GP Comprehension Sample Paper (Paper 2)
General Paper Comprehension Question Paper –
(Note that 15 marks out of 50 will be awarded for your language, namely, for the quality and accuracy of your use of English throughout this paper)
Note: When a question asks for an answer IN YOUR OWN WORDS AS FAR AS POSSIBLE (IYOWAFAP) and you select the appropriate material from the passage for your answer, you still must use your own words to express it. Little credit (out of the remaining 15 marks) can be given to answers, which only copy words or phrases from the passage.
1. (From paragraph 1) The writer refers to a “sixth giant” (line 4) in this paragraph. Explain carefully why she warts to slay this giant. Answer in your own words as far as possible. [2 marks]
The writer wants to do so as the poverty of aspiration makes people unaware of the fact that they are that disadvantaged by their lack of culture
and causes / induces / contributes to an inferiority complex / lowered confidence in a person,
which deprives them of / strips any ambition to better themselves
achieving / attaining a better social and financial position / state
realising their actual capabilities / what they are capable of achieving /attaining / realising the best that they can be
Any 4 of the 5 points will suffice.
GP Passage Text
This giant cudgels…oblivious to their culturally deprived state
its overall effect is to inflict low self-esteem
of either improving their socio – economic status
or fulfilling their true potential as human beings.
2. (From paragraph 2) Give two reasons why the writer views culture as a “slippery concept (line 10). Answer in your own words. 
The notion / idea of culture is elusive, because different people have different definitions of it / the way we define culture is relative
and it has no obvious /distinct / observable / evident boundaries drawn / the boundaries are in flux often change.
Any 2 of the above
3. (From paragraph 2) Explain with your own words, what the author means by “complex culture” (line 16-17). 
Complex culture’ requires mental and emotional effort on both the part of its creator or artists and its audience.
Complex culture requires both its creators and audience, to make an effort to think and feel about it.
4. (From paragraph 3) Why do politicians “advocate the subsidy of culture only in terms of its instrumental benefit n agendas” (line 20-21)? Answer in YOWAFAP. 
It is hard to measure / discuss / identify the inherent and intangible benefits of culture / its value per se / most of its benefits cannot be easily discerned.
Hence, in order to justify their expenditure in this area, politicians have to demonstrate how their expenditure on culture leads to quantifiable benefits. To do this, they relate culture to areas where results are visible / measurable / quantifiable.
5. (From paragraph 3) Why would “commercialised culture” not require government support “in the first place” (l.27-28). AIYOWAFAP. 
Mainstream / popular entertainment does not need government subsidy as, by its very nature / it is in itself profitable / can thrive independently with substantial / mass audience support.
6. (From paragraph 4) The writer tells us that “the internal world we all inhabit” has its own “discoverers, inventors and experts (lines 34-35) Name the specific group of people she is referring to here. 
8. (From paragraph 8) According to the writer, what is the current role of cultural Literacy in education and how does she want to change it ? AIYOWAFAP. [2 marks]
At present, cultural literacy is only seen as a subordinate part of education / ornamental / peripheral / dispensable / non-essential / expendable / needless / extravagance / indulgence / frill.
She wants it to be crucial / fundamental / essential / vital to the education system / the centre of / central to the education system.
as opposed to viewing it as a mere appendage or disposable luxury
placing cultural literacy at the heart of formal education
9. (From paragraph 8) What does the writer mean when she says the best in art and music were “hitherto the exclusive preserve of the upper classes” (Line 71)? Use your OWAFAP. 
Lifted & Paraphrased respectively
-hitherto : up till the present / until today / now
-the exclusive : it was solely / purely the
-preserve : domain / real / privilege
-of the upper classes : of the wealthy / those with a higher social status / in the upper echelons of society
10. (From paragraph 9) Identify and explain the analogy fused by the writer in this paragraph. 
Just as a set of keys can enable a person to open previously locked doors to discover what is behind them, government subsidy of the arts would allow people to gain access to what they previously may not have had access to, which, in this case, is the arts. Hence, it is a gateway to new cultural territory / opens new avenues of exploration.
Government funding of the arts is akin to giving someone a set of keys so that his curiosity and self confidence to explore … Public subsidy opens doors
11. (From paragraph 9) Explain why the writer insists that governments should only subsidise cultural excellence. Use your own words as far as possible. 
if the government did not only subsidise cultural excellence, but cultural mediocrity / inferior / second-rate culture, people will feel let down / disillusioned / disenchanted.
and hence begin to doubt the necessity / challenge / contend the necessity for public funding of the arts.
moreover, such an act would not encourage / kindle or increase ambition.
and finally / ultimately may backfire, doing more harm than good. (1/2)
people begin to doubt the justification for / reasoning / motivation behind the public funding.
But if we subsidise the substandard, we will merely be giving access to disappointment
questions about the need for government subsidy
It will not inspire or raise levels of aspiration
it would raise fundamental questions about the rationale for government support
and in the end may even be counterproductive
JC H1 GP Passages – Article Sources for
JC H1 GP Tuition (Syllabus Code: 8807)
Source of GP Passages:
Government and the value of culture by Tessa Jowell, former Secretary of State, UK
Q12. Vocabulary Question (5 marks)
squalor (Line 2)
|alleviate (Line 7)
|mitigate; reduce; lessen; make less severe
|curse (Line 26)
severe affliction; bane; plague; scourge
No mark: illness
|prize (line 31)
|value highly; treasure, cherish; hold in high regard
|accessible (line 37)
|easily understood / intelligible / comprehensible / graspable / appreciated
Note: Do not try to give a list (string of answers). Credit is most often be awarded to the first word, and the rest are disregarded.
Q7. Summary Question (SMQ) (8 marks)
Referring to material from paragraphs 5, 6 and 7, summarise the writer’s reasons for arguing that governments should subsidise culture.
Write your summary in no more than 150 words, not counting the opening words which are printed below. UYOWAFAP. 
The writer argues that governments should subsidise culture because…
|Lifted from GP Passage
Grappling with complexity is almost always the necessary condition of access to that enriching sixth sense.
Depriving so many of the opportunity to engage in that challenge is a terrible waste of human potential.
all, not just a minority, should have access to the thrill of engagement with great art.
subsidy for “complex culture is a proper task for government
Complex cultural activity is not just a pleasurable pastime It is at the heart of what it means to be a fully developed human being.
Government should be concerned that so few aspire to it
“complex culture” which celebrates a country’s distinctive traits is an integral part of a nation’s identity
creating a sense of rootedness
bulwark against globalisation
its homogenising effects
ensures that the diverse body of ideas and values that the world’s many cultures embody is not lost.
‘engendering a more civilised…
and civic society
and productive workers
serves to promote tourism
raising academic standards
reducing juvenile delinquency
wrestling / coming to terms with culture’s nuances / intricacies / difficulties is essential for acquiring a deeper / more profound / intense understanding of human experience.
Taking away this chance causes a regrettable loss of the possibility for people to develop themselves fully
Everyone, not merely the social elite, ought to have the chance to feel the excitement of interacting with significant cultural works.
Funding cultural activities is the rightful duty / responsibility of governments.
Culture is not merely an enjoyable hobby,
it is fundamental to our growth / maturity as individuals.
Governments ought to be worried about bothered by the fact that most are indifferent in this respect.
Cultural activities that highlight / showcase foreground a nation’s unique characteristics are essential to its character / how a country defines itself.
Such culture allows people to feel that they belong to / are a part of the country / that it is their home.
Such culture also fortifies a country against globalization…
which results in cultures becoming more uniform alike identical.
Subsidising cultural activities helps to safeguard the collection of varied different / wide-ranging thoughts and beliefs that are reflected in various cultures.
It creates a country that is more gracious / refined / cultivated…
with responsible citizens who are concerned about its needs and interests.
It helps to develop multi-talented / flexible / adaptable (accept either idea) employees who are also…
It also encourages people to visit the country.
It can increase educational levels and…
lower the incidence of crime among youths.
Half mark per point for a maximum of 16 points.
Reminder: Write down the number of words used!
Q13 Application Question
The writer argues that it is the duty of governments of all developed nations to extensively subsidise “complex culture”.
To what extent do you agree with her arguments? Discuss the relevance of the issues and ideas raised in this passage to your own country. (8 marks)
To what extent do you agree with her arguments?
State your stand on the extensive government subsidy of “complex culture” (in developed countries) in relation to Jowell’s position.
Evaluate Jowell’s arguments and assess the situation in your country to justify your stand on this topic.
Discuss the relevance of the issues and ideas raised in this passage to your own country.
Issues and ideas raised in the passage.
In general, the following points:
|Agree with Jowell
|Disagree with Jowell
If the developed country in question has largely solved other social problems, then it would be good to elevate the cultural wealth of her citizens.
While she provides little concrete evidence for some of her claim they are still valid from everyday observations / reports / trends, etc (students will have to include their own evidence here to support Jowell’s claims) As the former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport for UK, Jowell is undoubtedly an expert in the area of culture and its benefits. This adds credibility to her arguments /the article.
Developed countries have a myriad of Internal and external problems to deal with (for e.g. national security, sustainable economic growth, rich-poor divide, environmental degradation); her main argument is dependent on the specific context of individual developed countries and cannot be generalised for all.
She provides little concrete evidence or examples for many of her postulations and claims She is the former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport for the UK. Hence, it is likely that this article was written with an agenda.
in mind. Obviously Jowell will want to (or have to) encourage the growth of the culture industry and will only present arguments in her favour. This makes the article less objective.
In specific areas (Especially in relation to Singapore)
Disagree / Problematic claims by Jowell
|From The GP Passage
|Explanation (EX) / Evaluation (EV) / Examples
|Para 1: “Engagement with art is vital to alleviate this poverty of aspiration
If one were to take “poverty of aspiration’ to mean the lack of ambition and/or impetus to improve one’s lot in life, then it is unlikely that mere exposure to art or complex culture will suddenly overturn this inertia. It largely depends on an individual’s character and psyche, upbringing and the environment. Other government policies have proven to be more effective in pushing people towards their goals.
– ensuring social mobility amongst all demographics / classes etc
– ensuring meritocracy, such that citizens are aware that effort results in rewards
One’s family and peers are also important factors in alleviating and preventing this poverty of aspiration.
Para 2: “Culture is a slippery concept…extremely subjective term…
vs. Para 9: “That is why (cultural) excellence has to be at the heart of cultural subsidy…”
and Para 3: “…not as a piece of top down social engineering but a bottom up realisation of possibility and potential
Jowell herself admits that culture and complex culture are subjective terms, yet she insists that only “excellence” should be subsidised and at the heart of every government’s core agenda”. If so, the government (or the authority it sets up for this purpose) would determine what is cultural “excellence” and what is “substandard”.
This may end up being a method of social engineering – something which Jowell says must not happen. Hence, her arguments are contradictory.
“Complex culture” has to grow organically; not only does it not need government funding and direction, it will suffer if the interference is heavy-handed and ham-fisted.
How can government funding, which invariably comes with strings attached (policy aims, national goals) possibly create genuine “bottom-up” grassroots movements?
Para 3:…no a dumbed-down, commercialised culture….”
Para 6: “Complex cultural activity is not just a pleasurable pastime, a fallback after the important things…
Following the previous point, if Jowell wants culture to be from the people, then she has to accept that often, it will be commercialised culture that pulls in the crowds. It is also myopic to claim that commercialised culture has no merits or is unable to achieve the same effects as complex culture. Sometimes, seemingly commercialised works of art are hardly substandard or less excellent, and invoke as much thought as arty films.
For example, Royston Tan’s recent film 881 showcased the ‘getai’ culture in Singapore. The film was a popular box office draw, pulling in more than $3 million in receipts at last count, but it does deal with complex issues.
Jack Neo’s ‘I Not Stupid’, though blatantly commercial, highlighted issues that were important and salient to Singaporeans.
The Dim Sum Dollies also ended another successful run with a slew of new politically Incorrect jokes, used as social satire and critique – yet it was heavily advertised in the media and marketed as a comedic act, not as a profound, complex theatre show.
Complex culture is not applicable to most Singaporeans and should not be high on the agenda of the government. However, complex it may be, it is, by and large, a pleasurable pastime. It is unlikely that every audience member walked out of King Lear having developed himself as an individual more fully or with a greater understanding of British culture / Shakespeare.
|Para 4: Their Insights are no less accessible than the workings of an internal combustion engine.”
Candidates can comment on Jowell’s comparison here, which seems rather illogical considering that most people do Not understand the workings of an internal combustion engine, only some do. This is also true of complex culture – it is relevant, appealing and palatable for some, but not all. Hence, it is important to carefully and realistically weigh the benefits of hefty subsidies for culture.
|Para 5: …all, not just a minority, should have access to the thrill of engagement with great art.”
It is idealistic and presumptuous to think that everyone should have access to complex culture. Many are uninterested and feel that art is inaccessible or of no relevance to them, That everyone should have access to great art can be viewed as a misguided, however well Intended, bourgeois notion.
Singaporeans are pragmatic in nature and culture, hence “great art” If understood to be Picassos, Monets, Mozart and Beethoven, has little function and meaning in their everyday lives. Government funds could be better spent on fuelling and sustaining the economy In such troubled and volatile times.
Para 6: “…complex culture which contains a country’s distinctive traits is an integral part of a nation’s identity creating a sense of rootedness.”
…bulwark against globalisation and its homogenising effects…”
Government subsidy of the arts to promote national identity can be viewed as stifling or artificial, especially In Singapore where many local art works are either banned or censored.
For example, Royston Tan’s 15 had significant scenes removed due to the allegations that they pose ‘threats] to national security’.
The promotion and funding of art works that promote the values and Ideas deemed desirable by the government may encourage artists to work within the official discourse and limit exposure to works that do not do so. Either way, this does not encourage the arts to reflect an authentic national identity. This may also encourage cynicism amongst local audiences, and even local artists, who may perceive local art as government propaganda.
As a result, government subsidy could be counterproductive to creating a national identity or fostering a sense of belonging. (Link to point C)
It is perhaps too idealistic and naive to believe that the arts or complex culture will help.
retain lost customs, rituals, norms, practices, etc… Some will fade away simply because they have no place in modern society and have nothing to do with the presence or absence of complex culture.
engendering a more civilised and civic society
more versatile and productive workers’
*can promote tourism
raising academic standards
“reducing Juvenile delinquency
One can question if there is a real proven causal relationship between the arts and a civilised/civic society. There are many other ways of producing and encouraging such a more involved citizenry, and complex culture need not necessarily be the (main) method.
Besides, history is rife with examples of cultured societies which have a violent past present.
There is no link between a more vibrant culture and the productivity and versatility of workers. These co-relate to the quality of education and training programmes. Even if we concede that a vibrant culture could produce more leaders/ creative individuals, it can still be argued that this has little impact on the productivity of the ordinary worker. Sim Wong Hoo may be a “creative” CEO but there is no indication that his workers are any more productive than others in the IT industry.
Subsidising the arts only contributes to tourism tangentially. It is but one of many areas that the Singapore Tourism Board concerns itself with. Most tourists do not come to Singapore because of its arts attractions but to enjoy the shopping and food it has to offer. Also, the arts events that usually attract tourists are pop concerts or mass displays (For e.g., SingFest, the Chingay procession) and these cannot be classified as “complex culture”.
Likewise, expatriates usually point to the job prospects and security In Singapore as the key reasons for choosing to work here. To compete with London and New York in terms of the arts detracts from our main strengths.
Once again, one can question the effectiveness of arts/cultural activities – do they really raise academic standards? And which areas of academia exactly? Perhaps it is only effective in arts education itself, but not quite so in the rest. Most teaching pedagogy practised in Singapore schools still tends towards rote-learning, rather than creative thinking and freedom of expression. (Though one can argue that this is changing)
Moreover, Singapore’s education system, traditionally, is more science and math focused, despite ventures into cultivating the next crop of arts talents (e.g. Singapore School of Arts, VJC’s and NUS’ Theatre Studies, NTU’s new design school). We usually boast about how many International Science Olympiads Singaporean students win as well as their continual domination in Mathematics competitions.
There are many other ways to halt juvenile delinquency, and the arts may not be the best/only method. Moreover, the root cause(s) of juvenile delinquency need to be addressed; sometimes good parenting skills are more vital or useful. Also, the number of crimes committed by youths has not seen a significant decrease in relation to increased subsidy of the arts in education in Singapore or even in the US. Hence, there is once again, Jowell provides scant evidence that the arts / complex culture has any effect in preventing / solving social problems.
|Para 8: …placing cultural literacy at the heart of formal education…”
Some attempts to elevate / improve “cultural literacy” have been made by MOE and schools (examples could include field trips to museums, exhibitions, plays, etc), there are also other avenues to encourage the flourishing of artistic talents, for example the new School of the Arts, the AEP programme, etc. However, the results have not been particularly impactful, or at least not in the way Jowell claims; neither has been the response. Moreover, Singapore’s limitations in terms of resources might not allow it to put such immense emphasis on culture.
Subsidy is not enough to change mindsets – after focusing so many years on Mathematics and Science, and having a society (and parents!) that is entrenched in the mindset that these disciplines are superior than the Humanities / Arts, there is a high chance of either a backlash towards new policies and / or a lack of support from the ground.
In specific areas (Especially in relation to Singapore)
|From The GP Passage
|Explanation (EX) / Evaluation (EV) / Examples
Para 5: “Depriving so many of the opportunity to engage in that challenge is a terrible waste of human potential
Para 5: “…all, not just a minority, should have access to the thrill of engagement with great art.”
Para 6: “Government should be concerned that so few aspire to it”
One of the National Arts Council’s key thrusts is to “actively advocate the value of the arts as a developing people beyond their materialistic desires and capacity as units of labour. source of intellectual capital, demonstrating the important role that the arts plays in
One of the key ideas in the Singapore 21 report is that every Singaporean matters and that it is the government’s responsibility to help Singaporeans ‘set their own goals and strive to be the best that they can be.”
Singapore is a meritocratic society and its government constantly emphasises that it is an egalitarian country as well. Ensuring that all individuals have access to the arts is in keeping with these principles.
In this sense, the Singapore government seems aware of the poverty of aspiration and lack of cultural activity In the country. Thus is has provided several ways to alleviate the situation.
For example, by providing subsidies for the creation of theatre works, changes in education policies, setting in place bodies (National Arts Council or NAC) to steer the growth of the arts, as well as the physical Infrastructure (the Esplanade). Students and senior citizens are provided with subsidies for arts events and even given free admission for others. A popular community involvement project is to bring disadvantaged children, the elderly and other less fortunate groups to attend arts events.
Para 6: .complex culture which contains a country’s distinctive traits is an Integral part of a nation’s Identity, creating a sense of rootedness.”
bulwark against globalisation and its homogenizing effects…
This is an important priority for all nations. As a relatively young nation which consists of many diverse ethnic communities, it is necessary for us to develop a strong sense of identity and this is reflected in many policies and initiatives such as the National Education programme. Singapore has, and continues to struggle with the development of a distinctive national identity. Local art works play a key role in contributing to a sense of who we are as a people whether it be in the form of Jack Neo’s Homerun or I Not Stupid, or Lim Tzay Chuen’s proposal to uproot the Merlion to the Singapore pavilion at the 2005 Venice Biennale.
By promoting local art works both at home and overseas, the government has helped to reinforce what it means to be Singaporean and allowed the international audience to gain a better understanding of Singapore.
The government views the arts as an important means to achieve this end and this is reflected in the aims of both MICA and the NAC. The arts provide a medium for engaging both the hearts and minds of Singaporeans which makes it most suitable for this end.
“more versatile and productive workers
“can promote tourism
While Singaporeans are renowned for being industrious, they are often criticized as not being sufficiently creative and lacking the critical edge employers look for when recruiting staff. Also, S’pore needs more creative individuals to spearhead growth in areas such as entrepreneurship and research and development instead of being reliant on ideas from other countries. There is an urgent need for us to develop such workers because increasingly, we are unable to labour cost and we need to focus on value-added industries instead. compete with countries like India and China or even Malaysia, in terms of
The role of the arts in developing such workers is reflected in the following quote:
“The Arts helps to make us a more creative economy. The Arts shapes the way we think. It challenges us to think out of the box, and develops new habits of looking at things from unusual perspectives. If we practise these new habits, then over time we develop a more curious spirit and a more probing mind. Such a change will help promote original and critical thinking in every sector across the economy, so that creativity becomes our natural response to challenges.”
Mr David Lim, Acting Minister For Information, Communications And The Arts, 2002 (students are not expected to quote this, but they should be aware of concerns and stance taken by the government)
Tourism is a key contributor to Singapore’s economy and major events like the Singapore Arts Festival, WOMAD and Singapore Writers’ Festival attract visitors to SG.
Beyond that, a vibrant arts scene in Singapore can act as a selling point to the foreign talent that we wish to attract to live and work in Singapore. One only needs to look to cosmopolitan cities like London and New York to understand the Integral role the arts plays in attracting foreign talent.
“Offering (foreign talent) good jobs is one thing But we also need to offer them Interesting and exciting and fulfilling lifestyles. If through the Arts we make Singapore the preferred choice of our own homegrown talents, then we also have a chance of attracting talents fro elsewhere too.”
Mr David Lim, Acting Minister For Information, Communications And The Arts, 2002.
– (students are not expected to quote this, but they should be aware of concerns and stance taken by the government)
Comments from GP Tuition Teacher:
-If examples from own country is not given, only a maximum of 5 marks.
-remember to state your country and include reference to her in your AQ answer.
-The main point of contention would be that the government of a developing country would have many other socio – economic (and political) problems / to deal with. Hence, Jowell’s goal to increase the cultural wealth / literacy of citizens is an ideal and unrealistic, albeit noble one. Her arguments tend to be relevant In this sense to a developing country, and the government cannot afford to inject vast amounts of money into the culture Industry when the basic needs of the country and Its citizens have not been met.
-It is also possible to argue that certain developing countries are culturally rich and their citizens well-versed in the (local) arts, hence extensive subsidy is neither needed nor crucial. The candidate’s stand and arguments will largely depend on the co chooses to refer to. Valid and relevant examples are vital to substantiating and strengthening the candidate’s arguments.
For 6-8 : A thorough critique with the writer’s arguments; clear references to the passage; clear and coherent evaluation; strong and app to your own country: provides insights through relevant and current examples.
For 3-5 marks: Obvious attempt to evaluate writer’s arguments; links made to your own country and the relevance of the arguments: some relevant examples given.
For 0-2: Answer is somewhat irrelevant; little attempt to evaluate writer’s arguments; little or no links to your own country: misunderstanding of passage and arguments