Please Mind the Platform Gap: H1 Mathematics

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by Adelyn Tan (16A01E) and Karen Cuison (16A01D)

This article has been researched to the best of our abilities. However, it should not be used as a substitute for formal academic counselling.

A brief glance through any university’s offered courses will quickly establish one thing – a startlingly significant amount of courses require a ‘H2 pass in Mathematics’ before a hopeful student can even think about applying. The number of courses that require a mere H1 Mathematics pass are, in contrast, few and far between.

Why, then, do students take H1 Math at all? This article aims to explore students’ motivations to take H1 Math instead of its H2 counterpart, and the ramifications of that decision, both within and without the Rafflesian context.

You can consider offering H1 Math if you meet one of requirements below (and you should probably offer H1 Math if you meet all three):

1. You are not planning to read a university course that requires a pass in H2 Math.
2. You are taking a humanities combination and you need a contrasting subject, but you are not interested in/proficient in Bio, Chem or Physics.
3. You are not confident in your ability to excel at the H2 level – especially based on your prior performance in Mathematics.

Generally speaking, these three attributes tend to come as a package deal.

The merits of offering H1 Math are evident – H1 Math covers many of topics previously explored in Sec 3-4 Math, and has little content as compared to H2 Math; as such, the learning pace is rather relaxed and homework is infrequent, leaving much time to devote to revising for other subjects.

You can spend more time relaxing like this.

It has also been said that H1 Math is pretty practical for anyone seeking an easier route to a Deans’ List place or an Academic Excellence Award.

The only downside to be found in taking H1 Math would be that you no longer have the option to take Dentistry, Engineering and a thousand and one other courses in university, but if you were planning to read those courses, you probably scored consistent A and B grades for Math in secondary school anyway.

Which might be a blessing, since things like these look frighteningly complicated to the average human.

If you’re getting U grades for your CTs, or struggling with the workload two months into your school year, or disregarding your other subjects in favour of trying to understand what is going on in your Math lectures, it might be timely to consider dropping to H1 Math instead of continuing to offer it at the H2 level. If the grades for your other subjects are in danger, it might be worthwhile to give up offering one H2 and excel in the other three rather than end up with bad grades for all of them.

The most important thing to note about dropping to H1 Math from its H2 counterpart is that you should do it as early as possible once you have determined it is the right decision, so as to have enough time to adjust to the H1 syllabus. This also allots you more time to spend on your other subjects, instead of racing against time to catch up with what you’ve missed after floundering needlessly with H2 Math for more months than were necessary.

Remember, too, that there is nothing shameful or embarrassing about dropping from H2 to H1, be it in Math or in any other subject. It is only practical to pursue a subject at the level you are comfortable with instead of trying to bite off more than you can chew; taking a subject solely for the prestige it offers is not a sensible thing to do. At any rate, your friends will more likely be fairly envious that you’re not struggling to complete trigonometry assignments and complain to you about their workload. If they, instead, make fun of you for not being able to do Biomed in university, find yourself some new friends.

As a rule of thumb, securing A grades for one’s H2 subjects should be your foremost priority with regards to university admission. In addition, the distinction between H1 and H2 hardly matters for overseas universities – straight As on your final report look impressive whether or not you offer three H2s and one H1, or four H2s.

H1 Math lends the most help to the student who struggled through secondary school trying to scrape a bare pass on every Math paper they attempted, and is a breath of fresh air amidst the intensity of life in junior college.

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