SmileTutor Blog Students Advice For Students JC Students: Should I take History in A-Levels?

JC Students: Should I take History in A-Levels?

As a student thinking of enrolling in JC, you would definitely face the question of what should you take as your humanities subject.

For those of you considering taking history for your A Levels, you are bound to have many questions:

How do you do well in it?

Well…lucky for you, this article will cover all things you need to know about A Level History.

Let’s first address the elephant in the room, is A Level History hard?

Is A Level history hard?

Firstly, let me state that “Hard” is a relative term.

But generally speaking, A Level History is considered difficult due to the amount of content you are required to know. More content would ultimately mean that you would need to recall more during the A levels exam.

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However, if you have a genuine interest in the subject, it would be much easier for you as you are able to enjoy the process of reading and learning the material.

Just to give you some perspective, the A Level syllabus for History is at least thrice of that compared to O Levels, so you’ll be learning more in less time as compared to when you were in secondary school.

Now those of you who didn’t take O Level History would ask if you can still take A Level History without learning it prior in Secondary School.

Can you take A Level History without taking it in GCSE?

Studying History in secondary school is not a requirement in order to take A Level History. In other words, even without a history background from secondary school, it is possible to still do well in the A Level History exams with the proper strategy and guidance.

With that said, given how content-heavy A Level History is, you should put in more effort than your peers who have taken O Level History as you have much more content to catch up on.

Now, you must be wondering what’s all this “heavy-content” I am referring to. Well, read on to the next point to know what topics are covered in A Level History!

What topics are in A Level history

The A Level History Syllabus is primarily split into the following 2 parts:

Paper 1

 Cold War (1945 – 1991), Global Economy (1945-2000), Safeguarding International Peace and Security

Paper 2

Making of Independent Southeast Asia (Independence – 2000), Search for Political Stability, Economic Development after Independence, Regional Conflicts and Cooperation.

Each of these 2 papers contain 2 sections: A and B, where section A is a compulsory source-based case study and section B is where you get to pick 1 out of 2 essay questions to answer.

With so much content covered, you must be wondering how long are the exams.

How long are A Level history exams

For the H1 History A Level exams, it will only consist of paper 1, which is a 3 hours written exam.

For the H2 History A Level exams, it consists of both paper 1 and paper 2, which each are a 3 hour written exam and hence the total of 6 hours.

Knowing the syllabus and exam formats, you may be wondering what are the skills needed to do well in the A Level history exams.

What subject skills are needed for A Level History

Primarily the subject skills required for A Level History is only English as you have to read a lot and the essay portion makes up a total of 60% of your final grades.

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As for mathematics knowledge, unlike JC Economics, it will not be necessary but you’ll have to be able to remember important dates and periods.

Now that you understand what taking A Level History entails, you will definitely wonder, “How do I do well in A Level History?”

How to do well in A Levels History

The 3 main things you need to ace A Level History is to build your history knowledge, understand this knowledge well and have ample practice.

Due to the large amount of content you need to know and be familiar with, I would recommend for you to

(1): Make cheat sheets

So that you can use these notes for quick reference.

(2): Make concept maps

So that you can have a visual representation of information.

For example with tables, diagrams and charts, as these would provide you with clarity with regards to how the pieces of history content answer the essay questions.

(3): Plan your study timetable

As there is so much information you need to learn, I would recommend you to do active recall and spaced repetition.

These 2 study techniques are effective as they test your knowledge through flashcards or questions you wrote for yourself and by spacing your revision on what you have learnt at set intervals over time.

(4): Attempt and review practice questions

You will need to practise answering source-based case study questions and writing essays. In this way, you will reinforce your memory of what you have written on your notes and know what you have missed out so that you can add them into your notes.

(5): Consultation and ask for help

Go for consultation with your history teacher to clarify any concepts and always ask during lessons anything you are unsure of!

Remember, history is just like any other subject. If you take charge of your own learning and put your time and effort into it, you are bound to do well.


Hopefully through this article, you have gained a better insight on more about the JC History subject and whether you should take it for your A Levels!

If you want that extra edge over your peers and get that coveted “A” grade with ease, why not get extra help by hiring a History tutor today?

Here are some related articles you might want to read:

5 Easy Ways to Memorise History Date and Names

Top 5 Reasons Students HATE History – And what you can do to change that

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.