Cambridge GCE A-Level Singapore: H1, H2, and H3 Explained (2023)

GCE A Level

H1, H2, and H3 A-Levels in Singapore: Everything You Need to Know


This article will break down the curriculum of the Singapore Cambridge GCE A-Level to help our students and parents to better understand the system behind the Singapore GCE A-Levels.

After the GCE O Level, students in Singapore proceed to their tertiary education, which is any one of the following: ITE, Polytechnic or Junior College. 

There are 3 different tertiary options for a student after their O Level results; ITE (Nitec or Higher Nitec), Polytechnic and Junior College (JC) or Millennia Institution (MI). 


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Junior College


To enter any Junior Colleges in Singapore, students will have to look at their L1R5 instead of their L1R4. A maximum of 4 points can be deducted from a student’s raw L1R4/5 score*.

2 points from their CCA achievements and commitment and 2 points from passing their Higher Mother Tongue Language in Secondary school. 

Must ReadSingapore School System: The Stages of Education


*The meaning of Raw Scores for their cut-off points is the score they have obtained without any deduction of points from CCA or Higher Mother Tongue Language (HMTL). 


Junior College is a 2-year programme for all students. Students that attend the Junior College or Millennia Institution take the GCE Cambridge A-Level examinations. The Singapore GCE Cambridge A-Level is slightly different from the International Cambridge A-Level and this article covers only the curriculum for the Singapore A-Levels. 

View the official eligibility criteria to Junior Colleges here


Start Learning: Free IGCSE Resources for Students


Millennia Institution (MI) – An Alternative to Junior College


Millennia Institution offers the same subjects and curriculum as the Junior Colleges in Singapore. The only difference they have is that the Milennia Institution is a 3-year Pre-U course, while the other Junior Colleges offer only 2 years. MI looks at a student’s L1R4 instead of their L1R5. 


Singapore GCE Cambridge A-Level Curriculum

Students are allowed to choose which streams they want to enter; Science or Arts when they are choosing for their post-secondary choices. 


Must ReadCan Singaporeans do IGCSE and A levels instead of Singapore Cambridge GCE O levels and A levels?


Students have to meet the cut-off points for the streams they which to enter for the specific Junior Colleges they wish to enter. Junior College cut-off points focus on student’s L1R5 instead of their L1R4, with MI as an exception. This is a list of the Junior Colleges’ cut-off points for 2019. 

View the entire 2019 JAE booklet here officially distributed by MOE. 


Junior College Arts Science/IB
Anderson Serangoon JC* 12 11
Anglo-Chinese JC 9 8
Anglo-Chinese School Independent) 5
Catholic JC 13 14
Dunman High School 10 9
Eunoia JC 10 9
Hwa Chong Institution 6 5
Jurong Pioneer JC* 16 15
Nanyang JC 7 6
National JC 8 7
Raffles Institution 5 5
River Valley High School 10 9
St. Andrew’s JC 11 10
St. Joseph’s Institution 7
Tampines Meridian JC* 13 14
Temasek JC 11 9
Victoria JC 8 6
Yishun Innova JC* 20 20

*For these 4 merged Junior Colleges, the cut-off point is the aggregate score of the lowest-ranked students who were admitted to the merging JC which had a JC1 intake in 2018.


Free Resources: Singapore Curriculum


What is H1, H2, H3?

The H in H1, H2 and H3 stands for Higher. 


The basic subject combination for a JC student would be:

  • Three H2 content-based subjects
  • One H1 content-based subject
  • Compulsory H1 subjects
    • Mother-Tongue Language (MTL)
    • General Paper
    • Project Work 

H1 subjects are worth 1 point and H2 subjects are worth 2 points. H3 subjects are offered to students who are academically able to cope with the additional subject(s) on top of their H1 and H2 subjects. 


Must Read: 4 Tips On Staying In Touch With Your Mother Tongue Language


Overview of the GCE A-Level curriculum 


H1, H2 and H3 refer to the depth of the subject taken by the student, with H1 subjects being briefer than H2 and H3 subjects and H3 being a more advanced level of the subject. 

The different levels would be further broken down later in the article. 


For example, an H2 Chemistry subject would have more topics than H1 Chemistry but their difficulty level of the questions asked would roughly be the same. 

As for H3 Chemistry, the topics learned will not be more than H2 Chemistry since H3 subjects are an extension to H2 subjects. This would mean, learning would be more in-depth and specific when it comes to taking an H3 subject. 


Have a lookCambridge IGCSE Subject-wise Notes and Quizzes


Arts/Science Stream Criteria 

One of the four content-based subjects must be from a contrasting discipline. In other words, you are not allowed to take all Science-based subjects as such; Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology



The compulsory subjects that should be taken by all students would be General Paper and Project Work. Students may also offer Knowledge and Inquiry in place of General Paper (GP), or offer Mother Tongue Language and Literature at H2.


Must Read4 Tips On Staying In Touch With Your Mother Tongue Language


Students can be exempted from taking H1 Mother Tongue if they have passed their Higher Mother Tongue in Secondary School, but it still counts as 1 point. However, if the student did not undertake Higher MTL in Secondary school ‘O’ Level, it is compulsory for him/her to complete H1 MTL in JC. 


National Examinations for H1 subjects will be taken at the end of JC2 (second year of JC) with the exception of H1 Mother-Tongue Language and H1 Project Work which will be taken in JC1. 


Study NowSingapore Curriculum Notes and Quizzes



Taking 4 H2

Students can be offered to take up 4 H2 instead of the standard combination of 3 H2 and 1 H1 at the beginning of their J1. Schools will determine whether a student can be offered to take up 4 H2s, determining factor being the student’s raw cut-off points when they enter the JC. This differs from JC to JC. 

Must ReadAll you need to know about the PSLE Curriculum


GCE A-level Rank points

The maximum number of rank points (RP) for admission to university a student can achieve is 90. A higher score would place a student in a better position for admissions to university. 


Grade Scores H1 Ranking Points H2 Ranking Points
A 70% and above 10 20
B 60% to 69% 8.75 17.5
C 55% to 59% 7.5 15
D 50% to 54% 6.25 12.5
E 45% to 49% (passing grade) 5 10
S (sub-pass) 40% to 44%  2.5 5
Ungraded 39% and below 0 0


GCE a-level Rank Points Calculation


Calculation of Rank Points without H1 MTL 

A student’s rank points are calculated by adding together the rank points the student has achieved for the following: 

  • Best four content-based subjects (3 H2 + 1 H1)
  • H1 General Paper 
  • H1 Project Work 


Maximum Achievable RP (assuming the student has perfect scores) →

 3 H2 + 1 H1 + 1 H1 GP + 1 H1 PW 

= (20+20+20) + 10 + 10+ 10 

= 90 RP



Calculation of Rank Points with H1 MTL 

H1 MTL may be included in the computation of the rank points and in such events, the rank points inclusive of the H1 MTL will be rebased from /100 to /90.


Rank Points →

[(3 H2 + 1 H1 + 1 H1 GP + 1 H1 PW + 1 H1 MTL)/100] x 90

= [(20 + 20 + 20 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 10)/100] x 90

= (100/100) x 90

90 RP


What about students that are offered 4H2 instead of 3H2 and 1H1? How do they calculate their RP?

In the event of a 4H2 student and do not have an H1 content-based subject, the student’s weakest H2 subject will be computed as an H1 content subject. This means the rank points of the H2 subject would be halved (calculated as /10 instead of /20).


Rank Points →

3 H2 + weakest 1 H2 calculated as H1 + H1 GP + H1 PW

= (20 + 20 + 20) + (17.5/20 x 10) + 10 + 10 

= 88.75 RP



H3 subjects are not graded into the rank points. They are additional subjects that are taken on top of their H1 and H2 subjects. H3 subjects can allow students to be exempted from modules in their university, depending on the course and module taken by the student. 

H3 subjects are taken as an extension to H2 subjects which allows more in-depth study and advanced content exposure. Not all subjects are available in H3. 

Academically strong students can choose to take up an additional H1 or H2 subject OR up to two H3 subjects. 

Visit the SEAB official website to check the A-Level syllabus Examined in 2019 for the different levels. You can also have a glimpse of the subjects that are offered in H3 at the bottom of the page. 


Must ReadAcing the GCE A Level Exams: Our Top 23 Strategies


GCE A-level H3 Content

Quick Look into H3 Chemistry Topics for 2023 syllabus 

H3 Chemistry Topics

  1. Molecular Orbital Theory
  2. UV-vis Spectroscopy
  3. IR Spectroscopy
  4. NMR Spectroscopy
  5. Mass Spectroscopy 
  6. Advanced Stereochemistry
  7. Kinetics and Thermodynamic Controls
  8. Advanced Reaction Mechanism 

The content of H3 subjects, not only for the Chemistry subject, is highly dynamic and students are expected to perform many inter-topical links. 


Should you take up H3 subjects? 

Many recommend students to be able to cope with their standard combination before deciding whether to take an extension to their H2 subjects. What are some tips Tutopiya can provide you when it comes to deciding whether to proceed with any H3 subjects? 


Know what you are pursuing in university 

This would greatly help you to decide whether the H3 subject you are being offered would be helpful when you pursue your dream course at university. Some universities allow students to be exempted from certain modules if they have taken H2 or H3 subjects for their GCE A-Levels, with a desirable grade (may differ from universities to universities). 

Before you make the decision, know what you are pursuing for and which university you are aiming to go to since criteria may vary from schools to schools. 


Your confidence and passion for the particular subject 

Your confidence and passion for the subject play a big part when it comes to preserving when things get tough. Taking an H3 subject is no easy task and it boils down to your passion and perseverance. You have to be mentally prepared for failures and obstacles that may stumble your way when you are doing an H3 subject. 

Always consult your seniors and be aware of the content and topics covered for H3 subjects before diving into it. 


Ability to cope with stress and have good time management 

H3 is an additional subject on top of all your H1 and H2 subjects, therefore, you have to be mentally prepared to devote more and sufficient time to all your subjects. 

H3 Grade Marks (%)
Distinction 70 to 100
Merit 55 to 69
Pass 45 to 54
Ungraded 0 to 44


Looking for more GCE A-Level related resources? Visit our blog page, Tutopiya recommends the Ultimate Guide to A-Level General Paper: Subject Expert Guide 

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