Of all the JC subjects to choose from, Physics is perhaps the hardest to understand. For that reason, many students stay away from it. After all, it is only natural to dislike what we do not understand.
However, studying Physics in JC has its benefits.
Here is what I think you should consider before selecting your subject combination in JC:
#1 “I love physics!”
Let’s start off with the most obvious reason – Physics is your favorite subject.
Perhaps you’ve always excelled in Physics during secondary school, or perhaps you read an article about the Photoelectric Effect and you’re curious to learn more.
Then choosing physics in JC seems to be a no-brainer.
Personally, Physics is one of the most intellectually fulfilling subjects. The world is an exciting mystery and Physics helps us to understand it better. After all, Physics is a fundamental science concerned with basic principles of the universe to study matter, energy and their interactions.
Physics in JC is an expansion of the O level Pure Physics, where previous topics like Kinematics will be explored in greater detail. Also, we will learn intriguing new topics like Nuclear and Quantum Physics.
That said, it is important to take a look at the H2 Physics Syllabus and ask yourself if your interest in Physics can be sustained for the next 2 years.
#2 “I am pretty good at math already.”
To paraphrase Galileo:
“Math is the language of the universe.”
Physics relies heavily on mathematical calculations for proofs.
Unsurprisingly, students who do well in Math, tend to do well in Physics.
Concepts from both O level Elementary and Additional Mathematics are prominent in H2 Physics and students are required to be comfortable in topics such as trigonometry and calculus.
Being proficient at manipulating mathematical equations cannot be understated when it comes to solving questions.
#3 “I want to study (blank) in University.”
During my JC Orientation Camp, a senior asked me what I wanted to study in University.
I could not answer his question.
I was one of the many lost JC kids, who could not even decide on what to eat for lunch, much less plan for my future.
Then the time came to choose my subject combination. I gave it plenty of thought and distilled it down to this:
I was in a JC because I wanted to pursue a higher education at a local university. But I simply didn’t know what I wanted to study back then. Hence I chose the subject combination that offered me the greatest flexibility:
PCME (Physics, Chemistry, Math and Economics).
I knew that having Physics on my A level certificate would open up many exciting University courses in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) such as engineering, computer science and scientific research.
For instance, the Computer Science course at NUS requires:
A H2 pass in Computing or Mathematics or Further Mathematics or Physics
While the Medicine course at NUS would require:
A H2 pass in Chemistry and either Biology or Physics
Anyway, let’s be frank here. At the tender age of 17, how many of us knew what we wanted to study after JC? I certainly didn’t.
There is nothing wrong with not knowing what you want at that age.
Perhaps the best thing to do at that stage is to keep as many doors open as we can.
Here’s why you should avoid taking Physics
#1 You want to take H2 Biology
A good pass in H2 Biology is required for the Food Science and Technology course in NUS.
Therefore, it is important to understand the opportunity cost of choosing H2 Physics, since most schools do NOT allow students to take H2 Physics and H2 Biology at the same time.
This opportunity cost extends to other subjects like Geography and History since each student can only take a maximum of 4 H2 subjects.
Honestly, I think that it is easier to work hard for a subject that you are interested in.
So as long as you enjoy a subject, you should definitely take it.
#2 You HATE Physics
And that’s alright! Sometimes we just don’t have an affinity with a certain subject.
Then it might be better to skip it altogether, than to instinctively avoid every single Physics homework and assignments for two years, and thereby risking a poor grade for the A level.
#3 You did not take O Level Physics
Most schools would NOT allow you to take H2 Physics without a prior experience in the O level.
However, it is still possible to appeal to the school for special permission to take H1 Physics. I’ve had several students who had done so successfully.
Having a background in Physics is important since the A level syllabus is an in-depth expansion of the O level syllabus. Starting from scratch will be difficult, especially when we factor the additional workload and stress from the other JC subjects.
Recently, my student score the second-highest in his H1 physics class for the JC1 promotional exams – even though he did not take Physics in secondary school.
But for most people, I would not recommend it – unless they are really interested in Physics.
#4 You think that Physics is easy
As I’ve said many times before, H2 Physics is NOT an easy subject.
Memorizing common definitions can help to a certain extent. But we should not assume that rote learning is going to get us an A grade.
Since the H2 Physics questions are more application-based, students are encouraged to develop an intuition to solve complex setups.
Given that the syllabus focuses heavily on problem solving, students must first try to understand the concepts. To get the right answer, students then have to correctly apply the concepts.
The leap from not understanding a concept, to understanding a concept is often the hardest part.
But very often in Physics, once you get it, you really get it.
Your decision matters – so choose wisely
Good planning can help us to avoid an extra semester in university. Which would be spent on bridging modules to fulfil pre-requisites for the course.
Now is the time to determine the best subject combination for you to achieve your goals.
That said, while all jobs are important in society, some forms of education are perceived to be more marketable than others.
I cannot stress how vital it is to do your research early.