Blog Students Advice For Students A guide to choosing the right JC subject combinations

A guide to choosing the right JC subject combinations

Are you looking to enter Junior college soon?

If so, one big question you must be asking yourself is: “What JC subject combinations should I take?”

Your subject combination choices will have a huge impact not only during your Junior college years but on your university admissions as well. 

Are you worried about what subject combinations to choose? 

Through this article, I will help you to understand everything you need to know about choosing the right JC subject combination for yourself! 

A Level Subject Combination Requirements


First, let’s talk about the compulsory subjects you must take. 

All JC students will have to take up the H1 General paper, unless you decide to opt for H2 Knowledge and Inquiry. If you decide to opt for H2 Knowledge and Inquiry, it is compulsory for you to take up 4 H2s and you can forfeit H1 General paper.

Exclusive offer for first-time customers only!
Get 15% discount off your first lesson and no agency fees! Choose from a selection of reliable home tutors and keep learning even while at home. Claim this promotion today.

Unless you’ve obtained a minimum of D7 in Higher Chinese during O levels, you must take up H1 Mother Tongue during the first year of JC. 

Also, you will have to take H1 Project work for the first year of your junior college life.

Of course, besides these compulsory subjects, all JC students will have to take up an additional 4 subjects, which can be either 4 H2 subjects or 3 H2 + 1 H1 subject.

There is heavy debate on whether or not JC students should opt for 4-H2s or go for 3-H2s + 1 H1 subject combination.

Allow me to explain the pros and cons of each choice in the next section!

“4 H2” Subjects Vs. “3 H2 + 1 H1” Subjects Combination?


Now, you may ask, what is the difference between H1, H2 and H3 subjects

H2 subjects consist of a wider range of topics and contents while H1 subjects are more condensed and contents are lesser.  

Other than the normal 3H2 + 1H1 subjects combination, there are also students who choose to  take up 4 H2 subjects. For 4 H2 subject combinations, the worst H2 subject grade will be downgraded to H1 grading system. 

When taking 4 H2 subjects combination, it sets up as a safety net in situations that you do not do as well in one of your H2 subjects as it will minimise the impact on your overall grade. However, if you take 3 H2 + 1 H1 subject combinations and fail to do well in one of your H2, it will have a greater impact on your overall grade. 

Of course, there are pros and cons to taking up 4 H2 subject combinations! 

Taking 4 H2 subject combinations means that you will have extra workload compared to other JC students on top of the already heavy workload. Many students that took 4 H2 subjects eventually drop one of their H2 to H1 at J2. 

When you are choosing your subject combinations, you will need to decide if you are able to handle the workload. Be wise in your choice and do not take more than you can handle! 

Other than H2 and H1 subjects, Junior College also offers H3 subjects

H3 subjects are offered only to students that excel in the subject and achieve outstanding results. H3 subjects can be useful in applying into competitive university courses or applying for scholarships but it will not promise you additional points for your rank points. 

Prerequisites to take up JC Subjects


Moving on, now that you have a better idea of A level subject combinations, you will also need to know the requirements to take up certain subjects in JC.

Before even deciding which subjects interest you, you need to know which subjects can you actually take!

That’s because for you to take up certain subjects in JC, you will have to fulfill certain requirements such as taking certain subjects in secondary school or achieving a minimum O level grade. 

Struggling with your schoolwork?
Subscribe to get weekly study guides and exam preparation tips.
You have successfully joined our subscriber list.

However, do know that these requirements may still depend on the school itself as each school has different requirements. Some JC schools may be stricter while others may give some leeway.

H1 courses  Pre-requisites 
H1 Biology  Combined science (Biology)
H1 Chemistry Combined science (Chemistry)
H1 Physics  Combined science (Physics) 


H2 courses Pre-requisites 
H2 Mathematics A Math
H2 Chemistry Pure Chemistry or Good grade in Combined science (Chemistry)
H2 Physics Pure Physics or Good grade in Combined science (Physics)
H2 Biology Pure Biology or Good grade in Combined science (Biology)
H2 English language and Linguistics At least A2 in English Language or English Literature
H2 Chinese Language and Literature At least B3 in Higher Chinese or A1/A2 in Chinese
H2 Further Mathematics Good grade in both O Level Maths and A Maths. Subject will need to be taken with H2 Mathematics.

Disclaimer: Prerequisites differ in school to school basis. Do cross check with your specific JC before making a choice. 

University Admissions Criteria 


Next, after knowing which subjects you CAN take, you will also need to know which subjects you SHOULD take that will benefit you!  

We can all agree that the end goal of Junior college is to ultimately, admit into a university course of your choice and interest. 

Hence, when you choose your subject combinations, you will need to plan ahead and choose your subject combinations based on your desired university courses. 

University courses  Subject Pre-requisites 
Engineering courses  Pass in H2 Mathematics, H2 Chemistry, H2 Physics (Depending on specific courses)
Science courses  Pass in H2 Biology, Chemistry, Physics, either Mathematics or Further Mathematics. (Depending on specific courses) 
Business courses  Pass in H1 Mathematics or O Level A Math 
Humanities, Arts and Social science courses  Good grade in H1 Mathematics and General Paper (Depending on specific courses)
Medicine  H2 pass in Chemistry and either Biology or Physics
Law  At least a B grade in H1 General Paper (GP) or a good pass in H2 Knowledge & Inquiry (KI)


Similarly, for every school, there are different specific admissions criteria:

To see National University of Singapore (NUS) subject requirements, click here

To see Nanyang Technological University (NTU) subject requirements, click here.

To see Singapore Management University (SMU) subject requirements, click here.

“What if I am unsure of which University courses I am aiming for?” You may ask. 

In this scenario, I will encourage you to try narrowing down your university course choices. If all else fails, go for the common subject combinations, which are:

  • PCME (H2 Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and H1 Economics)
  • BCME (H2 Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and H1 Economics)

PCME and BCME subject combinations are viewed as safe options as they allow you to be eligible for almost all university courses. 

Arts, Science or Hybrid?


Now that you are ready to choose your subject combinations, the first step is in knowing which stream you are more inclined to!

What is the Arts and Science stream? 

These terms may be foreign to you as secondary school does not have these! 

Let me explain it to you! Taking the science stream will mean that you will take 3 Science subjects and 1 Art subject. Vice versa, taking up the arts stream means that you will be taking 3 Arts subjects and 1 Science subject

Science subjects include Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Further Mathematics, Computing etc. 

Arts subjects include Economics, History, English and Chinese Literature, Geography, Art, Music etc. 

So which streams should you choose? 

Arts and Science stream are two very different streams. Hence, you will need to choose wisely according to your passion, strengths and interests. 

Science subjects examinations are usually in a MCQ and short answer formats while Arts subjects’ exams are usually more essay based. Science subjects require repeated practice and involve practical sessions as well. Arts subjects are usually more content heavy and require more memory especially subjects like History and Geography. 

But…what if you are inclined to both streams

Fret not, in Junior colleges, Hybrid combination is offered to all students! Hybrid combination means that you will be taking 2 Science and 2 Arts subjects. 

Hybrid combinations allows you to have a mix of both Science and Arts subjects and choose the subjects you are confident and have interest in. 

However, taking Hybrid combinations also means that you are forsaking some of the University courses choices such as courses that require you to take up 3 Sciences. 

A Level Grading System 

Last but not least, you will need to understand how A Level rank points are calculated in Junior College as your rank points will ultimately be one of the most important determinant factors for your University admissions. 

A Level Rank point grading system:

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

Your total rank points will consist of the ranking points of all your 3 H2 subjects, 1 H1 subject, General Paper and Project work. As mentioned previously, if you are taking 4 H2 subjects, your lowest H2 grade will be replaced with H1 ranking points. 

For example, John has a subject combination of H2 Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and H1 Economics. 

John’s Subjects  John’s grades for respective subjects  Rank points 
H2 Physics A 20
H2 Chemistry  A 20
H2 Mathematics  B 17.5
H1 Economics  C 7.5
H1 Project Work A 10
H1 General Paper B 8.75

Therefore, adding up the rank points, John will have a total of 83.75 Rank points out of 90. 

What about H1 Mother Tongue? Does it affect your overall grade? 

Yes! It does! Students that took H1 Mother Tongue will add up their total rank points out of 100 and the final rank point will be after changing it to be out of 90. 

Continuing the John’s example, if John scored A for his H1 Mother Tongue, his rank point will be 93.75 out of 100. But his final rank points will be 84.375 out of 90. 


Junior College is definitely not an easy route. As a graduate myself, I witnessed and experienced the hard work and insane effort one has to put in to excel in Junior college. 

Choosing the right subject combination is merely the first step and also an important step to begin your JC life. I hope that this article has been useful to you and that you will choose the right JC subject combinations that will benefit you the most! 

All the best! 

Related Articles:

What to Do After O Levels – JC, Poly, or Retake?

JC vs. Poly: The Pros and Cons

Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.