FAQ: Subjects


Application Process

 Q: Are there any pre-requisites for taking any subjects? What is the success rate of appealing if we don’t meet them?

A: Pre-requisites are more important for HL subjects, particularly the sciences. (There is no pre-requisite for HL History/Geography/Literature). If you’re coming from the ‘O’ level stream, you would usually be required to get A2. For IP, HL subjects is 5-6 points, depending on the number of people who appeal for it. If you do not get your desired combination during the initial application process, you can write an appeal, followed by an interview and (possibly/probably) get the subject of your choice.

Especially if you’re sitting at the borderline, write a convincing appeal letter, and be convincing in the interview, you’ll most probably get it, especially if you can prove that you have done something over the holidays to improve your standard in that subject. And yes, there have been successful appeals for all three HLs in the past.

Q: Are there people from the IP stream that transfer there via DSA? And if there are, how would they choose their SLs and HLs ?

A: There are students from other IP schools (RGS, Nanyang, etc) that transfer by DSA. The procedure for subject selection is the same as how the O Level people choose theirs.

Q: I heard that it’s possible to take 4 HL subjects at first and drop one to SL later on? Is it true?

A: No.


Q: Is it considered crazy to take HL Biology, Chemistry and Math, and SL Econs, Lit and ab initio Spanish?

A: Nope! BCM is quite a common combination, especially for those looking into the medical field. There are people in the current Year 6 cohort who take that exact combination, albeit with LangLit instead of Lit. Do note that the workload is quite heavy though, and you have to prepare to work hard – HL Math requires lots of time to practice, while Biology is extremely content heavy. The disadvantage of taking an ab initio subject would be that your examinations will be in Year 6 – so while the rest of your cohortmates who finished their 2nd Languages (Chinese, Tamil) in Year 5 will only have 5 subjects to study for in Year 6, you’ll have 6.

Q: If I want to take Biology and Chemistry at HL, but am weak in Math, should I still try to appeal to take Math HL? Or is a different 3rd HL fine?

 A: While BCM is a popular combination, it’s not the only one necessary to do medicine at university. There are people who have done Bio and Chem with Literature (BCL) or Economics (BCE) as their third HLs. Do note of the future university/career options that you are ruling out if you do choose to drop HL Math though.

Q: Is SL biology available?

A: SL Biology is not available in the school. It was discontinued due to insufficient demand to justify a class for it. The closest subject to it would be ESS, which stands for Environmental Systems and Societies!


Q: Is SL Chem Available?

A: Yes

Q: If I want to go for the Chemistry Olympiad, how hard do I need to work?

A: It depends, if you have background from SJChO you would do alright with just a bit more work but if you are from IP/O level stream, you generally need to get university textbooks, past year IChO papers and (possibly, depending on how well you aim to do) an external mentor to help you out. Much of the effort is from you. It is a HUGE commitment if you want to succeed here and most people don’t because of lack of understanding and time. If you cannot offhand see that SO2 is a reducing agent, for example, forget it. But if you can, and you think you are talented enough, work hard for this and go for it

Environmental Systems and Societies

Q: Can I take ESS if I didn’t take biology in year 3&4?

A: Yes


Q: Can I still take HL Geography if I didn’t take geography in year 3 and year 4?

A: Yes, there are no pre-requisites to taking the subject. Do take time to familiarise yourself with the subject though, especially since you’re likely to have less background knowledge of the subject compared to your peers.

 Ab Initio

Q: Do people taking ab initio usually have a foundation in that language?

A: No. You are only allowed to take an ab initio language if you have no prior formal record of learning the language before.

Q: I took CLB for O Levels. Will I be forced to take Chinese B or can I take ab initio instead?

A: You will be allowed to take an ab initio.

  Language and Literature

Q: Is LangLit an easy subject to get 7?

A: The statistics: 31% of students who took SL Lang and Lit got 7s in the IB in 2013, and 48% of students who took HL got 7s. Ultimately it depends on your individual command of English (and a bit of luck).


Q: Is HL math a requirement to enter more prestigious universities?

A: Not necessarily, depending on what course you’re applying to. Universities do have different criteria for different courses. Of course if you’re interested in engineering or finance etc. then HL math is a requirement. But, for example,  if you want to study law, then math isn’t exactly needed.. Do check out the websites of different universities to see what the pre-requisites for different courses are!

Q: I didn’t take A math in secondary school. Will I have a hard time doing HL Math?

A: I would be lying if I said no. Many people who take A Math still find HL math extremely difficult. Assuming you didn’t take A Math because of its difficulty, this might suggest a bit of a problem of coping with the difficulty of HL Math. In addition, many of the things taught in A Math are the foundations that teachers expect you to know for HL Math.. A feasible option would be taking Math SL, which is very much more manageable.

Economics and Business & Management

Q: How hard is it to score for HL Econs?

A: It all depends on how good you are at memorising, understanding, and applying the knowledge of economics when answering questions. Everyone starts off at the same place, yet people grasp concepts faster than others, some grasp the idea of how to answer and structure their essay arguments easily. For others, it’s hard, but eventually everyone gets it, I think. In 2013, the results of the IB HL icons had 71.25% of students getting 7s, which is pretty good and says a lot! IB is just all about putting in hard work.

Q: Can I take both B&M and Economics?

A: Starting from the Year 5 batch of 2015, apparently not.

Other Subjects

Q: Do you guys offer theatre as a subject?

A: No.

Q: Is psychology offered as a subject?

A: No.

Q: Is Computer Science offered as a subject? Are there a lot of people taking it?

A: It is, although it’s a pretty unpopular subject. There are approximately 10 people (or less) that take Computer Science in each batch


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