SMU BOSS: Stop messing up your Bidding! [Updated 2021]
SMU BOSS…is this a boss avatar we need to defeat to graduate?
Well, almost! It’s definitely something we need to master if we want to graduate from SMU!
If you have heard rumours about SMU’s bidding system, don’t fret! I promise it’s not as difficult as it looks.
SMU BOSS stands for ‘SMU Bidding Online SyStem’ and it is a bidding system for SMU undergraduate students to enrol in their classes. If you are a freshman, exchange student or just a student who wants to learn more about bidding on SMU BOSS, this guide is for you!
In this article, we will cover the following; if you are looking for something specific, click on the respective topic!
If you already know how to get to the SMU BOSS bidding page, you can skip this. If not, this will guide you through.
First, log in to your SMU Oasis account, and you will find ‘BOSS’ in the first tab.
Second, expand the tab and click on “Access BOSS Page here’.
Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let’s bid!
How do I bid on SMU BOSS?
Step 1: Click ‘Plan & Bid’
Step 2: Click ‘Add to Cart’
Step 3: Select your Subject Area in the dropdown bar and click ‘Search’
Step 4: Tick on the module you want
Step 5: Click ‘Add to Cart’
Step 6: Go back to ‘Plan & Bid’ after you are done adding all the modules you want to your cart. On the left, you will see all the modules you added to your ‘Bidding Cart’.
Click on the pins to see how they fit into your Class Timetable.
Step 7: Check if you have any conflicting classes on your class and exam timetables, because the SMU BOSS bidding system will not allow you to place your bids if:
a) more than one of your classes are in the same time slot,
b) more than one of your exams are taking place at the same time,
c) you are bidding for two different time slots of the same module.
Step 8: After you are done selecting your modules, you can click ‘Checkout’ and place your bidding amounts!
How can I best estimate bids for my classes?
To estimate SMU BOSS bids, there are four main things we need to consider – Past Years’ BOSS Bids, Time, Availability, and Professor.
Past Years’ BOSS Biddings
Foremost, knowing Past Years’ BOSS Biddings are the most important because they give you a gauge of the range of numbers you should use to bid.
To check previous years’ BOSS biddings, click on the ‘Quick Links’ tab in the SMU BOSS page, and go to ‘Overall BOSS Results’. This page will show you the minimum and median bids for each year, round and window.
Alternatively, you can check them at AfterClass, a student group-made platform that compiles the past bids and displays them on a graph, making it easier to see the price trends.
A general rule of thumb passed down by SMU seniors is to bid slightly above the median to secure the module, but whether you can afford to do that for all your bids is a different story. Hence, save and bid higher for the modules you value more and make riskier bets for those you are willing to lose.
Next, Time refers to when the classes are held, as different class timings have different price trends. Here is a simple breakdown of the prices based on timing, ceteris paribus:
Morning Classes (8:15 - 11.30)
Less popular, cheaper
Afternoon Classes (12:00 - 15:15)
More popular, more expensive
Evening Classes (15:30 - 18:45)
More popular, more expensive
Night Classes (19:00 - 22:15)
Rare and fluctuates, really depends on other factors
Thirdly, Availability is the number of classes offered that semester and how many slots are open in the window you are bidding.
To check, click on the section number and scroll down until you see ‘Class Availability’.
When checking Past Years’ SMU BOSS bids, compare the number of classes and slots available in previous years versus the current year’s.
The larger the vacancy, the lower your bids need to be.
For example, if there were 4 classes for Module X last year and there are only 3 classes this year, you will likely need to bid a higher price than last year’s range of prices if you want to secure the module.
Vice versa, if you are lucky and there are more this year, you might get the module for a lower bid, saving some credits.
Lastly, who the Professor is, sadly, also plays a part. When professors teach exceptionally well or the opposite, news tends to spread among students.
As a result, classes taught by professors known to be “good” will be hiked up, while classes taught by “infamous” professors get cheaper.
You can check SMU professor reviews in AfterClass, but know that the better reviewed a professor is, the more expensive they may be, and after all, reviews are subjective so trust them at your own risk!
Extra SMU BOSS bidding strategies
Ready for some advanced strategies?
If you are confident with the basics, let’s talk about DICE, sniping and counter-sniping!
Firstly, DICE stands for Drop If Course Exceeds. Just like the title states, when you assign ‘DICE’ to a module, the module will be dropped if the number of successful bids exceeds the number you are allowed to take.
Usually, you DICE the modules you bid on as a backup. Let me explain it through an example:
Let’s say you want to take SMU Modules 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 this semester but you’re worried your bids would fail, so you want to bid Module A as a backup.
However, the maximum number of credit units you can take in a semester is 5.5CUs, so the BOSS bidding system won’t allow you to successfully bid 6CUs. That is when you will need to DICE one module, and in this case, it’s Module A.
To help you understand better, here are some example scenarios that can occur after submitting your bids with the DICE option.
One thing you will realise is that to participate in DICE, you will need to have enough bidding credits for 6 modules.
If you have sufficient credits, DICE-ing is a good strategy to secure your bids.
If you have friends or seniors in SMU, you may have probably heard them mention sniping.
Sniping is not an official bidding tool on BOSS, but something SMU students do to try to save credits.
Students usually ‘snipe’ when they overbid for a module. Sometimes, we want the module so much that we throw in e$50 only to realise the minimum bid was just e$10.
What do we do then? We drop the module in the next round, and rebid for it at a lower price.
Most people try to drop and rebid in the last few minutes to prevent other students from noticing the increase in ‘Available Slots’, to refrain them from counter-sniping.
Counter-sniping is when other students bid higher than your new bid and “snatch” the module from you. But of course, you could also be the counter-sniper!
Overall, sniping can help you save credits but is a risky strategy.
As a victim of counter-sniping before, here’s a tip: don’t be greedy. If you don’t really need to save that e$10 to survive, do yourself a favour and avoid the unnecessary stress!
How can I get BOSS bidding credits?
At the start of every semester, each student is given e$100.
Unused credits are brought over to the next semester, so by spending less each round, you can save up to bid for more expensive modules next time.
To get more bidding credits, keep a lookout for emails from SMUSA and the Centre for Teaching Excellence every semester.
Completing the student survey sent by SMUSA will earn you e$5 and completing the end-term course feedback sent by the latter will earn you e$25.
What are the SMU bidding dates?
SMU bidding dates for the current school semester can be found on your SMU BOSS home page. To view all the bidding dates, click on ‘More’.
Make sure you take note of the SMU bidding dates when they are out, so you don’t miss a bidding round!
The bidding period on BOSS stretches more than over a month but is divided into Rounds and Windows. There are different rules for different rounds, which can be seen in this table:
How do I plan my SMU modules?
If you are unfamiliar with the different requirement ‘baskets’ in SMU, I recommend starting by reading the Student Handbook for your respective school and year.
‘Baskets’ refer to the different sections of modules that students need to fulfil to graduate. Although a ‘handbook’ sounds tacky and redundant, I promise you’ll find this one useful!
After getting the hang of the different categories and how many credit units you need to fulfil each segment, you can go to the latest Course Offerings to check what is offered in the current semester.
You can use this list to plan your modules before the BOSS bidding portal is open.
On this page, you can create a list of all the SMU modules you wish to take for the next 4 years and the report will tell you if these modules fulfil the requirements needed for your major, and what else you need to graduate.
Another useful tool is Course Sequence, under ‘Quick Links’ in SMU BOSS. Course Sequence is a table provided by the school that suggests when, in which year, you should take certain SMU modules.
Which class section should I take?
After you have planned the modules to take, find out which class section suits you best and for this, you need to know your strengths and weaknesses.
Different sections are taught by different professors, and each professor has different grading standards.
Here is one rather extreme but real example taken from SMU BOSS:
The tables show the component breakdowns for the same module, Social Psychology, but taught by 2 different professors:
As you can see, Professor 1 assesses students on many different aspects while Professor 2’s grading is heavily exam-focused. This is why understanding your strengths will be helpful here.
If you hate exams but are confident in presentations and working in teams, Professor 1’s grading system may suit you better.
On the other hand, if you have a knack for scoring well in exams, going with Professor 2 could be a walk in the park for you.
If I drop classes, will SMU BOSS return me all my e$ credits?
Yes and no, depending on which round you drop them.
There are different rules for each round so if you are planning to drop the module, be mindful to bid within the range that will entitle you to a full refund. It would be a waste to lose precious credits to the system.
Here is a simple table you can take a screenshot of:
It would also be good to note that dropping of modules after Round 2A is not allowed, unless you want to end up with a ‘Failed’ or ‘Withdrawn’ grade.
What happens if I fail my BOSS bids?
If you fail all your bids the first few rounds and start to panic and email SMU BOSS for help, here’s a heads up, the system has no empathy. They will reply telling you to continue bidding, all the way to round 2.
Even though the semester would already have started in Round 2 of BOSS bidding, you will just need to continue trying if you need the module, despite missing the first week of lessons.
If you somehow manage to mess up all the way and not get any modules even in Round 2 and 2A, try emailing the school and see what can be done.
Things seniors wished they knew
It is difficult to plan all 4 years worth of modules when you are just starting out as a freshman.
Often, things don’t go as planned too. However, there are SMU modules I wish I took when I was a freshman, and those are core modules that can be used to double count.
What is double counting? It is when taking one module can clear requirements from two baskets. One example is Climate Change: Global and Local Solutions, which clears Tech & Society and Singapore Studies.
To check which modules can be double-counted, view the latest Course Offerings.
Clearing requirements quicker gives you more leeway to take other interesting electives.
Since these modules in SMU are limited and highly sought after, they tend to be very expensive.
If they are offered in your freshman BOSS bidding rounds and you have enough e$ to secure the bid, it’s better to spend it during freshmen rounds because competition will be higher next time.
Frequently asked questions
What is the recommended number of modules to take in one semester?
Four to five.
Strategically, you can plan heavier modules when taking four modules and have some lighter ones when taking five modules.
Is there a higher chance of getting my bid if I bid earlier?
No, the BOSS bidding system does not allocate classes on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Why do some module titles have ‘(SMU-X)’?
SMU-X are modules that require you to work on a project with a real external client.
Pros: Real industry experience.
Cons: Heavier workload, so you’ll need to plan your time well.
Can I buy e$ credits with real money / get my friend to transfer me their e$ credits?
No. The only way to earn more bidding credits than the standard e$100 they give every student at the start of each semester is to do the surveys mentioned here.
Summary of useful SMU BOSS bidding tools
Overall BOSS results: To check past years’ BOSS bids
AfterClass: To check past years’ BOSS biddings and professor reviews
Handbook: To check SMU module requirements needed to graduate
Course Offerings: To check what modules are being offered in the current semester
Course Sequence: To check the recommended term to take certain modules
Degree Progress Report What-If: To plan modules for all 4 years
Exemptions Page: To check your SMU module exemptions
See? SMU BOSS isn’t that difficult to tackle after all!
Make sure you plan your modules early and make time to compare past years’ BOSS biddings so you will be prepared when the SMU BOSS portal is open.
Even if you don’t get all the modules you want, you can also always sign up for CCAs, find a volunteering stint and complete your CSR requirements, or take up a light part-time job.
There’s a lot you can do to still make your semester productive, so think positively!