Thursday, September 3, 2015

Is PFP Worth It? Two PFP Students Share Their Experiences


While most students proceed with tertiary education after obtaining an O-Level certificate or upon completing their studies in an ITE institution, Ryan Christian Misson (above)  and Amira Binte Ismail (below) are part of a fortunate minority in Singapore’s Normal (Academic) cohort – securing a spot in NYP a year earlier than their peers in secondary school. Having obtained outstanding GCE N-Level results, they qualified for the recently introduced Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP). Instead of sitting for the O-Levels as a Secondary 5 student, they skipped their O-Levels and spent a year in PFP. Now, they have graduated and are currently in Year 1.


 In PFP, the curriculum structure consists of both common modules and domain specific modules
 relevant to their respective courses in Year 1. The common modules are similar to what is taught in secondary school – Language & Communication (English), Mathematics, Life Skills / National Education (Civics and Moral Education) and Physical Education. As for the domain specific modules, they are dependent on one’s chosen course.

For Ryan, a Diploma in Animation student, he took modules like Design Foundation and Applied Arts. Amira, a Diploma in Mass Media Management student, took modules like Contemporary Business Studies and Fundamentals of Accounting and Finance. This foundation year, also known as Year 0, acts as a bridge from secondary school to polytechnic.

Here’s what Ryan and Amira have to say about their experiences in their PFP year.

Ryan Christian Misson

NYP is well-known for its Animation course, and that’s why Ryan chose to study here. He chose PFP because he has a passion for art, and wanted to pursue a Diploma in Animation. He was also not looking forward to the stress that came with taking his O-Levels, another reason that pushed him towards PFP.

To him, PFP was a chance to transit from secondary school to polytechnic without the stress of the O-Levels. Fortunately, he made the right choice. Ryan did not hesitate to tell me that he enjoyed his PFP experience.

Undoubtedly, poly students have to put in more effort to obtain information themselves, unlike in secondary school where the teachers do a lot of spoon feeding. The campus is also a lot bigger and the timetable is not as straightforward as Ryan’s secondary school timetable. However, to him, the academic aspect is similar. Apart from the integrated modules, he still learnt Mathematics and English which are not very different from what he used to study in secondary school. Despite the changes, Ryan did not hesitate to add that his PFP year was not at all stressful, as compared to taking his N-Levels.

Ryan feels that Year 0 and Year 1 are also quite similar now that he’s been through the Foundation Year. The only difference is that his workload got heavier and he has to get used to meeting a new batch of students in Year 1. Being exposed to poly life earlier than his current Year 1 peers gave him an advantage. Having gotten used to poly life, Ryan is better able to deal with his Year 1 studies and workload.

Ryan has some good advice for his juniors and future Secondary 4 N (A) students. He feels that they can consider PFP an alternative if they want to go to poly and know what they would like to do there.

He even weighed the pros and cons - the pros being a head start in what you will learn in Year 1. However, the cons are that one will not have an O-Level certificate if he/she fails PFP. In other words, PFP students have to pass all modules to ensure they can move on to Year 1.

Currently in Year 1, Ryan is enjoying life as a student in NYP. He enjoys studying in NYP as there are many good facilities and he has many nice classmates. Ryan owes his circumstances to a special friend of his. His table partner in secondary school motivated him to study hard. Together, they worked hard for their N-Levels and both qualified for PFP.

Now in a different polytechnic, his friend remains a key motivator for Ryan. Ryan will not forget his aspirations of making his parents proud and his personal reminder not to slack off.


Amira Binte Ismail is currently a Year 1 Diploma in Mass Media Management student. She chose to study at NYP as it is the only polytechnic that offers both Business and Mass Media under one course, and she wanted to major in both fields – a win-win!

She greeted me with a warm smile and was equally warm during our interview. Like Ryan, she found PFP a good opportunity to transit to polytechnic and was not looking forward to the O-Levels. Being an art student in secondary school, she felt that O-Level art was time consuming and demanding. That led her to try out for PFP. Her family and friends were her sources of motivation and she worked towards her goal. She did well for her N-Levels and eventually proceeded to do her PFP in NYP.

Her PFP experience was not as easy as she had anticipated. She felt that she had to be consistent in her work and attitude in order to achieve good results. She was also unfamiliar with the new modules she had to do.

In secondary school, she took subjects like Social Studies and Mother Tongue but in poly, she took modules relevant to her diploma course (such as Accounting and Business) and that is now a big advantage to her as it prepared her for what she will learn for the next three years. PFP also gave her a gist of what poly life would be like.

Amira took this opportunity to reflect on her PFP year and felt that she procrastinated too much last year. She believes that the jump from Year 0 to Year 1 will not be tedious if one is good at time management.

To Amira, the modules she is taking in Year 1 are more detailed and informative as compared to her foundational modules in Year 0. She also added that she enjoys the environment and her course modules in NYP; she has more freedom in poly and sufficient time to study on her own, enabling her to be independent instead of relying too much on her teachers.

Amira believes that freshmen will always face challenges in any polytechnic due to the change in environment. Therefore, she strongly recommends PFP to her juniors and future secondary 4 N(A) students. Like Ryan, she feels that PFP is advantageous and a great stepping stone towards studies in Year 1.

To end off, Amira left us with an inspirational quote: “In life, you’ll stumble upon challenges that will try to bring you down one way or another but I think it is important to face these challenges with your head held high and heart wide open.”

By Germaine Leow, Year 0, PFP


Alongside her interests in writing and photography, Germaine aims to provide the best campus updates during her 4 years in NYP. With a Mass Media Management Diploma waiting for her at the end of her polytechnic journey, she promised herself to never forget the importance of hard work, for God gives the hardest battles to his strongest soldiers.

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