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NUS Exams

Singaporean higher education and NUS could not be more different than Northwestern. First, there is little to no assignments on a weekly basis. At Northwestern, I expect regular homework assignments and problem sets — even in my upper-level classes. However, here at NUS, grades are essentially based on maybe one or two big assignments and exams, leaving little wiggle room for exam preparation, in almost all disciplines and class levels. As a result of this grading system, it is easy to not keep up with weekly lectures and reading materials at NUS, as there is little immediate incentive to learn the material quickly such as problem sets or weekly quizzes. It is somewhat obvious that this system will only lead to procrastination; this postponed learning is part of the culture at NUS; a week before midterms, it is almost impossible to find a study spot on campus, as literally every student is cramming. Like Northwestern, many students here at NUS are night owls, making the prime time for studying between the hours of 10pm and 3am.

From my experience at NUS, studying methods of the students here also different than my experiences back at Northwestern. First, there is a heavy emphasis on group work at NUS, but little group study that occurs. Many of the more heavily weighted assignments in modules at NUS are project or group related; however, studying for exams and preparing for quizzes is, at least in my modules, a very independent process. The study spaces at NUS also do not necessarily support collaboration; there are many individual study cubicles across campus, but there is a lack of formal group study spaces that are in quiet areas. All this to say, school culture, at an educational level, is different, but not worse or better, than that of Northwestern, and it is a unique opportunity to experience learning in different environments and with people whose habits differ.

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