To what extent should the arts in your society focus on local rather than foreign talent?

JC General Paper

To what extent should the arts in your society focus on local rather than foreign talent?

This question is indeed interesting considering how Singapore has stated her explicit aims of being a global arts hub on one hand, and the recent online Youtube controversy on the other hand about Stephanie Koh proclaiming that she is not proud of being a Singaporean due to the lack of an arts scene here. She claims the lack of this art scene makes the environment very stifling.  This “complain” of Stephanie Koh is just one of the many laments that we hear from the local art talents here. So how exactly should we bridge the gap between the nation’s aim versus the grudges of local talents? Should we focus on the local art talent or the foreign talent in order to elevate and revitalize our arts scene first?

Foreign talents definitely!

  1. Focusing on foreign talents who have the necessary expertise and connections will create a platform for future local arts talents to leverage on and develop their own artistic potentials. Many global cities have already established their own niche area in the arts scene and it will be extremely difficult for Singapore to break through and crave out a name in this sector without some foreign expertise and help. International collaboration will go a long way in ensuring that Singapore makes waves in the art scene- small but impactful waves should be the main objective of Singapore in order to attract some attention which can go a long way for local art talents.
  1. Having world-renowned foreign talents in the local arts scene will serve as a “pull” factor in getting tourists into Singapore and help to boost our economic performance, considering that Singapore is heavily dependent on the service industry. The arts industry is a huge untapped potential area for Singapore to develop and attain tourist dollar.  Singapore has implemented the Foreign Artistic Talent scheme to encourage international arts professional to become PR here in order to improve the arts and culture landscape.
  1. Singaporeans are likely to trust foreign productions that have been successful overseas than a local production that they have not even heard much about. Singaporeans in general are very skeptical and conservative and may not like to try anything new, and would rather get “their money worth” on a foreign production. The whole aim is not on whether Singapore is focusing on local or foreign production, rather using these foreign productions to get Singaporeans even interested in the arts scene, so that local arts will have more recognition in time to come.

E.g. Productions like “Lion King and “Shakespeare in the Park” have high recognition overseas which translate to high interest by the locals- goes a long way in getting Singaporeans to start enjoying arts production.

Locals definitely!

  1. Locals are talented and should be given a voice and platform to express their works, otherwise it will lead to a brain drain eventually. Local talents will be able to add a domestic angle to productions and cater better to the local audience due to their understanding of local social issues.  Prominent people who have left include Stephanie Koh.
  1. Governments should spend more money in grooming our local talents and providing them the platform to tap into the local market before venturing overseas. It is a sector that Singapore can be proud of and even develop their nationalistic pride surrounding it. For instance, we have the Young Artist Award to encourage the development of young artistic talents. SOTA has also been created to better cater and keep our young local talent pool.

Students should note that by the nature of the subject, there is several other possible pointers too, so feel free to discuss freely below!

Back to: 2015 A’levels H1 General Paper (8807) suggested solutions

2015 A’level Suggested Solutions

2015 A’level Suggested Solutions

JC Chemistry, JC General Paper, JC Mathematics, JC Physics

Congratulations on the completion of A’levels for the 2015 batch!

As for those who still, are taking A’levels 2016, we hope you find this site helpful. Read the comments (ignore the trolls who have yet grown up) and learn from our mistakes.

It has been a pleasure for all us to interact with you guys. Do check back after your release of A’levels, as we will love to hear from you! In the meantime, you can always read through some of the posts regarding undergraduate & postgraduate courses in Mathematics (KS), Economics (KS), Physics (Casey) & Chemistry (Eric) as we share some of our past experiences, along with some of our works today.

You’ve come a long way, now party hard. We wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

H1 General Paper

H2 Mathematics (By KS)

H1 Mathematics (By KS)

H2 Chemistry

H1 Chemistry

H2 Physics


“There is no such thing as bad publicity.” To what extent is this true?

JC General Paper
  1. “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” To what extent is this true?

Define: Bad publicity- negative images and news about an individual and/or company making the headlines repeatedly. It could also possibly refer to controversial news.

This phrase is commonly used in by businesses and individuals especially if they want to acquire fame in the shortest possible time in this highly saturated world that permeates them with news. This phrase assumes that even if there is bad publicity, it is good  as your name is being talked about by people, suggesting how you are in vogue and even relevant in this highly competitive market place.

What is the purpose of bad publicity and how can it be good for companies and even individuals?

1) Companies exploit bad publicity to create marketing hype about their companies and the new products that they want to launch. This bad publicity can ride on controversial points such as restricting the kind of consumers for purchasing  their products or even employment procedures that are discriminatory.

E.g. Abercrombie and Fitch hits the headlines for restricting customers who are too “fat and old” for purchasing their clothes as it does not fit into the target group that they want to cater to. This may have the reverse effect of building up the brand image of the company as being “hot, athletic and sexy” and lead to more youths purchasing their products.

2)Celebrities often make use of bad publicity to shoot to fame and to be the “talk of the town”. This is especially pertinent in this highly competitive cut-throat industry that requires people to just be “known” and to carve out a niche for themselves. In such cases, any form of publicity would be good publicity, as long as their names are being talked about. It suggests that at least their names are on the minds of the people, and they stand a chance of being remembered.

E.g. Justin Bieber has made frequent headlines for his bad boy behaviour such as drink-driving, and even hitting out on people on the streets. Despite these, his fame and reputation grows each time when he hits the news for something negative. It appears that he is riding on “bad fame” in order to be known in the music industry.  In fact, Justin Bieber has been trying to rid his clean-cut image ever since he was first introduced to this industry. He has been criticized for being too “young and immature” when he first entered the music scene, leading to many not taking his works seriously.

What is so detrimental about bad publicity?

1) Companies may lose the trust and credibility of the consumers, especially if this particular company has always presented itself to have a clean image. Any breach of this image may result in consumers boycotting the companies and a corresponding fall in the revenue. Once trust is lost, it is often hard to restore it back.

E.g. Breadtalk’s soya milk saga has tainted their public image regarding the integrity of the company and the nature of how they get their products. Many consumers have taken the issue online and even threatened to boycott the company for future purchases due to such unethical mislabelling of their soya milk bottles. Consumers were outraged that they have been deceived into paying money for “overpriced” soya milk.

2)  Companies may have to spend millions of dollars trying to rebuild this “public relations glitch” especially when they have been swarmed with negative news in such a short period of time. This is especially so for companies that have been facing speculations and law suits about their business practices and mistakes that they have created.

Recent examples include Noble group which has been a target of short-sellers due to their lack of transparency in their accounting practices. This accusation comes at a high price of them needing to hire a top accounting firm- PWC to clear the air. Millions of dollars have been spent to buy-back their shares in order to prop up their share prices, which have plummeted 70% ever since the scandal broke out.  Also, Volkswagen has been embroiled in a recent scandal and controversy about them cheating on the fuel emission tests. They may potentially face a fine up to billions of dollars and recent company results have shown a fall in sales of their sales. Though it is too early to conclude that the fall in sales is due to this negative news, it is highly possible that Volkswagen will face increase competition to win back the trust of their customers.

3) Politicians and even athletes who are embroiled in scandals often tarnish the organization or the party that they represent. Very often, it will result in a loss of “face”, status and even monetary benefits in a desperate bid to preserve the integrity of the organization or the party.

E.G. Tiger woods lost millions in endorsement deals and people do not view him in the same light after news of his affairs broke out.  Michael Palmer’s affair was also handled in a very “PR” manner in order to ensure that the PAP’s image was not tarnished.

Fame is indeed a double-edged sword, and it really depends on how forgiving the public is towards such negative news.  So why is it that the public is so forgiving towards some individuals and companies, while so heartless towards others? What are some of the reasons? Let’s discuss.

Students should note that by the nature of the subject, there is several other possible pointers too, so feel free to discuss freely below!

Back to: 2015 A’levels H1 General Paper (8807) suggested solutions

How to write an essay that will get you A?

JC General Paper

In my course of tutoring over the years, I have realized that many students fumble when it comes to crafting a cogent and impressive essay. As such, I have come out with an  extensive guide to help students craft an essay that will put them in an unfair advantage over their peers. 

Be sure to read all of the posts! I promise that you will level up after reading them!

How to craft a good essay introduction?

How to craft a good essay introduction?

JC General Paper

The GP Essay – Writing the introduction

Like every other piece of writing, a GP essay begins with an introduction. Personally, I find the introduction the hardest part to write. Even as I type this little advice column, you would never have guessed how long I took to draft this one, tiny paragraph.

Now why do I say the introduction is the hardest part? Because most experienced GP markers can tell if a student’s essay is yay or nay based on the introduction alone. To understand this, one needs to know the functions of a GP essay introduction, which are:

  1. To set the context of your essay (background information)
  2. To define the question (definition of terms)
  3. To state your stand and address the task (thesis statement)

Thus, if you mess up or fail to do any of the above, the marker roughly knows that the rest of your essay would be –to put it bluntly— crap.

To help you avoid such a situation, here is a simple guide to writing a decent introduction.

1. Provide background information

Most students struggle with two problems in this area:

  1. What to write?
  2. How much to write?

To address the first problem, providing background information can be done in several ways:

  • Facts and figures
  • Quotes or idioms
  • Anecdotes a.k.a. experiences and short stories

Do note that your introduction also serves to attract your reader to read on so if possible, think of a good hook i.e. interesting background information. If you really cannot think of one, abandon the idea and deliver the cold, mundane facts to avoid wasting any more precious time. For example:

A picture is always more powerful than mere words. What is your view? (2006)

Introduction with a hook:

Approximately 500 years ago, explorers in France stumbled on some cave paintings depicting life scenes in the Palaeolithic era. Fast forward to today, one can find graffiti on city walls and brightly-coloured advertisements advocating how one should live one’s life. Thus, it is without question that for over centuries, pictures have been the mode of choice for conveying messages rather than words…

Introduction without a hook:

“A picture is worth a thousand words”. In the world of advertising, this expression is as good as law. How often do we see books, brands and even election campaigns that are void of illustrations? Indeed, many people …

Regarding how much background information to write, a good length would be between 3-4 lines. This is ENOUGH. Any longer and you are spamming.

2. Define the question

This part is easy because it only requires you to paraphrase the question. However be warned that a marker can tell how well a student understands the question based on his/her paraphrasing so choose your words carefully. Only paraphrase key words in the question.

Now here comes the problem. When GP teachers tell you to define the key words, some students end up doing this:

Can space research be justified nowadays? (2011)

Space research is the development of rockets, satellites or probes for space exploration. Some people think space research is unnecessary in today’s world.

Students make the mistake of mechanically defining key terms. Not only is this boring, but it disrupts the flow of your introduction. Only include this type of definition if it is absolutely necessary in helping the reader understand the context. If not, save it for your essay body.

Instead, you should be subtle when defining the key terms, for example:

Some people would argue that probing the universe for extraterrestrial life or sending rockets into space is a waste of time and resources in the present era.

Look at how much better the language flows in the second example.

3. Write your thesis statement

A thesis statement states your stand (if the question demands it) and tells the reader what he/she is going to read about in the next few paragraphs. A simple thesis statement can look something like this:


The key to good health is lifestyle rather than medicine. How far do you agree? (2010)

I agree to a large extent that lifestyle plays a more significant role than medicine in determining good health. I will now present reasons to justify my stand in the following paragraphs.

To sum up, your whole introduction should be about 7-8 lines. The goal is to keep it short and sweet; like an appetiser to tantalise your reader. Remember that a bad introduction is like a bad first impression and as objective as markers try to be, their outlook towards your essay is inevitably affected by your introduction. Thus if I were you, I would start working on perfecting that first impression.

The General Paper – An Overview

JC General Paper

What is General Paper (GP)?

In essence, GP is academic writing and analyses on anything and everything, hence the term ‘general’. Topics covered in GP include:

  • History
  • Economics
  • Law and Politics
  • Education
  • Sports and leisure
  • Culture and Society
  • Philosophy
  • Science and Technology
  • Environmental issues
  • Music and the Arts
  • Language and Literature

In the A Levels, the GP paper consists of an essay part and a comprehension passage part. For the essay part, students are required to write between 500-800 words on a chosen question. For the comprehension passage part, students will need to attempt all comprehension questions, write a summary and do an application question (AQ). The AQ is a mini-essay where one is required to discuss the ideas presented in the comprehension passage and apply it to other contexts, usually local i.e. Singapore.

Why do we need to take GP?

This was a question even I asked myself when I was in junior college (JC). If you are currently in JC, you might not appreciate GP now but trust me –coming from a person who loathes GP— it does prepare you for university because GP trains you to:

  • understand and think critically about a piece of information or data
  • apply the knowledge learnt to other contexts
  • form and communicate ideas or opinions in a coherent manner

Continue reading “The General Paper – An Overview”

Interpreting GP essay questions

JC General Paper

Writing a GP essay is always a daunting task if you are not prepared or worse, do not know how to start. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to tackle a GP essay question.

1. Understand the question

A lot of times, students make the fatal mistake of misinterpreting the question and thus end up writing off-topic or hijacking the question i.e. changing the question. A GP essay question becomes very straightforward if you can identify its main components:

  • opinion
  • context
  • task

The opinion gives you the discussion topic. The context tells you the time frame and/or society from which your examples should come from and finally, the task tells you what you need to do.

Example 1

Unlike the Arts, such as writing or music, Mathematics lacks the capacity for creativity. How far do you agree with this statement? (2013)

In the first example, the question is only made up of two components: opinion and task. There is no context, which means that your examples can come from anywhere and any time period.

Looking at the opinion, the question is hinting at us to compare the Arts’ and Mathematics’ ability to foster creativity. You then need to decide whether to agree to a large or small extent if ‘Unlike the Arts, Mathematics lacks the capacity for creativity’. This is your task.

Example 2

How important is it for people in your society to retain a sense of tradition? (2010)

In the second example, we see all three components: opinion, context and task. Looking again at the opinion, the question wants us to discuss the importance of tradition, however the context limits us to using examples from our society only i.e. Singapore. Finally, the task wants you to decide if preserving tradition is very or not so important.

2. Plan your essay

Now that you have understood what the question wants you to do, you can proceed to plan how to write your essay. As the saying goes, ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail’ so planning is VERY important. Planning gives your essay a clear direction. Moreover, you are less likely to deviate from the topic or suddenly get stumped in the middle wondering how on earth to continue.

You should spend a maximum of 10 minutes planning. First, brainstorm quickly for ideas, counter-arguments and relevant examples. And by quickly I mean anything that comes to mind (I usually brainstorm using a mind map but any way is fine as long as it is fast and easy for you to understand).

Image taken from:

Second, select the strongest points which support your stand and the weaker points belonging to your counter-argument. Doing so will help make your argument sound more convincing. Typically, the ratio is 3 strong points : 1-2 counter argument(s).

Finally, plan your paragraphs. A basic GP essay layout includes a/an:

  • Introduction
  • Body: this may consist of 3-4 paragraphs depending on how many points you want to argue
  • Conclusion

For the essay body, order your points and counter-arguments in a way that allows you to present the most convincing argument.

3. Write your essay

Once you have finished planning, start writing your essay and stick to your plan. Do not add or change anything unless it is absolutely necessary because this will eat into your time.

In summary, it only takes three steps to kick-off writing a GP essay. Pull out past year papers and try your hand at planning some of the essay questions. With practice, one should get familiar with the process in no time.