The A level General Paper exams have just happened. These are the questions they asked 18 year olds yesterday to answer. When we ourselves sat for it at 18, these questions were probably just questions to do, issues we studied. No real personal stake. No real vision to fight for. All we cared about was what grade we would get for it.

That’s one of the hardest things to teach a kid in this subject. That our answers to those questions actually matter to someone’s life way beyond the exam hall. And someday we’ll realise what it means.

You are probably in your 20s to 40s now. You’ve seen life a bit, seen the impact of what happens in the world when people actually live out their answers not as essays in an exam hall but policies they craft, products they buy, leaders they support, life choices they make.

Which question would you pick to do as an adult with a fresh perspective because you finally see a personal stake in it?

1. ‘Any adaptation of a novel for a film, television or the theatre is never as effective as the original.’ Discuss.
2. Assess the view that traditional buildings have no future in your society.
3. ‘Longer life expectancy creates more problems than benefits.’ Discuss.
4. Considering the money involved, should developing countries be allowed to host major sporting events?
5. ‘Human need, rather than profit, should always be the main concern of scientific research.’ Discuss.
6. ‘Countries experiencing conflict should be left to sort out their own problems.’ How far do you agree?
7. How far has modern technology made it unnecessary for individuals to possess mathematical skills?
8. ‘People who do the most worthwhile jobs rarely receive the best financial rewards.’ To what extent is this true of your society?
9. Evaluate the claim that equality of opportunity for females is a desirable, but unrealistic, goal.
10. Assess the view that most natural disasters are the result of human activity.
11. Is competition always desirable?
12. ‘Everyone has an opinion, but not everyone’s opinion is of equal value.’ What is your view?


(Edited to add: Wow! I am amazed at how many of you are sharing this post. 🙂 It makes me really encouraged to see all you guys reflecting on all sorts of stuff as a result – the issues themselves, the way you have evolved in your thought processes, etc. It makes the educator side of me very happy 😀

If you guys miss thinking through issues even into adulthood, we occasionally do free (ie: sponsored very kindly) current affairs/social issues lectures pitched more at an adult crowd through The Thought Collective. You can check one such series out – The Post LKY Singapore lectures – on our Youtube channel.

Or if any of you adults just feel nostalgic and want to think through General Paper issues again and don’t mind learning with a bunch of 18 year olds in a lecture theatre, get in touch with us at School Of Thought and we’ll see if we can help arrange a way for you to gate-crash somehow.)

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