Is JC or Polytechnic a better option? A comparison

Just completed your O or N-Levels? Unsure about what’s next, namely whether to choose JC or Poly?

I’m sure you have heard that JC is the better choice because it gives you a higher chance to enter local universities. This is true, without a doubt, but are you sure you are ready to commit to the heavy workload and rigorous academic requirements of the A-level examinations? Would you prefer a more autonomous, independent and hands-on student life in Poly? Here’s a complete breakdown of the facts that should help you make the very decision on whether to pursue a JC or Poly education.


JC: Two Years

Poly: Three Years

Cost Per Month (For Singaporeans)

School Fees:

Normal JC: $6

Independent JC (e.g. Raffles Junior College): $300-$600

Poly:  approximately $240+

Transport Fare:

JC: Concession fees – $0.42-$2.80 per trip (excluding express bus services)

Poly: Adult Fares unless concession scheme is bought

Number of Institutions:

Poly (In No Order of Merit): 5

  1. Singapore Polytechnic
  2. Nanyang Polytechnic
  3. Ngee Ann Polytechnic
  4. Temasek Polytechnic
  5. Republic Polytechnic

JC: 15

  1. Anderson Serangoon JC
  2. Anglo-Chinese Independent
  3. Anglo-Chinese JC
  4. Catholic JC
  5. Hwa Chong Institution
  6. Tampines Meridian JC
  7. Jurong Pioneer JC
  8. Nanyang JC
  9. National JC
  10. Raffles JC
  11. St-Andrew JC
  12. Temasek JC
  13. Victoria JC
  14. Yishun Innova JC
  15. Eunoia JC


Heavy workload

JC is obviously notorious for its hectic and stressful academic life. Balancing your studies and CCAs can be a real difficulty, considering how much content is tested for the A levels. Students in JC spend 40 hours a week on average studying,

Polytechnics are known to be less busy. The average number of hours spent on studies are probably about 25 hours a week, with some courses spending even less. Of course, there are more rigorous courses that can be just as busy as JC; however, in Poly, you’re likely to have more free time to pursue your recreational activities.

Courses and Subjects:

JC offers many different subjects and allows you to do a mix and match of different subjects, for example, Bio, Chem, Math, Econs, GP, PW. All these subjects are very theoretical and less “applied” than Poly. What JC seeks to impart isn’t exactly real-world skills, but to train you to have an analytical and sharp mind by drilling you on content and analysis. There is less project work and most of your studying is self-directed and solo.

Poly has even more specialised courses, instead of just Biology, they offer Biomedical Science, Biomedical Engineering etc. These courses are meant to give you real-world applicable skills so that you can find a job in the relevant sector once you graduate. Hence Polys also offer internship opportunities for you to boost your profile. There are lots of hands-on projects for you to work on too. Hence there is more collaboration and teamwork needed in poly.

Student Life:

JC: Much like in secondary school, you get to know most people in the same batch. You belong to a close-knitted community. Life is innocent. Oh, and of course, you wear that uniform to school every day. If you are stuck with a uniform you hate then….good luck. The student life in JC is basically:  a student life.  And it’s a phase in your life that I guarantee you will miss when you enter the workforce. If you’ll like to have more of it, go to JC.

Poly: You can really get a glimpse into university or even adult life when in polytechnic. No one will hound you when you play truancy (no such concept) or score badly in school. The greatest perks of Poly is getting to wear whatever you want to school (sensibly of course). To most, this is freedom, however, it may be a headache if you are too conscious about your looks or find the need to spend excessive amounts of money on clothes. If you are eyeing a university space, make sure that you are the type who has the self-discipline to study on a Saturday afternoon when your friends are having fun.

Come university, JC and poly student groups each have their own challenges in adjusting. Both have advantages as well as handicaps against each other.  Check out the differences between JC and university, as well as between poly and university.

Chances of University Admissions:

JC leads to the A-levels, which is meant as an entrant examination for universities. Universities tend to prefer JC students over Poly grads. Even if you don’t do well (below average) for your A levels, your chances of entering a university are higher than a poly graduate whose results may be above average.

JC University Admission Rate: 75% (into Local Unis)

Poly University Admission Rates:30% (into Local Unis)


For detailed information on university entry requirements, check out Poly IGP and JC IGP.

Which Should You Choose? JC or Poly?


  • Not sure what you want to do in the future
  • Academically-inclined and willing to put in hours poring over books
  • Enjoy schooling life
  • Aiming for universities and getting a degree


  • Want more freedom and time to enjoy or explore interests
  • Love working on applicable skills
  • Prefer projects and cumulative assessments over exams
  • Know what you want to do in the future

The choice between JC or Poly is not an easy one. This decision will definitely hold some sway over your future. If you really are gunning for a seat in university, then JC might be a safer bet. If you know what you want, go for poly.  You even stand a chance at a university scholarship if you are prepared to work hard. All roads ultimately lead to Rome. Whatever the case is, don’t be swayed by your friends!  Think hard and have no regrets!


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