Like many other Junior Colleges, VJC’s science faculty greatly outnumbers its arts faculty. As a result, what arises from this divide can be misconceptions surrounding the life of an Arts student. This is where our article comes in: it aims to address prominent stereotypes and hopefully alleviate some common misunderstandings shrouding the Arts faculty. Who knows, you may even end up realising that Science and Arts students face rather similar problems despite their vastly different curriculums.

Stereotype #1:

Studying the Arts revolves around memorising details.

Science students are no strangers to memorize large chunks of information and regurgitating them on their exam scripts. Memorising your notes isn’t enough to guarantee a pass for Science subjects. You’ll need to practise numerous past year papers, as advocated by our tutors, in order to master the concepts and learn how to apply them.

The Truth #1:

Yes and No. The humanities; Geography, History, Literature, China Studies and even Economics not only require memorising but analysis too. For example, just regurgitating facts can obtain you from 10 to 12 marks out of a total of 25 marks for a History essay, which basically means that you have/ almost failed. I could name when the Cuban Missile Crisis took place and describe how Kennedy and Khrushchev behaved like angry toddlers, but it would not make much of a difference if I did not explain why the Crisis even took place and its implications.

On the hand, analysis without concrete facts may not get you even a ‘B’ because the teachers are unconvinced by fluffy arguments that lack evidence. In Literature, while the importance of an analytical answer cannot be understated, the ebb and flow of the five different storylines matter. Greatly. All in all, these are just some of the reasons why you can count the total number of distinctions for an Arts subject in an examination with just one hand.

Theatre Studies in Drama is also not just about “memorising details”. TSD is quite unique as it requires more than the memorising of a script. It needs emotion, expression and passion from the actor or actress. While practice makes perfect, performing in front of others can be quite nerve wrecking and the results can be unpredictable.


Stereotype #2:

Last minute studying works.

This has been proven to be ineffective for Science students again and again. Trying to cram formulae and concepts the night before and hoping to magically apply them during the exam doesn’t work for Science subjects sadly. Consistency is key when it comes to Science subjects, as concepts from a previous chapter often spillover into the subsequent chapters.

The Truth #2:

It depends. Yes, there are cases where Humanities “Beasts” are able to rush at the very last minute and obtain a fairly decent grade. By a decent grade, I mean a “B” or “C”. But let it be known that these geniuses are few and far between. The majority of Arts Students may not be as lucky if they had to storm through the hundreds of pages of notes while preparing essay outlines (provided that there is time), at the very last minute. So consistency matters too.

So why do some Arts students actually succeed in rushing this seemingly insurmountable task? Well some students are naturally gifted in memorising arguments in a really short amount of time. But then again VJC’s Humanities examinations only cover bitesize portions of the entire syllabus. So when the A levels come around, even geniuses will need to prepare much earlier than usual if they want that elusive distinction (which almost 99% of students aim for).


Stereotype #3:

Arts students are quite opinionated and score well in GP.

Well, there’s not much room for debate when it comes to Science formulae and Math theorems unless you want to be a smart aleck. It’s also not an uncommon sight to see Science students sleep or do their other tutorials during GP because some of them do find the subject an utter waste of their time. As such, it’s not surprising if Arts students perform better than their Science counterparts in GP.

The Truth #3:

Well, it is true to some extent. There is always active participation when it comes to a class discussion. It’s just the nature of the subject that makes the general population of Arts students seem opinionated. Class sizes for a particular subject aren’t very large and can just have six people like History class in 14A14. Thus, you will have to contribute an opinion in every single tutorial.

Arts students still enjoy a friendly debate because it does trigger fresh ideas and reconcile vastly disparate opinions. Furthermore, class participation in the Arts faculty can be quite engaging and opinion-driven as it ranges from voicing out your views to presenting your deciphered Literature poem.

Lastly, why is there a perception that Arts students definitely score well for GP? Trust many Arts students when they say that it is not true. General Paper is a unique yet trifling subject for the majority of students and their Humanities subjects often fail to provide specific examples and evaluation. The examples they learn about such as volcanic eruptions or agricultural issues in China or the Arab-Israeli conflict are suited for a narrow (Really, really narrow) scope of topics. Doing the exam under timed conditions doesn’t help either.



In the End

Whether you are from the Arts, Science of Hybrid faculty, all of you will undergo the A Levels. So make no mistake over the fact that everyone will feel a great deal of pressure. Hopefully, this article is just a reminder of this common (and hopefully bonding) experience that we share.



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