General Paper Comprehension Sample Question Paper & Answers (Paper 2)
GP Comprehension Question Paper – Ethical Controversies & Religion
(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.
[GP Tutor’s Notes: This GP Paper 2 focuses mainly on the issues of Ethical Controversies & Religion.]
Questions on Passage 1
1. Explain why the author believes “speaking of India as a Hindu civilization may be comforting to the Hindu fundamentalist , but it is an odd reading of India” (Lines 17-18). Use YOWAFAP. 
2. Why does the writer say that the “so-called antiglobalization” movement is one of the most globalised in the world (line 37)? Use YOWAFAP. 
3. Using material from paragraphs 5 to 7 (lines 29-46), write your summary for the reasons for the writer’s opinions that it is impossible and undesirable to categorise people into civilisational groups. Write your answer in no more than 120 words,not counting the opening words which are given below. UYOWAFAP. 
The write thinks that people should not be categorised into civilisational groups because…
Questions on Passage 2
4. Why is the conclusion from the happiness research data an “uncomfortable” one (line 1)? . 
5. According to Philips, why are people happier when they are with people “like themselves” (line 5)? UYOWAFAP. 
6. Explain what the author means by “cultural difference eventually became woven into the tapestry of British life” (lines 11-12). 
7. Why does Philips believe that ” the debate has become dangerously confused” (lines 15-15)? UYOWAFAP. 
8. The writer suggests ‘bonding and bridging social capital” as a solution to achieving a balance between diversity and integration (Lines 27-28). Explain what he means by this. UYOWAFAP 
9. List TWO different words that describe the two separate models from paragraph 8. 
a) the French model
b) the British model
10. Vocabulary Question: 
11. Both writers discuss how harmony can be achieved in societies with diverse cultured. Sen argues that we need to recognize the pluralities of our identities whereas Easton believes that there must be a balance between respecting cultures and drawing strong links between the different groups.
Identify TWO problems raised by them and discussed how far you agree with them. Assess the effectiveness of how your own country deals with any one of the problems identified. 
H1 JC GP Passages – Article Sources for Ethical Controversies & Religion:
JC H1 GP Tuition (Syllabus Code: 8807)
Source of GP Texts:
A World Not Neatly Divided by Amartya Sen, NY Times
Does diversity make us unhappy? by Mark Easton, BBC News
Q1. Explain why the author believes "speaking of India as a Hindu civilization may be comforting to the Hindu fundamentalist , but it is an odd reading of India". 
-although a Hindu fundamentalist will want to believable / find it reassuring to think that Hinduism is the dominant / most powerful religion in India / that everyone in India shares the same beliefs and culture as he. (This is inferred from the passage)
From the text source:
-It is futile to try to understand Indian art, literature, music, food or politics without seeing the extensive interactions across barriers of religious communities. … Speaking of India as a Hindu civilization may be comforting to the Hindu fundamentalist, but it is an odd reading of India.
Q2. Why does the writer say that the "so-called antiglobalization" movement is one of the most globalised in the world? 
-the efforts of these antiglobalization protestors are actually binding / gathering the poor / the disadvantages across the world.
-and this is contrary to their beliefs against globalization.
Lifted from passage:
-movement is, incidentally, one of the most globalized in the world — tries to unite the underdogs of the world economy and goes firmly against religious, national or ”civilizational” lines of division.
Q4. Why is the conclusion from the happiness research data an "uncomfortable" one? 
-it is desirable / important that multicultural societies are well-integrated: (inferred), yet the findings show that they are uncomfortable with one another.
-(bonus point) such a situation can be dangerous / may lead to a hostile / volatile situation / social tensions / problems.
Text from the Passage: (Literal / Lifted)
-multicultural communities tend to be less trusting and less happy.
Q5. According to Philips, why are people happier when they are with people "like themselves"? 
-When a person is not under stress, he prefers to be with people who are like himself, in terms of ethnicity, as it gives him a sense of familiarity.
people, frankly, when there aren’t other pressures, like to live within a comfort zone which is defined by racial sameness.
Q6. Explain what the author means by "cultural difference eventually became woven into the tapestry of British life". 
-just as a tapestry is a cloth where many different threads are woven into a single picture.
-disparities in lifestyles / traditions / customs have now been integrated as part of the the British society.
Referred to / Lifted from the GP Passage:
-Cultural difference eventually became woven into the tapestry of British life.
Q7. Why does Philips believe that "the debate has become dangerously confused" 
-instead of a plain acceptance of the distinctiveness of the various customs / traditions (1/2),
-multiculturalism has now developed into a system where disparities between ethnic groups have becomes more important than all other factors / beliefs / principles (1/2)
(this point explains why it is CONFUSED)
-such confusion will lead to ethnic tensions / conflicts / problems (this point explains why it is DANGEROUS)
-Our multiculturalism which started out as a straightforward recognition of diversity became a sort of system
-which prized racial and ethnic difference above all other values
Q8. The writer suggests 'bonding and bridging social capital" as a solution to achieving a balance between diversity and integration. Explain what he means. 
-there is a need to show deference to those who share a common national or cultural tradition which allows them to foster close ties
-it is important to interact with those belonging to different nationalities
-such an interaction will build close networks / ties between / among different groups of people. (bonus point)
-the factors that bind similar people together in groups as “bonding social capital”.
“bridging social capital” – strong links between different groups.
Q9. List TWO different words that describe the two separate models from paragraph 8.  a) the French model b) the British model. 
French: rigid / inflexible / narrow / stringent / exclusive
British: embracing / liberal / open-minded / accommodating / accepting / inclusive
Q10. Vocabulary Question (5 marks)
|Word||1 Mark||1/2 Mark|
|instituted (1.21)||legislated, established, implemented, set up, legalised||introduced|
No mark: imposed, formulated
|defining (1.27)||distinctive, distinguishing, marked, unique, that which gives a unique identity||a clear identity|
No mark: crucial, significant, vital, clear, known, obvious, important, essential
|concerns (1.45)||issues, problems|
views, opinions, considerations
No mark: worries
|prized (2.17)||treasured, valued||placed importance / priority over|
No mark: emphasis, give recognition
|crux (2.33)||core, central to the issue, most crucial||central, essence, crucial part, important|
No mark: centre, root, gist, main idea, focus, fundamental, key
Reminder: Do not try to give a string of answers. Credit is most often be awarded to the first word, and the rest are disregarded.
Q3. Summary Question (SMQ) (8 marks)
Using material from [PASSAGE 1] paragraphs 5 to 7 (lines 29-46), write your summary for the reasons for the writer’s opinions that it is impossible and undesirable to categorise people into civilisational groups. Write your answer in no more than 120 words, not counting the opening words which are given below. UYOWAFAP. 
The write thinks that people should not be categorised into civilisational groups because…
|Lifted from the GP Passage 1||AIYOW / Paraphrase|
-dividing the world into discrete civilizations is not just crude
-it propels us into the absurd belief that this partitioning is natural and necessary
-and must overwhelm all other ways of identifying people.
-that imperious view goes not only against the sentiment that ”we human beings are all much the same,”
-but also against the more plausible understanding that we are diversely different
-it is simplistic
-moreover it impels / forces people to foolishly and believe that dividing people into civilizational groups is normal and essential
-and it must override all other ways of defining/classifying people,
-such a perception/view not only contradicts the idea/feeling that humans are basically similar
-but also the belief that people are unique in many ways
-each of us has many features in our self-conception.
-our religion, important as it may be, cannot be an all-engulfing identity.
even a shared poverty can be a source of solidarity across the borders.
-individuals are multi-faceted personalities / who individuals are / their personal
-religion cannot represent them entirely / religion cannot be the only way to distinguish a person/group
-there are other factors that bind humanity across the world
-the main hope of harmony lies not in any imagined uniformity, but in the plurality of our identities,
-which cut across each other and work against sharp divisions into impenetrable civilizational camps.
-political leaders who think and act in terms of sectioning off humanity into various ”worlds” stand to make the world more flammable.
-the world can aspire to achieve peace / unity / cohesiveness when it recognises man’s diversities, instead of harbouring any illusion of sameness
-one that transcends cultural barriers
-politicians who divide people into civilisational various groups will only cause conflicts / tensions
-they also end up, in the case of civilizations defined by religion, lending authority to religious leaders seen as spokesmen for their ”worlds.”
-other voices are muffled and other concerns silenced.
-the robbing of our plural identities not only reduces us; it impoverishes the world
-and in societies governed by religion, they give power to religious heads who will be the dominant voice of the people,
-depriving people of their diversity not only makes them less insignificant, but it also makes humanity lose its vibrancy / richness
Note: Time management is important for success in the summary question!
Reminder: it is a good practice to write down at the of your summary answer, the number of words used. Obviously, do NOT exceed the allowable word count!!
Q11 Application Question
Both writers discuss how harmony can be achieved in societies with diverse cultured. Sen argues that we need to recognize the pluralities of our identities whereas Easton believes that there must be a balance between respecting cultures and drawing strong links between the different groups.
Identify TWO problems raised by them and discussed how far you agree with them.
Assess the effectiveness of how your own country deals with any one of the problems identified. 
Sample answer to this AQ of the GP Comprehension Paper:
|Problems / Challenges||Agree / Disagree||How your society / country deals with them (EX) and effectiveness (EV)|
From passage A, we have to select problems societies may face if they categorise people into civilisational groups)
The basic weakness of the theory lies in its programme of categorising people of the world according to a unique, allegedly commanding system of classification.
This is problematic because civilizational categories are crude and inconsistent and also because there are other ways of seeing people… (linked to politics, language, literature, class, occupation…)
In fact, civilizations are hard to partition in this way, given the diversities within each society as well as the linkages among different countries and cultures.
It propels us into the absurd belief that this partitioning is natural and necessary and must overwhelm all other ways of identifying people.
-promotes ethnic religious segregation rather than united society. Nationality at stake.
Dangerous in dies like that terrorist attack and a globalised world where people are mobile
-crude categorisation encourages people to ignore and overlook more salient similarities. May lead to stereotypes and feeling of superiority (g Tamils and Sinhalese in Sri Lanka; Irish Protestants and Catholics)
-with liberal education, people want to be more individualistic, do not want to be stereotyped according to race Gives them greater freedom of choice as to what they
-agree that there are other ways of seeing people – shared values or language (eg Singaporeans are linked by certain shared values like meritocracy and a work culture that emphasizes diligence and efficiency. (Another common feature is the use of Singlish. Although discouraged,it does give Singaporeans a distinct identity.)
It is needed because it determines who we are – our history and identity.
Categorisation is not a problem since it promotes a more vibrant and colourful culture where different groups retain and promote their own traditions.
Not suggesting that we assimilate into a homogeneous culture, rather accepting the belief that diversity
Ta strike a balance between respecting ethnic differences by allowing people to practise their way of life, and providing the common space for different races to interact and bond (housing, education, community centres, workplace)
Workplace: Some private organisations employ only a
Schools: meritocracy is practised and same criteria for
Our religion, important as it may be, cannot be an all-engulfing identity.
They may also lend authority to
Religion can be a divisive force if people are obsessed with it and
Religion can be used for good; to encourage believers to show
Singapore has adopted a draconian stance on the issue
of racial and religious harmony. Acted quickly to arrest
the culprits and deal with them.
The Religious Harmony Act (RHA) and the Internal Security Act (ISA) are examples of laws enacted
Eg terrorist suspects have been detained without trial.
|Also dangerous because political|
leaders who think and act in terms of sectioning off humanity into
attorney ‘worlds’ stand to make the
world more flammable, even when
the intentions are very different
In trying to increase cohesion among the majority, result in discrimination against the minority
“Us against Them” mentality (e.g.: Conflict between Tutsis and Hutus
Policies (e g. GRC representation) and organisations (e.g Interracial & Religious Confidence Circles) to ensure that minority voices are heard and needs met.
Specific groups to meet needs of specific ethnic groups (e.g Mendaki, SINDA, CDAC)
|Problems / Challenges||Agree / Disagree||How your society / country deals with them (EX) and effectiveness (EV)|
(From passage B, we have to select problems societies may face if racial and ethnic difference is valued above other values.
New immigrants into Britain brought social tensions, but they disappeared as they became integrated into British life. Today however, globalisation has brought new challenges – a diversity of culture and ethnicity never seen before. (Inferred) Integration is not easy today in multi-cultural societies.
|Agree that integration is not easy|
* Immigrants/foreign talent are perceived as a threat to job opportunities of locals. Easier to blame immigrants because they stand out (they either undercut locals or are perceived as superior competition) (eg. Pauline Hanson situation in Australia)
Integration is difficult in countries with a large cultural capital as they fear cultural dilution and are hence
With media proliferation and increased travel, foreign cultures no longer appear strange and is
Example: Singapore also has a long history of immigrant culture so having foreigners making
Benefits for locals (e.g. lower school fees, places in
university) to ensure that they don’t feel threatened by
Books written to help foreigners integrate, befriender
Successful – sports matches between local and foreign
Not successful – many still view foreigners as a threat to
|Writer quotes from Robert Putnam|
reinforce his arguments
A society that has only bonding social capital (bonding people from the same ethnic group) and no bridging social capital looks like Beirut or Belfast or Bosnia,
that is, tight communities but isolated from one another.
Working out how to grow bridging social capital is the greatest challenge for Western society
Difficult to build bridging capital because people are afraid of the unfamiliar. Vicious circle due to lack of interaction further perpetuates this.
Idealistic suggestion that would not work in real life: This would only encourage tolerance of diversity but not full acceptance of differences.
Difficult to balance between the two People may look harmonious superficially but lack understanding of each other’s culture because given a choice, they would not
Hence, this is only but an ideal situation. Top down effort to make policies look good.
Difficult to respect other people’s ethnicity when one doesn’t spend enough time with them. Children
HDB ethnic integration policy makes it mandatory for
different races to live together in a HDB precinct. Hence it is a norm for minority and majority races to live side by side. This ensures that racial enclaves that lock a group away from the mainstream is not formed. Such enclaves develop a sense of exclusivity and breed
resentment and distrust which can be lead to volatile
Different religious/ethnic groups celebrate festivities
• Interaction during national service, CCA involvement etc.
Not successful – Surveys shows that many students only have friends of their own race and would rather remain in their comfort zone.
Not successful – Interaction is superficial. Beneath veneer of tolerance lies lack of understanding and suspicion (eg racist bloggers)
|What is required is a sense of identity that overarches creed,culture or ethnic background… nations take|
different views on how this might be achieved.
The French model is to have a strict definition of
In the UK tolerance of diversity and cultural difference
It is true that we have to find a common space to bond as Singaporeans As mentioned, this is difficult. Different nations find the balance between diversity and
integration in different ways.
The challenge for Singapore is: How do we embrace diversity yet be able to create our very own, unique Singapore identity?
Singapore does not try to assimilate its people into one
Singapore also prohibited the use of religious headscarves in schools on the grounds that they
Schools are places where students can connect with others of different ethnicities.
Our GP Teachers will share the actual Exam Marking Criteria for Paper 2’s AQ, during the lessons.
General Marking Descriptors for Grade ‘A’
Evaluation (EV) – well supported and developed to its logical conclusion (convincing). Able to make judgements and decisions.
Requirements – systematic reference to the given requirements of the question with evidence of a balanced treatment
1. Identify 2 problems, ONE form EACH passage .
2. Evaluate the extent to which the GP pupil agree or disagree with the writer(s).
3. Explain measure that the society of the GP student has implemented to address ONE of the raised problems.
4. Evaluate the extent of the effectiveness of the measures.
Explanation (EX) – includes elaboration and reference / support to personal insight and interpretation (shows a very good understanding of terms, issues and apt illustration)
Coherence – shows a high degree of coherence and organisation. ; observe appropriate paragraphing and the use of logical connectors.
Comments from Tutor for General Paper :
-If examples from own country is not given, only a maximum of 5 marks.
-do not merely summarise the 2 passages. Evaluation of the arguments (agrees or otherwise) are expected
-remember to include reference to your own country in your application responses.
-remember to state your country