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7 Essential Academic Tips for Polytechnic Students

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Polytechnic students especially freshman students, we have some tips that will definitely be useful for all of you during your three years studies in Polytechnic. The below tips are mostly applicable to students from other tertiary institutions.

TIP #1: Automatic APA Referencing for Report

We know that you will frequently be writing your report for your assignments now and then. So definitely there are going to research to be included in your report. Microsoft Word has a feature that automatically generates and manage all of our citations in APA format.

Use a common source of citation, for instance, citing a webpage. Let’s imagine that you are going to write about population growth. You came across this article about the rise of senior citizens in Singapore and wanted to include that in your report.

You need to include two things in your report:

  1. In-Text Citations
    • On the ribbon tab, look for “REFERENCES.”
    • Click, Insert Citations > Add New Source
Apa Referencing
Image 1 – Insert Citation under REFERENCES Ribbon
    • Fill in the fields accordingly. The date is the release date of the article and URL is the webpage you used. If the article does not include any author, include the Corporate Name. Check “Show All Bibliography Fields” to include the date you accessed that article, e.g. 01 January 2018
      Apa Referencing 2
      Image 2 – Create Source for the articles used in your research and report

      After you filled up all the fields, Microsoft Word will produce this for you: (Channel NewsAsia, 2017).

  1. Proper Bibliographic Reference at the end of your report
    • On the ribbon tab, look for “REFERENCES.”
    • Select any of the built-in Bibliographic templates, and the below will be generated:

      Apa Referencing 3
      Image 3 – Bibliographic reference generated by Microsoft Word

NOTES: Those references you have used in your research has to be cited using the APA (American Psychological Association) style. Otherwise, it will be counted as plagiarism; it is an offence to steal others’ people work and claiming to be yours. For more information about piracy, you may visit:

ADDITIONAL: Do not ever use Wikipedia as a reference in your report as it is open source platform that anyone can contribute or modify to it anytime.

TIP #2: Google Images for Reuse

If you need to include images for your report or presentations slides and think that you could just go for a Google search to get any images you want, but it is not that simple. You need to beware of the usage labels of those images that you can use.

Step 1: Search for the image you want (e.g. “Thriving Cities”).

Step 2: Click on “Tools”

Google Image for reuse
Image 4 – Click on Google Image Search Tools

Step 3: Locate and click on the option “Usage rights”. There are a few usage rights that you can select. The best option you can choose is either “Labeled for Reuse” or “Labeled for reuse with modification” depending on whether you want to edit those images.

You may also choose the other two options containing “Labeled for non-commercial reuse” or “Labeled for non-commercial reuse with modification”. You have to be careful with this as educational uses are classified under non-commercial use. However, the images you used for your final year project might potentially be converted to a commercial product in the future.

However, in most cases, any work you have produced via your school projects are not allowed to be publically released or sold to the public solely under your name. This is because your work copyrights and publication rights’ will be under your educational institutions, and they have specific guidelines and rules to follow. ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR LECTURERS ABOUT IT.

Google Image for reuse 2.png
Image 5 – Usages rights found in Google Search Tools

There are a few things that you must take note of:

  • Attribution credit must be given to the original author of the work, even if the author mentioned that you do not have to so.
  • Even though you are using Google’s Tools to filter out images that are labelled for your desired use, you still have to check out the usage licenses from the source of the pictures in the webpage you found (Source: Emily Hoskin | Alamy, 2015).
  • To learn more about:
    • How to attribute images
    • Commercial and non-commercial reuse

Related: Essentials Apps To Get Your CAP 5.0/GPA 5.0 (NTU/NUS/SMU/SUTD)

TIP #3: Taking Picture Notes

Your lecturers are going through with you many of those long theories or difficult Math problems; you are probably going to write it down as you listen to your lecturers. This can be hard if you cannot concentrate both things at the same time.

Or, you might decide to write it all down after you have understood but to realise that your lecturers might have already moved on to the next part.

Simply take out your mobile phone and snap a picture after your lecturer had explained it all, however, you may want to ask your lecturer’s permission first before snap it. Afterwards, you may consider transferring the digital copy to handwritten text, if needed.

TIP #4: Read before Lectures

Whether you are entirely new to the module’s materials, it is vital for you to review those materials first before you attend your lectures. Some concepts and theories require you more time to “absorb” and understand. Having a brief understanding beforehand will increase your comprehension when your lecturers explain it to you.

You will soon realise the importance of this tip once your doubts and assignment start to pile up. Later, when you start to clear them all, your examination dates are out.

TIP #5: Preparation for Common Test & Examinations

1.     Pay Attention

Now, this is obviously a no-brainer. When it comes to preparations for Common Test or Examinations, your lecturers might unknowingly emphasise slightly more on certain theories and chapters or provide you with more practices. You just need to grasp it and give your fullest attention.

2.     Do past years’ papers a few times

If your lecturers had given you the latest past year papers and you still require more practice, check your School Library Publications to see if they have that module’s past years’ papers. There are a few other things to take note:

  • Do check with your lecturers if any of the questions are irrelevant due to the old syllabus
  • If you are enrolled in the new syllabus for the (new) module, past years’ papers most likely will not help.
  • Similar questions might appear, but most importantly you must know the underlying concepts. Simply memorising the standard answers might not even add any marks to your score, if the question is about how about going it to apply the knowledge to the problem.

Do remember to review and redo your tutorial questions as well.

3.     Start your revision early

This is common sense, but most of the students failed to act on it. Take some time during the weekends to recap what has been taught. You might also want to spend at least 30 – 45 minutes per day to go through your lectures and tutorial questions again.

Related: Battle of the Smartphone Camera Heats Up (Infographic)

TIP #6: Financial Assistance Schemes

Do check out on the different financial assistance schemes provided by your educational institutions. If you are confused, you may check out it on your education institution’s webpage on Financial Assistance or call them up. The most common type of financial assistance aid and scheme applied by polytechnic students are Post-Secondary Education Account (PSEA) and CDC/CCC Polytechnic Bursary respectively. Do check on the eligibility criteria.

TIP #7: Monthly Travel Concession Pass

You can head over to any Add Value Machine to purchase the monthly travel concession pass once you have received your Diploma Student Concession Card. Here are some schemes provided by TransitLink:

Table 1 – Enhanced concession scheme (From 6 April)

Concession PassBenefitPrice
Bus Concession Pass (BCP)Unlimited travel on basic bus services$27.50
Train Concession Pass (TCP)Unlimited travel on train rides$25.00
Hybrid Concession Pass (HCP)Combination of BCP and TCP$51.00

Note. Retrieved from on 01 January 2018. Copyright 2018 by Transit Link Pte Ltd.

We recommend you to get the Hybrid Concession Pass as it is the best option. If your daily weekday transport fee is around $2.50, your monthly transport expenses could be at least $50. Not to mention that you would most likely go out during the weekend for revision, discussions, leisure or even part-time job. You do the math and decide for yourself.


Speaking of Part-Time job, if financial assistance is not enough to help you cope with your expenses. There are some job opportunities that you can consider:

  • Check with the Student Services Office to see if they got job opening
  • Look out for Recruit Agency
  • Try FreeBoh! It is an online platform for job seekers to search for a part-time or full-time job and work flexibility based on the different shifts. You select the shifts you want to work based on your schedule. Just make sure you are really “Free Lah” and appear on your shifts!

Related: 9 Proven Ways Singaporeans Use To Earn Money Online and Holidays Are Coming, These Are The Top 5 Popular Freelance Jobs For You


Emily Hoskin | Alamy. (6 February 2015). Is it safe to use Google Images? – Alamy Blog. Retrieved 1 January 2018, from Advice; Tips for Image Buyers, Photographers; Illustrators – Alamy Stock Photo Blog:

Kate Bratskeir | HuffPost. (01 May 2015). Your Sugar Might Be Made With Animal Bones. Sorry, Vegans. | HuffPost. Retrieved 01 January 2018, from HuffPost – Breaking News, the U.S. and World News | HuffPost:

Transit Link Pte Ltd. (6 April 2014). Transit Link Product & Services. Retrieved 01 January 2018, from Transit Link:

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