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7 hard truths about JC life in Singapore!

Updated: Jan 18, 2021

With many students shedding tears (of joy hopefully) after receiving their 'O' Levels results, it is time to take the next big step.

For those who are still deciding between JC or Poly, do check out our article on 'JC vs Poly - The Ultimate Guide (2021)' or listen through our recorded webinar!

For a good fraction of students, it is about calculating their L1R5 and deciding which JC to head to next.

But before you apply to their JC of your choice via JAE, here are 7 hard truths you might want to take note of before taking the plunge into the realms of 'A' Levels.

Don't say we didn't give warning ah!

Here are 7 hard truths about JC life in Singapore that you should know about!

That will be you in a few months (jk... or not?)


1) 'A' Levels is 10 times harder than 'O' Levels

You might think this is exaggerated but I kid you not. 'A' Levels is no joke.

You might not have truly internalise what this means when you 'hear' certain horror stories from your graduated seniors or older siblings but 'A' Levels is really tough.

First you need to recognise is that the content workload is a different beast. If you thought that whatever you studied at 'O' Levels was hard, 'A' Levels content is going to be 10 times harder!

This is because the 'A' Levels syllabus is a build up from the 'O' Levels syllabus. One simple example is that if you took both E-math & A-math, H2 math in JC is the equivalent of those two subjects combined with extra layers of difficulty.

Remember vectors? Yea, at H2 math, that shit is gonna go 3D. Have fun with the new z axis.

You like physics? Get ready for nuclear physics (Kim Jong Un be proud).

Oh remember isomers from organic chemistry? Yea, cis-trans isomers is the new thing. Btw, electrons don't exist on electron shells, they are in orbitals.

It is not a rare sight for someone to retain in JC because of how rigorous the syllabus can be. You might think that you are mentally prepared but you won't even know it until it hits you.

Get ready to grind and when we say grind, it is going to be at a whole new level!


2) Project work

Probably the biggest pain in the ass in JC, PW is not going to be fun.

Well, when I first heard about it, I thought it was not going to be too bad right? I mean, I'm a team person and I enjoy working on projects that requires critical thinking.

FML, how wrong was I!

The concept of Project Work is actually a good thing because it prepares you for many useful skills like working collaboratively and learning how to write reports and do presentations.

However, because it is a graded subject (H1), the nature of the syllabus requirements makes the whole process truly restrictive and wayyyyyy too structured.

Based on my own experience, when my team thought we did a good job with our first draft for our report, we were pretty much told to 'redo' the whole thing because it did not 'meet the requirements'.

The stress starts to build up when deadlines are piling and teammates start to go missing. Then come in the whole lot of drama with finger pointing and accusations. Oh trust me, this is a rite of passage.

Just when you though you were done with Oral at 'O' Levels, you have a formal Oral Presentation after you are done plowing through sleepless nights for your final report.

Good luck ;) The silver lining... you will be done with it by Year 1.


3) CCAs

Your CCA commitment will be very different from when you were in Secondary School.

As everyone is now older and 'supposedly more mature', you will be tasked with more things to handle and JC teachers tend to take a more hands off approach.

In other words, be ready to tank on more responsibilities.

There will be some chatter as to whether a student actually needs to commit so much to their CCA given that there is actually no CCA bonus points deduction at 'A' Levels.

The truth is that having no CCA or bad CCA record will reflect very badly on your portfolio as you look to apply for universities or scholarships.

This group of unmotivated students (join CCA for the sake of it) will also be a pain in the ass as they will usually just do the bare minimum.

And in merely 6 months, most JC 2 seniors will step down and you will be handed the reins to run your CCA as the next incumbent batch. No longer will you have seniors to rely on and it is truly 'do it yourself' time!


4) Tuition becomes more a necessity

If you are the type that never had to get tuition in primary school or secondary school, tuition might become a necessity in JC.

Given the heavy workload and the intensity of the syllabus, you might need that extra help to survive through 'A' Levels.

I scored straight As at 'O' Levels and I thought I will not need to attend tuition ever. When I was still failing my H2 Chemistry 5 months before 'A' Levels, I knew I needed help urgently.

In all honesty, I know for sure that I would have probably not made it for my Chemistry at 'A' Levels if I didn't get tuition in time.

With the need for extra tuition, that is more time commitment and homework to do. The plate just keeps getting more and more.



5) Failure is imminent

I never really struggled or failed subjects in secondary school. But when I entered JC, passing was considered great and failing was quite a common sight.

It is not unusually for half the class to fail a common test. Thankfully, there is moderation and that helps most students stay barely afloat but so close to drowning that you can't afford to relax too much.

The golden advice here is to not let the 'F's on your test score demoralise you too much, it will be a common sight moving forward.

It is all the more important to stay afloat and being consistent because once you lag behind, the catch up race is going to get twice as difficult.


6) There is never enough time

Seen the holy trinity of JC life before?

That's right, choose 2 out of the 3.

If you are like me, can't live without my friends and functions like a zombie without sleep, good chance is that your grades are going to suffer.

There just isn't enough time for everything no matter how well you try and manage your time!

The best advice here is to try and strike a balance and not take on more than you can handle. You will learn to manage your time to a whole new level!

Learn to say no to some meet ups and have the discipline to do what is necessary rather than what your heart desires. Self discipline and time management might be your two biggest skills you will need to survive through JC!

Sleep is important for your health so don't neglect it too!


7) The new bell curve

Welcome to the new bell curve. In case you are wondering, entering a JC means 2 things.

1) You are competing with the top 30% of the 'O' Level cohort

2) You are officially competing with the IP students which were not in the bell curve at 'O' Levels

The competition level and playing field is going to be drastically different. If it was like S League soccer at 'O' Levels, you are prefer much playing in the English Premiere League for your 'A' Levels.

The bell curve here is a lot steeper and you will be competing against IP students that already have a head start because they have been learning 'A' Levels content way earlier.

Teachers are also not going to slow down their teaching for you as most lessons will be lecture style which means if you are a sleepy head and snooze your way through lectures, you will lag behind really quickly.

There are tutorials classes for you to clarify your doubts but if you haven't done your homework, chances are that you will be clueless in your tutorials as well.



We hope that by sharing these pointers, you will get a good reality check before you step into your JC life.

But don't worry too much and just take everything in stride, one step at a time!

If you are undecided between Science Stream or Arts Stream, do check out our article on subject combinations at 'A' Levels!

OVERMUGGED is also going to be with you every step of the way as our 'A' Levels tutor team have already started working and are currently uploading high quality free notes which will be released through our 'A' Levels Telegram Channel and on our website!

We look to be part of your 'A' Levels journey and to help you every step of the way!

Do follow us on Instagram for the latest updates and check out our weekly podcast on Spotify as well!

Brought to you by OVERMUGGED.

By Tutors, For Students

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