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GP Comprehension Paper – Science & Democracy

General Paper Comprehension Sample Question Paper & Answers (Paper 2)

GP Comprehension Question Paper – Science & Democracy

(Note that 15 marks out of 50 will be awarded for your language.)

Note: When a question asks for an answer IN YOUR OWN WORDS AS FAR AS POSSIBLE and you select the appropriate material from the passage for your answer, you still must use your own words to express it. Little credit 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 Science & Democracy.]

Read Passage 1 and then answer the questions below.

1. Explain what the author means by ‘a concerted effort’. (Line 1) [1m]


2(a) The author describes science as ‘a golden road” (Line 4).  Explain what the author means by this metaphor. [1m]


2(b) Where will this road lead to? use your own words as far as possible. [1m]



3. What does the word ‘goosebumps’ suggest about our reaction when we approach these grand questions (line 14)? [1m]


4(a). What according to the author is ‘the greatest gift of science’ (line 14)?  Answer in your own words as far as possible. [1m]


4(b). How does the author justify this claim? Write in your own words as far as possible. [2m]


5. How are the values of science and democracy ‘concordant’ (line 18)? List any three distinct values in your own words as possible. [3m]


6. What are the implications if we cannot find ‘the occasional straw of truth’ (line 31)? Write your answer in your own words as far as possible. [2m]


Read Passage 2 and then answer the questions below.

Passages 1 and 2

7. Vocabulary Questions
Give the meaning of the following words as they are used in the passage. You may write the answer in one word or a short phrase. [5m]

7.1 bulwark (1.25)
7.2 subverted (1.29)
7.3 implicit (2.6)
7.4 absurdly (2.8)
7.5 immaculate (2.40)


8. According to the author, “Nazism used biology to justify mass murder (line 1). How has this affected our view of biology? Answer in your own words as far as possible [3m]


9. (Summary Qn) How does Appleyard reject the self-serving argument that scientists use to free science from responsibility? Using materials from paragraphs 3 to 6, write your answer in not more than 120 words, not counting the opening words which are printed below. Use your own words as much as possible. [7m]


10. Sagan is full of praise about to the virtues of science while Appleyard has reservations about science. Which view do you find more convincing? You must refer to both authors in your answer. In giving your views, explain where and why you agree or disagree you with the author. [8m]

H1 JC GP Passages – Article Sources for Science & Democracy:
1. Article Source by Carl Sagan
2. Article Source by Bryan Appleyard

Q1. Explain what the author means by 'a concerted effort'. (Line 1) [1m]

concerted: coordinated / combined / collaborative
effort: attempt / undertaking / endeavour

Q2(a) The author describes science as 'a golden road" (Line 4). Explain what the author means by this metaphor. [1m]

Science is a way / avenue / means to success / wealth / glory.

Q2(b) Where will this road lead to? Use YOWAFAP. [1m]

Science leads to economic progress / prosperity and advancement / development (1); higher standard of living (1); world trade (1/2)

Source from text: “out of poverty and backwardness for merging nations”, “global civilisation”

Q3. What does the word 'goosebumps' suggest about our reaction when we approach these grand questions (line 14)? [1m]

A sense / feeling of thrill / awe / excitement (1/20, mixed / tinged with apprehension / anxiety.

Q4(a). What according to the author is 'the greatest gift of science' (line 14)? Answer IYOWAFMAP. [1m]

Enlightening us about / providing us with a philosophy / metaphysics to explain (1/2)

Our place in the universe / the significance of our lives (1/2)

Passage Source:
“teaching us”
“something about our cosmic context, about where, when and who we are.”

Q4(b). How does the author justify this claim? Write IYOWAFAP. [2m]

These things are explained as only science can in an unprecedented way. (1)

These are vital questions in all cultures. (1)

“in ways no other human endeavour has been able” (line 15)
“every culture on earth has addressed such issues and valued their importance” (line 13, 14)

Q5. How are the values of science and democracy 'concordant' (line 18)? List any three distinct values in your own words as possible. [3m]

Gives clout / influence / empowerment to those who know how it works
(passage source: confer power on anyone who takes the trouble to learn it (Line 19-21))

Uncensored / unbridled / unrestrained dialogue  / sharing of thoughts  / discussion  / opinions  / intellectual discourse ; transparency
(passage source: thrives on, indeed requires, the free exchange of ideas; antithetical to society (Line 21))

Egalitarian / everybody treated equally / no discrimination / fair
(passage source: no special vantage points or privileged positions (Line 22))

Innovative / original  / novel thinking / thought
(passage source: encourage unconventional opinions Line 23))

Active discussion ; rational ; respecting hard facts / hot given to hearsay
(passage source: encourage vigorous debate, demand adequate reason, coherent argument, rigorous standards of evidence and honesty (Line 23, 24))

concordant means in agreement / consistent.
Pick any 3 out of the above 5, 1 mark for every point.
Focus should be on the adjectives

Q6. What are the implications if we cannot find 'the occasional straw of truth' (line 31)? Write your answer IYOWAFAP. [2m]

We will not be able to deal with / tackle the important issues / major difficulties that confront us (1)

We will be in danger of becoming gullible, and easily exploited by imposters / rogues / fakes / bogus / phony leaders (1)

GP Text source:
“cannot hope to solve the truly serious problems that face us (Line 31, 32)
“risk becoming a nation of suckers,a world of suckers” (Line 33)
“up for grabs by the next charlatan who saunters along” (Line 34)



Q8. According to the author, "Nazism used biology to justify mass murder (line 1). How has this affected our view of biology? Answer IYOWAFAP. [3m]

Rudely (1/2) shook up / awakened us / jolted our unquestioning attitude / apathy / indifference (1/2).
(From: detonated biological complacency (L1))

Both the layman and the science specialist have lost faith in / are suspicious / cautious / doubtful about the subject. (1)
(From: shattered public and scientific confidence (L2))

Which has become undermined / suspect / is now seen as corrupted (1)
(From: tainted the whole subject, especially genetics, for years afterwards, possibly for ever (L3))

Q7. Vocabulary (5 marks)

Word 1 Mark Half Mark (1/2)
bulwark defence, barrier, fortress, shield, bastion, opposing force

buffer, safeguard, protection

No marks for: counter, tool, weapon, obstruction, prevention, obstacle

subverted undermined, threatened, weakened


No marks for: perverted, twisted, destroyed

implicit understood without being stated clearly; subtly present

not immediately obvious, hidden, latent, intrinsic, subtle, part and parcel of, not evident, not apparent

No marks for: entrenched, suggested, present

absurdly ridiculously, ludicrously, foolishly, stupidly, preposterously


No marks for: crazily, madly, weirdly, oddly, grossly, without logic, incredibly, unbelievably

immaculate pure, perfect, untainted, impeccable, untarnished, flawless, completely accurate
clean, accurate, correct, without mistakes, without errors, free from errors

Q2. Summary Question (SMQ) (9 marks)

The author argue that all scientific knowledge…


From the Passages Suggested Answers IYOW

Valid / … respectable in the light of knowledge at the time (L14, 15)

Five hundred years from… virtually all the science of our day will be regarded as similarly wrong (L18,19)

Ridiculous to say that the institution of science is unaffected by the mistakes of the past because they were based on wrong signs (L19-21)

Scientific understanding is correct / deferred to / based on / given / because of / what is known at a given time

As time passes, all existing science may / will prove erroneous / fallacious (that is as “Hitler’s biology” did)

Science should be held responsible / should not be excused from blame for errors based on scientific knowledge

very persuasiveness… (because of) immense authority (L22)

always appears to be right in spite of being wrong most of the time (L23, 24)

Science / scientific opinion is influential because science carries weight / has clout

Is always regarded as trustworthy/ truthful / despite being erroneous / mistaken / incorrect frequently

Science is so extraordinarily effective (L26)

convinces people that Science is all-powerful (L30)

Science is exceptionally / remarkably efficient or science Works remarkably well / is very useful

Thus we are persuaded to believe that science can do anything / that there is no limit to what science can achieve

if something is labeled scientific, it must be true or feasible (L31)

scientists go along with this because it exalts their social status…so they are implicated (L31, 32)

science tends towards radicalism … reductionist process (L33)

even ideology… based on immaculate science… may still kill millions (L34)

and anything that is characterised as scientific regarded / treated / seen as workable, factual

scientist encourage this attitude because it elevate their standing / makes them well respected in society / gives them esteem / prestige

science is inclined to be extreme in oversimplifying complexities / wholes to comprehensible parts

even beliefs built on the perfect knowledge in science may be misused to destroy lives

science is under no obligation to produce morally acceptable outcomes (L44, 45)

its incompetence in the human realm (L46)

it is not the duty of science to be concerned about right and wrong / science is uninterested in ethics

science does not work so well outside laboratory conditions / when applied to human situations (inferred)

Note: 1 mark for each point, to a maximum of 9 points.

Q8 Application Question (AQ)

Agree With Appleyard

Science as tentative and fraught with danger / can be abused / justifies murder
Science is silent on issues and values (paragraph 6)
Science is incompetence in human realm (paragraph 6)
Science’s potential to be abused (paragraph 7)
Science is beyond control of scientists

Ex and Ev

Scientific R&D commercially motivated; leads to unethical practices e.g. releasing drugs without sufficient testing for safety or side effects. Genetically modified (GM) foods still a controversial issue; AIDS medication priced beyond the means of the poor;

It is politicians who decide how technology derived from science is applied and to what extent; onus is on society to ensure that the enjoyment of scientific discoveries does not lead to abuse;

Question of ethics usually debated by the larger society, religious groups, interest groups, not scientists

Disagree With Appleyard

Almost all societies have watchdog bodies and ethics committees (eg: Singapore’s Bioethics Advisory Committee, or BAC for short);

Alarmist; thinks that science is all-powerful;

Numerous benefits derived from science and enjoyed by society *e.g. machines, appliances, cures, today’s therapeutic stem cell and cloning technology, etc;

science remains the hope of the human race in the face of current environmental problems, example looking to science on a habitable alternative in space for the human race (Elon Musk and Tesla X, Hawking, various space programmes);

science may be dangerous but keeps extending our frontier of knowledge; we progress because of science;

Agree With Sagan

Science as the golden road to development

Science as an occasional straw of truth

science develops tough habits of thought (para 5)

Science helps solves serious problems that face us (para 3)

Protects us from scams can tell when we we are lied to (para 4)

Application of technology creates goods and markets and benefit countries economically eg: S’pore’s Biopolis and the focus on the life sciences; R&D as one more avenue for growing the economic pie; new technology embraced for the betterment of life (e,g.: genetic engineering to pre-empt or cure defects; improve infrastructure

Scientific attitudes of examining the evidence helps us counter superstitions, tribal fundamentalist claims conservative views which are prejudicial and the clamour of views and conflicting claims and information on the internet logic etc

True as science is objective, based on proof and logic;

Disagree With Sagan

Concordance values of science and democracy (paragraph 4)

Science call bluff(paragraph 4)

Science is the golden road to development (paragraph 2)

Science teaches us about who we are (paragraph 3)

Science not always transparent about their research and finding partly because you need to protect sponsors / source of funding e.g. research in secret

Science has proven to be wrong / scientist tainted eg Hwang Woo Suk;

Many poor countries still do not have any infrastructure to go into science;

Fruits of science not easily available to the poor e.g. expensive medication or medical technology, digital divide, backlash against human transplant, offending culture and religious views;

Religion does it better; has done it since time immemorial, more emotionally satisfying answers;

Too optimistic


You choose whichever view is more convincing to you. In our general paper tuition lessons, our GP teachers can guide you to handle more difficult AQs.


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