How I got into English Literature (in a roundabout way)

So… this is for all you people hoping to appeal into English Literature (or any course, really) into NTU. I managed to successfully appeal into NTU English Literature in year 2012 with a grade of BCD/DBA. That’s 70 points.

What you should know about the Indicative Grade Profile (IGP)

The Indicative Grade Profile for my year was BCC/C . However, you should remember that the IGP assumes C for GP and PW. As such, the university admission score that you should ideally get for admittance into English Literature was 70, which I matched.

During the admission window

I was called up by NUS for nursing and NTU for English Literature. I did receive an offer by NUS nursing (which I was happy to get because with my grades, let’s face it: every offer is a good one) and an offer from an overseas university (an American one, to be exact) to read Psychology with a partial scholarship by the end of the admission period.

I was contacted by Nursing in the first application window, English Literature in the second, both of which were my second choices for the local universities. During AY 2012-2013, I matched the 90th percentile admitted for both courses and I got called up for both courses. I had to do an interview for NUS Nursing. For NTU English, they require you to do a written test and an interview.  I think it would have been a possibility that I would not have gotten an interview at all if both choices had been lower down on my ranking list. As such, from my own experience, I do think that ranking choices are very important. I put a reach choice as my first option, and then something I could reasonably get as my second based in the IGP released. I think that strategy paid off for me (at least for NTU and NUS since SMU never got back to me)

If your aim is solely to get into a local university, given my scores, a wise choice would’ve been to apply for engineering. There are reasons why I did not do so:

–          I did not take physics for the O Levels (or the IP equivalent) so that’s a prerequisite I did not fufill.

–          I had no interest in the course at all! This is quite important because the interviewers can tell if you’re interested or not in the course.

What went wrong (and right) during the admission window

I did do something right by being called up for both interviews: clearly, I did do something wrong which led to NTU English rejecting me the first time round.

From my interview, this is what I would surmise went right and wrong:


–          I did the written test well! 😀

–          My only B was in Economics. This was important for them because they needed to see that I could survive and excel in a humanities course.

–          The other B was in GP, so they could see that- again- I could survive and excel in the humanities. Do remember that I am not an O level literature student and have been a science student in JC- this would’ve been important to them.

–          All in all, it was commented that I would be a good fit for the course, all things considered.


–          I am a sciences student (in JC) and I have had an offer from NUS nursing. I did state that I had an offer upright to the professor. It is quite probable that they knew this- and offered the slot first to someone without an offer waiting.

–          More importantly, I did mention that if given a choice, I WOULD appeal to NTU Psychology. Please DO NOT EVER DO THIS because I believed that was what killed my chances. Lie if you have to =X (eg. I know I did put NTU Psychology as my first choice, but English is my true passion and interest….)

Appeal Window

So by this time, I received rejections from both SMU and NTU. I did accept nursing from NUS (although I hated the thought of being a nurse). I decided to send in an appeal for NTU but I did not do the same for SMU.

NTU has a web appeal with a 50 words personal statement, which I took approximately 2 hours to sit down and write. Why? It is easy to write down about how much you want the course etc. in 500 words. For 50 words, you have to cut out a lot of things which could potentially help your application. That said, you really don’t want to cut out the most important things.

I decided to focus my appeal on:

–          How much I really want that slot in English Literature- and concrete proof to back it up (Not including my marks- they already knew my marks, no need to dump it there again.)

–          How I can be a credit to the university

–          Do not sound desperate. Make it sound like you WANT the slot without begging.

With the above 2 points in mind, I wrote the 50 word appeal- and waited. I went back twice or thrice to the university to check with the admin people about my appeal. I do not know how much- or little- it helped my application, but I think that it could have helped, partly because you get to put a person to the application.


I thought there would be no hope for my appeal (and I kid you not, since they waited right till the end of the appeal period to give me the spot) but I did get my spot eventually on the 12th of June or something along those lines. After I fulfilled all the requirements to matriculate, I started off on my first year journey.

Closing thoughts

Fast forward a year. I’m currently in my second year, on track to a Second (Lower) Honours given my GPA in the degree audit. This is a huge leap, given that I appealed into the course. So really…anything is achievable. You just need to dare and then work at it.

Good luck and I hope this helped you!


27 thoughts on “How I got into English Literature (in a roundabout way)

  1. Hi Michelle,

    We were once in the same boat. My mistake during the interview was that, I was too honest. I told J.T (perhaps you know which professor I am referring to) how much I preferred Malay to English and WHAM! I got rejected. However I actually appealed as well and got accepted. I am currently your senior (hehe) and will be doing my honours this August! All the best to you. 🙂

    • Hey Senior ❤

      Well, its great to know that I'm not the only too honest person around XD; Its also good news to the people out there looking to appeal in because they now know that it is possible and your chances are NOT 0.001% or something of that sort.

      All the best for honours year too! ❤ (Yes, I do know which professor you're referring to).

  2. Hi Michelle,

    I am having my interview in a few days’ time and frankly speaking, this will be the third time I’m going for this interview, considering the fact that I got rejected twice already. I just want to know if you could share an excerpt of your appeal just in case things go awry for me. Would appreciate it a lot!


  3. Hi Michelle, I’m hoping to ask you a few questions with regards to appealing into NTU English as I am intending to appeal into the course. I’m wondering how I reach you? Thank you so much 🙂

  4. Hi, I got rejected by NTU English and I scored the same grades as you but I was an arts student 😦 i have some questions to ask, is it okay if I reach you by email?

    • Hi Yuyan,

      Please feel free to contact me by using the form on this blog! I may be a little slow in getting back to you since I am doing an internship and it is hectic, but I will get back to you soon! ^-^

  5. Hey Michelle,

    I’ve just been rejected for NTU English and im looking to appeal. I was wondering if i could ask you a few questions and maybe get a few tips regarding the process? How may i reach you? Thanks! 🙂

  6. Hi there Michelle I just got rejected from English as well, would appreciate it so so much if you could drop me an email. I had the same rank point as you and was actually called up for an interview. However I didn’t make it through I would love to get some tips from you and perhaps a sample of your appeal letter to English Thank you so much!

  7. Reading this gave me hope & I would really like to thank you for having this up. However I’m in a more unfortunate cirumstance that you haven been called up for an interview to NUS but was rejected instead. Hoping my appeal turns out well really appreciate this sharing 🙂

  8. Hi Michelle,

    I’ve received a rejection email from E Lit yesterday and I am deciding to make an appeal. I am from poly and have no prior experience to studying literature. I know that you’ve been receiving many requests for help but I am hoping that I can trouble you to help me out by giving me advice to prepare for the appeal! I would greatly appreciate your help 🙂

  9. Hi Michelle, I know this is late but could you help me out with my NTU appeal? I went for the interview but got rejected yesterday. I really love English and Literature and I really really want to get in.

  10. Hi Michelle! I got rejected by NTU English without even the chance of an interview… didn’t do spectacularly for my A levels (DCC/D, H2 History, Eng Lit, Econs, H1 Math, respectively) because I was struggling with a lot of personal issues and I didn’t have any CCA either. I believe I can excel at NTU English if given the chance. Could you help me out with my appeal? :/

    • Hi Dayna, apologies for slow reply. Unfortunately, this grade profile is a bit of a hard sell- simply because of the C in Eng Lit and the fact that you have consistently performed below expectations for all subjects- which coincidentally happen to be humanities subjects. Your best bet would be to talk about your personal problems, what you have done to overcome it and previous examples of good scholastic performance that will translate well into English Literature. If there was a big drop between prelims and As, you could point to that. Good luck!

  11. Hi Michelle, I’ve just been accepted in English Literature and I wanted to say thank you for your posts as they’ve helped me through admission. I’m not sure where else I could ask you this but what did you choose to specialise in at the end of your degree? I believe we can choose between Modernism, Asia Culture (I’m not very sure of them all, would you happen to know? Haha) Thank you so much for your time, I was just curious to know about that because I remember you writing in a post about being smart about modules in order for it to lead up to your specialisation.

    • When I was in English Literature, there were no official “specializations” per se! However there were some groups of courses in a certain area of interest, which is what I meant by specialization (I took a lot of courses in 18th Century Literature and Medieval Literature). Could you give me a link to the specialization list so I can take a look and then give you my feedback?

  12. Hello Michelle! I went for the English Lit interview this week but I feel that it did not go well. I am from poly and only had experience from taking combined literature in secondary school. I am so sorry but can I trouble you to help me out by giving me advice to prepare for the appeal? I would greatly appreciate your help!

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