Is JC or Polytechnic a better option? A comparison

JC or Poly

Just completed your O or N Levels? Unsure about what’s next? Should you 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, which is without doubt true, but are you sure you are ready to commit to the heavy workload and rigorous academic requirements of the A level? Or do 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 this very important next step to decide whether to go for an education in JC or Poly.


JC: 2 Years

Poly: 3 Years

Cost Per Month (For Singaporeans)

School Fees:

Normal JC: $6

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

Poly:  approximately $200+

Transport Fare:

JC: Concession fees – Flat $0.45c per trip

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: 19

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


Heavy workload

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

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

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 are less project work and most of your studying is independent 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 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 everyday. If you are stuck with a uniform you hate then….good luck. The student life in JC is basically:  a student life.  And its a phase in your life that I guarantee you will miss when you enter workforce. If you 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 call you up 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 for 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 has 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 your 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 is higher than a poly graduate whose results may be above average.

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

Poly University Admission Rates: 17% (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
  • Love working on applicable skills
  • Prefer projects 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 have a toll on 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 lead to Rome ultimately.  Whatever the case is, don’t be swayed by your friends!  Think hard and have no regrets!

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I’m Seah Yi, a graduate from Raffles Junior College, Class of ’14. My subject combination was Biology, Math, Chemistry and Economics (4 H2s) and of course General Paper and Project Work (H1). Studying was never an easy thing for me. I don’t consider myself to be a smart kid and I don’t credit my grades to my intellect either. In my opinion, the greatest asset I have is hard work and the knowledge on how to work smart and hence my motto, “Never Maximal, Never Minimal, Always Optimal”.


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