of the most active people in my CCA, yet I managed to get Gold for it.

I absolutely hated competitions, and yet I won first place in some of them. So how did get into NTU?

Let me share with you my story about getting to NTU:

Back in Poly, I hated studying and always wanted to be the class clown. During the first semester in Poly, that is what I did. I always sat at the last row of the lecture theatre. I did not bother to pay attention to whatever the lecturer is saying. All I did during lectures was teasing my friends, checking out Facebook A LOT and skype someone sitting next to me.

During tutorial classes, I did not bother to do my homework. Instead, what I would do was chat with my friends and make jokes. I am sure that many of us are guilty of this. Sometimes, the teacher would be so angry that she would just tell us to keep quiet or she would not teach. This happened for a full semester. I just played and played, not caring about my results at all.

I mean, how hard can the exams be, right? Well, that’s what I thought.

Then, my results came via mail.

I opened it and got a shock.

Imagine if you had opened this together with your parents. Either they would kill you, or kill you. Either way, the end is not too pleasant.

I was in my room when I received the letter. When my mom saw me opening the letter, she asked me how I did. I told her that I got 2.59 upon a max of 4. She just shook her head and left my room. The disappointment on her face said it all.

Although she didn’t cry, I knew that she was disheartened. I told myself that I will never ever let this happen, ever in Poly.

I decided to change my method of studying. I applied these methods and graduated with a final GPA of 3.6. And with that, I got into NTU.

If only Ngee Ann Poly had a “Most improved Student Award”. I think I would have won it hands down.

FYI: I wasn’t the smartest kid around; in fact, I had barely made it into the NTU course that I was in.

These golden hacks will help you throughout your poly days.

Hang around the smart ones

There is a saying that you are the average of your 5 closest friends. This is very true in Poly. During the first semester in Poly, I had very playful friends. Even though they were nice, we hanged out a lot and didn’t really study. Instead, we focused on having fun. One of them even dropped out of Poly halfway. Needless to say, I was hanging around the playful ones.

I realized that this wasn’t taking me anywhere. I had to make friends with the smart ones. Well, it was awkward initially, but once they thought I was sincere, they agreed to let me group with them.

Always, ALWAYS print lecture notes beforehand.

By printing your lecture notes beforehand, you can read up on it to get a rough idea of what is going to be taught during the lecture. It gives you a leg up when the lecturer is actually speaking because you can scribble down notes and questions. After the lecture, you can clarify your notes and questions again with the lecturer. This helps you understand the module A LOT better.

Sit right at the front of the lecture theatre.

For me, this was tough initially. I was always the one sitting right at the back of the lecture theatre. So you can imagine the number of stares I got when I decided to “upgrade” myself to the “MBS” of the lecture theatre.

In any case, it may be tough at first, and embarrassing at the same time, because people will call you a nerd. But I guarantee you that it will all be worth it. Reason being? It is much easier to listen to the lecturer.

Also, an added bonus is that whenever lecturers call people to answer their questions, the front few rows won’t get picked.


Guess who the unlucky ones are? Yup, the ones sitting right at the back.

Do your homework

This one needs no explanation. However, I would recommend that you do your homework as soon as possible after the lecture. Once the lecture ends, the concepts are still fresh in your head. You are much more likely to remember concepts that were taught a few hours ago rather than a week ago.

So for instance, if the lecture is taught in the morning, I would do my homework in the afternoon or evening. Try not to delay doing homework for more than a day as the likelihood of you remembering the concepts drastically decreases.

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