CAP and Bellcurve
Understand the importance of CAP (Cumulative average point)
It is important to know that building strong foundation and having a good CAP from year 1 will prepare you and buffer for the higher level and harder modules that you will take in subsequent years. The CAP is the sole indicator of academic merit in NUS and a lot of selection are judged base on CAP such as in for Student Exchange Program, Industrial Attachment, Internships, Bursaries and Scholarships.
The method CAP is calculated is by a weighted mean. Refer to CAP Calculator
Grade Free Scheme
After establishing the importance of CAP, it does not mean that everyone should be choosing modules based on the ease to get good grades. The Grade Free Scheme allows students to explore and attempt different things and different modules. This trains you to be more judicious about priority setting and time management between Hall life, CCAs, activities beyond university and studies. Having work-life balance is crucial. But there are students who tend towards the extreme side, ultimately the decision is up to you to set a realistic target what you want out of an university education.
Knowing that from the given 32MCs available to S/U, it is wise to follow the recommendation and keep 12MCs to be used after the first year just in case. Also, keep in mind that the more S/Us you use, the more volatile your CAP becomes, this can work in your favour but most of the time it will work against you.
While on Student Exchange Program, whether local or overseas, only credits will be earned. This means that as long as you pass the modules at the exchange university, it will count towards graduation credits but not CAP. This allows you to plan and read the more difficult modules while on exchange and avoid letting those modules impact your CAP negatively.
Understand the Bell Curve
The bell curve is also known as the normal distribution, and this is what it looks like:
The bell curve makes all grading a relative comparison to our peers' performance. However, NUS employs a recommended grade distribution in addition to the bell curve, the actual spread of the grades will be different from a standard normal distribution. Find out more on NUS Provost's blogpost on Bellcurve. From the sample grade distributions in Provost's Blog, more than 95% of the students will get a grade better than or equal to 'C', the requirement to exercise S/U option.