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FAQ for the release of the Indicative Grade Profiles of A-level Grades and Polytechnic GPAs for the Academic Year 2017/2018 University Admissions Exercise

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1.   What is the purpose of the Indicative Grade Profiles and how can it guide me in my application to the University?

The purpose of providing the Singapore-Cambridge GCE A-level Grades and Polytechnic Grade Point Average (GPA) is to assist applicants in assessing their competitiveness for the various undergraduate courses in NUS. Applicants should therefore use the relevant profile to guide them in their selection of course choices when they submit their application.

2.    How are A-level graduates considered for admission?

Admission of Singapore-Cambridge GCE A-level graduates to the University is based on an applicant's University Admission Score (UAS) comprising the grades of six A-level subjects as follows:

  • Best three H2 and one H1 content-based subjects, with at least 1 content subject from a contrasting discipline
  • General Paper (GP) or Knowledge and Inquiry (KI)
  • Project Work (PW)

The best Mother Tongue Language (MTL) subject grade (e.g. H1 MTL or O-level higher MTL) will be considered only if the candidate provides the result for the University's consideration. The University will include the MTL subject grade in the scoring only if it raises the competitiveness of the candidate. Please refer to more information at http://www.nus.edu.sg/oam/apply-to-nus/A-levels-admissions-req-to-NUS.html

3.    How are polytechnic graduates considered for admission?

For the admission of polytechnic graduates to the University, the Singapore-Cambridge GCE O-level examination results and the polytechnic's semester GPA are both taken into consideration. These grades translate to the University Admission Score (UAS) which is used to evaluate the applicant for admission. Some NUS undergraduate courses will only consider polytechnic graduates with accredited diplomas. Please refer to the list of accredited diplomas at http://www.nus.edu.sg/oam/apply-to-nus/Poly-subject-prerequisites.html.

4.    I am a student holding a polytechnic diploma who did not take the Singapore-Cambridge GCE O-level examinations. Does that mean that I cannot apply to the undergraduate course even if my GPA meets the 10th percentile of the course?

An applicant's University Admission Score (UAS) is computed based on 80% polytechnic GPA results and 20% Singapore-Cambridge GCE O-level results. In the case of an applicant without the Singapore-Cambridge GCE O-level component, the application will be assessed based on the GPA score and other academic achievements presented by the applicant. Such applications are usually evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

5.    How should A-level graduates interpret the information indicated in Table 1?

Table 1 shows the indicative grade profile of A-level graduates who were offered admission in Academic Year (AY) 2016/2017. The grades indicated at the 10th and 90th percentiles are for the three H2 and one H1 content-based subjects, in that order. The grade profile assumed the grade C for General Paper and Project Work. The 10th percentile grade profile refers to the grades attained by the last candidate of 90% of the successful applicants who were offered admission. For example, if the 10th percentile grade profile is ABC/A (three H2 / one H1), it means that the bottom 10% of the applicants offered places score below the grades of ABC/A. If the 90th percentile grade is AAA/B, it means that the top 10% of the successful applicants score above AAA/B.

6.    How should polytechnic graduates interpret the information indicated in Table 2?

Table 2 shows the polytechnic GPA of those who were offered admission in AY 2016/2017 at the 10th and 90th percentiles. The 10th percentile GPA refers to the GPA attained by the last candidate of 90% of the successful applicants who were offered admission. For example, if the 10th percentile GPA profile is 3.56, it means that the bottom 10% of the applicants offered places attained GPA that is below 3.56. If the 90th percentile is 3.95, it means that the top 10% of the successful applicants attained GPA above 3.95.

7.    Why is the grade profile of only the bottom 10% of applicants who were offered admissions and not the last student made known?

The 10th percentile grade profile serves as an indicator of the cut-off point for each course. The actual cut-off point is not provided as there may be outliers in the intake for a given year, whereas a 10th percentile grade profile provides a more stable and accurate indication of overall quality of the students who were offered places.

8.    Why do the grade profiles not take into account offers that were made under Discretionary Admissions?

Since 2004, the University has introduced the Discretionary Admissions (DA) framework where up to 10% of students can be offer admission based on criteria other than their academic grades. This would include, typically, special talents, leadership skills or an outstanding record of co-curricular activities. The academic performance of students who are offered under DA will not be indicative of the academic requirements for admission and are, therefore, not included in the indicative grade profile of offers. From Academic Year 2017/2018, NUS may admit up to 15% of our annual intake under DA. While the DA process will remain largely the same, a higher proportion of places to consider students for DA will provide more room for the university to shortlist and admit students from more diverse background and talents.

9.    Why is there a variation in the A-level Grade Profiles or Polytechnic GPA for the various courses?

As admission to the University is based on competition amongst applicants for that year, the applicants' choice of courses and available course places will determine the admission requirements. Hence, the representative grade profile for a more competitive or popular course may be much higher compared to another course.

10.    What are the chances of me getting admitted to a particular course if I have attained the A-level Grade Profiles or Polytechnic GPA as indicated in the tables?

The A-level grade profile and Polytechnic GPA are based on last year's admission requirement. Each year, the A-level Grade Profile and Polytechnic GPA may differ depending on the number and performance of applicants and the places available for the course. This means that meeting the previous year's (AY 2016/2017) A-level Grades or Polytechnic GPA are only indicative and does NOT guarantee admission to the course for the following year (AY 2017/2018). Moreover, it should be noted that besides GPA, the Singapore-Cambridge O-level results of polytechnic applicants are also taken into consideration.

11.    What is the success rate of applicants to the various courses?

The success rate is not an accurate indicator as students are allowed to include as many as 5 or 8 choices in an application and only one offer is made. A successful applicant offered the first choice, for example, will not receive an offer for the subsequent choices he/she has applied for even if the grades are good enough, and it would be incorrect to interpret that the applicant had been unsuccessful for the subsequent choices.

12.    I was not successful in my application to a course that requires an interview and/or test even though I have met the A-level Grade Profiles or Polytechnic GPA as indicated in the Table. Why is this so?

Undergraduate courses such as Medicine, Dentistry, Music, Nursing, Law, Architecture and Industrial Design require additional assessment such as interviews, auditions, selection tests and portfolios as part of the admission requirement. The processes for interviews and selection tests are done rigorously. For instance, an applicant selected for the Medicine interview will go through multiple panels of interviewers who will not be given the academic results of interviewees. Selection to these competitive courses will be based on academic merit and the applicant's performance at the interviews and tests.

Please refer to the subject pre-requisites at http://www.nus.edu.sg/oam/apply-to-nus/A-levels-subject-prerequisites.html and http://www.nus.edu.sg/oam/apply-to-nus/Poly-subject-prerequisites.html for details.

13.    I would like to appeal for admission as my application was unsuccessful. Should I appeal for the courses with A-level Grade Profile or Polytechnic GPA that is similar to my A-level grades or Polytechnic GPA?

The admission criteria for AY 2017/2018 may vary from the information set out in the Tables due to changes in applicants' preferences and number of vacancies from the last academic year. Applicants are advised to appeal for courses that require A-level grades and Polytechnic GPA that are close to the A-level grades or Polytechnic GPA they have obtained.

14.    What is the breakdown in the course places for the faculties/schools since this will help me assess how competitive these courses are?

The University publishes course places to reflect the total number of enrolled freshmen students where the majority has not decided on their area of specialisation. Freshmen in some faculties/schools do not select their majors/specialisations in their first year of study and will read modules in many subjects so that they can decide on their area of specialisation after 2 or 3 semesters of study in the University.

15.    Why has the University not released the grade profile of other qualifications such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) and NUS High School diplomas?

Local applicants with IB and NUS High School qualifications are relatively fewer in number compared to those with the Singapore-Cambridge GCE A-levels and Singapore polytechnic diplomas. The sample size of applicants with these two qualifications is too small to arrive at a grade profile that is an accurate reflection of the academic requirements for the various undergraduate courses. We have, therefore, not included the grade profile for these two groups of students.

16.    How will students with the NUS High School or IB diploma applying for admissions be assessed by the University?

In the case of IB, the score in the IB diploma will be used to evaluate the students for admissions, while NUS HS diploma recipients will be evaluated on the strength of their graduation CAP and other academic achievements. Additional achievements that demonstrate exceptional ability in an area, exceptional achievements in research projects and various CCAs will also be taken into consideration in deciding the outcome. The exact requirements will vary depending on the specific course and is ultimately determined by the strength of the applicant pool each year, the relative performance of the students with other students taking similar examinations, and where available, the past performance of students who have matriculated with the same qualification.

Prepared by:
NUS Office of Admissions

15 August 2016