How to Win the NTU Star Wars… and other FAQs

I get a lot of questions from juniors in NTU. But I only have so many hours in a day, so I made this FAQ which should serve to answer most of your questions. You can still contact me if you have other questions, though I make no guarantees about my response rates. I will continually update this list as new questions come along.

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How do I win at the NTU STAR WARS?

Here’s what worked for me (I got virtually every mod I wanted as an undergraduate).

Prepping for War

  • Split your modules into three plans.
    • The first two plans will ONLY have your cores and major electives. GER-Cores come under here too.
    • The first is your plan A, and you should populate it with your first-choice modules. Make sure they do not clash and that you do not have more AUs than you should have (people who hoard modules are trash). If you want to maximise your chances of getting the mods you want, consider selecting those with less popular tutorial timeslots. At least you’re in the module – you can swap indexes later.
    • The second is plan B, which contains the modules that you’re willing to settle for – there should be no overlaps with A. Plan B’s actually optional, because even if you lose the first round, you can play the waiting game to get all the modules you want eventually.
    • The third plan, the “essential afterthought”, consists of everything else – GER-PEs, UEs, or ICCs/BDEs as they now call it. Speed does not matter for these modules because ballotting, so just take your time to rank and submit after you’ve recovered from the initial shock of submitting Plan 1 and 2.
  • Use time.is – the STARS system is well-aligned with it.
  • In your free time or let’s say about 20-30 minutes before the actual war, practice holding the button from around XX:XX:55 onwards and release just as the clock turns to XX:XX:00. The system will indicate to you the time – if you’re in the “next minute”, you’ve succeeded. Practice releasing as early as possible while not being too early, because a mistake later during the actual bidding will cost you.
  • Sit really close to your Wi-Fi source, or use a desktop PC (those ethernet-wired ones). It worked for me, especially with the latter, but it might be a placebo effect.
  • Load up the page about 10 minutes before the actual timing and keep loading your modules in intervals of 30s. I am paranoid so I was loading every 15s LOL. This is so the page doesn’t expire by the time you submit your mods.
  • I read online that some people use two devices i.e. a computer and their phone to bid at the same time. I think that is hilariously dramatic and I did not need to do that, but whatever works amirite?

The What War?

  • When you submit Plan 1/2, another page will launch asking you to rank the modules. You do not need to rank the modules. Just locate and select the button at the bottom to submit.
  • The page may freeze. DO NOT close it. That’s what I did once when I panicked and I lost big time. Just wait, even though your heart wants to jump out of your chest and your mind is SPINNING.
  • … [processing] …
  • If you win, congratulations! No further action is required on your part. Do your little victory dance, submit Plan 3, and text your friends.
  • If/when you lose, DO NOT PANIC. Do NOT launch your email application in a fruitless attempt to complain to your school office – they will not be able to do anything for you at this point.
    • Speaking of which, keep an eye out for emails from your admin. They will usually be around to resolve any cohort issues (but not your individual ones, so don’t waste their time).
    • More slots for your modules are likely to be released periodically through the remainder of the day. Some say it is 5-10pm, but check back every 15 minutes anyway. It’s not as if you’ll be able to focus on anything else.
    • If you have a group chat with your coursemates, start posting your deets to exchange mods. First-come-first-serve!

The Aftermath

  • Contrary to popular opinion(?), THIS is actually the stage where I got most of the modules I wanted.
  • Sometimes I wrote to the office and pulled the 2nd major/exchange card (scientia potentia est, ladies and gentlemen).
  • Most other times I simply waited for the add/drop period and camped religiously at the STARS planner page. I would check back every 30 minutes or so waiting for people to drop the modules through the first and second week (esp. following the first lessons). I checked during class, outside class, when I woke up, before I slept. I usually got my modules by the end of the first week. Yeah so kinda anticlimactically, for me it was really just patience and persistence that sealed the deal.
  • I know some students write directly to professors, but it depends on the prof’s personality. I never used this method because I didn’t want to inconvenience others (the admin who has to accommodate extra slots, and the other students and professor who may have to bear the brunt of an overloaded class) and I don’t like it.
  • Even if you don’t get the modules you want, try something else and you might find yourself in for a surprise! I do have modules I regret taking (everyone does), and I can’t help but wonder what if I experimented and found something else in the process? You never know.
  • Be kind to your fellow peers and help them out. You never know if they might return the favour. People are more prone to helping friends when it comes to this kind of thing like swapping modules and all.

Check out my guide to NTU Psych Modules here.

To see the other questions, select Page 2 below.

Gwyn’s Guide to NTU Psych Modules (or: PSYCcess)

NOTICE: Are you interested in giving back to the NTU Psych community? Have a burning desire to share your experience in a module? You are hereby invited to contribute to this article as a guest writer!!! Your review will be recorded in this post for juniors’ future reference. You may also choose to feature your Instagram handle as recognition of your contribution here. With over 6,000 views and counting, let’s bring PSYCCESS to all!

SUBMIT YOUR REVIEWS HERE and I will get in contact with you as soon as I can! There is no deadline for this, and submissions are welcome anytime. Please note that this form is only accepting reviews for electives that are not already covered in this post.

welcome to SUCCESS

Hello to all my fans. This post is a comprehensive review of modules I have taken in NTU. For each I briefly discuss the lecturer’s style, content, assessments, and personal tips if any. Ctrl-F is your friend here – enter either the year/semester (e.g. Y1S1), course code (e.g. HP1000), module name (e.g. Introduction to Psychology) to jump to the relevant section directly. I also indicate the type of module (Core/Major-PE/Ger-Core/Ger-PE/UE) and number of AUs. All the psych mods are presented first, followed by the GER-PEs/UEs/BDEs.

Background: I majored in Psychology with a 2nd Major in Sociology. That’s a normal workload for psychology + 35AUs in sociology courses substituted from my UEs.

Disclaimer: Module syllabus differs by year and is especially contingent on the lecturer so what you read here may not be what you get. My module trajectory is not a guideline – I just did whatever I wanted. It is your responsibility to do your due diligence. Just because I said a module was easier for me doesn’t mean it’s easy to score because of how the bell curve works, and just because I said something was hard doesn’t mean I didn’t do well. I discourage selecting modules based on how easy they seem; I recommend selecting topics that interest you.

PSA: You can find most course syllabi at this page (under the courses block).

If my posts helped you and you’d like to show your appreciation, consider making a donation here! It keeps my blog running and my energies focused on writing LOL. You will contribute to my monthly subscriptions to Share The Meal. More details and contact information here.

Select page 2 below to continue.

on the failure to fail

Two weeks ago, I had my first classes at McGill University. It is a gorgeous, sprawling institution located in Montréal, a city in Canada’s province of Quebec. (Took me a while to get that sentence too – geography eludes me.)

Introductory day was spectacular, setting my existential crisis into motion. I walk into morning class to be greeted by a course syllabus with no exams and massive class participation. Anyone who knows me recognises my enthusiasm for group work. And a poster exhibition worth 40%. What? But the module is on the sociology of science! I’d be a fool to let that go for some adjustment issues.

Three hours later, I am late for a seminar because it is a 15-minute hill away from the second lecture, and also because of my abysmal time management. (There’s no way around either.) I awkwardly fumble for a seat at the makeshift discussion space, made up of four rectangular tables aligned such that sixteen people can stare daggers at each other simultaneously. Sixteen. The instructor is devastatingly charming, up to the point he casually mentions that everyone in class will inevitably and individually lead a class discussion. You could pull that phrase apart into single words and I’d be as horrified. Individually / lead / class / discussion.

I share my personal difficulties with being nervous in social situations with two friendly classmates, as they walk me to my fourth and final class out of goodwill. They are mildly sympathetic. Or not. Could I chalk it down to cultural differences or personal weakness? I have no answers, and it doesn’t matter.

I attempt to strike a conversation with an aloof, if cordial, student seated beside me in the lecture theatre. She doesn’t catch my accent half the time. It’s fine. I won’t be seeing her in the next lesson, or the next, or any of the following lectures really. We sit in silence, and I make a comment on how the theatre is packed.

She replies: “Ah, don’t worry about that. The numbers start falling off in a few weeks.”

Me, intrigued and dumb: “Why? Is it because they drop the class?”

Her, blandly: “No. They just stop coming.”

well, there’s that.

I leave the theatre confused by my professor’s rambling on development, colonialism, and what the definition of “betterment of society” really entails. I am emotionally and socially depleted, and I don’t have anyone to go home to. To mitigate my nagging loneliness, I go searching for John William’s Stoner near my place as an alternative to the more scandalous books I currently possess. It’d be easier to read in public. There, on level 2, an older man’s fingers dance across the piano at an adjoined café as mine run across pages and glossy covers. The book’s not available.

On my way home, I ruminate on why I’m so worried about my performance when I’m being graded on a pass/fail scale. I could even get away with missing class occasionally (obligatory disclaimer: not that I intend to). The answer, introspectively derived, is that it’s not only my performance that I’m worried about. I’m worried, and I always have been, about how others perceive me. And that is inextricably intertwined with my fear of failure, in the words of my lecturer on human motivation. To be precise, it would be inaccurate only to say that I want to do well; it’s more that I can’t accept not doing well.

I am positively sickened at the prospect of sitting in a group discussion feeling like I’m the only one who hasn’t done the reading. That happened on the second day of class, actually. I forgot to read one paper in advance, I admitted it to the four other girls I was grouped with, and the discussion promptly continued as if Thanos had snapped his finger and scattered my humiliated ashes to the wind. For all I know, half of them didn’t do the reading either, a suspicion that was highlighted when they went off-topic multiple times. But I still hated every moment of being in that situation. I don’t know how the exchange student in my group last semester back at NTU managed to pull it off (not reading any assigned articles), though I do know I did not hide my contempt for him.

don’t do shit, get hit.

I recall one class presentation where it was readily apparent to me that I was putting out inferior work. Relatively speaking, at least, because the bell curve dictates that one’s work is judged only against the performance of compeers in the same module. Standing under the watchful eye of the lecturer and classmates, I remember thinking, why are you guys paying attention now of all times!? I was wringing my hands desperately, looking anywhere but at the lecturer (and the other students too) in case they discovered my incompetence.

Throughout the ordeal, the irrepressible urge to simply up and bolt out of the classroom held me hostage – a classic flight response to a situation rapidly spiraling out of control. Thankfully, I was too petrified to budge. It was not a good day. Failing is an incredibly noxious sensation that I don’t have the resources to handle.

The problem, then: isn’t failing a necessity for growth?

I can’t bring myself to relax now, because I’ve never allowed myself to under equivalent conditions. I’m deeply terrified of mediocrity, and my talent is escaping from that inevitability.

Still, I’m learning. I missed one day’s worth of class earlier this week. (Obligatory disclaimer: whoops.) I’m telling myself it’s okay, even if I didn’t understand half of what the lecturer said in the class on development today. (At this point, I’m inclined to think it’s him and not me.) Even if I don’t have anyone to help me catch up on the content. I will get through it as I always have. There will be no caveats here, only a commitment to self-acceptance. After all, exchange promised to be a time for growth. I’m going to make the best out of it – even if it means pulling apart and rebuilding myself in the process.

bibliofailure

Okay but the real question is: is it cheating if I count my mandated class readings towards fulfilling my annual Goodreads Reading Challenge? After all, reading is reading… (I’m ashamed to say I probably still wouldn’t meet my goal even with their inclusion, though.)