NUS Module Review [AY1011 Semester 2]

Yes, I haven’t had the urge to review everything beforehand, but at least I’m reviewing the current semester where the memory is the freshest, no?

This review is written based on the Semester 2 variants of the modules, and thus might not apply to the Semester 1 variants of the same module.

CS3217 – Software Engineering on Modern Application Platforms
5MC / Non-examinable / 50% Problem Sets + 50% Final Project
Semester 2 only 

Yes, I am a crazy retard for taking this module. Also know as the ‘iPad module’, this module is comparable to CS3216 in terms of workload, if not heavier; to give you an idea of what to expect, I stayed overnight every single weekend in the first 6 weeks to complete the problem sets. Prof Ben has said he will readjust the workload for subsequent semesters as this is his first time lecturing the module, but be prepared. Be very very prepared.

Lecture – Prof Ben only gives a very introductory and surface level material of what you are going to need, so attend the lectures only to get an overview of what’s happening. The rest is up to you to explore. The Apple Developer Guide will prove extremely useful. no webcast
Problem Sets – This is where the hard part comes, and they take up the first half of the semester. You have to pick up Objective-C AND develop an app (in our case, an Angry Birds-like game) within 6+ weeks. Again, let me repeat: do not take this module if you are not prepared for a really tough time. The workload is seriously )(@*#)(*@# heavy and although at the end of the day you do learn a lot, just.. be prepared.
Project – This part is slightly easier in the sense that the scale of your group’s app is roughly equal to that of your app in the Problem Sets, only this time done by a group of 4. Of course, to strive for excellence most of us would do a lot more so it ends up being equal in workload anyway. But since you should already have a good grasp of developing iPad apps, it’s a matter of having a good team, good design of your code and making sure everyone completes their tasks on time.

I am blessed to have a very imba team working with me, they covered my work when I was busy with Chingay and things. I owe them one.

My grade: A
My rating: (*)@#*$()(@*#$ EXTREMELY HARD AND TIRING

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MA2216 (ST2131) – Probability
4MC / Examinable / 30% Midterm + 70% Final

At the start, you will be learning A-level stuff – standard probability, P&C, distributions. However, it will get tough when you reach the later part of the course, where double integrals come in (???? was my reaction) during computation of joint distribution variables. Prepare to spend some time understanding the concepts and calculations – the final exams are known for killing you merciless (including me >.<)

Lecture – There are actually 3 lecturers for this module, I don’t know why, and I got Dr Ho. He’s quite good as he dives into deep detail for everything, allowing newcomers to understand, however he’s a bit slow and boring at times. no webcast
Tutorial – The lecturer will post the answers online, so unless you have completely no idea how to do some certain questions (which you should, towards the end of the syllabus), it should be okay to skip them. The problem is that the final exam questions are NOTHING like those in the tutorial. They are like 100 levels up.

Do not be fooled by the midterm questions (which was rather chicken feet but not good because of that – I got 17/20 and I was the median), because the final exam questions are really really really really hard! Make sure you study past year papers and fully understand them, but even so, it’s difficult to score unless you can fully grasp the concepts well. Prepare well for this paper, because I didn’t and I ended up not getting a good grade for it.

My grade: B+
My rating: Medium (without final) / Hard (with final)

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MA2101 – Linear Algebra II
4MC / Examinable / Homework Assignments + Midterm + Final (can’t remember the percentages..)

VERY HARD. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. The content in this module is very abstract, requiring absolute concentration during lectures to understand. There’s little calculations and it’s really all about proofs; it is very important to remember the properties of all forms and terms and term manipulation skills. You will also be working with matrices a lot.

Lecture – Prof Zhang is extremely good at what he teaches (he solves problems on the spot!), but doesn’t convey it well (and interesting) enough such that I tend to fall asleep half of the time. But do listen to him (or the webcast) because he’s really good and if you can absorb from him it will help greatly. Also, be sure to catch up always because he structures the content such that you can only understand the current chapter if you have good knowledge of the previous. webcasted
Tutorial – Prof Zhang takes on all tutorials, he’s super hardworking. The tutorial is a must-attend; the proving questions of the tutorial are ridiculously hard and listening to him greatly helps in understanding the answers, and actually knowing how to approach the problems.
Homework Assignments – They are the easier parts of the tutorial, usually only 1-2 questions. Be sure to score full marks for them because everyone else will.

The midterm had questions to differentiate those who knows their stuff, as well as easy computation questions. For this final exam, Prof Zhang apparently decided to kill all of us and set a paper with no calculation questions, all proofs – different from the past year papers where there are about 2-3 calculation questions to at least net us some marks. This made the paper really hard, and I literally left 3/8 questions blank. I was lucky that I think the whole cohord didn’t do too well.

My grade: A
My rating: VERY HARD

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PC1143 – Physics III
4MC / Examinable / 5% Tutorial + 15% Lab + 10% Midterm + 10% MasteringPhysics + 60% Final (I think..)

The most dreadful module I’ve ever taken. Yes Physics is interesting, but the amount of content is really heavy like CS2106 that I took last semester – especially for a non-physics student. The whole chapters of electromagnetism, which spans across about 400 pages of the textbook will be tested. And the workload is heavy and frustrating, which I’ll explain later.

Lecture – Dr Yeo is very good, he explain the concepts really clearly and gives good demonstrations of experiments. He also gives a review of what he taught during the last lecture everytime, and use lecture quizzes (not counted) to see what the majority of students have conceptual problems at. I regretted not paying attention; you should. If not, go mug the textbook crazily like I do – I spent the entire reading week on it. not webcasted
Tutorial – Participation is 5% so I guess you shouldn’t skip it. Tutor Andreas tends to digress into his adventures around the world, but he explains concepts well and he tells people how he solves problems, so that can be a good skill to pick up. He doesn’t explain the tutorial questions though, unless upon request. Incomplete answers will be posted, allowing you to work them out yourself. Do note that the tutorial questions are extremely hard, even harder than those during exams.
Lab – The problem with the labs comes with the lab report, where you really don’t know how to answer the discussions the correct way that they want, because there is just no standard way. Plus, there are no past labs for you to follow. This is very frustrating for a non-physics student like me – I ended up scoring mostly Bs for the reports (most Physics students scored A).
MasteringPhysics – The online component that needs to be done every week. I almost always spend more than 3 hours on each, simply because there are too many questions. Sometimes, the questions are in topics that Dr Yeo hasn’t covered, thus you will need to look online in Google for them. Some of the answers are google-able though. This is the part of the module that I probably hate the most – so many questions, but only 1% per assignment (10 in total).

I screwed up my midterm (MCQ) because I was beat from CS3217. Try not to because I think it really makes a difference in your grade; I mugged hard for the finals and could do most of the questions, but I didn’t get a good grade. I think the Physics students are the ones spoiling the bell curve.

My grade: B+
My rating: Hard (content: Medium+, amount: Hard)

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GEM2900 – Understanding Uncertainty and Statistics Thinking
4MC / Examinable / 30% Assignments + 70% Final

No tutorial! And I kind of cheated as I took MA2216 at the same time. But that’s how you survive yo. This module is easy because most contents are from JC – but be very careful of careless mistakes, because everyone else is going to score well. Oh, I took this module also because it satisfies the Arts Gem (Group B) option that I need to take, and I really suck with essays.

Lecture – Ms Chen is very enthusiastic, however she gets boring at times because she explains all the A-level stuff in detail. I actually skipped 50% of the lectures, and was probably surfing Facebook at the other 50%. Do look out for things not covered in the A-level syllabus though, like Simpson’s Paradox.
Online Assignments – You can discuss this with your friends, make sure you score full marks for everything. I got 1 question wrong :/

The bell curve is very very steep, a few marks lost can mean a drop of a grade. Take this module with the aim of scoring full marks, and don’t make careless mistakes.

My grade: A+
My rating: Easy (Medium with careless, bell curve)

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I really did a lot better than I expected myself to do this semester, mainly because of the iPad module pulling out most of my time to study. Kudos to myself! Hoorah!

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