DON’T PANIC!: A Freshman’s Guide to the Tembusu Galaxy Part 2

This is part of our ongoing series, Don’t Panic!: A Freshman’s Guide to the Tembusu Galaxy.


Hello, Freshmen!

This series aims to give a glimpse into how Tembusu life is, and provide tips and tricks to get through the semester. The series of tips from seniors will run weekly during the first three weeks of this semester. We’ll publish special updates for recess week and reading week as we get closer to them.

But for now, let’s talk about the most important events coming up in the next fortnight.


Inaugural (Formal) Dinner: The Dress Up Day

Your houses’ residential team would have probably asked you to sign up for the formal dinner, which is happening this coming Monday. If you haven’t, well… there’s always next semester… =(

The formal dinner, hosted by our Rector, Prof. Tommy Koh, allows all Tembusians – including fellows and alumni – to come together for dinner and formal event rolled into one. Everyone dresses up in formal attire, and lots of pictures are taken.

If you do see a bunch of people holding DSLRs running around (myself included), they are members of Tembusu’s own tStudios providing coverage for the formal dinner. They publish the photos they took online, so feel free to ask a photographer to take a photo of you and your friends. A good number of them usually end up as profile pictures on Facebook.

The event will start with speeches from Prof Tommy Koh and Prof Clancey, and the Guest of Honours too. Subsequently, groups of people usually scurry off to the sides of the Dining Hall for selfies. If you do find yourself without a conversation topic, the quality of the wine and the food is always good. (As a conversation topic, I mean.)

Near the end of the event, houses will be invited up to the stage for a house portrait. Selfies are an inevitability, but please – for the love of all that’s good in photography – go take photos at the professionally set up booth at the Multi Purpose Hall.

tStudios Formal Dinner Team

The tStudios crew – look out for them during formal dinner!

This, typically, is when the real night starts. But we’ll leave it a bunch of (hopefully not tipsy) young people to think of how to spend the evening. Just don’t make too much noise!


Tutorial Bidding: Getting that perfect timetable

It’s a chore, but we all have no choice but to do it. While the module bidding phase of CORS is quite straightforward, it is the tutorial bidding that decants, distillates, separates (or whatever chemistry metaphor) those who know how to game the system vs those who don’t. The latter category of people are the ones you might unfortunately find stuck in unfavourable (read: 8am) tutorial slots.

You might get lucky and have fewer modules to bid for tutorials for. Nevertheless, use all 20 choices!

You might get lucky and have fewer modules to bid for tutorials for. Nevertheless, use all 20 choices! (Archived screengrab, not data for this semester)

On the CORS website, an ordered list of 20 elements appear in which you will fill in your preferences. They are not specific to a single module – so don’t end up only bidding for the tutorial slots of a single module. Pick the timeslots that you want in the 20, then order them accordingly with the dropdowns. It’s unfortunately tedious, so be prepared.

The school is usually quite opaque when it comes to the back end of module allocation, but the system almost definitely works iteratively – it will process everyone’s first choice, kicking excess people out of any overfull tutorial slots before processing everyone’s second choice. That is to say – if your first choice of ACC1701 time slot 1 failed to register, the system would continue processing everyone’s second, third, and subsequent choices before it reaches the choice where you entered your next preferred ACC1701 time slot.

Barring exceptional demand, your first choice tutorial is normally given. We recommend a ‘snaking’ format of placing your choices, that is, ordering your choices this way:

1st Choice: A Timeslot for Module 1

2nd Choice: A Timeslot for Module 2

3rd Choice: A Timeslot for Module 3

4th Choice: A Timeslot for Module 3

5th Choice: A Timeslot for Module 2

6th Choice: A Timeslot for Module 1

As higher choices have a significantly higher chance of being allocated, it is better to order it in a snaking fashion to ensure a higher chance of getting as many of your preferred time slots as possible.

In general, tutorials between 10 am and 4 pm are most in demand. If you are willing to pick early morning or late afternoon tutorial slots, you can afford to rank it lower.



After the system allocates everyone their time slots CORS enter the Add/Drop/Swap period. During this period, you can tell the system that you would prefer to change your allocated time slot. If another person – or a group of people – can be shuffled to fulfil any swap requests, the system will do so. If you’re lucky, you can also just simply swap to a tutorial group that is still not full.

Let’s be honest here. No one is going to give up their Monday-Thursday pre/post lunchtime slots, especially for students who don’t live on campus. Don’t get your hopes up high. But there’s no harm in trying.

Warning: For bigger modules, like EC1101E etc, you may find out that your tutorial slot is cancelled due to low student count. If that happens, make sure you have a backup plan!


Coming up next week: Tutorials in full swing: How to get through them, and preparing for the weeks ahead

Pictures from tStudio archives – courtesy of Jarratt Ong and Calvin Chan. Other pictures by the author.

About the Author

One of many Ryans in Treehouse, Ryan Quek is a Year 2 Business and Economics Double Degree (Still Surviving!) Student. He loves photography and food, and likes to delve into socio-political issues, tech and sport. Also has a passion for trivia quizzes.