General Paper in JC: A very advanced form of English subject

For the purpose of discretion, the friend in discussion is not to be named here. So let me just rename him: “Kenji”.

I could recall that in his phonecalls, there isn’t a single time that Kenji does not whine about the subject called General Paper. And since I barely knew anything about it, I could offer no sympathy to him.

Then three days ago, I asked him on phone, “Hey, why don’t you send me a sample paper of GP exam?”

“OK”, he replied.

That same night he e-mailed me the comprehension section (P2) sample of GP test paper from the “Catholic Junior College Promotional Exam 2002”.

My first reaction was… gape.

Nope, not bewilderment, not confusedness, but a mere gape.

Then I mouthed, “What the F”£$%^&* !!”

It was notoriously fiendish!!!

Don’t ask me to compare it to any other standardised English tests, it is already 20 times harder than ‘O’-level English paper alone. Thus, in a rough comparison, the GP paper is 200 times harder than TOEFL.

Or more.

Anyway, looking at the Answer Scheme part of that Compre is the most shocking part of all. There are two different partitions for almost every question: “Lift” and “Paraphrase”. Now that is what I call a total comprehension!

I couldn’t imagine anyone scoring 90% or above in such papers, even though I knew such people are extant.

After I googled GP, I then found the RJC (Raffles Junior College) website which gives perceptive insight to what GP is all about.

Quote taken from this site:

General Paper is compulsory for all Junior College students. It is primarily a test of English language, but the course also aims to help students acquire a general knowledge of world affairs including questions of human values, often taking an historical or comparative approach. Beyond the requirements of the written examination, the RJC GP course encourages wide reading and an awareness of national and international issues. Oral skills are developed to help students acquire greater poise and confidence in public speaking and interviews.

Now that I see it, it looks more like Secondary’s English + Social Studies + a little bit of History combined altogether, thus making it a hell lot harder.

Now the question is: How am I gonna start? There isn’t a ‘A’-level teacher here in Jakarta..

That’s not really a big problem. Lacking an instructor isn’t a big hurdle after all. I could ask my friend Kenji to e-mail me more GP papers!

I could always google for the GP tips anyway. And one thing, I somehow know a sly trick on how to get my papers marked by an instructor for gratis. ^^

>>> evil grin <<<

For those of you plebeian Indonesians/non-Singaporeans who wanna know what on earth a GP paper looks like, here is a slight peek:


(taken from Raffles JC 2002 Preliminary Exam)

Answer ONE question.

Answers should be between 500 and 800 words in length.

  1. "We experience technological and social change at a rate faster than our institutions and ethics can cope with." Discuss.
  2. Do you agree that copyright laws make life better for everyone?
  3. Is a meritocratic society sustainable
  4. What are the most important factors in determining a student’s success or failure?
  5. How far would you agree that a stable society depends on the survival of the traditional family?
  6. (the rest of the questions have been blanked by Toshihiko in order to respect the copyrights)……….
  7. ……..
  8. ………….
  9. ………………
  10. …………………..
  11. ……………………..
  12. …………………………


(taken from Catholic JC 2002 Promotional Exam)


6. Explain the following phrases in your own words as far as possible.

(a) “babble of tongues” (line 38)

(b) “not being able to distinguish bad money from good” (lines 66-67)

7. From paragraph four: Why does the writer refer to the problems of a minority of students learning Chinese?

8. The writers in Passage A and Passage B have differing views concerning the value of the local variety of English in any country. Which viewpoint do you agree with? Justify your choice by examining each writer’s arguments and referring to your own experience.


I believe that by now all of you readers agree that the General Paper subject truly is…. fiendish.

PS: So then, my next task toward a mastery of English is conquering the GP!

Today I promise I won’t call myself a fluent speaker of English until I have thoroughly mastered the skills needed for GP. I will do at least one GP composition a day starting from Sunday, 2 December 2008 (I have a JLPT paper on Sunday, which is why I’m now focussing all my attention to Japanese Kanji, etc.)

Anonymous –   – (15 November 2008 at 10:56)  

The General Paper is, as stated on the website of RJC, really a paper intended to explore your mastery and command of the English language, as well as your maturity of thought and grasp of world affairs. I would think that it is not "fiendish", but is a paper able to distinguish between the student with a capable proficiency in world affairs and keen knowledge of the intricacies of the language, from the mediocre student who came in with an A1 in English language at "O" Levels. Good luck to your mastery of the General Paper! I am sure you would enjoy the process as much as I did!

Anonymous –   – (4 October 2009 at 09:22)  

LOL. you didnt rename marc kenji lim at all

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