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Exercise S/U Option after final grade (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)

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NTU introduced the S/U option to encourage students to step out of their comfort zones, and explore other fields of study, rather than just their own disciplines. This was done so to ensure that students at NTU receive a more all-rounded education and keep up with the dynamic modern society after they graduate.

However, our S/U option can only be exercised before we take the final examinations at the end of each semester. This arrangement can prove to be rather counter-effective mainly in two ways:

Problems with this arrangement

1) Students prefer to take ‘safe’ electives, rather than those which are unfamiliar to them.
It is difficult to gauge how well one is doing for a module if this estimation is based only on the results for the mid-term examinations. Many students who thought they did well in a certain module in the middle of the semester did not do well in the finals, and vice versa. Due to this risk factor, students are deterred from taking elective modules that seem intimidating to them. Naturally, students will not feel too ambitious when choosing their electives.

2) Once students exercise S/U options during the semester, there is no incentive for them to work hard on that particular module.
If a student decides to exercise the S/U option for a certain module in the middle of the semester, he/she would not be as inclined to work on the module for the rest of the semester. This defeats the purpose of having the S/U option in the first place, since the student, having the mentality that the particular module is doomed to failure, will follow through for the rest of that module. The student will not learn as much as he/she would if he/she had not placed the grave marker on that module.

That brings us to the benefits of exercising the S/U option after the finals:

How students may benefit if S/U option is exercised after final grade

1) Students are likely to be more adventurous when choosing electives.
Students need not fear how badly (or how well) they did during the mid-term examinations for the electives, since there is nothing to lose. Students will then be more adventurous when it comes to choosing electives, and hence diversify into more fields of study. 

2) Students will be more inclined to put effort into their electives.
Since the module is no longer doomed to failure, the student will definitely work harder in his/her attempt to improve his/her CGPA. If such an attempt fails, he/she would not only be relieved that his/her CGPA is not affected; he/she would also walk away with some new knowledge gained from that module. 

How the University can benefit from this

Now one may ask, how will the University benefit from this? Well, for one, the reputation of the University will be given a boost if their graduates have higher employability in the workplace. The value of the graduate’s degree will also be enhanced, in the sense that the graduate has been proven to be more adaptable towards fields outside his/her comfort zone. To put it simply, if the students look good, so will the University.

If this appeal is successful, there will, of course, be some repercussions and drawbacks to it. There is also bound to be some students who think it is unfair, as they would not get the opportunity to take advantage of the improved system. There is bound to be some criticism and negativity towards this, but I implore you all, the students of NTU, to support this cause, so that future batches of students, if not us, may enjoy a better, fairer system. We also seek the University's understanding in this, for this concerns the employability of your students in the future workplace.


Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
- Albert Einstein


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