I see you coming little biz all stressed out, asking you 10,000 questions about your future studies: how is it going to be, the level, the workload, etc.
Stop panicking! It’s useless.
Sure, classes will seem a little bit different from high school with the lectures (and the 3-hour labs…). But don’t worry, we’ve prepared a little summary on all courses to answer all the questions you may have!
Finally, to avoid you spamming the Facebook group with this question, I’m going to answer it once and for all: No, it is not impossible (even if you haven’t had exams for the French out here…xD #ThanksCorona). Afterwards, of course, it’s a bit harder than in high school and the workload is more important but you’ll see that you’ll get used to it and you’ll be surrounded by all of your friends with whom you’ll spend your best BMC sessions (check the lexicon if you don’t know what it is).
The different types of classes :
The lectures (CM)
The famous lectures. Accompanied by your section, between 75 and 100 pirates, the teachers provide you with more or less interesting entertainment. You will see that those classes will empty themselves little by little… This is where you will learn all the new notions: everything that is theoretical. If you finish class without having understood everything, don’t panic, you’re normal! Don’t hesitate to ask questions though (the advantage of not being in college in a room of 500…)! So yes, sometimes at 8am you won’t want to get up for a lecture, especially after a nice night-out at the K-Fêt, but it’s mandatory (yes, it can happen that they verify even if I admit I’ve never seen it…) ….
Here, sorry lazy pirate, can’t miss those without getting seen y the captain. In groups of 25, you will apply the notions seen in lecture. That’s where you’ll be able to get lost in nice math exercises (more literature if you ask me, you don’t see many numbers anymore…) and overloaded physics schemes. You’ll spend quality time with the other pirates of your crew. TDs represent the majority of your classes, little flashback to high school that we miss so much. You may not have been told, but this isn’t high school anymore. And yes, the good old days when you suddenly figured it out without much practice are over. At INSA, unless you’re a genius, you’re gonna have to work!!! (But it’s ok, you only need 10 to validate.)
For the practicals, it’s not very different from high school except it’s three hours long. If I do have one piece of advice (or rather several) for you, little biz, choose your partner (very) wisely (a very strong bond will be created, you’ll quickly understand) and above all, be energized because you have to hang in there. The reports, classic but not always graded, so it’s up to you to take notes so you don’t find yourself completely lost at the end of the semester! And yes, at that time, you will have the right to an evaluated practical of one hour on one of the practicals seen during your semester (and even the privileged SCANs won’t escape this one).
The Weekly written tests (IE)
Alala the famous Friday night, 4pm-6pm, this is your moment! INSA is not the hardest school but it’s not the IUT nor the university. You have to work especially since you have the right to an IE every Friday evening (almost apart from the lazy Eurinsa who spend every Thursday evening at the K-Fêt). I don’t doubt that we’ll find more than one of you Thursday evening struggling (all your Thursday afternoons are free but too lazy to work right?), a common method (probably too common) but not very efficient (you have been warned). And don’t think you’ll make up for everything at the mid-term exams (see DS)! Or it would just be a miracle! But don’t worry, no pressure, if you’ve been accepted here, there’s no reason you won’t make it 😉!
The final exams (DS)
The exams so eagerly awaited by everyone (or not) from January are more commonly known as DS or partiels (it’s the same thing). It counts for a little less than 50% of your final averages, so don’t neglect them. You will have the chance to know what a week of exams looks like, for now unknown for some of you (#bac2020). You will then have a “light” week (= you don’t have class) to revise, then the exams scattered over the week (one per subject). It’s long, it’s tiring (at least, as a SCAN, that’s what I’ve been told #NoExams). When it is all done, we promise you great parties (#postpartiels you’re not ready) and a month without IE!
The subjects :
You may have been the king of your high school in this subject, but this year you’re going to have to hold on because it’s going to go a lot faster. In the first semester, you’ll mostly be going to deepen everything you learned in your final year (or review for the Moroccans) but with a lot of new notions. Then, in the second semester, it will be something newer: vector spaces, matrices and all that (if you were a maths student you’ve already heard about matrices but careful your advantage will only last 20 minutes before you’re as lost as all the others).
On the program: optics and electro kinetics (basically electricity) during S1 (semester 1), mechanics and electromagnetism during S2. Concerning optics and mechanics, they are things you’ve already seen in high school but they are obviously more complex. For the rest, you’ll be happy to discover Ohm’s law and all the mess that goes with it. In addition to lectures and tutorials, you will also have 3 hours of practicals per week, it may seem a lot but if you are focus, it really helps you to understand the course.
The famous subject that forever divides us into two clans: those who are passionate about chemistry and those who have a minimum of common sense to realize that it’s really not that interesting (very objective point of view of course). Well, the truth is, you’ll be happy to study the electronic structure of atoms at the beginning of the year. You will also have the chance to understand how the famous periodic table of elements of our friend Mendeleïev is made. Then you will work on the internal structure of matter (crystallography), oxidation-reduction reactions and acid/base. You will think that you got rid of it after the S1 partiels but it will come back to torment you in the S2, and even with a world crisis and an infinite lockdown you will not escape it, believe me (#PracticalsLongDistanceWorstThing). You will however see thermodynamics replacing chemistry in the S2 (and it’s not better…)
It replaces chemistry in the second half of the year. Basically, the idea is to analyze the exchanges of energy in different systems. It’s very often applied to everyday objects (a fridge, a hamburger, we’ve really been through everything). You will therefore understand how works a fridge, a nuclear power plant or simply what happens when you heat water. It’s all pretty new, but you get used to it quickly, don’t worry. It’s mostly learning formulas and learning how and when to apply them.
MTES (OMSI in French)
This is the little name we give to “Mathematical Tools for Engineering Sciences”. Well, it’s basically maths, but you’ll mostly use it in physics, chemistry and thermodynamics. I mean, they’re tools. Even if it’s one of the worst subjects, don’t neglect it because afterwards it’s in physics that you won’t be able to do anything. You’ll have your little Sunday night ritual to do your weekly MCQ like in physics (classic life). Unless you’re in an international section!
It’s two hours a week behind a computer where you’ll learn to code in java and create little programs. In this subject, there are two categories of people: those for whom everything is obvious and who could program Facebook at 15 years old and others who have the impression of learning Chinese. Don’t worry, the teachers consider that you all start from scratch so, if you hang on during the tutorials, it should do the trick.
PS: Legend has it that there would be lectures from time to time.
It’s all new for most of us. There are going to be lots of new words to know (#chamfer), you’re going to discover how many mechanisms work (#Screw-clamp). It may sound scary at first, but don’t worry, it’s already done: either you are able to see in space, or you don’t. No in reality, if you follow in TD, it should do the trick. You’ll also learn how to use SolidEdge to model parts on the computer.
For the classics, it’s English for everyone (unless you already have a really good level: in this case, there is the possibility to do another language). You will be divided into 6 groups of different levels after having taken the TOEFL, just after the inté (be careful not to fall asleep, some people have ended themselves in group 6 like that). Otherwise for the SCAN, since the courses are already in English, you will be able to choose another language, and for the other international sections, you do English by default and you also have another language which corresponds to the region you are studying.
It’s Cultures, Sciences and Societies: a mixture of philosophy, history, sociology, often linked to science and technology. Throughout the year, you will have projects and research work to do in groups. For international sections, your program will be different from the classics. It will be linked to the geographical areas of your sections. For example, in AMERINSA, the theme of the S1 presentations was “the differences” of perceptions, cultures… This is one of the only non-scientific subjects you will have, so you should take it as a break in your week full of science.
Don’t get too attached to this subject, you’ll only get it in the first semester of your first year, the idea is to present how a company works because it’s the place where you’re likely end up when you finish your studies. There will be a few theoretical classes and then a project in groups where you can put all your knowledge into practice.
PS: this is a subject reserved for the classics.
Useful info :
You are now a grown up and INSA lets you free how you want to take your classes. You can take them on sheets of paper, in notebooks or not (at your own risk). However, we’ve been in your shoes and many have wondered about the best way to take classes. Unfortunately, there is no miracle formula, everyone has their own preferences. You may not know yours yet. Most people still prefer to write everything down on paper (lecture and tutorial). Others, like me, write down the lectures on a piece of paper and the tutorials in a notebook. Then, you’ve got the pros who have different colored paper depending on whether it’s for the lectures, practical notes, tutorial notes… But this is another level. Once again, don’t worry, you’ll have time when you get back to school to get your bearings and see what suits you best.
Concerning the computer, it’s almost essential to have one to revise, to make your presentations, to go on Moodle (website where all the courses are available). IOS or Windows is up to you but if you haven’t invested yet, I recommend Windows because for the design, you’ll need SolidEdge and it only runs on Windows. Afterwards, if you already have a Mac, you can still install a magic trick that will allow you to have Windows on a Mac and thus have SolidEdge, but it’s more struggle.
You don’t necessarily need a printer in case you’re wondering.
Well, as the intro says, INSA is not impossible, far from that. Just think, if you got in, it’s because they think you have what it takes to succeed. After that, you have to know that the workload differs from one to another. You have the geniuses who study very little and who do much better than you (yes, it’s very frustrating, you’ll see) and then you have the normal people who are struggling and who work every night. Concerning the organization, you’ll quickly realize that working alone can depressing because you don’t understand much (and also because if you’re in B, you have a chance on two to have a view on the cemetery). So, you’ll go work every night with your friends at the BMC (or at the BU for the weird people who prefer to go further #TeamBMC) and you’ll see that it’s much better when there are several of us who don’t get it, it cheers you up. Finally, if I had to set an average in terms of hours spent studying, I would say about 2-3 hours a day and about 8 hours on weekends. Even if, like I told you, it really depends on the people.