Find Tuition/Enrichment Centres

Hard Truths about JC in Singapore

Photo by Skylar Kang from Pexels

After receiving their ‘O’ Levels results, your child may have already taken the leap of faith and entered a Junior College of their choice via JAE.

While Junior College does give your child a better shot at entering university, it comes with a lot of challenges and is going to be a very different competition than what they went through at ‘O’ Levels.

Here are hard truths about Junior College life in Singapore that both you and your child should be aware about!


1) ‘A’ Levels is 10 times harder than ‘O’ Levels

You might think this is exaggerated but ‘A’ Levels is truly not easy.

The content workload is much tougher as the ‘A’ Levels syllabus is a build up from the ‘O’ Levels syllabus. One simple example is H2 math in JC is the equivalent of both E-math & A-math combined, with extra layers of difficulty.

It is not a rare sight for a student to retain in JC because of how rigorous the syllabus can be. When your kid comes back with shocking grades after their first mid-year exam, don’t be too alarmed because ‘A’ Levels is a lot harder than expected. Be warned!


2) Project work

If your child is staying up late at night having group meeting or spending the entire day out on the weekend, it is probably Project Work (H1).

The concept of Project Work is actually a good thing because it prepares students 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 way 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. After the final report, there is still a formal Oral Presentation.

The good news is that it will all be over in Year 1.


3) CCAs

CCA commitment will be very different from Secondary School.

As everyone is now older and ‘supposedly more mature’, students will be tasked with more things to handle and JC teachers tend to take a more hands off approach. In other words, there is a lot more responsibilities.

There will be some debate 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 child’s portfolio as they look to apply for universities or scholarships.


4) Tuition becomes more a necessity

If your child 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, they 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 students can’t afford to relax too much.

The golden advice here is to not let the ‘F’s on their test score scare you too much; it will be a common sight moving forward. Rather, encourage your child to keep pushing forward and be a positive pillar of support.

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


6) The new bell curve

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

1) Competing with the top 30% of the ‘O’ Level cohort

2) 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. The bell curve in JC is a lot steeper as they 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 as most lessons will be lecture style which means if your child is a sleepy head and snooze their way through lectures, they will lag behind really quickly.

There are tutorials classes for them to clarify their doubts but if they haven’t done their homework, chances are that they will be clueless in their tutorials as well.



We hope that by sharing these pointers, you will have a better perspective of your child’s upcoming 2 years in JC!

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

Just remember to be supportive and help them in every way you can!


This article is contributed by OVERMUGGED, a student-centric platform that provides free notes and learning materials for O-Level and A-Level students in Singapore. Enjoy 10% off OVERMUGGED’s crash course fees by quoting “KIASU10”!

Find Tuition/Enrichment Centres