4H2 vs 3H2 + 1H1 – Which Is Better?

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4H2 or 3H2 and 1H1, which is better? Well, this question in itself likely would not be much help on its own. Instead, you should first understand the key pros and cons of both. 

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Are you the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed O Level graduate looking to explore a JC education? Or are you the veteran JC student trudging along wanting to revise your combination to lighten the load? Either way, we hope this article can be your guide to help simplify your thought process when it comes to making that big decision — 4 or 3 H2 subjects.

In this article, we will be covering the requirements to take up H2 subjects, our experiences having gone from 4H2 to 3 and what we considered at each step of the way, as well as the crucial details to take into account like university prospects and academic units.

But first, allow me to provide a brief background about myself. I studied 4 H2s with my combination being H2 History, Economics, English Literature and Knowledge and Inquiry and H1 Mathematics. 

As such, I do not have much experiences with a 3 H2 and 1 H1 combination. 

However, I have enlisted the help of my friend in writing this article. He actually took 3 H2s and 1 H1 after dropping to H1 Mathematics in J2. Hence, I hope this article can provide some insight into which combination is better!

Requirements

To start off, let’s discuss the different requirements needed to take an H2 subject. 

It actually differs from JC to JC with each having different levels of “strictness”. In general, to take a subject at the H2 Level, you would be required to have satisfied these few criteria listed below.

Generally, a requirement to take 4H2s is getting a raw L1R5 of 10. However, these requirements might vary across JCs (i.e some JCs might require a raw L1R5 of 8 and below, or even 9-10 and below). 

However, even if you do not meet the requirements, if you really want to take 4 H2s, I suggest you apply anyway. Even if you get rejected, you will always have a chance to appeal to take 4 H2s. It will go on a case to case basis, but your appeal is likely to be accepted if you miss the cut off by just 1-2 points. 

*Good grades are subject to the relevant JC and relative cohort performance, usually ranging from A2 and above’

SubjectCriteria
H2 MathematicsGood grades in A Math at an O Level / IP equivalent level
H2 ChemistryGood grades in Chemistry at an O Level / IP equivalent level (Pure / Combined)
H2 PhysicsGood grades in Physics at an O Level / IP equivalent level (Pure / Combined)
H2 BiologyGood grades in Biology at an O Level / IP equivalent level (Pure / Combined)
H2 English language & Linguistics Good grades in English Language or English Literature at an O Level / IP equivalent level
H2 Chinese Language & Literature H2 China Studies in ChineseGood grades in Higher Chinese / Chinese in O Levels
H2 Literature, H2 Economics, H2 Geography, H2 HistoryNo specific grade requirements
H2 Further Mathematics (Taken on top of H2 Mathematics)Good grades in E Maths and A Maths at an O Level / IP equivalent level 
H2 Knowledge and Inquiry Good grades in English Language at an O level / IP equivalent level and good performance in subject aptitude assessment 

The above serves as a comprehensive but non-exhaustive list of general requirements that could differ from school to school, but are usually a good guideline to gauge your compatibility with the H2 subject. The list from above was found from Yishun Innova Junior College’s school website. 

Academic Units

4 H2s would give you 11 academic units, whereas 3H2 + 1H1 would only give you 10 academic units. If you choose to take a subject at the H3 level, you would have 12 and 11 academic units respectively. 

Now, how does this affect your life after Junior College? Well, in terms of scholarships, most overseas scholarships require at least 11 academic units. 

For example, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) Scholarship is a scholarship that covers 4 years of study in Singapore or overseas universities. 

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As seen in the above screenshot taken from their website, offering 11 academic units (by taking 4H2s) might put you at a better advantage compared to those offering 10 academic units (3H2 + 1H1). 

As such, if you take 3H2 + 1H1, you might not be qualified for some scholarships, even if your rank points are sufficient. 

However, if you desire to apply for scholarships at a local level, the number of academic units you have does not put you at a disadvantage, as your rank points and portfolio ultimately are the biggest considerations. 

Pros and Cons

Below is a table that summarises the pros and cons of taking 4H2s and 3H2 + 1H1. 

CombinationProsCons
4 H2Wider breadth and depth of study for the subject
Potentially beneficial to scholarships
Heavier workload
May be unnecessary for your university course 
May lead to other subjects flopping
3 H2 + 1 H1Increased time with lighter workload
Lesser content 
Able to focus more on weaker areas
May affect your university course
Lesser depth and breadth of study for the H1 subject

Taking an H3 subject:

While we discuss taking 4 H2s or 3 H2s, you may wonder if it is worthwhile to take up an H3 subject on top of your current subject combination.

Firstly, if you are exploring taking up an H3 subject, you would need good J1 promotional examination results in order to even qualify in the first place. By “good”, a grade of C and above for all your subjects and an A grade for the subject you want to take as a H3 for would be ideal. 

Furthermore, the competition for H3 subjects might be fierce. I remember applying to take an H3 subject, and even meeting all the criteria for good promotional exam grades. However, I was ultimately rejected because of the strict selection process, and because there were only two slots offered per batch. 

Thus, if you are thinking of taking up an H3 subject to boost your academic units, I suggest not to bank everything on an H3 subject. Instead, you can focus on taking up 4H2s first, and aim to attain decent grades for all your subjects. 

Workload

 Studying 4 H2 subjects would be a lot more taxing in terms of its commitments and workload. The main contributing factor to such a difference would be the level of content involved. 

Content

H1 subjects tend to either have a relatively smaller range of content within the syllabus or skillset, depending on school once again. For example, H1 English Literature in my school only gives students 3 texts to study, while H2 Literature students have double their workload.

Time Management

From my own experience, I would say that having 4 H2 subjects does indeed require a lot of balancing in terms of managing your time.

It is essential to allocate sufficient time to each subject and ensure that you devote more time to areas that you are not very strong at. This can prove especially challenging if you were to struggle with 2 or more of the subjects you are studying!

Furthermore, time can be very tight, especially given the two-year runway you have to learn an overwhelming amount of content. 

That being said, many before you and many more after you will have gone through the same kind of workload and I believe that with proper time management, having 4 H2 subjects will be no issue!

After my friend dropped from having 4 H2s to only 3, he mentions that the workload for himself decreased significantly. He found himself having a lot more time to work on his weaker subjects. Timetabling-wise, he also found that he had shorter lesson hours.

That being said, not all subjects dropped will lead to a similar decline in workload as it all depends on the H1 subject being transitioned to. Subjects like History remain relatively demanding in terms of content despite already having less to worry about. 

Hence, time management ultimately depends on which subject you choose to take as an H2 or  H1 subject.

University Prospects

As a whole, I would argue that taking a 4H2 subject combination is not more advantageous than taking a 3H2 + 1H1 because most universities look at rank points, rather than the academic units. 

The only thing to worry about would be overseas scholarship prospects which I have covered earlier. 

Ultimately, no matter how many academic units you have, it is the rank points, extracurriculars and your university application statements that help you to get accepted into University. 

Conclusion

Below is a table summarising the key considerations in deciding between taking 4H2s vs taking 3H2s and 1H1. 

Verdict3H2s + 1H14H2s
Requirements No issues with L1R5 taking 3H2 + 1H1Raw L1R5 of at least 10. Chance to appeal even if your application for 4H2s is unsuccessful
Academic units10 Academic units11 Academic units
University scholarship Has a good chance for local scholarships
Might not qualify for overseas scholarships
Has good chance for both overseas and local scholarships
Subject workload and contentLighter workload, less in depth study into the subjectHeavier workload, a more thorough and in-depth study into the subject
Time managementMore flexibility and free timeMore time has to be invested in each subject
University prospectsNo issues — it is the rank points, portfolio, university application statement that matters most. No issues — it is the rank points, portfolio, university application statement that matters most. 

In conclusion, while there is not much ‘discrimination’ between taking 4H2s vs. taking 3H2 + 1H1, I strongly suggest everyone who can take 4H2s to take that combination, as you will ultimately get a chance to drop a subject to H1 at the end of your JC1 year. 

Within the first year, you might find that you can actually manage well with 4H2s, or you might also learn to hate a certain subject at the H2 level. 

Nevertheless, as long as your rank points at A-Levels are decent, I am sure you will be qualified to take any course you desire, as academic units are not a deciding factor.


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Gabrielle Chua

Hello ~~ I'm Gabrielle and I've recently graduated from Eunoia Junior College. I'm someone who thrives on gaining new experiences and constantly challenging myself. Some things I'm currently occupied with are -- spin classes, my full time job and kdramas ! >_<

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