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5 Power Tips To Ace The AQ Section Of A-Level General Paper (GP)

Getting high marks in General Paper is not easy.

You have to apply a lot of analytical knowledge as this is the paper where you apply your ability to critically think.

Of course, it is not impossible either. Even though every paper from every year is completely different, there are still some common things that examiners look for every time.

Knowing this is key to scoring well and that is exactly what we will teach you.

Before we begin, let's understand the format and syllabus of General Paper first so you know what is required. 

General Paper 1

Type: Essay

Duration: 1 Hour And 15 Minutes

Marks: 30

You will be given ten essay questions in this paper. Each question will hold 30 marks. You have to do one.

General Paper 2

Type: Comprehension

Duration: 1 Hour And 45 Minutes

Marks: 50

This paper has two sections and both the sections are worth 25 marks. You have to answer all the questions from both sections.

Topics In The General Paper

This paper explores broad topics and you need to have a good grasp on general knowledge to ace this paper. There are no set topics but here is the breakdown of topics to help increase your knowledge and develop your critical thinking skills.

Topic 1: Economic, Moral, Political, Historical, And Social

Here are the many topics you can explore in this category:

  • Role and value of history in modern society
  • State and its institutions
  • Wars, terrorism, and conflict
  • Political systems and forms of government
  • Role of international organizations
  • Role of individuals in a society
  • Globalization
  • Human rights
  • Matters of faith, tolerance, and conscience
  • Wealth and equality
  • Education
  • Justice and the justice system
  • Family, marriage, social pressure, class, and social attitudes
  • Animal welfare

Topic 2: Science, Including Its History, Philosophy, Ethics, General Principles, And Applications; Environmental Issues; Technology And Mathematics

Here are the many topics you can explore in this category:

  • Drug testing, manufacture, and provision
  • Medical and scientific advances and their ethics
  • Diet, health education and provision of healthcare
  • Space exploration and its associated industry
  • Information and communications technology
  • Surveillance and privacy
  • Rural and urban concerns
  • Food and water security
  • Transport, travel, and tourism
  • The uses and applications of mathematics

Topic 3: Literature, Language, The Arts, Crafts, And The Media

Here are the many topics you can explore in this category:

  • Literature
  • Advertising
  • Print and digital media
  • Censorship and freedom of the media and the arts
  • Traditional arts and crafts; heritage
  • Art institutions and venues
  • Applied arts
  • Visual arts
  • Performing arts
  • Language
  • Non-fiction writing


5 Power Tips To Help You Ace The AQ Section             

This is the Application Question Section. Many students are intimidated by this section because it assesses their analytical skills. It is a long answer question in the Paper 2 comprehension section.

Here are the top 5 tips that will help you ace this section in no time.

#1. Understand What The Examiner Wants

In such questions, examiners are looking for specific things and you need to provide them with this to ace the paper with flying colors. In the AQ question, your examiner will look for the following four things:

  • Requirements
  • Explanation
  • Evaluation
  • Coherence


This means to check the entire question and then understand exactly what it requires from you. First, analyze the question completely and underline the requirements. Understand the issues of the question so you can take arguments from the passages and then use it to discuss the issues.

Once you know what the question requires you can then select some of the arguments by the author. A good rule of thumb is to choose three arguments that are controversial and important to the passage. Use your thinking to differentiate between opinions and facts.

After that, you should come up with possible arguments. Think if you want to agree with the author or disagree. Give proper references to your argument to ace this.


This is where you show the examiner that you have a tight grasp on concepts and issues. A well-written explanation comprises talking about the author's arguments in the context of the central issues.

Apart from that, you need to apply the situation to real life and explain it according to the society we are currently living in. Once this is done, you should proofread it and make changes if the words can be misinterpreted. Leave no room for doubt with your words.


Here you make decisions and judgments by developing arguments. This is where you add your personal views and highlight your thinking skills. So, how do you do this evaluation?

Well, it is not rocket science. First, you have to identify the writer’s beliefs about the central issues. After that, identify the evidence that has been given to support those beliefs.

Evaluate if the evidence is convincing enough for you and then compare the arguments. Lastly, assess the validity of the arguments and you are good to go.


This is where you evaluate your writing skills and see if everything you have written can be understood by the examiner properly. You have to analyze if it is straight to the point. This is because a broken answer with confusing links and claims that can be misunderstood will not give you that A you need.

Assess if your points flow in a logical order. Also, use words in your answer that are similar to the few keywords that have been provided in the question. Proofread your answer to assess its coherence.

These four requirements are not to be ignored as they are extremely crucial. Keep practicing past papers and apply these requirements to the AQ section as that is the only way you will get better and produce high-quality answers.

#2. Understand The Types Of AQ Questions

There are five types of AQ questions:

  • Agree and disagree
  • General
  • Recommendations
  • Section of argument and application to society
  • Which argument is more persuasive

All these questions are to be tackled differently as they require different things. You have to first understand the question in this context and then come up with an answer that is relevant and proficient.

Go through past year GP exampapers and see how each type of question is phrased every time. This will help you in determining the type of question that is being asked during your paper.

#3. Support Your Argument With Relevant Passages

Now that you have determined the type of question, it is time to answer it properly. Firstly, only use the arguments from the passages that you have a good grasp on and that you can explain easily.

Whenever you are discussing a certain point or idea you should also give a contrasting statement to support what you think. This will show the examiner that you fully understand the argument and you have your stance for or against it.

Apply it to your life and our society and you are good to go!

#4. Write An In-Depth Answer

Don’t just scratch the surface level of the question. Dive in deep and explore it in detail. Determine the different effects and consequences of the topic and get to the root cause of the issue.

Analyze the issue from different aspects and then correlate it with other things. It is all about connecting the dots and looking at the topic through the various lenses of different cultures, groups, and countries.

You have to be willing to look beyond your lens and understanding the question from many different facets. This is the only way you will be able to provide an in-depth analysis in the AQ section.

The examiners are looking for depth and critical thinking skills and that is what you should be able to provide.

#5. Enhance And Apply Your Critical Thinking Skills

This doesn’t get developed in a day. You need to keep practicing it so you can think in this way and then apply it to the AQ section of the paper. You can develop your critical thinking skills by first applying different aspects to the questions.

Approach the question through different lenses such as political, economic, historical, and religious. After that determine the parties and stakeholders involved.

Then approach the question from different levels such as beginnings and endings. This will broaden your horizon of answering the question as you will be able to provide a much deeper insight into what is being asked.

Keep practicing this skill through past papers and over time you will naturally develop critical thinking skills through which you can answer the question in no time!

Final Words

Nothing is impossible, not even getting an A in General Paper. You just have to practice and study smart to get the best grades. The AQ section is not easy at all and many students fear it. However, with these tips, you will get the grade you have aimed for in no time!

Just remember that practice makes perfect so keep on practicing and keep on trying! Should you need further assistance, we can help get a specialist A-level tutor to give you a helping hand.

Find this guide useful? You will also love this: The Ultimate Guide to English Tuition in Singapore - 38 Listings!

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Tutor City's blog focuses on balancing informative and relevant content, never at the expense of providing an enriching read. 

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Resident author - Mr Wee Ben Sen, has a wealth of experience in crafting articles to provide valuable insights in the field of private education.

Ben Sen has also been running Tutor City, a leading home tuition agency in Singapore since 2010.