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The Complete List of GP Topics & Themes

Are you running out of time to prepare for your examples required for your GP essays? Are you looking to form an effective strategy to tackle your Paper1? if yes, read on and explore our recommended Thematic Essay Strategies (TES) on handling your essay paper.

1st, 12 questions will be set, of which you only answer one. This will allow GP essay exam candidates like you the chance to express an informed, critical, creative and relevant response.


Most Common GP Topics for Essay Paper 1

The most common topics are:
1. Historical, social, cultural, economic, political and philosophical topics
2. Science including its history, philosophy, general principles, current developments and applications
3. Mathematical and geographical topics
4. Literature and language
5. Arts and crafts
6. Topics of local interest and global concern, as stated from the GP Syllabus (Code: 8807)


Now, the above topics is by no means exhaustive. We can easily go into subtopics for each of the main 6 topics. For example: under the General Paper topic of Literature and language, we can go deeper into Mass Media, , Music, Media, Film, etc. Or, under the topic of local interest and global concern, we can zoom into Singapore only, Gender (Women), Environmental (Animals, Water & the Sea, Land Use, Pollution), etc.

So you get the point, and that preparing by topics alone isn’t going to help a lot.


General Paper Themes for Essay Exams

What’s better than preparing by topics? Answer: You can prepare by GP themes! That is, by group several topics into a theme, you can more easily craft a relevant, creative and balanced response.

Below are sample essay questions inspired by the essay questions in this year’s prelim papers, as they have been modified. As promised, they are organised them into themes for your easy perusal and reference. The following themes are grouped and selected based on their frequency in the A Level GP exams as well as they broad enough to cover a variety of questions.

The major themes to focus on are:

a. Arts, Language & Mass Media
b. Economic & Political Issues
c. Science & Technology & Medicine
d. Moral Dilemmas & Personal Experiences (aka Values, Philosophy or Individuals)
e. Social & Economic issues
f. Crime & Punishment
g. General. 

In addition to grouping topics into themes for easier and effective preparation of your essay exam for GP, we can also prepare by question type. This involves your exam techniques and your experience of handling certain categories of exam questions. For example, the following list are common question types:


Type 1: Questions attempting to make a causal link between topics or themes

Some questions establish a relationship / / maybe even causality between two issues and hence you would need to identify that relationship and either agree with it or refute it. For such questions with 2 issues or subjects, the link between the two issues is the focus of the essay. Do NOT have a separate discussion of the 2nd issue.

1a: Technological advancements always bring about social equality. How far do you agree? 
1b: he world would be a better place if everyone spoke the same language.’ Discuss.
1c: How prepared are we for climate change? Discuss this for your country.
1d: Medical science has been so successful that people now expect too much of it.’ Comment.
1e: Advertisements are often entertaining, but they rarely affect consumer choice.’ Do you agree?
1f: Should poorer countries develop their tourist industry when the basic needs of their own people are not being met?
1g: ‘Instead of speeding up the pace of life, we should be slowing it down.’ What do you think?


Type 2: Questions that target … ‘in your country’…

2.1: Is there value to historic sites in your society?
2.2: How prepared are we for climate change? Discuss this for your country.
2.3: ‘Freedom of expression is a luxury we cannot afford.’ How far is this true in your society?
2.4: Choose a sport and account for its popularity in your country: Golf
2.5: Choose a sport and account for its popularity in your country: Tennis
2.6. Which period in the history of your country appeals most to you? Give reasons for your choice.
2.7: Would you plan the layout of your neighbourhood differently?


Type 3: Questions that require … ‘in your opinion’…

3.1: What do you consider is a meaningful life?
3.2; What do you consider to be a rich life?
3.3: “Give me the country life, any time.” Comment.
3.4: Discuss the benefits of keeping a diary?
3.5: What factors would you consider when choosing a job?
3.6: If you were asked to set up an exhibition, what would you choose to exhibit and why?
3.7: It is better to live a short, exciting life rather than a long, uninteresting one. How far is this true? 
3.8 “Leisure activities are a necessity, not a luxury.” Do you agree?
3.9 “The place for animals is in the wild, not in zoos or circuses.” Comment.


Type 4: Knowledge-based Questions

Such questions assume that students have an in-depth knowledge of the characteristics of the topic areas to be discussed in the essay. These KBQ tend to add in absolute words such as : never, solely, only, always, etc. Hence, commonplace knowledge will allow you, the GP student to pass, but obviously reflects nothing more than mediocrity. Knowledge must be showcased not just through a range of evidence but also through the differing conclusions one con draw from the some piece of evidence.

4.1: Can the trade in weapons ever be justified?
4.2: Is sport too closely linked with money these days?
4.3: Discuss the view that too much faith is placed in statistics.

4.4: To what extent are small businesses preferable to large ones?
Inevitably this question appealed to candidates who studied Economics. but it also proved to be a discriminator in identifying candidates who could make effective use of their General Paper skills and those who merely regurgitated theoretical arguments and unexplained Economics jargon, such as ‘economies of scale’ and ‘merit goods”.

Abbreviated forms, such as SBEs (Small Business Enterprises) and MNCs (Multinational Corporations) were not uncommon. These must be explained. Furthermore, very tortuous attempts were often made in the introduction to define small and large businesses.

4.5: Can small countries have a significant voice in world affairs
Focus on the following: Switzerland, Vatican City, Luxemburg & Singapore

4.6: Is effective farming possible without science?
Candidates drew upon the distinction between subsistence farming and that which was more of an industry, often tailored to meet modern demands of population and choice. Similarly, there was an awareness of organic farming, with its benefits and drawbacks. A good range of examples was incorporated to illustrate the impact of science on agriculture: the development of seeds, fertilisers, alternative means of producing crops and so on.


Sample Set A Paper 1 for general paper (Essay Questions)

1. How far should the actions of leaders be determined by public opinion?
(Political issue)

2. Which factors currently pose serious threats to the development of your country and which provide exciting opportunities?
(Economic, Environmental, Social, Cultural, ‘In-Your-Country’, etc)

3. Why are increasing numbers of people turning to religion in both less developed and developed countries?
(Social, Economic, etc)

4. Can we be too concerned about safety and hygiene?
(Science, Environmental, etc)

5. In your opinion, are most scientific research is conducted in the wrong areas for the wrong reasons?
(Science, Social, Economic, ‘In-Your-Opinion’,)

6. Has commercialism ruined film as an art form?
(Mass media, Arts, Economic, ‘Causal-link’)

7. Do you agree that aid should never be given to countries with poor human rights records?
(Global issue, Economic, Political, etc)

8. ‘Gambling is a vice which should never be condoned in any civilised society. What are your views?
(Social, Economic, Philosophy)

9. “We are overfed with information, but starved of wisdom.” Is this a valid assessment of modern technology’s impact on mankind?
(Technology, Mass Media, Social, etc)

10. “Education is the best vaccine for violence.” Do you agree?
(Social, Arts, Language, Mass Media, etc)

11. Is the United Nations still a relevant organisation?
(Global issue, politics, Economic, etc)

12. Does history really repeat itself?
(History, Social, Environmental, Economics, Political, etc, aka General Question)


Sample Set B Paper 1 for general paper (Essay Questions)

1. Give the public what it wants.” How far should the media be guided by this motto?
(Mass Media, Social, etc)

2.Why does children’s literature appeal to readers of all ages?
(Social, Langauge, Economics, The Arts, etc)

3. Have ceremonies and rituals lost their meaning in your society?
(Economic, Religion, Social, Cultural, ‘In-Your-Country’, etc)

4. “Along with great power comes great responsibility.” Discuss the relevance of this observation to the roles and responsibilities of scientists today.
(Science, Social, Economic, etc,)

5. To what extent, if any, should works of art be subjected to censorship?
(Social, Arts, Language, Mass Media, etc)

6. In your opinion, what can be done to make the citizens of your country more politically aware and active?
(Political, Youth, Social, etc)

7. Is a world without poverty an impossible dream?
(Global issue, Economic, Environmental, etc)

8. ”No pain, no gain.’ How far is this true of life in general?
(Philosophy, Personal Experience, Value, Economic, Language, etc)

9. ‘Politics is the art of compromise.’ Discuss.
(Political, Global, Regional & Local issues, Social, etc)

10. Do we place too much faith in technology?
(Technology, Environmental, Science, Economics, etc)

11. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Comment on this assessment of the last century.
(Political, Global, Regional & Local issues, Social, Economic, etc, aka General Question)

12. What purposes should prisons serve in an educated and enlightened society?
(Social, Language, Crime, etc)



As you can see from the i) list of topics, ii) the combination of topics into themes, iii) the questions types, as well as the iv) sample question paper, the essay exam paper can be set in many ways.

So what’s your strategy? Our recommendation: prepare a bit of each!!

Specifically: make you you have solid content knowledge with relevant and updated examples on 2-3 TOPICS. In this way, in term so the content marks, you will score a high one. Next, make sure that the topics you pick they are bale to merge into further themes, so that no matter how the Cambridge examiners mix and match the topics, you have enough scope and depth to provide a sound, elaborate and balanced answer. Finally, do an extra preparation with one that targets just Singapore (“in your country“) and/ or offers you the opportunity to go deep in your opinion


Need more help? Let our GP revision pack boost your score with lesser effort now. Click here to accelerate your GP success.


Happy revision!


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