Last updated on July 27th, 2021
Are grades really the most important indicator of your success in Singapore?
If you’ve just received your exam results and you’ve done worse than expected, you may be rather disheartened. However, can there be other ways for you to prove your value to your prospective employer?
Here’s what you need to know.
Is your GPA important in Singapore?
Your GPA may be important in providing you with opportunities and a potentially higher salary for your first job after graduation. After that, your salary will be determined by your performance on the job and the value that you can provide to your employer.
Having a good GPA (or CAP in NUS) is advantageous as it may give you a headstart. With a higher GPA, you should be able to have slightly higher starting pay.
This is sort of a ‘reward’ for doing well in school.
For example, as a pharmacy student, I have heard that you may receive a higher starting pay if you get first class honours.
Having a good GPA may provide you with better opportunities
If you have a good GPA, you may have access to opportunities that are not available for those with a lower GPA.
Here are some examples:
- Having a higher chance of obtaining a mid-term scholarship
- Being able to go for summer exchange programmes that have a GPA cutoff
A good GPA is definitely advantageous by giving you opportunities. If you seize these opportunities well, they can help you to advance your career much faster!
Do companies in Singapore look at your GPA?
Some companies may look at your GPA when shortlisting candidates for the interview. They may require you to include your GPA score in your CV, as they may have a cutoff for the people they wish to interview.
There are some companies which use AI screening tools to shortlist candidates. For these companies, your GPA may be one of the criteria they look at.
However, this is not the case for every company. Some companies may not even want to look at your GPA, as they want to know the skills and experiences you can provide instead.
As such, this really depends on the company’s HR policy!
Even if you have a lower GPA, you may still be called up for an interview if you have certain experiences or skills that may intrigue the interviewer.
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Your GPA may affect your starting pay in your first job in Singapore, especially if it is a job in the civil service. This is because your GPA may be the only indicator of the amount of value you can provide to your employer.
At the start, your employer may not have many ways to gauge how good an employee you are. This is especially if you do not have any internships or other qualifications.
As such, the only way they can gauge your suitability to the job is by looking at your GPA. Having a good GPA may indicate that you have the potential to be a valuable worker.
This is why you may receive a higher starting pay, based on this potential value that the company thinks you have.
However, this is the main benefit that your GPA provides you with. After a few years into the job, no one is going to care how well you did in university!
Your subsequent pay will be based on your performance on the job. It will be down to how much value you can provide to your employer and the company.
If you are deemed to be more valuable, you will be able to command a higher pay.
What is a good GPA in Singapore?
A good GPA to have in Singapore will be around 80% of the maximum score for the university. The maximum score can range between 4 to 5, depending on which university you are studying in.
Here are the ‘good’ GPA scores you can get from the different universities in Singapore:
For most of these universities, getting around 80% of the maximum score should give you a pretty good GPA.
When I was in university, it was thought that a B+ in NUS (4.0/5.0) is the average score that you can receive. This will equate to you getting an Honours (Second Upper) if you maintain the GPA for your entire time in university.
Can a person with a low GPA find a job in Singapore?
If you have a low GPA, it does not mean that it is the end of the world. Grades alone do not define who you are!
Instead, you can consider finding ways of proving your value to your prospective employers.
You definitely should not be disheartened if you did not do well in university.
Having good grades may just mean that you are good at taking exams and completing projects. However, you may not provide much value to your employer if you just know how to take exams!
I feel that the most important skill to have is applying what you’ve learnt from university into your job. For example, I have to memorise a lot of content as a pharmacy student.
However, I am struggling to be able to apply all of this knowledge when I’m working.
Your GPA may be one indicator to an employer of the amount of value you can provide. However, you may have other experiences too, such as job internships.
These internships show your employer that you have experience in applying the skills you’ve learnt. If you are able to perform well in your internships, it will show your employer that you are a valuable employee!
Focus on increasing your value, rather than your grades
Grades are just one determinant of the amount of value you can provide to your employer. You can increase your value by:
- Going for internships
- Learning and applying a high-value skill
- Improving soft skills (e.g. interpersonal skills)
Even if you’re really smart, most jobs require you to work in a team.
If you don’t work well with others or cannot present the ideas you have, you may not be able to produce the results that are required of you!
Having strong interpersonal skills help to show your employer that you are a team player, and that you work well with others.
Moreover, you may have learnt a skill that not many people may possess. If this skill is deemed to be of high value by your employer, they will still want to hire you despite your low grades!
As such, grades only show one side of who you are. If you have low grades, you can focus on your other strengths and experiences that shape who you are.
If you can show your employer the amount of value you can provide, they may still be willing to higher you even if you have a low GPA!
You can consider finding alternative sources of income too
Just like investing, you should not put all of your ‘income eggs’ in one basket. In the event that you cannot find (or lose) your job, it may be disastrous if that is your sole source of income.
Instead, you should look to build up alternative income sources. This will help to buffer you while you find a new job.
You may not even need to tap on your emergency funds if your alternative income can pay for your monthly expenses!
I have tried ways to earn an additional source of income, such as being a GrabFood Walker. However, I feel that this side income should be something which allows you to develop a new skill, or to scale a business.
In this way, you can own a sustainable business, or learn a new skill that is valued by employers.
If you enjoy writing, you can consider writing articles for money too!
Having a ‘bad’ GPA should never be a discouragement for you. Your GPA is only one aspect that defines who you are.
If you have valuable hard and soft skills that adds value to the company, employers will still want to hire you!
Instead of just focusing on getting good results, you may want to consider increasing the amount of value you provide.
When you focus on providing value, the money will eventually come!
Are you passionate about personal finance and want to earn some flexible income?