How Nanyang Polytechnic’s Early Admissions Exercise helped 3 students to excel

The aptitude-based admissions exercise helps students with potential to get admission into polytechnics before receiving their O-Level results.

Amanda Tan

Skills include buying the same jeans in different colours.

Published: 15 June 2022, 9:27 AM

While it’s not uncommon for young people to struggle with finding a direction in life, there’s always a rare handful who, from an early age, tenaciously pave their path towards their dream careers.

If you identify with the latter and know that you have a strong aptitude and passion for a certain field, the Polytechnic Early Admissions Exercise (EAE) might just be what you’re looking for.

The EAE allows students to secure a place in polytechnic, even before sitting for their O-Levels, to study what they’re passionate about. Some have gone on to excel even further in their respective fields. 

For three youths from Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP), applying through the EAE was one of their best decisions – and certainly not one they regret.

An academically weak student who knew what she wanted to do for her career

For Rebecca Rose Quek Yu Ling who had her heart set on specialising in social work, applying for NYP’s Diploma in Social Work via EAE before sitting for her O-Levels felt like a logical step to take. 

While in secondary school, she actively participated in several Values In Action (VIA) projects. It was from there that she discovered her innate gift for empathising with others and helping those in need.

“Through all those projects, I felt like there was a lot of meaning and my heart felt very full during and after the process. I just felt the calling,” she says. 

“I saw how kindness – even a little bit of it – can make a difference in someone’s life and I wanted to do just that. I wanted something that would give me a greater sense of purpose (in life).”

As NYP is the only polytechnic to offer a course in social work, Rose wanted to clinch her spot in the course, especially as only 40 students will be accepted in each cohort. 

The 18-year-old recalls: “In secondary school, I wasn’t the best student, academic-wise. I was actually failing five out of eight or nine subjects. My L1R5 score was really high but I couldn’t see myself doing anything else (besides social work) so I really needed EAE to secure a spot. I knew that it was too risky to rely on my raw score.”

Currently in her second year of studies, Rose is doing well academically. She has gone on to touch the lives of others through various volunteering opportunities, such as helping primary school children from lower income homes in an one-on-one academic support programme in 2021.


Rose was placed on the coveted Directors’ list last semester, as her results in school placed among the top 15 per cent of her cohort. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/CEDRIC CHAN


Organised by Riverlife Community Service, the social work activity stood out to Rose as she could empathise with the children’s lack of academic support. She, too, grew up with little guidance as her older siblings studied vastly different subjects.

“For those kids who don’t have this kind of support, it would be great if somebody could step in and help out. Sometimes, we all just need a little push, a little bit more support, to just get to where we need to be.”

For those considering applying via EAE, she shares that they should not be discouraged even if they do not have a portfolio to help them in their application for the course of their choice. “

“You’re only 16 or 17 years old. They’re not going to expect you to have a ton of experience. That’s the whole point of going for the course – they’re going to teach you,” she states. 

“It helps to have that passion. If you have it, if you really have that drive to be in that course, just show that love and you’re gonna get through it. Everything will fall into place right after that.”

An insurance against life’s unpredictabilities

As opposed to most of his peers, 22-year-old Loy Jun Cheng shares that he discovered his passion a lot later in life.

Upon completing his secondary school studies, he went on to ITE where he studied IT Networks and Systems Administration. However, it was only in his second year while working on his Final Year Project (FYP) that he started to dive deeper into AI technology. 

“I somehow chanced upon basic AI that can generate never-seen-before faces and I was so amazed. This sparked my interest and I started to dig more into this field and the more I dug, I fell into this rabbit hole and decided that since EAE was around the corner, I’m going to research on the courses that offer AI and put it as my top choice for EAE.

“EAE really benefitted me a lot because it took away the stress of needing to hit that threshold, that cut-off point to get into the course. All I needed to do was to meet the minimum requirement for the EAE and then I could enter poly. It’s more like insurance, a back-up plan. If anything happens – because life’s a bit unpredictable – I still know that I can get into my dream course.”


While interning at the Statistical Analysis System (SAS) Institute during his final year, Jun Cheng won the SAS Institute Silver Medal award as well as the SAS Institute Award for Outstanding Project Work. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/CEDRIC CHAN


After having spent three years in NYP’s Diploma in Business Intelligence & Analytics, the recent graduate has gone on to broaden his knowledge by securing a place at Nanyang Technological University (NTU)’s Computer Science. From there, he intends to work towards a job as a software engineer at big AI labs like OpenAI and deepmind.

When asked what tips he’d give to hopeful applicants, he says: “Highlight how you’ve actually pursued this passion, what areas you’ve actually explored. You need to show that you’re really interested and that you at least went to get your feet wet and tried it firsthand

“Also, if you’ve done many projects, make sure to at least maybe bring a laptop or tablet to showcase them to impress the interviewers.”

Jun Cheng added that he actively exposed himself to other aspects of his field, such as cloud computing and cyber security, by attending NYP’s Diploma Plus Programmes during his two-month-long semester breaks. He also took the initiative to look out for competitions he could join through school emails and external portals, to gain exposure.

A good opportunity with nothing to lose

Orion Raysher Lee, 20, was a young child when games like Hack Lab, an immersive terminal-based hacking simulator game, intrigued him.

At the time, he also came across puzzle programming games which eventually led him to be curious enough to start learning programming language Python in his free time.

Becoming fascinated by the cyber world, it was no surprise that Orion eventually enrolled in NYP’s Diploma in Cyber Security & Digital Forensics. It was those very games he played as a child that secured him a spot in the course.

“I expressed that I had a passion for my course through my hobby. During my interview, I spoke about the games that I played as well, because these games helped to develop my interest in the course.”


As a recipient of the Centre for Strategic Infocomm Technologies (CSIT)-NYP scholarship, Orion was given the opportunity to intern at CSIT during his final year in NYP, which gave him more exposure into the industry. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/CEDRIC CHAN


During his time at NYP, he explored new and upcoming cybersecurity tools, researched open-source tools available in the market for his personal studies and even tested the software applications available in the market to deepen his understanding of how different tools work in identifying network security threats.

However, when asked what he wishes to pursue in the future, Orion shares that he has yet to decide as the IT industry has such a broad scope, with several areas he’s interested in.

For now, he intends to further his studies in the field and will enrol in the National University of Singapore (NUS) to pursue a degree in Computer Science after completing his National Service.

To those who are hesitant about applying through EAE, here’s what Orion has to say: “Just go for it because there’s nothing to lose. Even if after O-Levels, you decide you wish to pursue something else, you can always reject the offer.”

To learn more about EAE and what NYP offers, you can sign up for the EAE festival which will run till Jun 16.

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