• Social Scientist

H2 or H1 Economics?

Now, before you ponder about the question of whether you should take H2 or H1 Economics? The very first question should be “Should I take A-Level Economics?”

A-Level Economics, H1 and H2, are very popular among JC students for various reasons.

1) Contrasting Subject Requirement

A-Level students must take at least one contrasting subject. What is considered a contrasting subject? For Science stream students, you must take at least one subject from the Humanities & the Arts. On the other hand, Arts stream students must take at least one Science subject, usually H1 or H2 Mathematics.

The great news is! Economics is considered a contrasting subject for both Science and Arts streams.

The most popular 3H2s Science stream combinations are “BCME” or “PCME”

Biology OR Physics + Chemistry + Mathematics + Economics (one of the four will be H1)

The most popular 3H2s Arts stream combinations are “HELM” or “GELM”

History OR Geography + Economics + Literature + Mathematics (one of the four will be H1)

Economics can be seen as the most scientific subject in the “Humanities & the Arts” category and the most arty in the “Science” category.

2) No Pre-requisites and Conditions

While some subjects require you to have pre-requisites and conditions that you must have obtained during O-Level, Economics both H1 and H2 don’t have any. So, anyone can take! O-Level Economics is not needed for A-Level Economics, anyway, very few schools offer Economics at O-Level.

3) A Level Playing Field

Economics is one of the rare subjects in A-Levels that doesn’t leverage on any prior knowledge. So (almost) everyone will be starting at the same level, zero. Once again, very few schools offer Economics at O-Level, so their numbers are negligible. A level playing field can be motivating for a highly competitive and stressful A-Level system!

4) The Novelty Effect

The last reason is the Novelty effect.

After 10 years of studying sciences (any one of the three), mathematics, history, geography and literature, here comes ECONOMICS! Something new, something that sounds fun and a helpful subject for future entrepreneurs and businessmen. A lot of students will choose Economics for this reason. It is important to note that H1 or H2 Economics are not pre-requisites to study economics or business in a local university (but I think it does help).

“Is A-Level Economics difficult?”

A very common questions students and parents will ask, “Is A-Level Economics difficult?”

No one can answer that question accurately or correctly for you. I believe that every subject at A-Level is similar in difficulty. Just that some subjects are perceived as easier than others due to comments by seniors etc. Other factors such as aptitude, how fast you can pick up theories and understand them also matters.

However, the most important factor in doing well for economics is ATTITUDE! Read your notes, listen during the lectures, do your homework and ask more questions in class!

“What are the differences between H2 Economics and H1 Economics?”

Now to the main topic of this article. “What are the differences between H2 Economics and H1 Economics?”

H2 Economics, worth doubles the number of rank points (RPs) than H1, students must study more topics, and, in some topics, more in-depth knowledge is expected. Whether H1 Economics students study half the amount compared to their H2 counterparts is open for debate, my personal opinion is “No”. H1 students study more than half of H2. As you can see from the table, the total examination duration of H1 is also not half of H2 even though its only one paper. Seating through a 2 hrs 15 minutes examination twice is tough, but seating through a 3 hrs examination is not a walk in the park too. Endurance is key traits H1 students must have.

Assessment Objectives (AOs)

Both H2 and H1 Economics, generally, 40% of the marks go to questions with difficulty of up to AO3 and the reminder 60% of the marks go to questions with difficulty of up to AO4.

AO or assessment objectives are divided into 4 levels, AO1 is the lowest and easiest, while AO4 highest and toughest.

  • AO1: Knowledge and understanding of basic economics theories.

  • AO2: Interpretation and evaluation of economic information.

  • AO3: Application of economic theories and analysis of real-world issues.

  • AO4: Evaluate economic theories and real-world issues.

In many cases, for the same question, when appeared in either H2 or H1, the expected answers can be similar.

Paper 1: Case Studies (CSQ)

Both H2 and H1 CSQ, there will be a good balance of questions of microeconomics and macroeconomics. All questions in Paper 1 for both H1 and H2 are compulsory.

One interesting point to note is for Paper 1, each H2 CSQ has about 12 marks for data response questions (AO1-3), and about 18 marks (usually two questions, about 8 marks and 10 marks) for higher-order questions (AO1-4).

On the other hand, each H1 CSQ has about 18 marks for data response questions (AO1-3), and about 27 marks (usually three questions, about 8 to 12 marks each) for higher-order questions (AO1-4). While H1 doesn’t have to do full essays, in my opinion, the 12 marks case study questions are similar to a 15 marks essay.

Note: H1 Paper 1 is longer in terms of duration and consist of more marks than H2.

Paper 2: Essays (EQ)

H2 Paper 2: Essays consist of three questions in section A and another three questions in section B. Section A focuses mainly on microeconomics and Section B focuses mainly on macroeconomics. Students are required to do a total of three questions and at least one question from each section, which means students must either attempt two questions from section A and one question from section B or vice versa. Students CANNOT attempt all three questions from the same section.

The element of choice in paper 2 is a luxury that H1 students will not have. Well-prepared students can play this to their benefits.


How well you will do for H1 or H2 Economics also depends on many other factors.

1) ‘Top’ JCs will have relatively more H2 and less H1 students. H1 students will face relatively lesser competition during the A-Level.

2) Do you have a more ‘confident’ H2 subjects compared to Economics? If you do, you might consider H1 because, at the end of the day, your ‘better’ subjects should be your H2s as they are worth 20 rank points.

3) Are you taking Economics because you want to, or you have to?

If it is purely to fulfill “Contrasting Subject Requirement”, then H1 might be for you, assuming you have three more ‘confident’ H2 subjects as mentioned.

If you have a keen interest in Economics, maybe H2 might be for you. Writing skills and data interpretation skills are similar for both H2 and H1, if you are interested in Economics, you will put in more effort to learn more and practice more. Therefore, you might as well devote your time and effort on H2 which gives you 20 rank points.

I wish you all the best in making your choice.

I specialise in JC education and I hope to help youth more, I will be uploading more articles soon! If you enjoyed this article and would like to see more, please follow, like, subscribe and share my social media. Links below:



Have a great day ahead!

Benjamin Thong

Social Scientist Academy


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