GP Samples Essays – Current Trends 2021

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This theme of Repeated Trends are the trending type of questions that can be asked fairly frequently, easily once or twice in a decade of Cambridge- SEAB – MOE examinations. According to the GP Syllabus (code: 8807), you can spot such favourite questions of UCLES, as what GP is about anyway. It usually includes GP topics on technology and science, social issues, political issues, global or regional issues, economic issues, etc.

Below are a few most common and popular Q&A. Choose a few, and prepare for it. The examples below may change over time, but the main ingredients and arguments stay the same.

Happy Revision!


Links to other GP Topics: The Arts | Philosophy | “Repeated Trends” |  Science & Technology | “Singapore” | Global & regional Issues| Economics Issues| Politics | Religion | Mass Media |

Q1: Can a truly vibrant community exist in cyberspace?


Ever since the advent of the Internet and telecommunications, mankind has found a new frontier to conquer – cyberspace. Its amazing wealth of possibilities has taken the world by storm, including that of a truly vibrant community evolving out of it. No doubt the current atmosphere in cyberspace might seem lively, what with many online groups and their own unique brand of etiquette being churned out like a factory line on a daily basis. But unless man changes his attitude towards the usage of cyberspace, the creation of a truly vibrant, interactive and thriving community online remains a plausible but improbable dream and challenge – the domain of movies like the Matrix, where everyone is truly “plugged in”.
(For d newest examples, easily bring in the social media platforms of Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, mobile, apps, etc)

To prove my point, we must first examine man’s usage cyberspace. The main purposes of logging onto cyberspace would be to surf for information, download software, play games or simply chat with friends in other words, cyberspace is used primarily for work or leisure. Hence I would say no real bonding and quality communication takes place, the kind one gets from interact ng with friends or joining an association like a scout group. Such usage is a major barrier in the way of the creation of a vibrant online community. It would require some dedication and active participation from each and every one of the 6 billion in this world. This does not seem possible as many are too busy working or do not have access to the Internet.

In reality, cyberspace is more of a melting pot of different cultures, and it would be hard to create a distinct flavour that a vibrant community should have. One should bear in mind that cyberspace is prone to and unless censorship and is largely controlled by governments and corporations like Microsoft, can be made to break down restrictions, a free flow of ideas cannot materialise. The topics in cyberspace, such as business transactions or other specialized areas of discussion, are often too dreary and limited to be vibrant.

Also, the restrictions that cyberspace pose are often insurmountable, lest technology progresses tremendously. It can only convey two-dimensional information and not the true beauty of a facial expression or work of art. More importantly, it cannot replace or surpass the passion and warmth of family bonds or nationalistic pride. Even if a truly vibrant community was to be formed, its expression will be limited as long as cyberspace is the medium.

Some proponents of cyberspace might argue that utilities like massive multi-player online games, the Internet Relay Chat, video conferencing and communities with “emoticons” will facilitate the creation of a vibrant cyberspace community. I strongly doubt so as people will not give their full participation and will get bored soon and disengage with the conversation at hand. Even “emoticons” were created for the sake of convenience, not for the sake of unique expression. A distinctive identity of this proposed virtual community will be hard to create, much less the satisfaction we get from true. face-to-face communication.

In conclusion, cyberspace as a medium cannot provide the multitude of requirements to create a truly vibrant, interactive and free community, unless attitudes change and technology progresses. Such a possibility is better left to the real world where the fulfillment of these requirements are more plausible.


Comments: Fluently written with valid observations and insights. Yet more could be discussed with regards to issues related to the uneven global usage of the Internet, the consequences of anonymity etc.


Q2: “Nothing is sacred any more.” Would you agree?


Society has undergone a virtual metamorphosis in the past century. Practices and ideas once thought to be unassailable have been flung from their high pedestals and now litter history like so much flotsam – racial chauvinism, sexual discrimination and even the very physical laws of nature have been overturned by such eminent personalities as Martin Luther King and Albert Einstein, and by the popular suffrage movement. Yet with the slaughtering of so many sacred cows, some lambs have been inadvertently sacrificed. Many now claim that the world is slipping into moral decay, that “nothing is sacred anymore.” While such views are, at best, extremist, and at worst heretical, one would find it difficult to refute these claims entirely, for many ideals once thought irrefutable are now fair game.

Perhaps the most alarming of these are the concepts of marriage and chastity. These were the first and most unfortunate casualties of the women’s rights movements, and the invention of convenient contraception.. Where marriage was once one of the pinnacles of an individual’s life, today it is just another stepping-stone in life’s journey. Rising divorce rates and increasing sexual promiscuity throughout the globe make this claim difficult to disprove. Indeed, the current AIDS epidemic, which is engulfing the developing world, is spread largely through sexual transmission. Would such a catastrophe have occurred if the traditional societal norms concerning monogamy had been maintained?

Even the developed world is recoiling from am assault of films, television shows and books with overtly sexual scenes and overtones. Television shows such as the popular “reality” series “Temptation Island”, as well as the best-selling books such as “The Nanny Diaries” have made promiscuity seem glamorous and attractive. While many couples still remain stalwart amidst this storm, one cannot deny that the bulwark of marriage is slowly being eroded.

Religion is yet another unfortunate victim. The moral and political clout of the world’s great religions has been undermined in recent years: the Muslim world is struggling to portray itself as having a moderate religion open to new ideas, something exceedingly difficult to do in the wake of the September 11 attacks, and with the rabble-rousing speeches of radical demagogues, Similarly, Catholicism has been tainted by scandals involving paedophiles masquerading as priests, while the Hindu world is gripped by extremism and the growing popularity of fundamentalists who advocate violence as a means of settling disputes,

Yet it is not just radicals and heretics who have betrayed the great religions. A major problem today is the gradual erosion of faith amongst the once. devout. Whereas to declare oneself a “non-practising” Muslim or Buddhist, say, would be akin to claiming that one was “partially Pregnant”, today such “adherents openly declare their religious affiliation. The trend is clear – unless religions adapt to suit a radically changed and still evolving world, they risk being irrelevant, consigned to the annals of history.

In spite of these facts, to say that nothing is sacred is blatantly untrue. In the previous century, one ideal emerged from the ashes of its predecessors and remains firmly ensconced in the heart of man the idea that each individual is entitled to basic human rights, including, among others, the right to free speech and to be free of racial discrimination. While it is true that many countries remain under the control of oppressive or totalitarian regimes, the fact that pro-democracy and human rights advocates are surfacing in these regions is proof that the concept of human rights appeals to many. Indeed, most people today would frown upon imprisonment without just cause, or on racial prejudice, in stark contrast to their forefathers, for whom such actions. were tolerated or even encouraged. The exhortations of racists, dictators and tyrants have been overwhelmed by a chorus of dissenting voices from around the globe. In the face of such overwhelming popular support, the concept of human rights seems destined to remain unscathed for generations to come.

Moreover, it must be noted that the fact that most ideas are now open to debate is not necessarily a bad thing. It is surely no coincidence that the previous century, which arguably saw the greatest social changes in human history, was also the century where many stagnating concepts were discarded. One should bear in mind that it took hundreds of years for Man to accept the idea of a heliocentric system, where the earth orbited the sun. Yet only a half- century lay between Einstein’s theories and their successful application in the form of the atomic bomb. The more open mind of Man today has demonstrated his burgeoning maturity, and this turbulent era, where age-old concepts are being re-examined, could be viewed as the struggles of a newly aware humankind trying to come to terms with itself.

Is nothing sacred? The answer, plainly, is “no”. But the answer to the opposite question is also in the negative. Mankind today is in the throes of a turbulent and sometimes violent struggle with itself. If previous millennia of civilization may be seen to be the infancy of mankind, it may very well be commencing its teenage years today, for we are challenging once-cherished ideals, tearing them down in our search for new ones. This “creative destruction” in the words of the Singaporean Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, has meant that much of what was once held dear has been cast aside. Yet it has been replaced with new forms of thought, such as the importance of human rights and the idea of a united mankind. Moreover, concepts from the past remain unchanged – principles are no less important today. Therefore, an appropriate answer to the question “Is nothing sacred?” be “No”. While most things are not sacred today, some things are. Indeed, without such upheaval, mankind would not have progressed as quickly as it has done. Perhaps it is more important that we embrace new ideas and work on preserving those which we feel are still relevant, instead of lamenting their loss, or, worse still, claim that civilized society is entering its Gotterdammerung. The Sword of Damocles hangs only upon ideas thought sacred by none.


GP Tutor’s comments: Excellent piece of argument!


Q3: “War settles nothing.” Discuss.


War is an inevitable part of man’s existence. Internecine conflict has plagued us since the beginning of civilization. Nations warred in ancient China, tribes warred in Africa, the Greeks warred, and the Romans warred. Today we still go to war, although warfare nowadays is hardly as simple as warfare in centuries past. Ideology now takes the place of a monarch’s lust for power, and military t technology has evolved so much we even run the risk of obliterating ourselves completely in less than a few hours. War is merely organized violence. Armies have been trained to perpetrate violence on other armies. Violence can be justified in certain cases; in the same light, so can war. But the real justification of war hinges upon the question, “What does war achieve?” It is the case of asking whether there is an end to justify the means. In most cases, I disagree. Most wars do not settle the important issues that ravage the world today.

First, a successful war campaigned against a national threat merely shifts the power balance and threat levels to other nations. This is considering that a nation undertakes a war campaign and emerges as victor. When it does emerge as victor, it has spent a considerable amount of resources to fuel the war. It has become more vulnerable to other countries in turn, other countries might be wary of a neighbour’s gaining too much momentum to prevent it from conquering the entire block of nations, so, in turn, this other country attacks the first, and then a third attacks this country, a forth attacks the third, and so on Attacking another country in an act of war does not eliminate the threat it merely distributes the threat to other countries. This is most evident in the recent invasion of Iraq by the United States of America Iraq has been in bitter relations with the Unites States due to George Bush Sr.’s attack (the Gulf War), trade sanctions throughout the 1990’s and Iraq’s reputed support of Al-Qaeda. Thus, when America attacked Iraq on the pretence of a pre-emptive strike to counter the threat of possession of weapons of mass destruction, it was the trying to neutralize this threat. But has it considered other nations that have weapons of mass destruction? North Korea or Pakistan may make a false move one day, and America may have to go to war again. Ultimately, a war fought changes nothing in the long run.

A war that is unsuccessful hardly ever settles anything because it did not achieve its ends, whatever they may be. Now consider a nation which has wasted valuable resources being the aggressor in a war, but which is still breaking no new ground. It has devoted a large amount of taxpayers’ money to fund the war. It has sent the sons and daughters of its people to die and fleets of tanks, planes and ships have been built just to defend national interests. Thus does every other country. Nothing less trivial is ever achieved by wasting resources to draw a new border. Consider the Vietnam War fought in the 1970’s. The Americans supported the democratic South Vietnamese but, despite their strength, they were eventually defeated by the communist North. Furthermore, the war ravaged the land. The Americans sprayed Agent Orange into the landscape of Vietnam, harming friend and foe, soldier and civilian. Is Vietnam worse off today than it would have been if America had won? Vietnam today is a modest country, boasting a healthy population and a steady economy. Eventually, an unsuccessful war leads to death and wasted resources.

An opposing view would be that a war fought against an autocratic tyrant does produce something. If a populace found that a dictator was abusive of his position and causing detriment to society, the people would have a right to oppose him in civil war. Should this overthrow be successful, the following government may proceed to improve the country beyond the level of the government of the dictator. Fidel Castro was an insurgent in Cuba. With barely more than a thousand troops he defeated 10,000 US-backed soldiers of the previous government and established his communist regime. Today, Cuba is a country producing niche agricultural products and having a thriving biochemical industry. War can be an agent for good.

Nevertheless, civil wars and wars fought against despots become ironical as soon as a new leadership is installed. The new leader, who once offered social freedom from oppression, now reveals his darker side and becomes the new despot. This was the case of Oliver Cromwell in the English Civil War. After disposing of the reigning monarchs, he installed himself, only to be more tyrannical than the monarchs themselves.


Q4: “If a goal is worthy, then any means taken to attain it is justifiable.” How far do you agree?


To say that a goal is ‘worthy’ is indeed a vague statement. Worthy’ goals may constitute anything, from saving the damsel in distress to delivering the world from the jaws of international terrorism. I personally do think that all worthy goals should be pursued with fervour and determination, but not without certain logical, if not moral or ethical, constraints. To step out of these constraints in pursuing these goals places into question not only whether the action taken is justifiable as well as whether the goal was ‘worthy’ in the first place. Several examples, ranging from those of the individual to those of the international arena, shall be elaborated to illustrate this point.

The fight to decapitate the dictatorial regime that has for so long been a breeding ground for radical terrorist elements is indeed a worthy goal, but how far members of the international security council will go to achieve this goal does bring into question whether the means chosen to do so are justifiable. This dictatorial regime that is Iraq has for the past few years defied international pressure to give up its weapons of mass destruction, and the efforts of the international community to attempt to start talks with the Iraqi leadership for peaceful disarmament are laudable. However, in the past few months a ‘coalition of the willing’ headed by the United States has used the threat of war to step up the pressure on the Iraqi regime, resulting in developments favourable to a peaceful disarmament of Iraq. The Iraqi regime re-admitted weapons inspectors, who were expelled a few years ago, and showed a certain degree of compliance with the UN resolution to disarm. I think that the actions of the coalition up to that point were justifiable, but now that the coalition has decided to end diplomatic means of disarmament and initiated war, I think that the legality of the act should be brought into question.

Many would think of Iraq as a benign terrorist threat, that, though it undoubtedly possesses weapons of mass destruction, has not dared to use them on any foreign targets or even admit that it possesses them.

The action of the ‘coalition of the willing to go to war with Iraq not only puts the lives of numerous Iraqi citizens as well as soldiers of the coalition forces at risk, but also wastes billions of dollars on unnecessary war and demonstrates the defiance of the coalition towards the international security council. I do not think this is a justifiable means to attain an undoubtedly worthy goal.

The goals of genetic engineering have always been to improve the quality of life, prolong life and cure diseases, all of which are worthy causes. However, the means being taken to do so, and even the eventual outcome of efforts to attain these goals, have come under fire. Firstly, the research on cloning involves playing around with embryos and stem cells that are undoubtedly human, resulting in numerous questions being raised on the ethical issues surrounding these actions. Secondly, if the research proves successful, and scientists devise ways of creating perfect humans who are strong, intelligent and do not age or die, then what will happen to all the inferior traits that make us distinctively human? Many fear that these new genetically engineered people would eventually replace all naturally conceived people and change the world. This begins to look more like the worthy cause that was not, in the first place worthy, that something was fundamentally wrong with the ‘worthy goals these scientists so enthusiastically started out with.

In the business and political arenas, where so many people spend their lives climbing the ladder to power and success, it could not be more clear in the minds of these people the worthiness of the goals they strive to attain – being the boss of the company or the president of the country. It is that honorable goal. that would bring such a great sense of fulfillment and pride when attained. However, there is always the question of the means through which this is attained. There are those ‘workaholics’ in companies that strive to attain top positions through sheer acts of will and hard work, while there are the others who resort to flattery, pulling strings and other underhand means to get to the coveted positions in the companies. The same is true in the political arena, only that the pulling of strings and nepotism get worse. Such means are obviously justifiable to the people who work for themselves, to improve their own lives, for their honour, but what does it mean to the others? To many who never get a seat of power in the political arena or become managers in companies, it simply means an inefficient country or company that is on the decline as a result of a few people with selfish interests. I personally do not think that such actions are justifiable to achieve such selfish goals.

There are some goals that I think are worthy, some goals that I would take any means to attain. Those goals are to be true to my conscience, to perform service to others such that I will never need to be afraid of any rumours circulated about me, as I would have an unblemished reputation. I think these would be the ultimate goals a person should have in his life, goals that are worth achieving however great the sacrifice as people like Mother Teresa would tell you.

In conclusion, I return to the example of the damsel in distress. Would you rescue the prettiest damsel from the hands of a six year old boy armed with a table knife? I think so. What about a wretched damsel guarded by a demon, surrounded by a moat of lava? I do not think so. So we can see we should strive to attain worthy goals within constraints and not rush in like fools.


Comment from our GP Specialist: Good and persuasive. Aware of the delicacy of the situation. Work on your language range.


Q5: “Nothing is private any more.” Do you agree?


Curiosity has always been a part of our way of life. We have always been curious to figure out how things work and that is one of the many reasons why discoveries happen. It is this human curiosity that drives mankind in his progress for knowledge. However it is the same curiosity that causes our basic human rights to be violated, the need for privacy. Is it true that nothing is private anymore in the world of today?

In this modern world, technology is present in every form of our daily lives, such as the internet, telephone and satellite communications. Such technology that is commonly used has been under scrutiny by government organizations and our individual privacy is being infringed upon. For example, there exists a network of spying stations located worldwide, but mainly in the U.S. This network is named “Echelon” and tech-savvy people would probably have heard about it. It can intercept millions of phone calls and internet data as well as faxes in an hour. The governments of the “free democratic world”, namely the United States and the United Kingdom, are involved in such a monitoring network. This poses a severe infringement to what we ray on the phone and on the internet, as our conversations are monitored by government agencies. As a result, what we say on the phone and what we type on the internet are no longer private. Someone is monitoring them, our privacy is gone.

Other than our lives led by technology being infringed upon, our daily lives may also be under scrutiny by anyone possible. Miniature cameras are widely available for sale over the internet and people may place such inconspicuous cameras to record our daily lives what we do “behind closed doors”. One such example is the “Chu Mei Feng” incident, involving her and a Taiwanese politician in a sex scandal. Her good friend placed a camera in her house and recorded sexual footage with the politician. Her videos were probably renowned throughout every Chinese home and she became an overnight controversy. Another example is Princess Diana, whose private life and her affair with Dodi Al Fayed was uncovered by the paparazzi, constantly infringing upon her private lifestyle. Judging from these 2 examples, we can say that nothing is private anymore, for your private social lifestyles, even behind closed doors, may be recorded by someone out there.

However, it is not true to say that privacy has been totally lost in our present world. The paparazzi only go after highly profiled superstars as well as politicians. We have probably never heard of the daily lifestyle of an unheard of road sweeper. Who would care about it? This is good to the average man and lady out there on the streets. Their privacy would not be infringed upon for the simple fact that nobody cares, unless they are the kin of some highly profiled politician or superstar. Also, even though daily conversations on the phone or internet are monitored by computers looking out for specific keywords, probably nobody would actually bother to pay attention to what you are saying. Probably nobody would take notice of the gossip in school or where to get the lowest priced items or even personal problems in most of our daily conversations. If it is not important, not profitable and not a threat to national security, probably nobody would care and our daily lifestyles and conversations can be kept private, for nobody cares.

Besides the fact that nobody may care about our lives, the law also exists to protect our privacy, for it is one of the basic human rights we have. We can maintain our privacy in places we own, such as in our homes or in our bedrooms. The law guarantees property rights in most countries and our privacy can be maintained at home, behind closed doors, by disallowing outsiders to come in. Laws against infringement of privacy have been passed in many states, which guarantee privacy by allowing people to sue those who infringe upon them. Many movie stars and singers have been doing so, suing the paparazzi and journalists who infringe upon their privacy People are also afraid that they might be sued if they infringe on others’ privacy, and do not carry out such snooping acts. As a result, the law protects the privacy of individuals.

“Nothing is private any more.” Is this a true statement that can be applied to our lives? Yes, because technology allows people to do so and the paparazzi will do anything to invade it. No, because nobody bothers about your life and unless you are highly profiled like Saddam Hussein, nobody, and definitely not the CIA, would be trying their best to intrude upon your daily life. Privacy is such a vague term, what is private to you may not be private to others. Whether something is private depends on the person assessing it and it varies amongst individuals. However, for me personally, I am just an average person pursuing my studies and I enjoy a relatively low profile, thus I enjoy my privacy. “Nothing is private any more.” This does not apply for me.





Q6: Consider the importance of science in modern (or urban) farming.

Modern agriculture began in the early part of this century with the invention of industrial machinery that could process agricultural products at high rates. Machinery that could plant and harvest crops at high rates also increased yield. The farming of animals also became large scale with better feed and disease control.

To make space for oil Science has become increasingly important in farming as the world population is increasing while the area of farmland is decreasing. Science is mainly concerned with increasing the yield of agricultural products. It is thus crucially important and exactly complementary to the food situation at hand. In countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and even European countries such as France and Britain, farming is becoming endangered while industrialisation takes its place. In Malaysia the problem of decreasing agricultural activity is alleviated by using high yield strains of plants such as “Malindo” paddy. Even so Malaysia imports most of its paddy. As more and more agricultural countries industrialise the ice problem of food supply will become more prominent, Science will be even more important to agriculture than it is now.

In the 1970’s the Green Revolution encouraged farmers to use high yield strains of crops on their farms. Problems that arose from this include the loss of bio-diversity in crops, such as paddy, wheat and com. Farmers in poorer countries did not realise that the high yield grains required more fertiliser and thus major losses in crops occurred. Science today thus has to try and recover the earlier generation of less high yielding crops to save farming in such regions. In many such cases farming is totally dependent on agricultural science, such as in Indonesia and Malaysia.

The genetic uniformity of modern crops makes them particularly susceptible to diseases, for example the potato blight problem in the United States. This began with the adaption of seeds that were resistant to another dis ease. People, however, failed to realise that these new seeds were susceptible to potato blight and the next year all the potato crops in the region were wiped-out. Scientists then introduced another resistant strain which lasted a few years but soon also succumbed. This battle began in the 1950’s and continues today, with scientists analyzing plant samples to predict the next epidemic and introduce the resistance before-hand. Thus the lack of biodiversity in the case of potatoes in the United States has made them totally dependent on genetic science for survival.

Biotechnology in animal farming has also reduced the animals’ bio-diversity while increasing the quality of eggs, milk or meat. It is perhaps a large price to pay for higher quality products, but it is a reality today. The five species of cows in Britain in the 1950’s have now be come only two, the Friesian and the Shorthorn. This, of course, makes farming dependent on vaccination, constant health monitoring of animals and artificial insemination. Artificial insemination is now widely used to pre vent inbreeding problems in such genetically uniform animal populations. Sperm has to be flown from other countries to inseminate animals in a particular country due to such high uniformity. Without science modern animal farming could not be maintained( soil erosion, soil degradation)

Currently many weather changes have been occurring throughout the world due to pollution, Increased temperatures, acid rain and sulphur dioxide are all threats to agricultural plants. Scientist are continually researching to discover plant strains resistant to such conditions. Such plants will soon be as vital as our current disease resistant plants.

It would be safe to say that modern farming could not be carried out without machinery as the scale of farming has increased ten-fold. Though farm land has become less, farms have become larger. Machinery such as harvesters, tractors, and ploughs have become necessities for profitable farming.

As science has made farming more productive and increased the quality of its products, it unwittingly has also made farming more susceptible to disease and environmental hazards. This has made farming the traditional way almost impossible. Thus modern farming can no longer turn back but must rely on science. Its importance cannot be denied.


newer examples: Can bring in easily cultured or cell-based meat (aka lab-grown chicken) in Singapore!



Q7: Consumerism: Boon or Bane?


Consumerism is the modern trend in society which may be best expressed by the phrase “mass production mass-consumption.” It has had important global ramifications both for good and for bad. In order to decide whether it is overall a boon or a bane, I will forthwith discuss both sides

One of the most evident and important advantages (or boons) afforded by consumerism is the powerful impetus it gave to industry. This is a direct result of the consumerist philosophy of “mass-production mass-consumption”, as the people are encouraged to buy a com mon product which makes the corresponding industry extremely stable and profitable. For example simply take the motto of Pepsi Corporation-“Join the Pepsi Generation! Such industrial development is responsible for making the world what it is today-high economic growth, inflation, urbanization and so on. By linking up global markets and economies, this has also brought us one step closer to the advent of the global village. As an international trend, it also provides a unifying force through industry. In short industrial development and all its corresponding advantages are the result of consumerism.

Another advantage of consumerism derives from the fact that it is essentially a result of liberalism and democracy. Its spread encourages capitalism and can and has led to a gradual decay of communism and socialism. It was in part responsible for the break up of the USSR and also had a hand in recent reforms in China.

However, consumerism has a darker side to it. First, being the child of capitalism, it can cause extreme polarisation in society. This causes a great deal of friction between the upper and lower classes and can even lead to civil war. It may also pave the path for social malpractice. For example, a poor teenager who desperately wishes to go with the trend may resort to robbery or even murder to obtain a particular product. Thus consumerism may also result in escalating violence within society.

Another undesired effect of consumerism is that it has led to an enormous amount of dissatisfaction. The basic problem is that since there are so many different items to be bought, despite ever-increasing salaries and rising standards of living the consumer is never satisfied, as there are always so many other items which are beyond his reach. Hence consumerism leads to discontent and unhappiness,

Last but not least, the advent of consumerism signalled the decline of handicrafts and indigenous cultural manufactures as the latter simply could not hope to compete in quantity with mechanised production. For example the popularity of handmade “khaki” cloth in India decreased radically with the introduction of British manufacturing technology, which was cheaper and more profitable. Thus consumerism results in less variety and a decline in handicrafts.

In conclusion, despite its contribution to industrial development (which has also led to a great deal of pollution and social dislocation), I personally consider consumerism to be a bane as it seems to have dispossessed man of satisfaction, which is the key to happiness and peace.


Fresher examples: bring in ecommerce, mobile app purchases, Lazada, Qoo10, Shopee, Shopback, etc


Q8: What life skills do young people need to succeed in the modern world?


In my opinion, these skills can be categorised into analytical skills, human relations skills, time management skills and those skills relating to the maintenance of our health. The presence, or lack, of any one of these skills may well spell success or doom for us.

Analytical skills are our abilities to analyze, comment, infer and deduce. Given a chunk of information, we must be able to make intelligent sense of it by dissecting it into smaller, more manageable parts. The importance of these skills can be easily seen from the subjects included in the school curriculum. The General Paper moulds us into critical people, able to talk intelligently and in a mature way. Mathematics trains us in problem-solving skills. Logical skills are crucial in science practicals. The list goes on.

We need these analytical skills because they equip us with ammunition to deal with the reality of working life. Successful people are able to pick out the important points from a mass of information, and hence waste less time. The successful boss delivers clear and concise orders, and with a certain level of maturity. He does not make stupid or obvious remarks, which irritate workers and affect his popularity. People in high ranking posts often have to make quick decisions that may influence the reputation or continued success of the company. How can they do that without being able to infer and deduce important details from the data that are presented to them? The best journalists are the ones who can separate out the propaganda from the real news, and who do not waste time beating round the bush. This indicates a high level of maturity and critical thinking ability. Hence, such analytical skills are necessary for young people who want to stand out and achieve much in the modern world.

Another important (and often crucial) skill young people need is undoubtedly their ability to deal with people in human relationships. This encompasses a wide range of skills, but in essence, they are the ones which deter mine whether you are well-liked and thought trustworthy. Have you ever seen a boring guy getting promoted to a place where his interpersonal skills will play a great part? It is usually the popular people who get the jobs.

The ability to lead a team, or work well in a team, is an important skill for many of the higher posts in a company. In the Singapore Armed Forces, potential leaders are gauged by their response when faced with a difficulty in a team contest. These people stand out as the natural leaders who will deliver orders, give ideas, and literally be the first ones to go forward in battle.

Conversational skills determine our popularity, and

whether we are seen as interesting or downright sleep inducers. Of course, this does not mean that people with great rhetorical skills will get on wonderfully in life. Also, cracking crude jokes may make you popular, but does not make you a great conversationalist. The conversationalist is able to say the right thing, at the right time and at the same time does not make his listener feel inferior or oppressed. These skills are not easy to learn, and can only be acquired through constant practice, and hence many people go through life without the faintest idea of how to carry on a conversation. However, this is a critical skill, and young people will definitely appreciate it when they wander into the path of a superior one day. and impress him with their sincere and intelligent words.

Networking skills are especially important for those who want to rise to greater heights, especially today when you may need help anytime. Many political leaders knew. the need to build up a network of professional friends. and contacts who can make the difference in a desperate situation. Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew was able to build up an entire network of future leaders and important people during his days in university, and throughout his career, and this explains part of the success of his political career. This is an important lesson for young people to learn.

Time management is a critical skill in the modern world, with all the pressure and stress. Successful people are not workaholics. They have a clear distinction be tween leisure and work, or they know how to combine leisure and work effectively. Businessman often conclude a deal during dinner or while playing golf. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” In the modern context, Jack is definitely going to be a “stressed-out, worn-out and exhausted” boy. Time management is especially important when you get married. Both partners must look after the children and attend to domestic affairs such as cleaning the house (assuming both are working, which is often the case today). Without a proper plan, what once was love may be reduced to squabbling over roles and schedules, and eventually divorce. Success at work must almost always be backed up by success at home, and hence this is a necessary skill for all young people.

We can thus see that there are many skills that young people need in order to succeed in the modern world. These may not be all that is needed, nor are they the ultimate success formula, but they are a general guide as to what can affect your career prospects. Finally, the only thing that cannot be acquired deliberately for success in the modern world is a stroke of luck.


General Paper teacher’s comment:

Note: Question can modified to be:
What life skills do young people need to succeed in the internet world?
What life skills do young people need to succeed in the post Covid-19 world?

Bring in the coding programming skills (hard skills, stem, etc) as well as communications, collaboration (soft skills). very safe and wise combination. Or refer to Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences.

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