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Science Stream or Arts Stream in JC? - 'A' Levels Subject Combination Guide (2021)

Updated: Feb 16, 2021

Now that you have submitted your JAE application, your fate is not yet pre-determined until you decide on your subject combination for 'A' Levels.

If you make a wise choice, the next 2 years in JC can get a lot easier! That will save you some white hair and stressful outbreaks (hopefully).

In this comprehensive 'A' Levels Subject Combination Guide, let us break it down for you and outline the impact of your subject combination choice for the next 2 years and beyond (university / career).


'A' Levels Rank points

In JC, you will be required to choose between 2 main streams, the Science Stream & the Arts Stream.

Both streams stand on equal footing when it comes to your final rank point for your 'A' Levels, however, do note that certain university courses will require some pre-requisites for their enrollment. (We will elaborate on this later!)

Here is how your rank points is calculated for university enrollment.

Your rank point is calculated out of 90. You will take a total of 3 H2 subjects (20 points each) & 3 H1 subjects (10 points each).

H2 subjects

'A' - 20 rank points

'B' - 17.5 rank points

'C' - 15 rank points


H1 subjects

'A' - 10 rank points

'B' - 8.75 rank points

'C' - 7.5 rank points


For students who are able to cope and manage 4 H2 subjects, your poorest performing H2 subject will be converted to a H1 when tabulating your rank point score.

Do note that H3 subjects are not included in the rank point calculation. H3 subjects are beneficial if you are applying for scholarships or prestigious programs as it helps you stand out from the crowd.

For a rough estimation, most local university courses require 70 rank points and above, with the more prestigious courses like computing, medicine & law requiring 85 rank points or the full 90 rank points. You can refer to a compiled list here.


Science Stream

The majority of students entering JC will be in the science stream (70-80%). If you are wondering why, entering science stream is sort of like a gateway to entering most engineering courses in our local universities.

So without chemistry/physics/biology, you will not be able to enter any science related or engineering courses. This can severely limit your choices when it comes to course selection in university enrollment which explains why most students flock to the science stream out of 'safety'.

The two most common Science Stream subject combinations are:

1) PCME (Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Economics)

2) BCME (Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Economics)

At 'A' Levels, you are require to take 3 core subjects and 1 contrasting subject.

For the combinations above, your PCM / BCM makes up the 3 science core subjects, with Economics functioning as the contrasting humanities subject.

These 2 combinations are the 'safest' choice as they allow you to be eligible for most university courses.

Some students do take Geography, Literature or History instead of Economics as the contrasting subject. It really depends on your interest!

On top of the 4 core subjects, you will also be require to take Project Work (H1) & General Paper (H1).

Mini Dilemma: Biology or Physics?

Firstly, I think that it is important for you to understand the difference between the 2 subject's content.

The TLDR explanation would be that at 'A' Levels, Physics is more concept/formula driven with a stronger need for calculation while Biology will have a more rigorous content base.

Contrary to popular belief, to enter Medicine or Pharmacy, H2 Biology is not compulsory. The pre-requisite to enter these top courses only require 2 H2 science subjects, hence both PCME & BCME are eligible!

One point to note is that while Biology is not a pre-requisite, a lot of the content you will study in medicine/pharmacy will require knowledge from Biology, hence BCME students tend to have a head start than their PCME counterparts!

The most straightforward way to decide is to see if you took Pure Physics or Pure Biology at 'O' Levels. If you took Triple Science, you will need to make a smart decision on which combination to go for.

You can check out our 'Ep 2 - Understanding subject combinations' on our weekly Spotify podcast as we broke down the difference between 'O' Levels & 'A' Levels physics/biology.


Arts Stream

For the Arts Stream, the most common JC subject combination would be:

1) HELM (History, Econs, Literature, Math)

2) GELM (Geography, Econs, Literature, Math)

At 'A' Levels, you are require to take 3 core subjects and 1 contrasting subject.

For the combinations above, your HEL / GEL makes up the 3 humanities core subjects, with Math functioning as the contrasting science subject.

On top of the 4 core subjects, you will also be require to take Project Work (H1) & General Paper (H1).

Almost no students will take History & Geography together because the content alone will probably drive you crazy.

If you took Pure Geography or Pure History at 'O' Levels, the content you will study at 'A' Levels will be a build up hence it is advisable to further those subjects at 'A' Levels. Unless you absolutely hate the subject then choose something else. (Then why you take in the first place lol).

Students also can take ELL (English Language and Linguistics) or even a 3rd Language as a H2 subject. In some schools, you can also do China Studies (in English), Music or Art as a H2 subject.

However, do note that this depends on the JC you are heading to so please go check the school website on the subjects your JC offers!

There is also