2018 General Paper Essay Questions

These are the 12 questions for the A Level 2018 General Paper Examination (8807). For 2019 GP Paper 1 questions, click here.

    1. How far is failure an essential part of success?
    2. To what extent is the pursuit of continuous economic growth a desirable goal?
    3. In an age of rapid technological advancement, is a single career for life realistic?
    4. ‘In the global village in which we inhabit, there is no justification for national boundaries.’ How far do you agree?
    5. To what extent is sporting achievement given adequate recognition in your society?
    6. Do handicrafts still have value when machine-produced goods are so readily available?
    7. ‘People today do not work as hard as they did in the past.’ How true is this of your society?
    8. Discuss the view that all countries have an equal responsibility to counter terrorism.
    9. Is pressure a motivating force or a cause for unhappiness?
    10. ‘Works of art which have been removed from their country of origin should be returned.’ Discuss.
    11. ‘Foreign aid does not solve long-term problems.’ To what extent is this a fair viewpoint?
    12. Consider the view that we do not take enough responsibility for our own well-being.

How can you predict the upcoming GP essay based on the 2018 paper?

The 2018 GP essay questions are certainly refreshing. Many contemporary issues have surfaced; there are certainly reference to Artificial Intelligence (Q3, Q7), and contemporary issues like terrorism (Q8) and globalisation (Q4).

If you’ve read Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas Friedman, many of these aforementioned issues are recurring themes of the late 2010s. For example, Friedman describes how climate change has seen a series of droughts and crop failures, leading to civil wars and a rise of extremism particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Other issues are less specific to the current era. Take Q2 for instance, which touches on long-standing issues on the repercussions of unbridled economic growth. Candidates can bring up the issue of environmental degradation in one paragraph, and social issues like growing income inequality in another. Q6 is reminiscent of a 2007 question (‘Mass production inevitably means a loss of craftsmanship and quality.’ Is this true in your society?).Q5 shows a rising occurrence in sports. (My observation is that sports questions tend to surface on even-numbered years perhaps because sports reflect more relevant in years when the world witnesses the FIFA World Cup or the Summer Olympics.)

As usual, TWO in your society questions were offered to those who follow local news closely. Q5 shows a rising occurrence in sports. (My observation is that sports questions tend to surface on even-numbered years perhaps because sports reflect more relevant in years when the world witnesses the FIFA World Cup or the Summer Olympics.) Q7 requires candidates to compare the current state of work ethics / culture in Singapore to the past.

On top of that, one question on the arts was offered. Q10 is refreshing. Those who frequent museums either locally or overseas can handle this topic better. Q10 certainly reminds me of my trip to the British Museum in the UK where a lot of Greek and Roman sculptures are displayed. In there stood a prominent message from the British Museum and it was an attempt to justify the British looting artworks from other countries. The museum admitted that the art pieces belong to other countries and were looted, but if they have been left in their countries of origin, these artefacts could have suffered worse fates: destroyed (ISIS detonating Assyrian artefacts, anyone?) or looted and sold in the black markets.

We covered Q11 on aid in class and in our workshops in 2018. Speakers like Dambisa Moyo (writer of Dead Aid) have spoken out against using aid to further political agenda. It is certainly a narrow topic but one can also use it on issues concerning foreing intervention, diplomacy and poverty.

Q1, Q9 and Q12 are more general in nature. I know students who attempt these questions because there are simply no other questions they can handle confidently. Coming up with quality examples for them can be challenging. For that reason, I would personally avoid such questions.

There are a few strategies in predicting and preparing for the subsequent A level GP. I would use an ordinary student as my benchmark.

Firstly, focus on contemporary issues. Globalisation, Technology and Climate Change are the major forces shaping our world today. I do not recommend studying these topics in isolation. It is important to be well-read in these topics so you know how they impact other facades of the world today. 

Secondly, be well-versed in international politics and issues. Basic knowledge of the major conflicts in the world is a pre-requisite of the citizen of the 21st century (Like you wouldn’t speak highly of Isreal in front of a Muslim friend, would you?).

Thirdly, for students who want to elevate your arguments, pay attention to past assumptions that are failing. Coming back to Dambisa Moyo, the writer of Dead Aid, she has questioned the relevance of democracy in the developing world given how the New Rich of the 21st century have poor democratic processes (China, possible Singapore?). There are many assumptions that no longer hold water. Does capitalism really increase wealth for everyone? Do we really need to reverse climate change? Does hard work really pay off? Is marriage really an inherent human desire? Given the rising middle class, is driving a car / flying really an individual right? Thinking about these issues can open up doors for more in-depth discussion (read: good for exam too).

The Cambridge examiners setting your paper are looking for candidates who are keeping up with all the aforementioned issues. In the mean time, we wil be publishing posts on more in-depth analysis of each question in the 2018 GCE Examination. You can contact us for help and resources like our super helpful lazy sheets. While we do not publish them openly, we are certainly open to sharing them with anyone who wants to learn.