You’ve finally finished your O levels, congratulations! (Or you have just finished bumming around whilst in the Integrated Programme.) The thought of moving on to Junior College (JC)/A Levels to prepare yourself for university life has been exhilarating but overwhelming at the same time.
It’s like uncharted territory, and the rigorous syllabus you may hear of certainly does not make things easier.
You also haven’t decided on JC subject combinations. Whatever you choose, it will determine your entire JC life, the friends you make along the way and your future plans.
But don’t fret! We’re here to help you make one of the biggest decisions of your teenage life. Let’s delve deeper into the basics of good JC subject combinations and why you should include JC economics!
Introduction to JC Subject Combinations
Before we discuss the factors you should consider when choosing JC subjects, let’s talk about JC terminologies first—H1, H2, and H3.
H stands for ‘higher.’ Simply put, these levels describe the difficulty, demands, and commitment you have to give. Let’s take a closer look at these JC levels:
The subjects in H1 have the least breadth and depth, so they require little demand and a lesser workload. It means that in rank point calculation, H1 also has less weightage.
The H2 level provides a more comprehensive range of topics and contents due to core subjects. It has more weightage in rank point calculation.
H3 subjects are optional, so they are not graded into rank points. This level is reserved for students who are interested in pursuing research, allowing more in-depth study into a certain subject matter.
It’s important to remember that H3 is not for everybody. You should only take it if you’re passionate enough about a certain subject and would like to challenge yourself more.
H3 subjects will vary across subjects. Some will oblige you to do research and project work, while others are more content-heavy compared to H2 subjects. Moreover, depending on your prospective school, you will be given enough time to decide if you want to add H3 subjects by the end of JC1.
Schools may also consider joining talent programmes as an H3 subject.
A Level Subject Combination Requirements
During your A-Levels, the compulsory subjects will consist of the following:
- Project Work (H1, completed in JC1)
- Mother Tongue (H1, completed in JC1) – Students who gained D7 and above for Higher Chinese will be exempted to take this subject.
- General Paper (H1)
- Knowledge and Inquiry – This is an H2 subject that can replace General Paper. It gives more detailed discussions about theories of knowledge and how they can be applied to different studies. Would recommend it to students who want to get to the philosophical side of things!
Next is where the challenging part comes into play. You are required to choose the other four subjects to complete your JC subject combination, with a minimum requirement of three H2 subjects and an H1 subject.
Students can also take four H2 subjects. The subject with the lowest grade will be taken as H1 during the final A-level score calculation. This gives you a safety net for your overall rank points in case you perform poorly in one of them.
However, this will make your workload heavier. Ensure that you don’t overestimate yourself so you make the right choice!
Common JC Subject Combinations You Should Know
Image source: https://universityhq.org/degrees/online-bachelors/difference-between-a-ba-vs-bs-degree/
Generally speaking, JC subjects are divided into two categories: the science stream (Biology, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, etc.) and the arts stream (Economics, Literature, Geography, History, etc.). You can check out the full list of subjects on this website.
Let’s get to know more about them below and why including H1 Economics or H2 Economics will benefit your academic performance:
Students who take the arts stream are required to get three art subjects and mathematics as their contrasting subjects.
Here are the most common arts stream combinations:
- GELM (Geography, Economics, Literature, and Math)
- HELM (History, Economics, Literature, and Math)
You also have the freedom to change one of the humanities subjects with another choice such as Music, Art, China Studies, Theatre Studies or English and Linguistics. Just make sure that you won’t take History and Geography simultaneously. Their workload and materials when combined can be quite overwhelming.
So, why should you include economics? Taking up economics can give you the right tools to gain a deeper understanding of the real world, which is important when studying humanities. It helps you hone your critical thinking skills and content application that can be used in other subjects like literature and history.
Simply put, when you embrace the wonders of economics, you’ll learn how to simplify complex theories and issues that other subjects cannot teach.
If you opt for the science stream, you have to choose three science subjects and a contrasting art subject.
The common science stream combinations are:
- PCME (Physics, Chemistry, Math, Economics)
- BCME (Biology, Chemistry, Math, Economics)
Including economics in your subject combination may sound scary when you’re in the science stream. There’s still an ongoing debate that argues that it’s more of a way of thinking rather than a science because it lacks testable hypotheses.
While it’s true to some extent, economics has a lot of similarities to science. The subject can be approached scientifically, and its theories can be tested and applied to the real world. It will train you to make sound judgements based on results and observations that are backed up by facts.
What if you’re motivated to learn both streams? Is it possible to have the best of both worlds and invest your time in the subjects you really like?
Good thing there are junior colleges that offer a hybrid stream that allows you to take 2 Arts and 2 Science subjects (e.g., Math, Chemistry, Literature and Economics).
And if you’re taking H1 subjects, your classes may be smaller so regular lectures might feel like tuition. The teachers may then have more room to guide each student closely.
However, a hybrid combination is not typically a popular choice because it puts the student at a disadvantage. Let’s discuss its cons below:
- Most schools assign your class and timetable depending on your subject combination. So, if you have a unique combination, your timetable might have long breaks and late classes that don’t fit your ideal schedule.
- Several university courses also require three Science subjects for eligibility. For example, if you want to enrol in NUS Chemical and Environmental Engineering, you need Math, Physics and Chemistry. Since a hybrid combination only allows 2 Science subjects, you’re automatically unqualified for the course.
- Some junior colleges don’t allow students to take hybrid combinations due to the challenges that come with allocating non-overlapping timetables. Make sure that you research properly and check before applying to your chosen school!
And to help you choose which stream to take, check out these questions you can ask yourself:
- Do you like learning about various concepts and facts?
- During your O Levels, which subjects did you perform well in?
- What are you usually interested in? Take note of the subjects where studying felt fun and effortless on your end.
- Which subjects do you think will benefit you more in the career path or university course you plan to take in the near future?
How To Choose The Right JC Subject Combinations
The first ever struggle you will face in your JC education is choosing a great subject combination you’ll enjoy and excel in. Keep in mind that this will somehow limit your university course choices and determine the career path you’ll take.
So, it’s alright to take some time to think about your final decision! And to help you make the right choices that would suit you, here are some tips you should consider:
Study The University Admission Criteria
Have you ever thought about the big picture? Do you have an idea or a rough sketch of what course you want to pursue after junior college?
If so, then you must choose your JC subject combinations based on your dream university course. This is important because universities in Singapore mostly admit students to courses depending on the subjects they studied at the A-Levels.
Remember that every university course has its own subject prerequisites, so make sure you pick JC subjects that match what you want to specialise in. Aside from giving you a headstart on the university syllabus, meeting eligibility requirements will be a cakewalk!
|University Course||Subject Prerequisites*|
|Science courses||Passing grades in H2 Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Mathematics|
|Business courses||Passing grades in H1 Mathematics or|
|O-Level A Math|
|Engineering courses||Good grades in H2 Mathematics, H2 Chemistry, H2 Physics|
|Humanities, Arts and Social Science courses||Passing grades in General Paper and H1 Mathematics|
|Law||A B Grade in H1 General Paper (GP) or a passing grade in H2 Knowledge in Inquiry (IK)|
|Medicine||A passing grade in H2 Chemistry and Biology or Physics|
Every school, however, has its own specific admissions criteria. For example, if you’re planning to go to the National University of Singapore (NUS), you may visit here to review their subject requirements.
But of course, this kind of decision-making doesn’t always come easy for most students. If you find yourself being uncertain about which university course to take, we highly suggest that you choose the most common JC subject combinations:
- PCME (H2 Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and H1 Economics or H2 Economics)
- BCME (H2 Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and H1 Economics or H2 Economics)
They are considered as the safest options since these subjects make you eligible for almost every university course.
A-Levels Rank Points
Most importantly, you should familiarise yourself with how A-level rank points are calculated in junior college. Keep in mind that these rank points are one of the most important factors for your university admissions.
*Check out this table for your reference:
|Grade||Marks||H2 Ranking Points||H1 Ranking Points||H3 Ranking|
|A||70 to 100 marks||20||10||Distinction|
|B||60 to 69 marks||17.5||8.75||Merit|
|C||55 to 59 marks||15||7.5||Pass|
|D||50 to 54 marks||12.5||6.25||Undergraded|
|E||45 to 49 marks||10||5|
|S||40 to 44 marks||5||2.5|
|U||0 to 39 marks||0||0|
Know Your Existing Skills And Interests
This is the best time to list down your strengths and the things you excel at! If you know what you can offer to the table, then choosing your subject combinations will make your JC life more enjoyable.
Let’s say you’re interested to learn about economic theories and their real-life applications. Perhaps, you want to make informed investment decisions, learn strategies on how to grow a successful business or just make better calls so your life is on the right track.
If this is the case, you can take H2 Economics to widen your knowledge of markets, governments, businesses, and investments, among other things. Since subjects in A Levels are broader and more detailed, lots of resources and materials will be introduced to you. You can learn more about JC A Level Economics here as well as all the superb resources we provide including how to study JC A Level Economics.
Needless to say that your skills should also align with what the subjects expect from you. It will be easier to get good grades, boosting your chances of getting admission to the university of your choice.
Do Not Be Swayed By Your Friends
Some students have made the mistake of copying their friends’ decisions out of peer pressure. They chose their JC subject combinations without considering their strengths, interests, and skills because they were afraid to follow their dreams on their own.
Your future is in your hands. Do not allow anyone to dictate your major-life decisions, especially when it comes to academics. You can try approaching one of your teachers and parents if you need more counselling and guidance.
Be responsible for your own choices, and things will eventually fall into place.
Entering your junior college years is truly a thrilling but terrifying experience. But when you choose the right JC subject combination, you’re about to experience one of the most lovely points of your academic life! You just have to consider your abilities and passion, and figure out how to efficiently combine them to make the most of your JC journey. Don’t forget that all these efforts should culminate to what you ultimately want to achieve in terms of JC Rank Points in the A Level Grading System.
Through hard work, perseverance and patience, you’re surely going to make it. And if you ever need a helping hand, The Economics Tutor has you covered. Give us a call and book your lessons now!
What is the ‘best’ combination of subjects?
There is no single best subject combination. But if you are looking for one that will offer you the most choices at Uni level, then the ‘best’ will most likely be H2 Physics, Chemistry & Math, and H2 Economics. It will most likely give you the opportunity to enter any course in any university.
How many subjects must I take in JC?
Besides GP, PW and Mother Tongue, you are required to take up three core subjects and one contrasting subject.
How many H3 subjects can you take?
You can take a maximum of two H3 subjects.
About The Economics Tutor
Founded by Kelvin Hong in 1998, The Economics Tutor is one of the leading economics tuition in Singapore. We provide a comprehensive program to guide students in understanding complex economic concepts and applying them through case study analyses, essay writing and discussion of real world events.
For 24 years, the way we teach JC Economics Tuition (A Level Economics Tuition) and IB Economics Tuition classes helped learners appreciate economics and everything it entails on a much larger scale. We take things step-by-step, implement effective techniques in memorising frameworks and give every student the chance to nurture their ideas.
We don’t just solely focus on helping you get stellar grades and perfect scores. We make sure that we also hone the critical thinking skills and investment / business decisions you can use outside the four walls of your classroom.
Looking for a fun, engaging and probably the best economics tutor in Singapore? Look no further—check out our extensive and high quality economics resources on the website such as the IB and A Level Economics Model Essays. Book your lesson today and master the nuances of economics in our next class!
I am a current Sec 4 student sitting for O-Levels this year. I am interested in pursuing Law as part of my undergraduate studies in the future. As such, I intend to take up the following subjects in JC: History + Literature + Economics (H2) + Physics (H1). I would like to clarify if the subject combination would be sufficient for application.
Thank you and hope to hear from you soon!
Hi Patrick, Based on our knowledge, it should suffice! And of course, you will need to do very well at the exams and clear other hurdles such as interviews. Quite a number of TheEconomicsTutor’s alumni read or are reading Law in the NUS. 🙂