Welcome, welcome, welcome. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably an incoming freshman or exchange student who has no idea how bidding works in SMU. Well, fret not because we’re here to help. What may now seem like a really complicated process is actually pretty easy once you break it all down.
A word of caution: Bidding is not a guessing game. Although there’s an element of luck involved in the bidding process, the majority of the outcome hinges on your research before bidding and not the actual bidding itself. As long as you’ve exercised your due diligence, you’ll be able to secure your bids.
The Importance of Bidding Correctly
Now, before we tell you HOW to secure your bids, here’s WHY it is important that you do so:
1. An Ideal Timetable
Having an ideal timetable is one of the biggest reasons why SMU students want to secure their bids in the first round. SMU’s interactive pedagogy means that each module only has one 3-hour lesson each week. So if you’re planning to take 5 modules, you will only have five 3-hour lessons per week. And if you plan your modules properly, you could easily get away with a three-day (or even two-day) school week. This gives you ample time to pursue other interests, attend CCA training (which sometimes takes place during school hours) or even apply for a part-time job.
To give you a better idea of such a timetable, here’s an example:
The term “ideal” is subjective so the timetable arrangement shown above is based on my personal opinion. If you want to spread your modules over the 5 weekdays that’s fine too (however works best for you).
2. Slots get limited as each round progresses
Each class has a maximum of 40 – 45 slots depending on the professor of that class. The number of classes available in each module depends on the number of professors teaching that module. So more professors, more classes, hence more slots. Usually, after the first round of bidding, the majority of the available slots will be taken up. You will then be left with classes that are usually held in unfavourable timings (i.e. 7 pm classes) or classes with only limited slots left (which forces you to raise your bids significantly so that you can secure a slot in that class). In essence, as each round progresses, it gets harder and more expensive to bid for the classes that you want.
3. Same module, different prof, different course requirements
Even if there are several professors teaching the module, each professor will have a different teaching style and a different course requirement. Some professors may have a project-intensive course outline while others may have an exam/test heavy course structure.
To view the course structure follow these steps:
BOSS > Plan & Bid > Add to Cart > Subject Area > View Class timings > View Course Outline
Ideally, you should bid for classes where the course outline plays to your strengths. If you think you score better in project work, then you want to secure your bids for professors with a project-focused course outline.
These are 3 reasons why you should take bidding seriously. Now let’s dive right into how bidding works in SMU.
The Mechanics of Bidding: How Bidding Works
Before the bidding window opens, you will be given 100 eCredits. These eCredits will be “currency” you will use to place your bids. Unused eCredits will be rolled over to the next bidding window. You can “earn” more eCredits during the semester by completing the end-of-semester feedback (e$5) or end-of-course feedback (e$25). Make sure you don’t miss out on that!
Once the window opens, you can place your bids for the modules that you want. Each bidding window will usually be open for 2-3 days so there is no need to rush to place your bids.
FAQ 1: How will I know if my bids are successful?
After the bidding window closes, you will receive an official email from SMU informing you of the status of your bids. Let’s say you bidded for a class that has 40 slots. Once the bidding window closes, only the top 40 bidders will be successful in their bids. Everyone else who bidded lower than the 40th bidder will be deemed unsuccessful and will have to try again in the subsequent bidding windows.
FAQ 2: How many bidding windows are there?
For SMU students, there are 6 bidding windows in the first round. At the end of these 6 windows, you should have settled your bids. If you haven’t, it’s really bad news but you can still keep trying and continue bidding in Round 2 and 2A. You can view the exact dates of the bidding windows here.
These are the Bidding Windows (each round has their own restrictions):
BID for :
- (i) courses offered by their own school;
- (ii) courses pre-determined by the school; and
- (iii) courses not listed under a Major offered by another school.
Double degree students will be able to bid for courses for both their primary and secondary degrees during Round 1.
DROP courses and BID for:
- (i) courses offered by their own school;
- (ii) courses pre-determined by the school;
- (iii) courses offered under their declared Major
DROP courses and ADD courses without restrictions.
Only for exchange students. SMU students cannot bid in this round.
For students who failed their bids in any of the previous rounds, they can continue bidding in Round 2 and 2A. For students who wish to drop any modules that they have successfully bidded for, they can do so during any of the windows. However, do note that there is a maximum refund amount for the modules dropped in each round. Read more about this here.
FAQ 3: How do I know how much to bid?
Well, that’s a million-dollar question right there. No one can tell you, with absolute confidence, the exact amount that you should bid for that will guarantee you a successful bid without overbidding. But, what you can do is research on what you want to bid for and how much those modules have been bidded for in the past. This will be covered in the next section.
Before Bidding: The Research to do
1. What to bid: Faculty Handbook
Start by reading your faculty’s student handbook. This handbook will not only give you an overview of all the modules you need to take in order to graduate, but it will also spell out all the majors available as well as modules under each major. Learning how to map your modules will become a lot more crucial when you’re in your second year (that’s when you have to declare your major). Here’s the link to LKCSB’s student handbook.
Personally, I recommend creating an excel file to keep track of the modules you have taken or are planning to take. Here’s an example:
2. How many to bid: Review Exemptions & Count backwards
Concurrently, you also need to know how many modules you need to take this semester. In order to graduate from SMU, you need to clear at least 36 Credit Units (CU). Most modules are worth 1 CU each while some are worth 0.5 CU. SMU allows every student to take up to 5.5 CUs every semester (unless you are a double degree student).
Figure out how many exemptions you have and work backwards to calculate the number of CUs you need to clear each semester. If you have 3 exemptions (3 CUs), that means you need to clear 1 Semester of 5 CUs and 7 Semesters of 4 CUs in order to graduate in 4 years. If you are planning to take a Leave of Absence (LOA) or graduate early then you might have to readjust your plan. For freshmen, you will have 1 or 2 pre-assigned modules so keep that in mind!
3. Who to bid: Professor Reviews
If you want to check out reviews of the professors you are bidding for, you can head over to www.SMUMods.com. Alternatively, you can talk to your seniors to gather some insights.
But please please please take these reviews with a pinch of salt. Although it’s good to get a sensing of who your future professors are, you must remember that all these reviews are subjective so keep that in mind!
4. How much to bid: Past Biddings
To gauge how much to bid, you can view the past bidding prices in previous semesters. It’s up to your own judgement whether you want to bid higher or lower than the previous bids.
BOSS > Quicklinks > Overall BOSS results
During Bidding: A Step-by-Step Video Guide
Once you’ve decided which modules you want to bid for and how much to bid for it, it is time to place your bids. It’s way easier if I show you how to go about doing so. Watch this step-by-step guide on how to place your bids when the bidding window opens. Remember to turn the volume up!
Here are some tips for advanced bidders. You don’t really need to know any of these techniques to place your bids.
DICE stands for Drop If Course Exceeds. DICE is basically a function that allows you to bid for more modules than you can actually take and set priority for which modules to drop automatically in the event that all your biddable modules are successful. Note that you can only DICE 1 module.
Also note that you cannot use DICE to bid for another class of the same module or another module with a conflicting timetable/exam clash.
Here’s a scenario:
Assuming you are planning to take 5 modules this semester. Instead of bidding for only 5, you bid for an additional module (6 modules in total). You set DICE for the 6th module indicating that if your first 5 modules are successful, it will automatically drop the 6th module.
Sniping refers to the act of dropping a class you successfully bidded for only to rebid for the same class again at a lower price. This is a risky move because other students might “counter snipe” and bid at a higher price than your revised bid, hence taking over your slot.
Students will usually be tempted to snipe when they realise that they overbid for a module. Personally, we do not recommend sniping at all but should you need to snipe, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Take note of the maximum refund amount for dropping a successfully bidded module. Read more about this here.
- It’s always better to snipe during the later rounds as most students would have settled their bids by then.
- Snipe only 1 minute before the window closes. This decreases the chance of getting counter-sniped.
Securing your bids is only the beginning. It is neither a guarantee of your academic success nor a foreshadow of potential defeat. Even if you are unable to secure your bids for the modules that you want, it is not the end of the world. Adapt and make the best out of your situation. Who knows, it might just be your best semester yet!