GP Comprehension Paper – Poverty

General Paper (Paper 2) Comprehension Sample Q&A 

GP Comprehension Question Paper – Poverty

(Note that 15 marks out of 50 will be awarded for your language, namely, for the quality and accuracy of your use of English. This is especially important when a question asks for an answer IN YOUR OWN WORDS AS FAR AS POSSIBLE (IYOWAFAP)


1 (From Paragraph 1) According to Orshansky, how have science and technology changed the lives of ordinary people? Use your own words AFAP. (2)

Products that are not necessary to us, but which enhance our lives / increase our quality of life,
OR which used to be a distinguishing characteristic  of great abundance / superfluous wealth

have become everyday ordinary / mundane / ubiquitous / possessions
OR are not useful distinguishers of class anymore.


Referenced from GP Passage:

Creature comforts– once the hallmark of luxury (l.3)

have descended to the realm of the commonplace, and the marvels of modern industry find their way into the home of the American worker as well as that of his boss (l.3-5)



2. (From Paragraph 4) Explain what Adam Smith means by the “necessaries of daily life”. UYOWAFAP. (2m)


He means that necessaries are not just / merely the products / things we need to sustain ourselves / for everyday survival, but also what cultural norms deem suitable / appropriate / crucial for all upstanding/ proper citizens to own / possess.


By necessaries I understand not only the commodities which are indispensably necessary for the support of life, (l.27-28) but whatever the customs of the country render it indecent for respectable people, even the lowest order, to be without. (l..28-29)



4. (From Paragraph 7) What three factors seem to “destine” one to poverty? Explain why each one might handicap an individual. UYOWAFAP. (3)


As a result of one’s skin colour OR racial/cultural group, one may face discrimination or be denied fair opportunities.


Since working-class are lower paid,the parents have misguided values / expectations, and thus they do not defer gratification, plan for, or invest properly or sufficiently in their child’s future:


One’s family may be family abnormal / not be harmonious, hence causing social / psychological / emotional problems within the family
OR a breakdown in relationships that lead to further financial problems.
OR end up with ‘broken homes’.


GP teacher’s comments: This question is not straight-forward. Each sentence is worth 1 full mark, with one half coming from your paraphrasing and the other half inferred from the passage.


-the misplaced priorities of their blue-collar parents
-dysfunctional family background


5. (From paragraph 7) “The pathologies we associate with poverty – crime, drug use, family disintegration-haven’t been eliminated at all. It’s time we looked for a more effective vaccine.” (l.65-67) Explain fully the metaphor used here. UYOWAFAP. [2]

Just as “pathology” refers to diseases which we need to guard ourselves against, problems associated with poverty are considered diseases,

and we need to find “vaccines” for them, or better strategies to resolve the problem. ,


6. (From paragraph 8) What are the arguments against proposed campaigns to fight poverty? AIYOWAFAP. [3]


-as the wage gap will always be there/is bound to exist / unavoidable, the proportion of poor people will not be lowered.

-the poor are equally guilty / must take responsibility for their situation as they make unwise decisions which keep them poor / limit their advancement OR they leave school early, consume narcotics, and break the law.

Progressives claim that if we concentrate on the relatively poor, we might end up ignoring / being distracted from plans to help the genuinely poor.

 Right-wingers argue that campaigns to fight relative poverty are expensive and will definitely fail / will not be successful. 


Any 3 of the 4 points will suffice.



-Since income disparities are inevitable, the relative-poverty rate will never go down (l.71-72)

-the impoverished are culpable for their drugs, plight by dropping out of high school or committing crimes. (l.72-73)

-Liberals fear that shifting the focus to the relatively deprived would distance us from the need for ‘real’ anti-poverty programmes (l.73-75)

conservatives fear that adopting a relative poverty rate would be tantamount to launching another costly war on poverty that is simply a losing battle. (l.75-76)


7. (From the entire passage) The passage explains the concept of relative deprivation. Using your understanding of the passage, identify one item without which an average Singaporean would consider himself to be ‘relatively deprived,’ and explain why this would be the case. (2m)

Accept any reasonable answer – ‘lifestyle’ products, technological gadgets, household appliances,
Examples: airpods (wireless ear pieces), a mobile phone, an Xbox, air-conditioner, a new car, laptops.

he explanation must show awareness of how the item has become a “need” : Examples: due to peer pressure, changing norms, promotion by the mass media, or a higher standard of living.



H1 JC GP Passages – Article Sources for Poverty

JC H1 GP Tuition (Syllabus Code: 8807)
Source of GP Passage:
Relatively Deprived by John Cassidy, The New Yorker 2006




Q8. Vocabulary Question (5 marks)


Word1 MarkHalf Mark

Endowment (In 2)  


natural provision of  

Uncomfortable (In 5)


Disturbing, disquieting, causing unease, uneasy 
Destitute (In 21)Suffering from extreme/utter hardship/poverty, extremely poor

poor, deprived.

No mark: homeless


Sceptical (In 70)Exhibiting doubt; demonstrating incredulity at  

unwilling to judge

No mark: cynical, critical 


Threshold (In 79)Limit, Boundary, dividing line that separates two concepts / groups No mark: inflexion, end



Reminder: 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.


Q3. Summary Question (SQ) (8 marks)

Using material from paragraphs 5 and 6 only, summarise the problems caused by relative deprivation. Write your summary in no more than 130 words, not counting the opening words which are printed below. UYOWAFAP. [8]


“The relatively deprived are affected negatively as…”


Lifted from the GP Text

-is detrimental to their physical well-being (l.38)

-African Americans have smaller chance of reaching old age (l.39)

-those who own state-of-the-art luxuries (or necessities, as some see it) gain considerable social standing (1 43-44) and those without them often face derision from their peers. (l.44)

children from relatively deprived families who do not possess such desirable commodities may not be proficient in manipulating basic technology, (l.44- 46)

and therefore also lack expert knowledge (l.47)

that could augment their prospects in the job market (l.47)

In other words, relative deprivation may hurt a person’s social mobility (l.48)

 their health is damaged / harmed.Some are less likely to live to a ripe old age / Their longevity / life expectancy can be affected.

modern/high-end goods give one social status / prestige [2]

Lacking such commodities, the relatively deprived are ridiculed / mocked at by OR have to deal with the scorn of their friends / counterparts.

Their offspring will not be capable of handling / operating simple / common electronic devices,

and thus cannot gain specialised information

that could increase/improve their career opportunities.

These people cannot rise above a certain socio-economic ceiling / face restrictions / limitations when trying to advance their social standing.


Stress is generated from every authority figure (l.50) … who delivers insults, (157)

enforces obeisance, (l.57)

even inflicts ultimate violence (l.51)

Pressure/ Anxiety results from every boss /superior who affronts / offends / slights others / inflicts verbal abuse.

demands deference / respect / obedience ,

or inflicts physical abuse  /harm.


-Individuals who are bullied by those immediately below them (l.52)

generating a cascade of threats and violence. (l.53)

through which low-ranked individuals feel the burden, (l.53-54)

not just of their immediate superiors, but of the whole hierarchy above them. (l.54) 

Victims of such behaviour take it out on others / vent their frustration / demonstrate displaced aggression,

creating an accumulated / avalanche / domino effect / chain reaction / series / vicious cycle of ill treatment / abuse.

Those of inferior status / position at the receiving end (of such behaviour) are thus weighted down by the criticism /  are harried by all ranks of authority / all their direct and indirect officers / supervisors. 


The result: an adverse impact on psychological well-being, (l.55)

and people afflicted with a sense of inadequacy. (l.55-56)

some are so badly affected that they lose any motivation (l.56-57)

to enhance their lot (l.57)

viewing life with fatalistic despair (l.57)

They thus suffer severe mental / emotional damage

and low self-esteem / an inferiority complex.

Some may lack the ambition / will / incentive / drive

to improve their situation

and see life with resignation / a defeatist attitude


Note: Time management is crucial for success in the SQ.
Reminder: it is a good practice to write down the number of words used.



Q9 Application Question

To what extent does relative deprivation exist in your country? Do you think this is a cause for concern? Explain why with reference to relevant material from the passage as well as your own knowledge and opinions in your answer. [8]


A large extent:
The concept of relative deprivation’ is very much relevant to Singapore

a) The older lower-middle income generation

Explain that they are relatively deprived: because they live in two-room apartments have to work beyond the average retirement age (see para 3. in which the hypothetical single mother receives a few forms of financial aid, which is not the norm for middle-class families)


How and why is it a cause for concern? As the older population increases and the younger population works harder to support them (a matter of the aging demographic in Singapore), we face issues like the creation of a good medical insurance plan (means testing), and the issue of adequate family support (studio apartments for the elderly).

Failure to provide the latter, especially, causes the elderly to feel depressed and lonely (viewing life with fatalistic despair, I.58) – a problem the Singapore government has realized through its efforts to enable the elderly to lead meaningful lives.


b) Foreign workers

Explain that they are relatively deprived: because they lack autonomy, access to skills-upgrading, and are at the bottom of the social hierarchy.

How and why is it a cause for concern? The growing population of foreign workers creates problems regarding social integration (eg. recent cases of maid abuse – abuse by superiors, discrimination against Bangladeshi workers) > The cascade of threats and violence (In 54) employers inflict on their foreign maids sometimes even causes these victims to commit grisly acts of murder on defenseless members of the family in retaliation


c) Racial minorities

Explain that they are relatively deprived: because they face a confidence crisis (In 56-7) in relation to the more financially advantaged racial group, the Chinese, and enter certain lines of work that are less prestigious in nature. This may also result in a lack of ambition (In 57-8) the play “Rosnah,” which is about a Singaporean Malay girl who feels the pressure to emulate Halimah Yacob when she goes overseas to study, is a good example of how the few who do succeed have to bear the weight of their family’s expectations on their shoulders.

How and why is it a cause for concern? There has been much debate about the poverty trap (I.62) for Malays and Indians, their lower financial status prevents these minority races from obtaining expert knowledge to do well in the education system (e.g. there is a prevalence of minority races in Normal streams).


There also tends to be more single mothers in racial minority groups, as well as drug/crime issues. All these are corollaries of the problems caused by relative deprivation.


d) A developed nation

Explain that the lower-middle income group is relatively deprived: because they do not own private vehicles, take their holidays in Malaysia rather than Japan (causing an inevitable narrowing of cultural perspective), and their offspring do not own the latest mobile phone model or gadgets.

How and why is it a cause for concern? The peer prestige (i.44) of the offspring of lower-middle income families suffers. The ST Pocket Money Fund, for example, attempts to close financial gaps between schoolchildren.

A dissatisfied lower-middle income group may create political instability, especially in the eyes of the ruling party, who “addressed this problem with the Progress Package.

The PAP has also launched “Workfare not Welfare” / Comcare – a focus on building confidence (I.58) among, and on imparting ‘expert knowledge’ (I.47) to the lower-income group.

It is telling that the Worker’s Party’s manifesto also asks the Singaporean citizen if he feels happy with the rising cost of living here.

Tan Pin Pin’s thoughtful documentary “Singapore GaGa” highlights the people who live on the periphery of society. The privileged upper-middle/middle-class Singaporeans and expatriates who form the target audience of the documentary seem to have a moral obligation to not only acknowledge their existence, but to help them.
(I.85 Raising public awareness is a moral obligation?)


Qualifications (relative deprivation does not exist to such a large extent here is not really a serious cause for concern):

A large middle-class exists in Singapore (cite statistics for internet accessibility / computer ownership?); compared to countries like America and the UK, we do not have a large rich-poor gap as yet.

This is a problem all developed nations face? (the Conservative view. In 72)

The Workfare/  ComCare packages cater to a minority in Singapore, who are well-taken care of through such means. (The Liberal view, In 74 – we should perhaps pay more attention to the ‘absolutely deprived”?)



GP Tuition teachers’ extra comments:
a. Unfortunately, yes, it would be difficult for the student to obtain the A-band by arguing that relative deprivation does not exist / is not a serious cause of concern in Singapore. By saying so, little opportunity to demonstrate EX and EV…

b. The student should raise at least 2-3 ideas from the passage, in relation to EITHER their explanation of the extent of relative deprivation here, AND/OR their explanation of why this should be a cause of concern.

c. The student would have to discuss at least 2 relatively deprived groups to obtain an A-band; if not, they should discuss I group in more depth (ie raise more potential causes of concern with regard to this group)

d. To illustrate how relative deprivation is should be a cause of concern for us, the student may of course raise parallel examples from other countries.



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