It's that time of the year for uni applications! We just had our open house at NUS Law today and I was manning the orientation booth with a few friends. Honestly though, very few people seemed interesting in finding out about orientation because they were more concerned with how they could get in so that they can come for orientation. After talking to some people about it today, I remembered that I'd done up a post about it some time last year after the entire application process, and here it is! I added in a few extra things based on the more ~common questions~ that came up/that I hear, hope it helps!
The initial application for NUS is a simple one. All you have to do is fill in your particulars + grades, rank your courses by choice (you get up to 8 choices, what even) and an optional 2000-character essay elaborating on how your activities make you suitable for the course or something to that extent. For IB students, it's a two-month long wait before you hear back from the school about shortlisting so just... Wait. You'll most probably get a text telling you to check your portal one fine morning.
A common question is whether one needs straight As to apply to law school, and the answer is no! Of course, having a row of As on your transcript will help in getting you past the threshold requirement of decent grades to get to the interview stage, but it is not absolutely necessary. But I've heard that most people get at least 87.5 rank points (for A levels), and I think the threshold is around 40/41 points for IB to get to the interview. These are not absolute values, and I'm quite sure they change depending on the average grades of the pool of applicants in a given year. Also, you don't need an A for GP/7 for IB English to get here. You are also not at a disadvantage if you were from the science stream in JC/did a science-based IB combination! :-)
When you get your interview and test date, you should receive a package in the mail with a form for you to fill out before your interview. The last section is a personal statement, basically detailing "Why I choose to read Law at NUS". You have a box to write your answer in, but you also have the option to type it out and attach it to the form. Do start on it once you get the notification for the shortlist, as the letter may get lost in the mail or take a while to reach you, - you never know, and you don't want to have to stay up the night before your interview rushing it.
Advice! Keep your answer short and sweet - about a page would be sufficient. Stick to the golden rule of honesty and being yourself. Try to think about why you really want to do law, and don't forget to mention the why at NUS part as well. Dig deep - go past the "i really want to help people" and "i want to make the world a better place statements" and think of the whys beyond the whys beyond the whys. Think of what you want to get out of this legal education at NUS and what you want to / would like to / can do with it but also what you can give back to the school. Try to connect the two.
I've heard very mixed things about the interview. On the whole, I think they're just trying to see how you think and reason, and they want to make sure that you do have a (justifiable) opinion. So do try not to make bold statements without being able to support them. I've heard stories about how some interviewers really try to intimidate you and make you question your own views, I think it's important to be able to think quickly and stand your ground but don't be afraid to acknowledge if they make a fair point!!
There will be two interviewers to one of you. I personally didn't think much of my interview (in the sense that I'm not sure if it went well or not). I liked how they let me lead the conversation, in a way, and I actually quite enjoyed my interview experience. I might have been lucky, but I thought my interviewers were quite nice. One of them even made a joke about me looking like a Sec 1 HAHAH but I'm used to hearing stuff like that anyway. We basically talked about free speech and the internet, and I related it to the Amos Yee case as it had just become a thing in the few weeks leading up to my interview. Oh, and we went into poetry a little bit. But I think the interview topics vary greatly between interviewers - my friend had to talk about Nazis or something history-related, so the topic you get is dependent on your luck as well. Just try to think as logically as possible I guess. I don't think there's really any way to prepare for the interview other than reading the news, or praying. Hahahah. Other friends of mine were asked about their personal experiences such as their time in the army and what they thought about it; others about rugby and the like. For some, it was simply centred around why they wanted to do law. So it really depends on your interviewers!
I don't think there's a way you can really prepare for your interview, other than doing some self-reflection and reading the news. Also, just dress normally - a nice dress or something is good enough haha I saw WAY too many people dressed like lawyers (ie. white top black bottom) lol you're not going to court yet!! Just wear something comfortable but smart casual-ish? The most important thing is that you're relaxed and feeling comfortable and confident. Trust me, it helps a lot.
The written test is usually held on the Sunday following the interviews. They give you a lot of pages in the booklet for the essay but don't feel like you have to use them all! You only have one hour and fifteen minutes, so remember, quality, not quantity. Basically, you need to write something like an argumentative essay, but with a legal aspect to it - they give you a scenario with some pieces of information for you to use as evidence, and you have to make a stand wrt to the case using things from every piece of information given to you!!! Anyway they explicitly say this in the instructions but at any rate READ THE INSTRUCTIONS GIVEN.
My test was about a woman who was 28 y/o with the intelligence of an 8 y/o after an accident, leaving her parents in charge of making decisions for her legally. However, they want her to undergo a hysterectomy, which was not under the decisions that they are allowed to make for her and as a result, they have filed an appeal to the court. We were told more about her and the situation with her parents & decision-making, the law about mental disability (sth like that) and a wiki page and a news article of a somewhat similar case. So what we had to do was represent the woman's interests wrt to whether she should or shouldn't undergo the hysterectomy, or something to that extent.
I think it's very important to have a conclusion for your essay, and to clearly stick to one viewpoint but acknowledge others. So, you can present counter-arguments and come up with a counter for that counter. Just don't go around in circles and get confused along the way! :-( Remember to justify, justify, justify. And think, obviously. ALSO practice writing before the test if you haven't written in a while. Like, take a sheet of paper and copy out sentences or something. You don't want to go in and start writing only to realise that your handwriting is completely illegible due to the fact that you've been doing all your internship work on a computer all year long.
Results usually start coming out from the first week of May so just keep your fingers crossed till then! You'll get a text, again, of course.
Okkkk ANYWAY i do hope this helps anyone who's reading this! All the best to whoever's reading this in hopes that it will be of some use for your application, and I do hope that it gave you some idea of what to expect from the application process. University applications are like a game, so just treat it like one (while casually pretending that your future is not on the line you know?) and play it well, play it right. Play to your advantage (which is to be yourself because it's the best advantage that you can have) and give it your best shot! However, don't beat yourself up if you aren't the recipient of good news at the end of the day - of course, it's easier said than done, but remember that you will end up at wherever you are meant to be. You never know how the seemingly worst things can be blessings in disguise. x
(p.s. feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions, or insta dm me or something!)