Friday, 11 July 2014

Review for year 1 Modules

Some of you may be wondering why I did not post any module review for modules I have taken in my first year. That’s because I blur blur and accidentally deleted them some time back. As the semester is about to start, I thought it might be helpful to post my review for some of these year 1 modules. Note that I have taken these modules 3 years ago so it might not accurately reflect the current syllabus or assessment criteria, but I doubt that there were much changes.


A lot of theorems which can be quite intimidating at first, so it is necessary to be familiar with all of them in order to use them during the time-packed examination.
Dr Ng Kah Loon is the best lecturer I have encountered so far and I voted him as the best lecturer for this semester. Great in delivering concepts. Pace is consistent and manageable if you are prepared. Helps to keep the lecture quiet so that it is more conducive for those that are keen to learn. And a sense of humour that keep the lecture engaging.

Assessment and workload
20% midterm. 10% lab quiz. 70% final. Lab quiz is for you to score so do prepare for it. His Mid-term is challenging, expect the mean to be around 22-24 out of 40. Finals on the other hand is much easier.


More in depth compared to A level calculus. Some proofing questions that JC students might be unfamiliar with, and will take some effort to get the hand of it.
Lecturer: Wang Fei
Passionate and particular in teaching the right concepts.  He also like to spend some times during the lecture to share how students should adopt the right attitude when doing math. Some might think that he is wasting time talking about it, but I personally find them quite useful. Pace is quite fast, hence it is advisable to do pre- and post-lecture reading up on your own.  
Assessment and workload
Homework - 15%
Lab assignment - 5%
Midterm - 20%
Finals - 60%

Personal experience
I made a comeback for this module and got an A. Basically I screwed up my mid-term due to some personal reason, scoring slightly below the mean score. And partly because I don’t know many people in the course, I am among the few that could not get full marks for all the homework and lab assignment as I have to do them on my own while most of the others just copy or discuss with each other. However, I put in a lot of effort after I got back my mid-term results and breezed through the finals while many others complain that the paper was ‘imba’. So with a lot of hard work, you can score for this module.


Almost similar to H2 Econs but more in depth and some new stuff. Not recommended for those without Economics background as the content is really heavy.

Teaching staff:
Dr Cornie and another male lecturer. Dr Cornie's lecture just reap off everything from the textbook. Sometimes she seems a bit confuse over the slides. The male lecturer was much better, teaching stuffs that are beyond the textbook. 

Assessment and workload
Online tutorial (10%) - some technical screw up of the platform at the initial stage but was quickly rectified.
Mid-Term (30%) - MCQ. Easy. Everyone scored very high. If you are aiming for A+, u need to score full mark for this.
Finals (60%) - MCQ. Slightly harder but still quite simple. You still need to score close to full mark to get A+

Personal experience
Bell curve is extremely steep, majority of the students come in with econs background. Careless mistakes is not tolerated if you are aiming for A or A+.


Almost identical to JC stats with a bit new stuff towards the end. But the concept is still the same. Very dry module that makes me sleepy very lecture.

Teaching staff:
Wong Yean Ling speaks really really fast. Always on sick leave as she seems to be really ill most of the time... long winded but give good summary of the chapters

Assessment and workload
Mid-term - 35%, Finals - 60%, Assignment - 5%. Assignment is a free 5%, anyone could do it easily. Midterm is easy. Finals is tricky

Personal experience
Got an A-. Very dry and easy module, which is why I did not put in enough effort and didn’t get an A. Bell curve was terribly skewed as most people scored really high for it. Those with H2 math will be at an advantage.


General/special relativity. Quantum Mechanics. Particle Physics. No difficult math involved at all as it is only an exposure module. Abstract ideas that you can either accept it or you can’t.  Which is probably the reason why no matter how badly u do, the lecturer won’t fail you so that you can S/U it. Highly recommended for those that like to think a lot and has an interest in modern science and abstract ideas.

Teaching staff:
Prof Phil Chan is a passionate lecturer. However, he like to say 'please take note of it' at basically everything.
Tutors are very clear in clarifying doubts and explain concepts in another way to complement what was being taught in the lecture.

Assessment and workload
30%-Group Project (in groups of 2-3) Write a few thousand words report (either a story you made up or a book review). Choose your teammates carefully, avoid those who are intending to S/U if possible

20%x2 -2 tests one held during midterms (40 mcqs,1hr) and the other (45mcqs,1hr) before reading week. Both open book. Even though it is open book, you still need to be extremely familiar with the material as you will not have the luxury to flip through the lecture notes slowly to find your answers.
5%- star gazing (just go for 2 sessions. It's on certain Fri 7-10pm) Just need to go and sign attendance if you are not interested.

5% - forum discussions
10%- E-learning. Does not always apply. Not every semester will have e-learning.
5%- In class assignment. Free frag, TA essentially give you the answers.
5%- Tutorial Attendance


I did not have any background in computing, but was still able to follow the syllabus fine. The module teach a lot of basics C programming which are easy to learn. However the challenging part is applying these basics programming techniques to write programs which can be quite complicated and not straight forward. However, if you get yourself familiar with the programming language and is able to think logically, you will do fine in this module.

Assessment and workload
5 Lab Assignments - 5%
Mark is awarded by attempting. As long as you submit your assignment with reasonable effort, you will be awarded the 1% for each assignment. NOTE: Do not copy your program from your friends. They are able to detect copied work and I can assure you that you won’t like the outcome if you are caught.

Discussion Attendance - 5%
Free 5%. Just make sure you attend every tutorial and present some solutions to the problems and you will get all 5%

Practical Exam 1. - 10%
Easy. Median mark was around 8.8/10. Try to score well for this.

Practical Exam 2 - 25%
Challenging. Medium was around 60-70%. Still do-able. Practice on recursive

Mid-Term - 15%

Final - 40%   

Personal experience
I scored an A- for this module which is kind of disappointing. For some reasons, I could not do some of the not-so-difficult questions during the exam and some fatal careless mistakes which caused me my A. The good thing about this module is that it is not bell-curve based, so you do not need to worry if your course mate is extremely good in the module. As long as u manage to get certain marks, you will get the grades u deserved. Another thing is that the grading of this module is extremely transparent, you will more or less know your overall result and hence predict ur grade the minute u finish your final paper.


A more in depth version of the first part of MA1102R (no differentiation and integration). The content of the module is very light with only about 5 topics. However, there are a lot of proving in this module. Textbook is not a must-have, but will come in handy at times.

Assessment and workload
Homework Assignment - 10%
Like all other maths modules, everyone will be scoring near full mark for homework assignments, so make sure you do too.

Tutorial participation - 5%
Present the tutorial questions 2 times in class.

Mid-term - 20%
Relatively easy paper. Be careful of careless mistakes. Median score is 71 for my semester. The format of the paper is exactly the same as the previous sem, even the questions are similar. I could have done much better had I known this fact.

Final - 65%
A lot of proving questions. Personally I feel that the paper is not do-able at all, I do not know how to do at least half the paper and wrote rubbish in it, praying that it might earn me some sympathy marks.   

Personal experience
The most terrible experience I had ever had for any math modules. For the first time in NUS I could not do half the paper and left the exam hall feeling really terrible. But in the end I think the bell-curve saved me and I still manage to get a B+.


Content was not very heavy. Focus a lot on understanding and manipulating some economic framework graphically. Textbook is a MUST. If you are unwilling to buy the textbook, there is a free eBook ver. online available for download (google it yourself).

Assessment and workload

Tutorial Participation - 10%
No idea how is the point awarded. But just be as active as you possibly can. If you are really shy, attempt to present your solution at least twice.

Mid-Term - 30%
MCQ. Slightly challenging. Median was 21 and the 75th percentile was 24 out of 30. Know your graphs well.

Finals - 60%
Closed book. Know your graphs well such as how to derive some graph from another and practice on solving simultaneous equations will be useful.

Personal experience
Got an A for this module. Know your graphs well and understand them and you will do fine in this module. If you know some math, it will be an added advantage.


Astronomical objects and events. Pretty interesting most of the time, particularly if you like astronomy. Prof Cindy had a funny accent, and she can be quite funny sometimes.  Textbook not required.

Assessment and workload
Tutorial Attendance + Assignments - 20%
Almost free 20%. Attend every tutorial and do the assignments (simple calculations, just be careful of careless mistakes) and you should expect more than 18%

Term test 1 - 20%
MCQ - closed book. Beware of stupid questions such as the date of next astronomical events which does not question your understanding of the concepts you have learned. For the semester I took, the mid-term was harder than usual as the highest mark was only 28/30. The lecturer claim that this was because she had run out of easy questions. Focus on memorization skills

Term Test 2 - 20%
MCQ - Open book. Test more on concepts. Some questions requires you to know where to find the answer in the lecture notes unless you memorized every single little details which is kind of impossible. Term test 2 might be more challenging to some, but because I suck in memorization, I think I fare better for this test compared to the first one.

Group project + individual Report (20% + 20%)
Do an experiment related to astronomy with a group of around 4 people (google for the experiment). The prof will show you a lot of past project done by students from the previous semesters. It is okay to do experiments that other people had done before, or will be doing, because trust me, after so many semesters, I believe the prof have seen every possible experiment out there. The IMPORTANT thing is that your experiment must have a lot of variables (at least 3) for you to play around with. For the individual report, you need to demonstrate your understanding of the experimental results and explain why certain trend or anomaly exist. As long as your explanation make sense from physics point of view, then it will be fine.

Personal experience
Got an A+ for this module. Read up and understand the concepts from the lecture notes. Even though it is an open book test for term test 2, prepare a cheat sheet with important dates or information so that you can find them quickly during the test. I spent a lot of effort doing the individual report, (more than a week including reading up and researching on the topic I did) while I have some team mate who had not even started the report less than a week before the deadline, I even heard a random stranger boasting that he completed his report within 5 hrs. Spend some effort on the report and it will definitely help u with your grades especially when a lot of people are taking this module with a heck-care altitude.

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