“We can never close the gender divide.” Do you agree? 

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GP Essay Question: Model Essay

As the COVID-19 pandemic pushes on and persists to affect lives and livelihoods around the world, we are witnessing a tide of economic fallout, which has a regressive effect on gender equality. According to Mckinsey Research, women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable in this crisis compared to men’s jobs and It is predicted that women make up 39 percent of global employment, will account for 54 percent of overall job losses. Some put forth the view that we can never close the gender divide due to such economic realities, legislative barriers and sexist mindsets that pervades in our society today, creating an irreconcilable chasm between males and females. This has led some to believe that the gender divide is insurmountable. However, it is my conviction that while closing the gender divide will be difficult, it is not out of the question, mainly attributed to changing attitudes in legislature and shifts in societal mindsets towards women. Ergo, it will be difficult, but closing the gender divide is indeed possible.

Some espouse the opinion that it is not possible to close the gender divide largely due to the existence of legislative barriers that institutionalise gender discrimination and perpetuate gender inequality. In Singapore, for instance, although the Government has taken steps in the recent years to educate and incentivise employers to be fair and to promote flexible work arrangements so that, yet there is still an absence of legislation that clearly lays out employer duties and responsibilities, this results in many companies being able to get away with little more than superficial commitments to be more inclusive. The situation is even more bleak in less developed countries like India. In the recent years, the numerous cases of rape across the country once again exposed the failures of the criminal justice system. Nearly six years after the government amended laws and put in place new guidelines aimed at justice for survivors of rape and sexual violence, yet girls and women continue to face barriers to reporting such crimes. Victim-blaming is also rampant, and the lack of witness and victim protection laws make girls and women from marginalized communities even more vulnerable to harassment and threats. Across the spectrum, from developing to more developed countries, what persists is a disturbing observation that legislation either explicitly hurts women and promotes sexism, or it condones behaviours that hurt women and promote sexism. It remains a deeply painful and saddening reality that the patriarchy continues to be entrenched in legislature, and ingrained in societal institutions, leading some to think that it is a futile quest and that we can never close the gender divide. In view of all these challenges, it does seem like an uphill task when it comes to closing the gender divide. But to say that it is an impossible dream would be too fatalistic. I strongly stand by the view that closing the gender divide is not completely impossible- there is definitely more than a glimmer of hope. First and foremost, there have been changing attitudes in legislature that have led to tremendous progress for women’s rights on paper. Right here in Singapore, the government has just announced that they will embark on a review of women’s issues showing a strong committed step towards greater gender equality. In the pipeline are a series of engagements termed as “Conversations on Women Development” scheduled to take place between the public and private sectors, as well as non-governmental organisations, with the objective of identifying and tackling issues concerning women in Singapore.  These will culminate in a White Paper to be issued by the Government in the first half of 2021.


Across the globe, in terms of the right to political representation, the presence of women  has been growing- in the upcoming US Presidential elections, Kamala Harris’s nomination as the Vice President for the democratic party is a milestone. She is the first woman and the first person of colour to serve as vice president.  In Canada, Justin Trudeau made half the ministers in his cabinet women. Similarly, in Singapore, other than having a first female president, the recent election 29 per cent of the 93 seats for elected Members of Parliament (MPs), 27 – or elected seats – went to women, compared to 21 out of 89 seats after the 2015 polls. Even in countries without a female head of government, changes in legislature have indeed been growing to ameliorate gender inequality and boost the rights of women. Japan has adopted new legislation to promote women’s political participation by urging political parties to make the number of male and female candidates as equal as possible and set targets for gender parity. Notoriously patriarchal countries like Afghanistan had a record of 417 female candidates that participated in the October parliamentary elections in 2018. These are all concrete evidence that legislature has been changing to increase rights for women and enact gender parity, closing the gender divide. With more female representation in politics and in view of these steps towards women representation, it is still very much possible for us to close the gender divide in the near future. 

In addition to this, it is definitely possible to close the gender divide because there has also been shifting societal attitudes towards women. At a societal level, the #MeToo movement directed unprecedented attention to the historic injustices and inequalities experienced by women, specifically those related to sexual harassment in the workplace. Led by grassroots activists, this movement gained traction across Asia, opening space for countless stories of harassment and new opportunities to hold perpetrators to account. Even countries that have been traditionally patriarchal in nature like South Korea is making headways in gender equality. Enterprising Korean women are increasingly visible in a traditionally male dominated country like South Korea. More young women are earning university degrees than men. More than 70% of women between 25 and 34 are active in the workforce. Young women are far more vocal than previous generations in challenging the conservative social mores that hold them back. For instance, two female Youtube Influencers Jung Se-young and Baeck Hana, are part of a wave of feminist activism that has swept South Korea. These ladies have cut their hair, thrown away their make-up and sworn off relationships with men. With the advent of social media, the influence of feminism is increasing spreading across social media platforms and society is waking up to the fact that young digital natives no longer want these conservative traditions, and women are free to reject them. Thus, it is highly possible that due to shifting societal attitudes that promote gender equality, the gender divide will be definitely be closed. 

All in all, although the path towards gender equality may seem frustratingly slow. But the fact that inequality is now being openly discussed is progress in itself. In these recent years, societies and government worldwide have been placing gender equality issues on their agenda. With this growing trend towards more rights for women on paper, coupled with the shifting societal mindsets, it is completely possible that our generations will be able to close the gender in our lifetime. The journey towards gender equality may be winding. There is no silver bullet and admittedly there is a lot to do in the field of equality, but nothing is impossible. We must and can continue to fight and narrow the gender divide. 


(This essay has been reviewed and marked by GP Tutors. For GP tuition by school teachers or full time tutors, contact us today.)



What do H1, H2 and H3 in JC mean?

GCE A-Level Singapore Special


Advanced level, better known as the A’levels is the national exam that students will take after the GCE Ordinary Level aka O’levels. Alternatively, secondary students in Singapore can proceed to other forms of tertiary education, which is any one of the following: ITE and  Polytechnic.


There are 3 different tertiary options for a student after their O Level results; ITE (Nitec or Higher Nitec), Polytechnic and Junior College (JC) or Millennia Institution (MI). 

Junior College

The rumour in the grapevine has always been that by passing your O’levels you prove that you’re not an idiot… but by passing your A’ levels you prove that you’re smart”. Whether this holds any truth remains open to speculation, but what is real is that in order to enter any Junior Colleges in Singapore, students have to either go through the traditional academic route (usually the top 20 percent of the cohort) where they will have to excel at their L1R5 which means first language plus best other 5 subjects (The L1R4 would be for Polytechnic/ITE entry). Do note that a maximum of 4 points can be deducted from a student’s raw L1R4/5 score. (The Raw Scores is the score students have obtained without any deduction of points from CCA or Higher Mother Tongue Language (HMTL). 


Students can also enjoy 2 points from their CCA achievements (usually leadership, competition participation etc) and 2 points can also be deducted from passing their Higher Mother Tongue Language in Secondary school. 


What does entering Junior College in Singapore mean? 

When students choose to join a Junior College, this means students will embark on a 2-year programme and take the GCE Cambridge A-Level examinations after that. The Singapore GCE Cambridge A-Level is slightly different from the International Cambridge A-Level. For students who are from IP schools, they will join their affiliated junior colleges where some students are from the O’levels. For instance, a student from Temasek IP Programme will progress to Temasek Junior College while students from RI and RGS will join Raffles Junior College, now known as Raffles Institution located at RI. Some schools like River Valley High School offers both Junior and Senior High, students will stay within their school (usually moving to a new building for their final two years). 

Not sure about what are the cut-off points requirements to enter Junior College? 

These are the cut-off points for your reference. 

Below is a table stating the cut-off points for 2021 for the different streams in JC, ranked according to alphabetical order. Please note that you will need to check the requirements each year with your choice colleges. For cut off points in 2022, you will need to check back here again. 

List of Junior Colleges in Singapore Arts Science / IB
Anderson Serangoon Junior College, ASRJC 11 11
Anglo-Chinese Junior College, ACJC 9 8
Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), ACSI 5
Catholic Junior College, CJC 13 13
Dunman High School, DHS 9 8
Eunoia Junior College, EJC 8 7
Hwa Chong Institution, HCI 5 4
Jurong Pioneer Junior College, JPJC 16 15
Nanyang Junior College, NYJC 6 6
National Junior College, NJC 8 7
Raffles Institution, RI 5 4
River Valley High School, RVHS 9 8
St. Andrew’s Junior College, SAJC 11 10
St. Joseph’s Institution, SJI 8
Tampines Meridian Junior College, TMJC 13 13
Temasek Junior College, TJC 9 9
Victoria Junior College, VJC 8 7
Yishun Innova Junior College, YIJC 20 20

Millennia Institution (MI) – An Alternative to Junior College

Junior colleges are not the only way to A’levels. O’level graduates can also pursue a three-year course at Millennia Institution (MI), the only three-year pre university institution in Singapore Some parents may remember days where there used to be another Pre-University Insitute known as the Jurong Institute (JI). At MI, the school offers the same subjects and curriculum as the Junior Colleges in Singapore.  However, the only difference they have is that the Milennia Institution is a 3-year Pre-U course, while the other Junior Colleges offer only 2 years. To enter MI, the school will consider the student’s L1R4 instead of their L1R5. 

Millennia Institute is the only Centralised Institute offering a 3-year Pre-University course, leading to the GCE ‘A’ Level certification. For students who took the GCE ‘O’ Level examination and are eligible to apply for admission through the Joint Admissions Exercise (JAE), the minimum requirements specified below must be met.


  1. Aggregate Range for L1R4 ≤ 20.
  2. Meet Subject Requirements:
Subject Requirement
English Language A1 to C6
Mother Tongue Language:
       Chinese Language, Malay Language, Tamil Language
OR Higher Chinese Language, Higher Malay Language, Higher Tamil Language
OR Chinese Language ‘B’ Syllabus, Malay Language ‘B’ Syllabus, Tamil Language ‘B’ Syllabus
A1 to D7
A1 to E8
Merit or Pass
OR Additional Mathematics
A1 to D7
 A1 to D7

Students who satisfy the conditional admission criteria and are conditionally admitted to Millennia Institute would be required to re-sit for the relevant language and/or mathematics papers by the following year’s GCE ‘O’ Level Examination.

For more information, please access the MOE website

Your ultimate guide to Singapore GCE Cambridge A-Level Curriculum

Step 1: Choose a stream.

Depending on your score, you will be eligible for different streams Science or Arts when they are choosing for their post-secondary choices. For students, who wish to pursue Business Management at A’level, the option will be to join MI as most JCs do not offer this subject. 


Step 2: Find a college that offers you the best standing

Consider your preferred stream over your dream Junior College. Most students, if not all, have their ideal Junior Colleges that they want to enter. Some are doing so because of a particular school’s brand name or heritage, others want to keep their family tradition and join their parent’s alma mater, whatever the motivation, it is worth to take a moment and consider “What’s at stake?”. Ultimately, you are looking for entry to University and it is pivotal to note that some students do consider entering a lower-tier JC so that they can stay in the science stream which offers them more options to courses in University. 

Step 3: Decide on what are your H1, H2, H3 subjects

The H in H1, H2 and H3 stands for Higher. 

To enter University, you need this minimum subject combination:

  • Three H2 content-based subjects 
  • One H1 content-based subject 
  • Compulsory H1 subjects
    • Mother-Tongue Language (MTL) if you did not take higher Chinese at O’levels
    • General Paper
    • Project Work 

Do note that A-Level students must take at least one contrasting subject. What is considered a contrasting subject? For Science stream students, you must take at least one subject from the Humanities & the Arts. On the other hand, Arts stream students must take at least one Science subject, usually H1 or H2 Mathematics. 

What is the difference between H1 and H2 subjects? 

The difference between H1 and H2 subjects is similar to IB Standard Level versus IB Higher Level. H1 subjects cover lesser topics compared to H2 subjects. For instance, H2 Economics is worth 20 rank points and will cover more topics and there are P1 and P2 (Essays). Economics is a challenging subject but most students will choose to take it because it is a practical subject. If you need help in Economics tuition, contact us today via whatsapp us or email.  


Why do some students take four H2 subjects?

Some students can take four H2 content-based subjects if they meet a minimum cut-off points requirement and for students who truly excel in a particular domain, they can choose to pursue H3 content-based subjects if they are eligible. 

How will H3 subjects be graded?

H3 is an additional subject on top of all your H1 and H2 subjects, therefore, you have to be mentally prepared to devote more and sufficient time to all your subjects.  H3 subjects are not graded into the rank points. They are additional subjects that are taken on top of their H1 and H2 subjects. H3 subjects can allow students to be exempted from modules in their university, depending on the course and module taken by the student.

H3 Grade Marks (%)
Distinction 70 to 100
Merit 55 to 69
Pass 45 to 54
Ungraded 0 to 44

Frequently Asked Questions by JC Students:

What is H1, H2, H3?

H1 subjects are worth 1 point and H2 subjects are worth 2 points. H3 subjects are ONLY offered to students who are academically able to cope with the additional subject(s) on top of their H1 and H2 subjects. Usually, schools will decide who are the students they will be “inviting” to take H3 subjects. Students who choose to take H3 subjects usually want to stand out among competitors who are choosing a similar University course. However, it is important to note that the demands of H3 subjects are considerable, if students are not able to excel in H3 subjects at A’levels it may backfire instead. 


What are rank points?

The maximum number of rank points (RP) for admission to university is 90. A higher score would place a student in a better position for admissions to university. 

Grade Scores H1 Ranking Points H2 Ranking Points
A 70% and above 10 20
B 60% to 69% 8.75 17.5
C 55% to 59% 7.5 15
D 50% to 54% 6.25 12.5
E 45% to 49% (passing grade) 5 10
S (sub-pass) 40% to 44%  2.5 5
Ungraded 39% and below 0 0
GCE a-level Rank Points Calculation

Overview of the GCE A-Level curriculum 

H1, H2 and H3 refer to the depth of the subject taken by the student, with H1 subjects being briefer than H2 and H3 subjects and H3 being a more advanced level of the subject. 

For example, an H2 Chemistry subject would have more topics than H1 Chemistry but their difficulty level of the questions asked would roughly be the same. 

As for H3 Chemistry, the topics learned will not be more than H2 Chemistry since H3 subjects are an extension to H2 subjects. This would mean, learning would be more in-depth and specific when it comes to taking an H3 subject. 

Arts/Science Stream Criteria 

One of the four content-based subjects must be from a contrasting discipline. In other words, you are not allowed to take all Science-based subjects as such; Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. 


The compulsory subjects that should be taken by all students would be General Paper and Project Work. Students may also offer Knowledge and Inquiry in place of General Paper (GP), or offer Mother Tongue Language and Literature at H2.

Students can be exempted from taking H1 Mother Tongue if they have passed their Higher Mother Tongue in Secondary School, but it still counts as 1 point. However, if the student did not undertake Higher MTL in Secondary school ‘O’ Level, it is compulsory for him/her to complete H1 MTL in JC. 

National Examinations for H1 subjects will be taken at the end of JC2 (second year of JC) with the exception of H1 Mother-Tongue Language and H1 Project Work which will be taken in JC1. 


Taking 4 H2

Students can be offered to take up 4 H2 instead of the standard combination of 3 H2 and 1 H1 at the beginning of their J1. Schools will determine whether a student can be offered to take up 4 H2s, determining factor being the student’s raw cut-off points when they enter the JC. This differs from JC to JC. 

How to calculate your GCE A-level Rank points

Some Junior colleges include the students’ rank points in their results. If your college does not, do not fret, here’s how you can calculate it.

Rank Points for Students take 3H2 Subjects

[(3 H2 Subjects + 1 H1 Subject + 1 H1 GP + 1 H1 PW + 1 H1 MTL) /100] x 90

= [(20 + 20 + 20 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 10)/100] x 90

= (100/100) x 90

90 RP

Rank Points for Students take 4H2 SubjectsFor students that are offered 4H2 subjects instead of 3H2 and 1H1? RP is calculated this way: 

Should the scenario arise when a 4H2 student do not have an H1 content-based subject, the student’s weakest H2 subject will then be computed as an H1 content subject. This means the rank points of the H2 subject would be halved (calculated as /10 instead of /20).

3 H2 + weakest 1 H2 calculated as H1 + H1 GP + H1 PW

= (20 + 20 + 20) + (17.5/20 x 10) + 10 + 10 

= 88.75 RP

Looking for more GCE A-Level related resources? Click here for GP Model Essays.

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