Which subject combi for A levels: H2 BIO [Question]

For incoming JC students thinking about which subject combi to confirm, let me make the case for choosing H2 BIO.

Subject combi: But I want to be in Arts

In deciding the subject combi, a lot of students don’t realise that bio is the most arty farty of all the A level sciences.

During exams, the precision required comes in the form of presenting the scientific relationships primarily using numbers as well as formulae in physics. Elements and compounds and their interactions in chemistry.

But in biology it is mostly formulating stories containing processes and concepts surrounding life.

In formulating your answer, it is like crafting an artwork. There is no specific way of doing it. Furthermore, you decide which direction you want to take your artwork within the framework of the question.

In contrast, this is where most students even teachers don’t appreciate. Thinking that the subject only revolves around rote learning of concepts and processes. Then subsequently regurgitate.

Subject combi: Why Bio can be considered an arts subject

The fact is, there is still a lot of things we don’t know about life.

Even the things we know about, because of how complex life is, and how organisms keep evolving, we keep finding exceptions to the facts we know to be true.

Let me give you an example.

For the longest time, we associate the chloroplast with plants and photosynthesis. Because they make their own food using light energy. Subsequently, animals feed on them to obtain the energy that powers every cell in them.

How do you think we feel when we find sea slugs that maintain their own chloroplasts and depend on them for food?!

Consequently, you take the sum total of the facts to make your story/conclusion. Even more importantly, if you want to become a lawyer, this will be an important skillset to develop.

Subject combi: Bio is an important subject for science students

In biology exams, precision comes in the form of words.

Bio students learn how to express ourselves. Because frequently, exam questions involves structured and essay questions. Which in turn necessitate long form answers.

So if you want to gain marks from the examiners. You better state your story in the clearest way possible.

Therein helping the students develop an important skillset.

Let me recount a real story below the reason why this skill is so important.

I have a friend who runs a head-hunting agency whose clients are MNCs looking for C-level staff. i.e. CEO, CFO as well as COO etc.

This is enormous responsibility as well as a high value service. And in return my friend gets a substantial reward for successful matches. Hopefully, he repeats this many times as possible into the future.

He laments to me his frustrations as he tries to fill these white collar jobs with Singaporean compatriots.

Even though he knows many Singaporeans are very capable, unfortunately, few are able to speak as if their lives depend on it. Consequently, they make really bad interviewees he can recommend to his MNC clients.

As a result, he has no choice but to field potential non-Singaporean candidates. Because they make him look good and also increases the chance of them subsequently snagging the position.

Of course there are students who study the other sciences who can also present themselves well. This may likely be a result of environment. But in biology classes with me, I train you day in and out to express yourself logically, coherently and elegantly.

Subject combi: synergism

For the arts students, biology synergises well with geography. In fact, a topic in the new syllabus: climate change overlaps substantially. Therefore, learn once and apply twice!

For science students, biology synergises really well with chemistry. Because practical skills in chemistry can be reused in biology. In addition, the molecular interactions in cells has an underlying chemical basis.

Since General paper is compulsory for everyone, biology will be an important help in this subject. Because domain knowledge in biology leads to better discussions. Especially for essay questions falling under the area of science and technology, environment as well as social/ethical issues.

Subject combi: relevant courses

Finally, students who want to take up biology frequently also want to gain admissions into bio-related university courses afterwards.

These are some of the most difficult courses to gain admission unfortunately. This is because the associated courses are pegged as professional level. Even more importantly, the qualifications are acceptable and minimum requirement to join the profession. This includes courses such as the medical and surgery courses, dentistry as well as pharmacy etc.

Having biology as part of the subject combi increases the chances for consideration because of the relevance.

Subject combi: bottomline

Ultimately, you make your own decisions. However, I hope that I have established an important perspective for you to mull over.

Because this increases the chances of you making an informed decision rather than an irrational one.

Finally, let me know if this has been useful.

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  • On December 27, 2018