Having a taste of hands-on learning better prepared them for similar courses at the higher level, said students who had taken applied subjects in their younger years.
Temasek Polytechnic student Roy Ang, 19, who is in his first year of mechatronics engineering, was first exposed to how everyday objects worked when he took a subject, electrical technology and applications, in secondary school.
The subject has evolved into smart electrical technology - a new subject to be offered next year - to keep up with industry trends such as smart home systems.
"It was quite interesting. I learnt how common household items like lights, fans, rice cookers worked, and how to repair them," said Mr Ang, formerly from Bedok Town Secondary School.
"Theory and practical aspects were taught together in a lab and we got to handle safety tools and equipment like light bulbs, three-pin plugs and lamps," he said.
He attained an A for the subject at the N levels, and went on to study mechanical technology at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE).
He finished ITE with a perfect grade point average of 4 and started his polytechnic course in April.
"I want to be an engineer because I like to create ideas and solve problems using creativity," said Mr Ang. "I'm a hands-on kind of person, I don't like to read too many words.
"It was fortunate that my school offered an applied subject - it was very different from other subjects like English and mathematics."
Ms Dolly Lim also enjoyed taking an applied subject, retail operations, when she was in Bedok Town Secondary.
"We learnt how to handle cash registers, serve customers, place products - I was better at it than at my other subjects," said the 19-year- old who is now studying human resource and administration at ITE.
"The subject gave me a good foundation for business studies and modules like customer service," said Ms Lim, who hopes to go to polytechnic.