Student Blog

Student Interview: How do you achieve a high GPA? Vol.2-Part1

7 min read

For our ever second series of Q Blogs, Project Q members met with two 3rd year APS students majoring in International Relations, Rinlapas Opal and YU Hyunseung, from Thailand and South Korea respectively. Both Opal and Hyunseung are among students with tops GPAs in APU, and they were kind enough to share the secrets behind their outstanding academic records and tips on how to receive the most out of your student life while balancing extracurriculars and academics, don’t miss out on their answers!

Opal Rinlapas CHAIKWANG
From Thailand
Year- 3rd year 1ST Semester
College- Asia Pacific Sciences
Major- International Relations

YU Hyunseung (aka David)
From South Korea
Year- 3rd year 1ST Semester
College- Asia Pacific Sciences
Major- International Relations

【Part 1: Class Preparation】

1. How much time do you spend on preparation and review for class? (Sulagna)

I spend between 1-3 hours every day after class reading and reviewing class material. Currently, most of the classes I am undertaking require external reading so I must dedicate at least three hours of post-class time to reviewing and reading. To enhance productivity, I take 15 minutes breaks for every 45 minutes of studying. I have found this technique makes studying less stressful and more comfortable.
Personally, I don’t spend much time reviewing material before class unless it is requested by the professor. Instead I pay my full attention to the lecture and take notes accordingly. Listening to the lecture in this way helps me to understand the material right away rather than postponing it for a later date. When I pay attention in class I not only retain what is being taught, but I also receive an opportunity to clear my doubts during the lecture. If there are materials to be reviewed before class, I review one day prior so that I have an idea about the lecture content.

2.What study methods do you practice while taking classes and what is your attitude towards learning? (Pascal)

From my experience taking classes both on campus and via Zoom, keeping up with class content is an arduous process. To deal with this challenge, I resolved to take notes during class using the traditional method of pen and paper. There are three main advantages of this process: 1. It helps me focused during class, 2. After class I can review the content I gathered and gain an overall view of what I understand or have yet to understand, and 3. I can record real-time examples from my professors which I can reference in exams and assignments. Professors are usually impressed by this method as it reflects an elevated level of determination and commitment, and in turn you will have the chance to receive higher scores on assignments.
As I mentioned, I am a firm believer of taking notes during class. I take notes throughout the lecture and my notes become my main source for reviewing content before exams as most of the time exam questions are directly based on this content. My attitude towards learning revolves around how proactive I can be in class. I try my best to actively participate in discussions. Before the Covid-19 pandemic I actively volunteered in discussions, but that action is more difficult in online classes. However, I suggest utilizing Zoom functions as much as possible, such as the hand-raising icon and chat function, in order to be proactive.

3.Do you study outside of class to gain specialized knowledge? (Pascal)

As most of my classes require additional reading and research time outside class, I inevitably discover and analyze concepts in-depth which is something I enjoy about my classes. During my Conflict and Development class, we studied how poor political systems affect the overall performance of a country’s economy. This class was thought-provoking and led me to research how Thailand’s popular uprisings affected its economy. As a result, I gained specialized knowledge through linking this class to the reality of my home country which also enabled me to predict future outcomes and consider current policy recommendations to deal with potential issues.
Outside class time, I catch up on current affairs by reading and watching news every day. Currently my research in my research seminar focuses on relations between North and South Korea, and therefore I read news and articles which are mainly related to this research. News from NK News has been really helpful with my research and I have also been listening to their podcasts (The North Korean News podcast) recently as well.

4.What steps do you take when writing reports? (For example, deciding the theme, choosing a database, and steps during a group or individual report.) (Sulagna)

In my opinion, the most critical component of writing a report is to first understand the question to the fullest extent. To fully understand the question, one should pay close attention to its wording and critically note the keywords and concepts being addressed. After understanding the requirements of the question, I then move to the preliminary research stage. Preliminary research helps me choose my approach to answering the question and which database I will rely on during the writing process. I have found the APU database to very resourceful and I rely on it frequently for research. After the preliminary research stage I move on to essay planning, which entails all aspects I will cover during my writing. This step is very important as it will become my guide during the actual writing. Moreover, this essay plan becomes a checklist to ensure that I cover all ideas and concepts. After drafting my report, I conclude by carefully citing all sources which I used during the writing process. To avoid plagiarism, I normally create a document dedicated to references which I later transfer to the main document after completing the draft.

A breakdown of my report writing technique

In the case of individual reports with designated topics, I usually start my research right away. I look through all relevant library databases such as Ebscohost and JSTOR for articles and journals related to the topic, and if I don’t have sufficient data from these databases, I move to Google Scholar to look for relevant data. For cases in which a final report or presentation is not designated but provided as a general theme, I usually select a topic I am familiar with and use that as a starting point for research. For example, in a class I took with Professor Rothman in which the general topic involved Game theory, I opted to write about North Korea in relation to Game theory. As for report structure, I usually break it down into introduction, main body and conclusion first, and then further divide the main body into several subsections which explain the content in more detail. For group work, the group will delegate each member with a certain subsection to focus on.

5.What do you think is the secret behind your good GPA? (Sulagna)

Apart from the study techniques I explained earlier, I think my secret is listening to what my professors say during class. Paying attention to what is said has enabled me to understand the expectations of each individual professor. In turn, I produce reports and assignments which meet these expectations. To express your understanding in a clear way, quoting examples from class in assignments and final reports is something that professors regard highly.
I believe that there is no one secret to a good GPA, but that good grades are a cumulation of several factors, such as motivation throughout the semester, choosing the right courses and seeking an engaging teaching style. I also feel that the academic leap from high school to university has affected me positively. In high school we are taught subjects administered by the curriculum and we don’t get to choose subjects which interests us. However, being able to learn what interests me at the university level has motivated me to increase my knowledge towards these issues and topics. I think my time in the military also changed me immensely. It is commonly said in Korea that once an individual is done with his military time he is more disciplined and has found direction in life. Lastly, my family has played a huge role in my motivation through their constantly support, and I therefore feel a sense of responsibility towards them to perform well academically.

The interview with the two of them will be continued in the next article.
Please check it out.
You can read Vol.1 below.
Student Interview: How do you achieve a high GPA? Vol.1-Part1
Student Interview: How do you achieve a high GPA? Vol.1-Part 2&3

ProjectQ Interviewer

Name: BANERJEE Sulagna
College: APS (CSM)
Country/Region: India
Hello! I am Sulagna, class of FA 2022, majoring in Culture, Media and Society. My hobbies are watching anime and reading manga. I have been part of ALRCS and Project Q since Fall 2019 and working for Project Q has given me a better understanding and newfound appreciation towards our teaching faculty in APU. Our professors put a lot of effort into creating the course material for their students. Therefore, I hope that our articles help out our students and APU teaching faculty to improve the overall quality of learning in APU.

MUROMBA Pascal Simbarashe
College: APM (International Management)
Country/Region: Zimbabwe
Hello! I am Pascal. I love reading books. Two of my favorite books are Educated by Tara Westover and The End of History and the Last Man by Francis Fukuyama. Politics and sustainability are some of my favorite topics. I am currently learning martial arts and I find it very interesting.

ProjectQ from ALRCS
ProjectQ from ALRCS

Project Q is a team within the student organization ALRCS that is working to improve the Quality of learning at APU by interviewing professors and students (Questions) and compiling them into articles (Queues). On the Academic Office website, we have posted several interviews with professors about their good practices that they implement while teaching classes. Please take a look at them and use them as a reference for your future studies and course registration!

  • LINEで送る