Are you mentally prepared for your exams? Tips included!

How do you normally prepare for your exams?

Before you start, I would advise that you read my "How to study for my psychology exams?" Series 1, 2, and 3.  This should help you to understand your studying patterns and to better study for your exams.
However if you think all you need to do to prepare for the exams is to just study (or pure reading) your notes (as shown in the series above), you are so wrong...

With your "firepower" and "ammunition" (i.e. your study materials including textbooks, revision papers, past year papers, etc.) well-prepared and checked, you think you might be ready for this big "war" (i.e. your exams).  But you need more than that.  However, do note that your "ammunition" is always an essential equipment, as without the "ammunition", you have nothing to fight the "war".

Here are some methods to help you better manage your thoughts and have better mental preparation for the exams: 

1.  Create a study schedule
This has been taught in your time in secondary school (and maybe in primary school).  But during those times, a lot of students fail at keeping at the schedule.  For a study schedule more focused for the exam period, it has been explained before in Strategy 2 of "How to study for my psychology exams? Part 3".  This is very helpful as it helps to make sure that you cover all the materials a few times before the exams, which also makes you feel that you are well-prepared.

2.  Have a exam routine
Manage your routine, and you can manage your mood.  The time during the exams are a very busy and stressed period, hence it is very important that you can manage your mood properly in order to perform well.  It also help you focus better, as you do not have to think too much about what you have to do.

All experts who have the abilities to work under pressure and stress have their "little" routines that they have to perform, to make sure that things are in check.  What are the things that you can include in your exam routine?  They include:
  • Checking the items to bring, e.g. stationary, calculator, notes, little charms, etc., 
  • Having a certain routine, e.g. being at the venue early or on time, or certain "ritual-like" routines (like Nadal in the video above),
  • Things you prepare to have on the exam desk, or 
  • Certain things to do during the exam, e.g. checking that all pages are present or checking all pages are done before submission.
Methods 1 and 2 are really good to use before the exams, while methods 3 and 4 are things that you might do during or in preparation for the exam.

3.  Practice relaxation techniques
In times of stress, make sure you learn to relax.  Relaxation techniques will help you calm your nerves and put you in the right state of mind to perform at your best for the exam.  You can use these techniques when you are studying or during the exams.

First and foremost, you have to learn how to do diaphragmatic breathing (or deep breathing), as this is the most basic way to relax;  the first video teaches how to do this diaphragmatic breathing.

After which, if that is not enough, you can also do this progressive muscle relaxation (in a seated position).  If you have 6 minutes to spare during your exam, you can also do this before or during your paper.

4.  Positive self-talk
Lastly, you need to give yourself positive self-talk.
"What we tell ourselves will decide how we do it."
If you keep telling yourself "I can't do it", there will be a high chance that you will not be able to do it.  So remember to keep telling yourself good things before and during the exams!
These good things include:
  • "You can do it!"
  • "Hang in it!"
  • "You are well-prepared!"
  • "Just do your best!"
  • Any others that are applicable and relevant to yourself

With your physical preparation (through studying your notes) and mental preparation (through the above methods),  make sure you practice the methods as you revise your notes , and you will be fully prepared for your exams!  Good Luck!

SGPsychStud + Miss Psychobabble: Psychology Behind The Red Packets

The grand festivity of the Lunar New Year is fast approaching.  Abundant food, family reunions, and little red packets called “Ang Bao or Hong Bao” will grace Singapore (and some of your pockets) once again.

History and Tradition

According to tradition (and the old folktale regarding the dragon invading the villages), the colour "red" embodies “good luck” that is supposed to ward off the evil spirits for the Chinese.

If you are married and will be visiting your family and friends during the Chinese New Year, you will have to prepare a handful of red packets.  Even if you are staying at home, you should still prepare them, just in case your close friends visit with their children.
In Singapore, these red packets are usually given by married couples to single people (e.g. children or anyone of a younger / lower rank).  However with regard to giving the red packet to a unmarried close relative of a higher rank (e.g. older cousin), it really depends on respective families.

The amount to give varies from the income, closeness, and the family tree.  Here's the 2016 market rate by 65daigou:
Image Credit:
Since Singapore is a pot of different cultures, we as a nation have created practices centering red packet gifting.  It is not uncommon to have marriages between two different races, leading to traditional practices being modified or ignored.  But aside from the Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Filipinos and South Koreans have similar customs revolving the red packets.

Psychology Behind The Red Packets

In Color Psychology, the colour "Red" is believed to "stimulate appetite, blood pressure, and one's heart rate" while it emotionally signifies sexual readiness, aggression, excitement and strength.  In sports, teams who wore red are more likely to win, and contestants wearing red also do win more.  It was also found by Elliot and Maier (2007) that participants who saw a red background performed worse that those who saw green and grey backgrounds.  It probably meant that red may have an avoidance effect on those who viewed it.

This idea of avoidance is in contrast with the Asian culture.  In the traditional Asian culture, red packets are usually given at major life events, such as Chinese New Year, weddings, and birthdays, as a gesture of good luck, celebration, and appreciation.

Why do we have to give red packets? (From a psychological viewpoint)

Do note that from the above market rate figures, the values do fluctuate among the different relationships that we have with people, other than your own income range.  This points us to the main reason for why red packets has to given.

It could be explained using the relational models theory (Fiske & Haslam, 2005).  According to Alan Fiske,
"Relational models theory posits that people use four elementary models to generate, interpret, coordinate, contest, plan, remember, evaluate, and think about most aspects of most social interaction in all societies. These models are Communal Sharing, Authority Ranking, Equality Matching, and Market Pricing. Scores of studies have demonstrated that people in all cultures use these models to organize much of their everyday social cognition."
Communal Sharing:  To improve the relationship within the family, relatives and friends come together once a year, performing "comunal sharing" by having New Year's dinners or lunches, and hence increasing the cohesiveness and connectedness of the group.

Authority Ranking:  This is seen where the younger married generations will have to give red packets to their seniors as a form of respect or filial piety to them.  In terms of the amounts given, it could be based on the hierarchy (as a result of "Authority Ranking") in the family or organisation or group.

Equality Matching:  Do note that some parents do try to remember the amount given to their children by respective relatives.  This may in turn result in them giving similar amounts to those relatives' children.  This is the result of "Equality Matching", where "people keep track of the balance or difference among participants and know what would be required to restore balance."
Some grandparents might also give bigger amounts to their grandchildren, if they have expected their children (i.e. parents of the grandchildren) to give them big amounts in the red packets (from the "Authority Ranking" above).  This balancing of the figures by the grandparents create balance in the relationships and maintains the harmony in the family.  However, do note that the amounts changes as a result of the number of children and grandchildren (obviously lesser if there are a lot of grandchildren).

Market Pricing:  This refers to the market rates of the red packets.  This really depends on multiple factors with regard to the relationships within the family, social group or organisation.  A common rule would be that if you are socially closer to the recipient (or their family/social group), the more you give to him/her.  You might want to refer to the above market rate or understand the connection between yourself and the person getting your red packet and evaluate that "Market Pricing".

Regardless of the reasons, always wish the other person "Good Luck and a Happy New Year!!!" regardless of whether you are the person receiving or giving the red packet!

Wishing everyone a Happy Chinese New Year!
SGPsychStud + Miss Psychobabble    

2015 Update: Academic requirements for local psychology diplomas and degrees

Apologies that this post is too late for those who are applying for polytechnic programs but still very helpful for those who are planning to apply for university this year!

Firstly we need to understand what are "cut-off points":
According to SP,
"The 2015 JAE ELR2B2 ... shows the net ELR2B2 aggregate score of the lowest ranked students who were admitted to these courses through the 2015 Joint Admissions Exercise (JAE) (for Singapore-Cambridge GCE 'O' Level qualification). These aggregate scores are meant as a reference for applicants applying to these courses and do not constitute the admission scores for subsequent admissions exercises."
According to NP,
"JAE ELR2B2 vary from course to course and from one intake to the next and hence only provide a general indication of the standard of results required for admission and the competitiveness of entry to the course."
Hence in summary, the cut-off scores are the scores of the lowest ranked students who entered that program, and is only a general indication of the next year's intake, and hence does not guarantee that you will be given a spot even if you get that similar score.

I found a website ( that provides cut-off scores if anyone is interested in any other programs other than psychology which I believe is quite useful (even for me)!

Stage 3 (Part II): My journey of self-discovery and personal reflection

It's been close to 2 years since I last wrote a post on this blog.  Circumstances have since changed (drastically).

The past 2 years have no doubt provided me with a journey of self-discovery:
  • Exposure to the harsh reality of life in Singapore's corporate world.  (It really isn't easy to get a job in Singapore even if you've stellar results - experience is what counts the most). 
  • Throughout this period, I'm glad I persisted and remained steadfast in my beliefs, never once neglecting the things that brighten my day. 

[This might not be entirely related but I stumbled upon a new hobby during my self-discovery period which might turn into a business some day, who knows?  Food for thought:  (as quoted by Helen Keller -When one door of happiness closes, another opens;  but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us]

I may not be the graduate with exceptional results, but I'd still like to reiterate my interest for having chosen Psychology as my major in 2010 (despite difficulties in securing a related position upon graduation).  Although I've graduated 2 years ago, (seems like it was only yesterday) till this day, I still reminisce my days as a Psychology student:

1. The days spent attending lectures. Just to name a few:
Introduction to Psychology
Psychology in everyday life / Cognitive Psych
Brain and cognition / Personality theories Research+Stats / Social Psych
Counseling / Health Psych
Applied Psych therapies / Cognitive Psych
Exercise Psych
Research Dissertation

2. Endless mugging for examinations

3. Ensuring perfection in my final year research dissertation - (my proudest work as a Psych student) and the well-informed lecturers who taught with utmost pride & passion -  accompanying us throughout our Psychology journey - from a diligent and persistent student to a graduate bursting with enthusiasm, curiosity and excitement upon graduation.

This post is dedicated to:
my university lecturers (all 5 of them)
ex-Psych classmates (miss you guys!)
those who're about to graduate from a Psychology course / in the midst of securing a job.

The journey may be tough but never ever give up.  Tough times don't last but tough men do.  One day you'll get there.  Make the most of any opportunity you get.  Don’t always hold out for ‘the best thing’;  sometimes the best thing is not what you expect.

*if anyone would like to have a deeper understanding of my experiences / what I've gone through as a Psych graduate, I would be more than willing to connect with you.  (SGPsychStud: Please enter your contacts / message / question in the comments below and the author of this reflection will contact you)