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JC A-Level GP AQ Example – Social Issues

JC A-Level H1 GP AQ Example

This Application Question example for A-Level General Paper focuses on Social issues, specifically Marriages.

In our GP tuition lessons, this was assigned as one timed-practice assignment in class. One script for the H1 GP AP is graded the elusive “A”, another a “B” and yet another “C”. Read through the 3 answers and decide which one is which. Do not in advance that all the answer for the AQ example are written by JC students themselves, and all grammar errors have not been corrected.

(Feel free to ask our tutors for General Paper when you see them in class or the GP intensive revision tutorials.)



QUESTION: (AQ) Using both passages:
Should marriage be a legal contract between individuals or a non-binding relationship based on love and trust? Illustrate your arguments by referring to both passages and by using the knowledge of your own country. [8]


Suggested Full Answers to GP AQ Example:

JC GP Application Question Script 1:

In passage A, the author reveals two definitions of marriage: one, a “socio-legal institution”, a “tripartite contract between a man, a woman and the state”. If this is what the question means by a “legal contract between individuals”, then I would disagree that it is a good basis for marriage. The second definition of marriage is deemed a “long-term committed relationship” based on affection and the wish to pool resources and share the joys and burdens of life.

This seems plausible and seems a fairly good basis for marriage to be based upon. However, Grayling goes on to elaborate reveals it as hardly a solid basis for marriage. She implies that “the number and sexes of the mutual parties are subordinate to the concepts of affection choice and sharing.” Thus, if this is what is meant by a “non-binding relationship”, The I am inclined to also disagree with him.

Both definitions are skewed, similarly are the two alternatives offered in the question. The first given option bases marriage entirely on law, it neglects the emotional factor that marriage involves. The second option goes to the other extreme of emphasising the emotional expect so much so as to make it “non-binding”. Furthermore, the condoning of any number and any gender in the marriage situation is alarming. In Singapore, homosexual marriages are disallowed.

The answer is obviously a balance of both. Perhaps the first option will be preferred to start with. The “legal contract” is necessary , as it ensures that the parties who want to marry are rightful and acceptable, and can undertake the responsibility of the marriage, and fully understand and respect its importance. Moreover, it has benefits of increasing “sexual fidelity”, a “realistic promise of permanence” and its effects on the children, who may do better when their parents’ relationship is stable.

Yet the legal contract cannot afford to gloss over or worse still, ignore the emotive aspect. There must be sincere love between the two parties. Otherwise, marriage will only have disastrous effects on the children.

In S’pore, marriage and divorce are both legal contracts, and cohabitation is not allowed. In Passage B, the benefits of marriage in contrast to cohabitation are clear. Thus, there really exists no reason other than promiscuity, infidelity or insincere infection, which would prevent couples from entering the legal contract of marriage.

In conclusion, the “legal Contract” of marriage is absolutely essential but the relationship based on love and trust should also not be ignored but in fact emphasised.



JC GP Application Question Script 2:
Marriage should be a non-binding relationship based on love and trust because to affirm it otherwise as a legal contract between individuals would be to render it devoid of any human emotion, yet the latter persists and may benefit children more.

Grayling points out that the roots of socio-legal marriage lie in the chauvinistic demands of male spouses to ensure their biological children gain control of their legacies, and thus the institution of marriage perpetuates this patriarchal dominance. Passage B affirms this by shamelessly encouraging man to marry in order to raise their incomes. Gallagher’s arguments for marriage all flawlessly defend its contributions to the financial success of a couple.

However it is worthwhile to examine to what extend the financial returns are shared between husband and wife. The patriarchal societies of this world continue to affirm the male’s status as breadwinner by encouraging women to marry older, financially capable man, and acclaiming men as heads of the household, while relegating females to the simple domestic duties of housework and childbearing. It follows that husbands believe that they have a right to manage the family finances, and women are cowed into submission to male authority.

Singapore has attempted to rectify this through somewhat heavy-handed measures. The Women’s Charter favours women in divorce proceedings, and thus women get to receive monetary support from their husbands and custody of the children too. The criticism is that this is reactive, and thus far from encouraging marriage to recognise both males and females equally, instead simply encourages divorces.

Apparently, our legal institutions are too rigid to cope with a concept as dynamic and variegated as marriage. The LGBT community desire the legal recognition of their unions, while more couples (Passage A) are leaving marriage while less are entering it. In view of rocketing divorce rates, marriage must no longer be weighed down by socio-legal considerations, and the archaic, utilitarian values ascribed to it (Passage B). If marriage is to be a true bond between  people who genuinely love each other,  there is no need for the threat of “social, legal and financial” punishment to enforce the bond.

Gallagher claims that children develop better when their parents are married and stay together. it would be more accurate to say that children develop better when the parents love each other, since a family that stays together physically and legally, while remaining riven in two by unhappiness, would not be conducive to a child. The Women’s Charter may resolve the inequalities between man and woman in a divorce, but local children unfortunately tend to be awarded to the female party, which may go against their wishes. This is another example of how the legal scope covering marriage ultimately fails to negotiate its human considerations.

As a non-binding relationship based on love and trust, marriage would have the benefit  of not being tainted by monetary and legal considerations. A couple that stays together thus a must be in much love. Thus people who are married would, by default be happily married. The trouble lies in its effect on children and on society. Children would still have to endure the pain of seeing their parents separate and the lack of a legal settlement would make it no less traumatic.

Conservative Singapore is unprepared for the chaos of this loose definition of marriage. While reality presents increasing divorce rate and unhappiness in marriages, tradition asserts that couples, kept together by their legal bonds, would either learn to love each other, or to be content with their spouse, and that a stable family would be beneficial for the children. To overturn all these conventions would be a mammoth task, that like a divorce, might end up hurting more than healing.

Thus, while non-binding relationships are more ideal, especially in consideration of the adults, and not children, the legal institution of marriage is a reality that may not always, and often is not healthy, but whose persistence cannot be ignored.





JC GP Application Question Script 3:
Marriage should be a legal contract between individuals, as well as a non-binding relationship based on love and trust.

Marriage is a serious matter that should not be trivialised. In Singapore, a married couple will ave to sign a contract at the Registry of Marriages (ROM). As mentioned in passage A, such a contract is a “tripartite contract between a man, a woman and the state”., a contract signed in the presence of family members and a witness. This contract will carry legal weighting with it. The importance that the state places on marriage at an even higher level of importance.

Passage A asserts that the legal forms of marriage is essential for properties to be passed down from parents to their children. It is one of the proofs that certifies whether a child can inherit the wealth from his or her parents. A case occurred in S’pore, where there was an old man who passed away, leaving a huge fortune behind. Through of documents,  a son of his was found in China, and the offspring inherited the wealth. As such, for practical reasons, legal contract between individuals is necessary.

However, marriage should be based on much love and trust. Trust comes in the form of remaining loyal to one’s spouse and not cheat on him or her. Love is vital for the permanence of a relationship , which is especially important for their children. As Gallagher mentioned, a child is far better of if the parents have good relationship.



Grading & Marks for Application Question (AQ)

The following is a typical marking grid and general marking scheme for AQ in the Compre paper for JC General Paper:

Mark Range Marking Descriptors
6-8 takes a clear stand
gives clear reasons for stand
shows appreciation and evaluation of arguments in passage
makes specific references shows understanding of chosen society
consistent reference to to context / society (eg Singapore) shown throughout answer
points clearly illustrated with examples relevant examples are clearly explained
well-organised (topic sentences, signposting etc)
purpose of each paragraph clearly discernible
awareness of opposing arguments shown
answer starts and concludes wellRequirementshighly relevant, addresses the question and meets the requirements

Explanation: shows a good understanding of the issues


Coherence: coherent well-organised Proper structure provided. Arguments flow well. good evaluation of the issues and arguments raises in the passages, apt examples from outside the passage.


3-5 takes a stand
reasons for stand not clearly articulated
some reference to context / society (eg Singapore) made, but not necessarily showing real understanding of Singapore society
reference made to both arguments, though not necessarily cogent
own points offered, though not well integrated with other arguments
may not be well-organised (eg, abrupt conclusion) 

Requirements: relevant, addresses the question and meets the requirements

Explanation: shows an understanding of the issues

Evaluation: evaluation provided, but more could be done, some examples provided

Coherence generally coherent and generally structured


1-2 stand not taken or not discernible
no or little reference to Singapore made
little reference to the passages
no evidence of own points offered
poor organisation
mere summary of arguments in texts 

Requirements: does not meet requirements at all / does not answer the question / blank script!
Explanation: shows some superficial understanding
Evaluation: some evaluation provided lacks examples to substantiate points
Coherence: somewhat coherent and structured somewhat relevant but may not address the question’s requirements.



Of the 3 scripts, out of a total of 8 marks, which one got a 3, 5 or 8 mark respectively? (Recall: The marking criteria are Relevance, Explanation, Evaluation and Coherence.)

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