Choosing The Right Subject Combination




Unlike primary schools, secondary schools require students to choose the subject combination they want to sit for in the examinations, whether it be “O” level or “N” level examinations. This is normally based on their secondary two examinations. Then they are branched into different classes based on their subject combination in secondary three onwards.

The compulsory subjects that everyone needs to take regardless of the subject combination are English, Mother Tongue, Elementary Mathematics and Combined Humanities (Social Studies + either Elective Geography, History or Literature in English, Chinese, Malay or Tamil).

Let us take a look at the other subject combinations:


Additional Mathematics (‘A’ Mathematics)

‘A’ math is basically a higher level of mathematics that involves calculus and algebra. Many polytechnic courses (science related) and JC require ‘A’ Math. However not having taken ‘A’ Math still allows your child to take H1 Math in JC. Even many university courses that are math in nature, engineering, for example, require a pass in O level ‘A’ Math.


Pure sciences or combined science

Chemistry is the main science in secondary school. Combined sciences or pure sciences both require the student to take chemistry. Combined science is a subject by itself in the O levels while pure sciences can be 2 or 3 sciences.



Geography, History or literature. The choice really depends on the child’s liking and his strengths. English Literature can help him in General paper in JC. As General paper is more critical and argumentative in JC, literature focuses on these skills in secondary school.

Other miscellany

Design and Technology, and Food and Nutrition are other subjects offered. The key is to know the child’s strengths and perhaps a good grade in design and technology can be advantageous in applying for similar courses in polytechnic

It is important to choose the subject combination to his liking and strength.