Why is Singapore-Cambridge A levels so hard [Answers]

Majority of the student use A level results as a means of getting admissions into local universities. In the process, many feel like giving up. “Why is Singapore-Cambridge A levels so hard?!”

Why is Singapore-Cambridge A levels so hard?!The reason

The Singaporean version of A levels is much harder in comparison to the international version.

Despite that, entry requirements using the results remain stringent.

Why is Singapore-Cambridge A levels so hard?! One may ask.

Simply put, MOE doesn’t want the locals to get a degree (Source ⌲ Wikileaks cable titled 07Singapore394 that has since gone offline), and referring to the WIKILeaked document.

MOE targets enrollment at 20-25% annually out of approximately 15,000 applicants.

That means if A levels is easy everyone gets straight A’s. Then universities will find it difficult in differentiating and admitting students.

The local media echoes the sentiments publishing articles like this.

And the local universities corroborate with the story recruiting foreign student to make up the numbers (approximately 28% as of 2019).

Why is Singapore-Cambridge A levels so hard?!The situation

The double whammy to Singaporean A level students appears when certain career paths are inaccessible without the degree qualification.

It’s hard to get into a local university, career options may be limited without a degree. So it’s no wonder teen suicide rates are increasing to their highest year after year.

Unfortunately, there is no end in sight.

The quality of school teachers in JCs varies greatly. I continuously hear horror stories of the behaviors of some these teachers when students come to me for tuition.

For example in one JC, a friendly teacher gives incorrect answers to students. The only other competent teacher is so fierce that he scolds students for bringing up questions to the point of tears. Nobody dares to seek clarification. Consequently, students are fumbling over their material and not ready for the A level exams.

This is why some students at this point will seek out tuition.

MOE is not on their side either.

For those of you who are feeling the stress, I truly feel for you. This is one of your most trying periods in life.

Why is Singapore-Cambridge A levels so hard?! What can I do?

First and foremost content mastery is the foundation of exam preparations. If this is your weakness, then you will likely seek out a tutor for help.

I have a checklist you might use to shortlist the better tutors since there are so many out there.

This will be helpful since JC life is so short and you can’t afford to try all the tutors out.

Next, you need to learn how to be a better exam taker.

As Michael Jordon says, “You can practice shooting eight hours a day but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.”

Why is Singapore-Cambridge A levels so hard

Despite the technique not working, many people are still using the same exam taking techniques hoping it will make a difference?

There are several ways to augment the exam taking performance.

I write about some of them, implement them in my classes and track my students and see how they perform over time with these new techniques.


To start things off, you may want to consider that you eat leading up to the exams. I make some recommendations for the exam diet.

If the biology is not optimal, then performance is sub-par leading to stagnation and even worse causes debilitating injuries (in the gym for example).

Sleep is another important area students must consider as it aids in developing learning for the day and transforming it to long term memory. If they are not on point, then one just won’t remember at all, wasting the time and effort earlier in the day.

Also, how a student studies during exam preparations is crucial. I write about this in detail here. And have seen how my student performance transform just by making the simple changes.


I hope the above resources will help you in your JC student life. And transform the agony of “Why is Singapore-Cambridge A levels so hard?!” to “I can do it and the exams is fun and easy!”

And in the process find success Singapore-Cambridge A level exams. All the BEST!

Finally, let me know if this has been useful.

Parent/student questions sitemap:
Do I need tuition?

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I want a career in medicine

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Choosing A level tutor [checklist]

Lousy prelims, what should I do?

Lousy JC teachers, what do I do?

I failed my promotion exams, so how?

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  • On February 15, 2017