H1 or H2 Biology for A levels (Singapore)?

In this post, I will seek to address the question whether one should do H1 or H2 biology for the Singaporean A levels.

H1 or H2 biology ⌲ an overview

In simplistic terms, H1 or H2 subjects differ in their coverage.

Where, H2 subjects covers far more content even though the difficulty is the same across H1 or H2 biology.

H1 or H2 biology ⌲ considerations

Since there is a significant reduction of coverage in H1, this can be useful for those in Arts stream who is interested in the subject, as well as satisfying the contrasting subject requirement. This does not however, rule out the more ambitious Arts stream students who would like to do 4H2 subjects, using H2 biology as a contrasting subject instead.

Conversely, H2 biology is the choice for science stream students who are deeply interested in the subject as well as using it as one of the minimum 3, H2 subject requirement. Especially if they do not like Physics.

Few science stream students will opt for H1 biology unless they find that they are struggling and not doing well. This in turn is mainly due to the poor school environment for the subject.

This is because, most of them are doing the contrasting subject at H1 level and therefore have to do H2 biology to satisfy the minimum 3 H2 requirement.

H1 will have less detailed coverage and as a H2 biology tutor, I feel that students may not get the entire picture and hence understanding.

For example in the topic diversity and evolution, whilst H1 students will learn about the environmental factors implicating natural selection, there is no continuation about the beauty of environment’s role in speciation. Leading to a somewhat patchy overview of this amazing topic.

H1 or H2 biology ⌲ content coverage

There is indeed significant reduction in H1 biology in comparison to H2.

This can be an advantage especially considering JC life is hectic, and there are no significant advantage for students taking 4 H2 subjects including biology.

There are 4 cores in H2 biology (the cells and biomolecules of life | Genetics and Inheritance | Energy and equilibrium | Biological evolution) and 2 extension topics (Infectious diseases | climate change).

In H1 biology, each of the cores sees reduction in learning outcomes. Notably all mentions of microorganisms (bacteria and viruses) are removed as well as molecular techniques.

In addition, infectious diseases as an extension topic is also out.

These topics are some of the most relevant and interesting aspects of biology especially considering the current times.

Exams format differences

The best part about H1 biology is the exams!

Whilst the H2 biology exam is comprehensive (paper 1/2/3+5), H1 biology exams comprises only P1 and 2.

P1 comprises MCQs whilst P2 comprises structure and essay questions.

This format is more reminiscent of the old format of H2 biology P2 prior to 2017.

Since there are no long stimulus questions and integrative style essay questions of P3 in the H2 biology syllabus, this is a big relief to exam taking students since they are comparatively harder.


I hope I have given you at the very least another perspective answering your question, ‘H1 or H2 biology for A levels (Singapore)’.

Most importantly I hope you find exam success in the near future.

Finally, let me know if this has been useful.

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  • On June 03, 2021