H1 Chemistry or H2 Chemistry, a Teacher's perspective.

(This post by Mr Json Lim first appeared here on Domain of Singapore Tutoring Experts on 30 April 2013.)

By Json Lim

"Json, should I take H2 or H1 Chemistry?" "Do I really need to take H2 chemistry since I want to study Accountancy?" These are the very common questions that I face every year, when our proud graduates leave us to embark in their new lives in the junior colleges.

The PCME combination

I will write in the context of the experience I had with my past students and the advice I dished out for them. I wish to highlight the popular PCME combination, which simply means Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Economics combination. Seems like most of my students love this combination and I always ask them do they really want to read this potentially Science heavy combination. This combination is natural choice for the potential Ernest Rutherfords or Isaac Newtons but is it necessary for future Li Ka-Shing wannabes?

But is science the necessary route for everyone? As cliché as it may sound, I have always advised my students to follow their heart. Science is great but it is not for everyone. Students should always choose subjects that are close to their hearts and that will ultimately produce the inevitable good results for them. What does your heart say? Do you want to be a future cardiologist or a banker? Do I need a science-based combination or a humanities-combination for my course in the university? Is there a specific subject that I need to meet certain requirement for courses in the university? For my post today, I will focus on courses that require Chemistry at H2 level and you can have a better gauge for yourself if it is really that necessary to load yourself with Chemistry at this elevated level. The following information is based on my knowledge at the point of research while every attempt is made to provide the most accurate data, it should be only seen as a guide. Hey you have the university prospectus right?

National University of Singapore

Faculty of Medicine (MBBS) and Faculty of Dentistry

Both of the courses require applicants to have a pass in H2 chemistry and another H2 science subject, either physics or biology, as the 2nd subject requirement. If you aspire to be a doctor or a dentist, you are required to sit for two H2 science subjects of which Chemistry is compulsory. Apart from the interviews, prospective doctors will have to sit through an essay test and for the dentists, a dexterity test.

Faculty of Engineering - Chemical Engineering and Environmental Engineering

Both of the courses require applicants to have a pass in H2 Chemistry and Mathematics and also at least a pass in H1 Physics.

Faculty of Science - Life Sciences, Pharmacy and Food Science & Technology

All the courses above require passes in H2 Chemistry and Biology with an accompanying Mathematics or Physics.

There you have it, the above seven courses in NUS require students to read specifically H2 Chemistry. While there are other Science and Engineering courses that require candidates to read two Science subjects at H2 level, there is no mention about the need for the subject to be Chemistry. Last but not the least, lets head over to Nanyang Technological University.

Nanyang Technological University

Faculty of Engineering - Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

This course requires the candidate to have a pass in H2 Chemistry and Mathematics with a pass in O level physics or equivalent for those who do not have a pass in H2 physics. This also applies to applicants who are interested in the double degree program with the Economics option.

Faculty of Physical and Mathematical Science - Chemistry and Biological Chemistry

This course requires candidates to have a pass in H2 Chemistry and a pass in either Mathematics or Physics.

As we can see, there are only a handful of courses that require applicants to actually read H2 Chemistry hence it is not really essential for everyone to do the subject especially for students intending to read a more humanities-based or business courses. But nothing should stop you from taking the subject or any subject for the matter, if you actually enjoy learning it. There are other Engineering and Science courses that depict that you should have two H2 Science subjects and without actual reference to Chemistry, there is a flexibility of choice.

As Dr Seuss has aptly put it, "Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple." Follow where your heart lies, it will after all lead you to a fruitful and more meaningful life.

About The Author

Json Lim is a former MOE teacher and current tutor for O level Chemistry and Physics with over 10 years of teaching under his belt. Together with his wife (the Mathematics tutor), the husband and wife team has coached thousands of students over the last 10 years. When they are not teaching, they are often seen running around the parks of Bishan with their two active boys of 8 and 6 years old.

Visit his website at



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