Poly General Starter Tips/Hacks


Posted July 01, 2019
Last modified July 01, 2019

14 mins read



This article is reposted from https://www.reddit.com/r/SGExams/comments/ay8jxj/poly_general_starter_tipshacks/, originally written by u/Zelmier.

Will add more if I think of more. For now, it's a work in progress 😶

1. General poly curriculum - "the heck is tutorial actually"

2. Concession

3. How to minimally go about "studying"

4. Attire (no I'm not gonna give fashion advice)

5. Project tips as an introvert, from an introvert

6. Brief internship info

Tip 1: General Poly Curriculum

In poly, the very first question people ask is "what is tutorial?" followed by "do I need to go school everyday/is there flag raising or morning assembly etc"

Poly and university curriculum are almost the same kind of structure. There are a few kinds of "lessons". Depending on your diploma, you might not have some of the types, or you might have everything. However, do note that RP follows a very different style which I'm not very familiar with.

Types of "lesson sessions":

Lecture or mass lecture: 

In general, the whole cohort will sit in one large lecture hall to listen to a lecture i.e. a lesson, conducted by a lecturer. So the lecturer basically talks for up to 2 hours. For such long lectures, there would usually be a break at the 1h mark where you can go get fresh air or go to the toilet, or in some cases, even buy quick bites or drinks to bring in. But not every poly allows food and drinks in the lecture hall or classrooms though.

An exception to this is if the cohort is small. Sometimes, lectures can take place in classrooms. These lessons can become flexible such that tutorials and lectures can be interchangeably swapped depending on the speed of content being gone through.

Even so, the general etiquette is the same. If it's a teaching session, try to only ask questions only if the lecturer asks for them, or ask during breaktimes or after the session. If you have a lot of questions, consider setting up a consultation session with the lecturer.


By right, these sessions are meant for doing exercises that will be handed out during the session. Tutorials are conducted by tutors, which can be the lecturer himself/herself or another faculty member. Some tutorials have pretutorials. These are exercises that are given beforehand. Sometimes, pretutorials will not be gone through and are purely used as practice, but depending on the course coordinator, if a student volunteers to go through the solutions during tutorial, they might get some marks. This can also apply to tutorial exercises given during the session itself.

If you have questions related to the exercises, you can ask the tutor anytime since they are probably gonna just wait for everyone to be done with the exercises. If it's a session where the answers will just be flashed, then try to keep questions till after the answer has been presented.


Not every diploma have lab sessions. In general, lab sessions take up to 3h. It is very important to adhere to any safety regulation related to attire and behaviour. All these safety stuff will be conveyed during the safety briefing, so be sure to be attentive to the details. Not following regulations gives the school reason to kick you out of the lab. They can and they will if they need to.

So is there any standard daily reporting and dismissal time for poly? Do I need to go school everyday?

There is no standard daily reporting time that applies for every single diploma in the school. The time you report to school should be the time when your first lesson starts on your timetable. Also, the time you leave school is the end time of your last lesson of the day. So everything revolves around the timetable. This means that if for some reason, you have one of the days in the week without any lesson at all, there's no need to go down to campus. But if you want to, it's up to you 😶😶😶

Tip 2: Concession Pass


Highly recommend to apply concession ASAP upon getting your EZLink card. Paying adult fares as a student is really chor.

Prices for DIPLOMA students holding a diploma tertiary education EZLink:

Bus only: $27.50

MRT only: $25.00 (why this is cheaper, idk)

Both ie Hybrid: $51.00

Concession Passes allow you to ride the mode of transport you paid for for an unlimited number of times, for a duration of a month.

If you only take one form of transport often, it's pretty self-explanatory on which to get. Generally, this would be MRT. Personally I got hybrid because I needed to take a bus to the nearest MRT station from my house.

Buying concession is as easy as bringing it to the Control Station at any MRT station (cash only). Just let them know which kind you are applying for and when to start using.

If you have NETS, you can also buy concession from the ticket machines (the big ones or the small purple ones work). Do note that this is strictly for NETS. No cash, no credit card and no debit card. Just like topping up your card, you just need to put your card on the reader, choose Concession Pass, the type of transport and when to start using.

Tip 3: What you should minimally do to have some control over your GPA

Some terms used here have been explained in tip 1: General poly curriculum. Before that, some general grading structure:

Midterms/common-test: Conducted during the middle of the semester. After the midterms, there should be a short holiday.

Exams: The large stakes paper conducted at the end of the semester. After exams, there will be a longer holiday.

Assignment/project: Can be individual or grouped.

Do note that not every diploma and not every module has midterms and/or exams. Some of them will have assignments or projects instead of those two.

The weightage of each type of assessment varies among diploma and modules. In general, an examination will have a higher weightage, and for some diplomas or modules, a final project/assignment has higher weightage. These information will be given to you by your lecturers or course coordinators on the first lesson session.

How does GPA work: GPA is calculated based on your grade for the module as well as its credit units. Credit units awarded are based on how heavy the module is, which can include lecture hours, tutorial hours, etc. There are 2 kinds of GPA, semester and cumulative. Semester GPA is the raw GPA you get for the current sem, while cumulative is the calculated one that includes the impact of all previous semester GPAs.

GPA in year 1 sem 1 is considered the most important. This is due to the fact that your semester GPA will be your cumulative GPA at this point, and there is no prior average to include. Considering that all your subsequent cumulative GPA takes previous semester GPA into account, you can kinda say that your y1s1 semester GPA is the "parent" to your subsequent cumulative GPA. In general, without any large change in effort in studying as compared to in y1s1, your GPA in y1s1 is likely gonna be very near your graduating GPA in year 3. Also, this is the reason why it is mathematically impossible to get a perfect 4 if you did not get it since y1s1.

So what should I minimally do as a student: Minimally, you should be paying utmost attention in lectures, attempt all tutorials and pay attention during the presentation of tutorial answers. Clarify any questions you have asap, don't wait till the night before the midterm or exam. Doing notes is entirely up to you if you have the patience and if you feel that you learn better by writing. Personally, I did not do so. Most importantly, have confidence in yourself. Don't feel that you aren't doing enough just because you don't feel the need to do notes for every chapter.

Tip 4: Attire

This will probably be one of the shortest tips.

You can wear whatever you want. Just don't be naked 😶 My personal go to is tshirt and shorts all day everyday unless I got lab. In that case, lab attire for science-related diplomas would usually consist of long pants (jeans are okay) and covered shoes. Labcoats depend on diploma. Flats and boat shoes are not covered shoes. Each lab will have their own requirements in general.

Of course, if you are in a business diploma, chances are you need to dress very formally for presentations. Diplomas like International Business will be more strict, maybe requiring a blazer for guys. You will likely be briefed on what is required.

For presentations that aren't as strict as IB, a plain, simple buttoned long sleeve shirt and long pants with leather shoes is fine. Tie is generally not needed. For girls, a plain buttoned longsleeve blouse and skirt or long pants with flats or heels (not the super high heels, and no wedges).

The safest colour scheme to wear for formal presentation is black and white. You can't go wrong unless you wear a black shirt and white pants which looks funny 😶 Try to avoid striking colours.

Tip 5: Project tips as an introvert, from an introvert

Project group arrangements are either random, arranged by lecturers, or the students themselves form their own groups. I actually found that groups that are randomly assigned will generally be more focused on their work. Instead, the most drama came from groups that were formed from cliques 😶

If you are worried, just try to fully focus on the assignment on hand. It's okay to only open up and do small chitchat with your groupmates once you feel comfortable enough. But if you don't want to, that's also fine.

If by chance your group members are made up of freeloaders, you need to inform the lecturer about this. Try to think of it as a form of protection in case the other group members are against you for whatever reason. In future when you are in the workforce, you have to be able to speak up for yourself and protect yourself, so it would be better to pick up this skill asap.

Tip 6: Brief internship info

Kinda early, but can at least be a form of early preparation. This is gonna be really brief though, coz the details can vary between diplomas and schools.

Internships are generally in y2 or y3, and takes place for about 1 semester or even longer. Some diplomas have short internships of 6 weeks ish.

In general, the school will provide a list of companies for you to indicate your preferences. Then, it is up to the lecturers in-charge of internship to post you to the companies. So if you know who are the lecturers in-charge of this, please do not piss them off.

Interviews or resume weren't required for my time, but as mentioned, this will differ for other diplomas depending on the diploma's focus. Even so, it is a given that you will go through some career-related module in your 3 years of poly, so you will not be thrown inside water and expected to swim.

Internships are a good time to gain knowledge of the possible job opportunities for your diploma. It further confirms or directs you on what you wanna do in the future. And definitely, internship experience is worth it to include in your resume when you are looking for a job in the future. So try to learn as much as you can.

This article is reposted from https://www.reddit.com/r/SGExams/comments/ay8jxj/poly_general_starter_tipshacks/, originally written by u/Zelmier.

Editor @kslui