Is it true that it’s easier to score an A for some modules?

A student asked:

Is it true that it’s easier to score an A for some modules?

There’s no such thing as an easy A module because the number of As are determined by a quota in NUS (this is what people famously refer to as being at the mercy of the “bell curve”). There are quotas to the number of As, Bs, and Cs we can give. But I can’t tell you the quotas. That is confidential.

If a module is very easy to score, then the quota on As will determine that only the best of the best will get the As, and everyone else will get Bs and Cs even though they may have done very well in terms of absolute marks.

This is why there’s no such thing as a module that’s easy to score in university.

There’s this idea circulating among students that smart people don’t have to struggle to earn their As. It’s important to remember that some seniors want their juniors to regard them highly based on this belief, and so they will brag about how a module is easy for them to score without needing to struggle or needing to work hard. It makes them look very impressive, and people who take the module but end up struggling will look up to them for having done it so effortlessly.

Or in some rare cases, the student found it easy because it was something that s/he is already very good at, and so found no need to spend any effort.

So please do yourself a favour. Don’t believe any senior who tells you that a module is easy to score an A. They’re not telling you the truth about how hard they work behind the scenes.

I want to also comment about the belief that being good at something means not having to struggle. This is a false belief, and it has been very detrimental to many students’ esteems as they struggle in their studies (which is actually quite normal). Many students end up going away with the idea that they are very bad at it. I want you to know that struggling is normal. You struggle because you are growing and developing intellectually. And that is a good thing.

Author: Jonathan Y. H. Sim

Jonathan Sim is an Instructor with the Department of Philosophy at the National University of Singapore. He is passionate about teaching and he continues to research fun and innovative ways of engaging students to learn effectively. He has been teaching general education modules to a diverse range of undergraduate students and adult learners at the University.

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