What’s the secret to a good Polytechnic GPA? 4 graduates share their insights

by | Aug 26, 2021

“Can your GPA buy chicken rice?” This is a common question for Polytechnic students every time the Grade Point Average (GPA) results for each semester is released.

To some Polytechnic students, the topic of GPA might be one that they shy away from. However, to others, this may be where they shine.

Four successful students from different Polytechnics who worked their way onto the Director’s List share their secrets to scoring and maintaining a good GPA.

Continue reading to find out how to handle group projects, study effectively, and manage your time!

Click here to view the profiles of our interviewees

One aspect that sets Polytechnics apart from other schools is the group projects and presentations they offer.

Exciting as they may sound, this new component can prove to be murky waters to some, with freeloaders and the fear of presenting looming ahead.

To achieve a good GPA in Polytechnic, doing well in group projects and presentations are unavoidable. Here are some tips from our interviewees!

1.) Practice open communication

Two heads are always better than one. When working together with others, it is normal to have different perspectives, which is why communication is essential.

Communicating with your team will help set the direction of your project and ensure that everyone in your group is well-informed on every part of the assignment.

This can lead to open feedback sessions where members offer their opinion for parts of the assignment they were not in charge of.

Open communication between your group and the lecturer is also important. Clear expectations from your lecturer will set a certain standard for the assignment that your team can meet and even exceed.

2.) Keep to a timeline

Keep to a timeline

One of the biggest obstacles to scoring well in group projects is procrastination. It is tempting to push a project back, but a timeline may help you stay on track.

Having a timeline that the whole team agrees on and follows can help to track your progress. This ensures that your project is completed before the deadline, so you do not have to rush or pull all-nighters just to complete the assignment.

When creating a project timeline, remember to leave additional time for your group to check through the work before submission to reduce the number of mistakes made.

It may seem like extra effort, but it will all be worth it when you see your GPA at the end of the semester!

3.) Take initiative

Group projects that score well have members that contribute actively. It may sound intimidating to some, but stepping up and voicing out your thoughts can help you do well in a group project.

When a group project is not progressing, you can take the lead to ensure that the assignment is completed on time.

You can also initiate meetings for members to check for any contradictions and room for improvement.

4.) Motivate freeloaders

Shaking hands in agreement

Meeting “freeloaders” is a common struggle among Polytechnic students. However, you can still push through and score well for your projects!

While doing a project, assigning freeloaders the simpler parts, or parts that are their strengths can motivate them to complete their work.

This also makes it easier for you to understand and take over their part if necessary.

You can also give them a detailed deadline schedule for them to complete their work, and check in on them from time to time.

Organising meetings to track work progress can lead to constructive feedback sessions as well.

Making use of applications such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams to meet and do work together can help to ensure that they complete their parts.

While freeloaders can be frustrating at times, try to give them the benefit of the doubt and keep an open mind.

Talking it out can help both parties come to a mutual understanding, ensuring that your assignment is the best it can be.

5.) Prepare your presentations

Presentations can be scary, especially for the Polytechnic freshmen. However, to achieve a good GPA, presentations are unavoidable and must be conquered.

Making sure your presentation deck is short and sweet is the foundation of a good presentation. Present your content in point forms and add graphs and photos to keep it engaging for your audience. If you want to go the extra mile, you can even use humour or storytelling to interact with your audience!

To ensure your presentation flows smoothly, come up with a list of pointers instead of a script. This can help you recall information, and you will appear natural as you elaborate in your own words.

Your group should also set aside time to rehearse. This helps you to keep to the time limit (if you have any) and coordinate with the other presenters in your team.

Since most presentations are moved online now, rehearsing also helps you spot connectivity issues early, so you can fix them before the actual presentation!

Presentations can be nerve-racking, but if you conquer them, it will make your journey to a good GPA a much smoother one!

Conquering Polytechnic Examinations

Apart from group projects and presentations, another component that can make or break your GPA is examinations.

A dreaded aspect for many, exams in Polytechnic can be harder to study for, especially since there are other assignments to juggle.

To score well for Polytechnic exams, here are some effective study tips our interviewees have!

1.) Start early

A semester’s worth of content can be too heavy and challenging to squeeze everything in at the last minute.

Taking additional notes during lectures and reading through them a month before your examinations will give you enough time to understand your content well.

Revising early also gives you time to clarify anything you do not understand, and you will be less stressed by the time examinations arrive.

You can also try the spaced repetition study method. Consistency is key – if you keep working hard, you’ll be able to achieve the GPA you want!

2.) Test yourself


A good GPA is the goal of most Polytechnic students. Test yourself by asking your friends to test your knowledge on a topic, and you can do the same for them too.

Do past year papers for practice, or look through your tutorials if you do not have access to them.

Alternatively, you can write down what you remember on a piece of paper and compare it with your notes to see what you have missed.

3.) Adopt active recall

Scoring well in exams is all about answering the questions well. Active recall is a studying method that calls for students to test themselves to memorise information.

Instead of just reading your notes, try to get your friends to send you questions about a topic or convert your lecture notes into questions.

One of our profiles, Meow Ying, repeated this 3 times per topic for a week, and was able to answer about 85% of her exam questions!

Although this method requires a lot of discipline, it is effective in helping you to achieve your dream GPA.

Managing your time

A common saying among Polytechnic students is that they have to sacrifice either their sleep, studying or social life to maintain the other two.

Although many students try to balance all 3, not many can successfully do it.

Continue reading to find out how our interviewees juggle their commitments and still manage to maintain their high GPAs!

1.) Manage your priorities

Managing priorities

Prioritisation is key to time management. Although tough, it is not impossible to have a good GPA, enough sleep, and maintain your friendships all at once.

Throughout a semester, the workload can differ at different time points. When assignments start to pile in, you may want to prioritise your studying and sleep, and put a pause on social life.

Although many students tend to sacrifice their sleep to maintain their social life, having at least 7 hours of sleep can help you concentrate better, and boost your productivity!

However, spending time with your friends is still important. During school, you can make time for your loved ones between classes, or during weekends. You can also use term breaks and public holidays to catch up with your friends and relieve some stress!

2.) Stay organised

There are many deadlines in Polytechnic – from assignments and projects to exams, it’s easy to get confused. However, being unclear of your deadlines might just be the obstacle between you and a good GPA.

Knowing your assignment deadlines can help you to plan your time better.

After noting your deadlines down, put them somewhere noticeable as a reminder to keep track of your progress. This helps you to rank each assignment by urgency, and clear them systematically.

You can also create a to-do list to help you stay focused, and prevent procrastination.

For examinations, you may want to allocate a certain number of days for revision based on the content in each module once the examination schedule is out.

Trying to stay organised and on top of your assignments is not easy, but important for a good GPA!

Avoiding burnout

Three years in Polytechnic means three years of projects, assignments, and examinations.

While many students tend to start strong in their first year, some may feel the effects of burnout in their second or third year.

The three-year journey in Polytechnic is a long one, and students can feel exhausted at times, including those with a good GPA. However, the most important question is: How do they cope?

1.) Take a step back

Have fun with friends

Photo by Jed Villejo on Unsplash

It’s not easy to press pause on your studies, even for a few hours, but taking care of yourself is important when you’re feeling mentally exhausted.

Pacing yourself and giving yourself a couple of days to rest is essential to preventing burnout.

During rest days, you can relieve stress by spending time on your hobbies, going on a walk, or even just sleeping!

Giving yourself time to video call or meet up with your friends can also clear your mind, and give you time to recharge.

A break may not seem essential for a good GPA, but it is difficult for anyone to be productive when feeling exhausted and drained. Take a step back and rest if you need to!

2.) Netflix vs Sleep

As lessons move online, it is much easier to get distracted by streaming platforms such as Netflix. We are all guilty of staying up late to binge-watch shows, and even Netflix has stated that their biggest competitor is sleep.

Enjoying entertainment at the expense of sleep is known as Revenge Bedtime Procrastination and is extremely common among busy Polytechnic students. However, this can cause worsened memory, a shorter attention span, and even mental health problems in more serious cases.

This can cause you to feel more exhausted rather than relaxed, so you may want to sleep instead of watching Netflix after checking off your to-do list.

Useful applications

As Polytechnic students, we tend to rely a lot on technology. Be it Microsoft Word or Google Docs, there are many applications out there that can help you to graduate with a high GPA.

Here’s what our high scorers used when they were in Polytechnic!

1.) Grammarly

Grammarly is everywhere, and with good reason. Proven to be extremely useful especially for essays, Grammarly helps you recognise spelling and grammar mistakes. This helps you to save time and get feedback on the clarity of your essay!

2.) Notion

Launched in 2018, Notion is a productivity application where you can take notes, plan your schedule, and set reminders!

This workspace is easy to manage and contains all functions on the app or web platform. Check out our Active recall and spaced repetition notion templates!

3.) Canva

If you ever need to design professional looking sample posters or flyers for your assignments, Canva is just the application you are looking for.

A free graphic design platform, Canva offers easy to edit templates for students to use. You can even make use of Canva to design your presentation slides and proposals!


Three years of constantly chasing a good GPA in Polytechnic is an uphill climb for many students, but it will be worth it in the end.

Although your GPA is important, taking care of yourself and your mental health is equally, if not more important.

Remember that it is never too late – a bad GPA is not the end of the road, and you always have other options! 

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About our interviewees

Angela Chua Min Qi

Angela Chua Min Qi

GPA 3.75

Angela graduated from Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences with a Diploma with Merit in Child Psychology and Early Education in 2021.

She was awarded the AECES Gold Medal and Prize, Ngee Ann Merit Award, and NCSS Prize upon graduation. Angela plans to further her studies in Singapore after serving her ECDA bond as a preschool teacher.

Ines Pang Xuan Qi

Ines Pang Xuan Qi

GPA 3.8

Ines graduated from Singapore Polytechnic’s School of Media, Arts, and Design (MAD) with a Diploma with Merit in Visual Communication and Media Design in 2021.

She was awarded the Top 5 Finalist Team in the Crowbar Challenge 2020. Ines is currently furthering her studies at the National University of Singapore (NUS) in the College of Humanities and Sciences (CHS).

Farah Aqilah

Farah Aqilah

GPA 3.9

Farah graduated from Nanyang Polytechnic’s School of Business Management (SBM) with a Diploma with Merit in Hospitality and Tourism Management in 2021.

Awarded the Globalsign.in Silver Medal upon graduation, Farah is currently pursuing her Bachelor in Business Management at Singapore Management University (SMU).

Song Meow Ying

Song Meow Ying

GPA 3.97

Meow Ying graduated from Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of Life Sciences and Chemical Technology (LSCT) with a Diploma with Merit in Pharmacy Science in 2021.

She was awarded the Lee Kuan Yew Award, NUH Gold Medal and Prize, as well as the NP Outstanding Achievement Award. Meow Ying is currently pursuing the Bachelor of Pharmacy at the National University of Singapore (NUS).