Cambridge Essay Questions – by Theme

Sports ...............................................................................................................................................2 Social Issues.....................................................................................................................................2 Personal ..........................................................................................................................................2 Ethics/ Morality ................................................................................................................................3 Health .............................................................................................................................................3 Social trends ....................................................................................................................................4 Animal rights....................................................................................................................................4 The Mass Media ...............................................................................................................................5 Education..........................................................................................................................................5 Crime and Punishment .....................................................................................................................6 Prejudice & Discrimination ................................................................................................................6 The Role of Men, Women and Family in Society ..............................................................................6 Teen Issues ......................................................................................................................................6 Work & Leisure .................................................................................................................................7 Culture ..............................................................................................................................................7 The Arts (in general) .........................................................................................................................7 Language..........................................................................................................................................9 Literature...........................................................................................................................................9 Population.........................................................................................................................................9 Poverty..............................................................................................................................................9 Nationalism .......................................................................................................................................9 War and Terrorism ..........................................................................................................................10 History.............................................................................................................................................10 Regionalism & Internationalism ......................................................................................................10 Politics ............................................................................................................................................11 Economics ......................................................................................................................................12 Environment....................................................................................................................................12 Science & Technology ....................................................................................................................13 S’pore Questions ............................................................................................................................13 Others .............................................................................................................................................14

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Choose one modern or historical person you most admire and justify your choice. being different makes a person special. ‘What is important is not winning. Is friendly rivalry ever possible? (2002) 17. and why? (1992) 6. ‘Sports which contain the risk of serious physical injury or death should be banned. (1991) 5.” Should we follow this advice in our lives today? (1989) 4. How important is discipline in society? (1995) 8.’ How far do you agree with this view? (1996) 4.’ How far do you agree with this view? (1995) 7. ‘A life without challenge and risk is not worth living. ‘The secret of a happy life is moderation in all things. Is greater life expectancy always desirable? (1996) 9.thegptutor. (1999) 13. ‘Human beings have unlimited desires.’ How realistic is this attitude in the world of sport today? (1997) 5. How do you measure success in life? (1982) 2. Is it always important to succeed? (2000) 16. Consider the value in life of planning. Does sport always contribute to international harmony and understanding? (1993) 3. ‘The only worthwhile form of discipline is self-discipline.Sports 1. What effects has commercialisation had upon sport? (1989) 2. “The greatest thing in the world is to be self-sufficient.’ Discuss.com 2 . Is sport too closely linked to money these days? (2001) Social Issues Personal 1. (1996) 10. (2003) www. Do arguments ever settle anything? (1999) 12.’ Discuss. but limited resources. A life of total luxury – dream or nightmare? (2000) 15. “Neither a borrower nor a lender be. If you could choose to be endowed with a great gift or talent. (1999) 14. but taking part. which one would you choose.” Do you agree? (1985) 3.’ Discuss. ‘Being in fashion makes a person popular.’ Is it possible to reconcile the two? (1998) 11.

’ Discuss. freedom from want and freedom from fear. What diseases are most prevalent in your part of the world and how can they be combated? (1987) 36.thegptutor. only afterwards to oneself and one’s family. Can telling lies ever be justified? (1992) 24. (1994) 38. realism brings results. (1996) 29. Discuss the ways in which attitudes to health have changed in your society and the effects which have resulted. Can the trade in weapons ever be justified? (2002) Health 33. What are “good manners”? Are they important? (1985) 19. Is personal morality the concern of the State? (1996) 28. ‘The strong do what they will.com 3 . ‘Money is the root of all evil. Should promises always be kept? (1995) 27.’ Should it? (1993) 25. Should tobacco-smoking be discouraged or even banned? (1986) 35.’ Is this attitude acceptable? (1998) 30. Franklin D. the weak do what they must. Roosevelt said that the world should be founded upon four freedoms: freedom of speech. Which is the more important. How can we as individuals become healthier? (1988) 37.’ Discuss. ‘A preoccupation with physical fitness is the curse of modern life.’ Do you agree? (1991) 23.’ How far can this principle still be maintained? (1998) 31.’ How far do you agree? (2002) www.’ Discuss. (1994) 26. ‘Far too little attention is paid to the needs of the handicapped. Which. ‘The first duty of a doctor has always been to preserve life.Ethics/ Morality 18. ‘One’s first duty is to one’s nation. ‘Idealism brings disillusionment. (1990) 22. Should all forms of gambling be abolished? (1989) 20. is the most important freedom? (1990) 21. freedom of worship. How far do you agree that health is the responsibility of the State. to cure disease or to prevent it? (1985) 34. (2000) 32. in your opinion.’ Discuss. whatever the cost. not of the individual? (2000) 40. ‘If people become ill it is largely their own fault. the profit motive must always be the main priority. ‘The truth should always be told.’ Do you agree? (1999) 39. ‘Where business and industry are concerned.

’ Discuss.’ Is this a blessing or a curse? (1992) 45. Do animals have rights and.com 4 .’ To what extent has the pursuit of wealth become the modern goal? (2000) 47. ‘In the modern world. Discuss the possible causes and suggest some remedies. ‘The place for animals is in the wild. What changes would you like to see in today’s society? (1992) 44. ‘I am a Millionaire. Are you for or against zoos? (1986) 54. To what extent are the young in Singapore favoured at the expense of the elderly?(2004) 52. (2000) 49.Social trends 41. Should human beings look forward to the next century more with optimism than pessimism? (1997) 46. Is there a case for keeping animals in zoos? (2002) www. That is my religion. image is everything.thegptutor. Can the transplanting of animal organs into human beings ever be justified? (1999) 57. (1991) 43. (2004) Animal rights 53. In what ways is the life style in your country changing today? (1987) 42. Is it true that the old must now learn from the young? (2000) 48. ‘Modern methods of transport have transformed our world into a village. Do you think that life today offers us too many choices? (2001) 50. if so.’ Do you agree? (1993) 55. should they be protected? (1995) 56. Discuss the importance of religion in society today. Loneliness is becoming an increasing social problem. Do you agree that city life is becoming increasingly unattractive? (2002) 51. not in zoos or circuses.

Is a sound knowledge of science and technology essential for a well-educated person in today’s world? (1999) 14. What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of a university education for a business man or woman? (1989) 8.com 5 . Should the Press be completely free? (1991) 7. Can the media ever be relied upon to convey the truth? (2003) 12. if any. How can modern technology be used to aid learning in schools? (1988) 7. with examples. art. How necessary is it for the non-scientist to have some knowledge of mathematics? (1987) 6. ‘Education does not develop individuality but conformity. Discuss the benefits and disadvantages which technological development is likely to have upon education in the near future. ‘Conformity should be the main aim of all schools. Discuss the various methods of advertising and their effectiveness. Discuss. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of being educated abroad. (2004) Education 1. ‘The media can largely be blamed for the world-wide increase in violence. Advertising encourages a desire for products which people do not actually need. To what extent should the private lives of public figures be the subject of media coverage? (1995) 8. (1997) 10.’ Do you agree? (1991) 6. What scientific knowledge should an educated person have? (1983) 3. What are the merits of the cinema as a means of amusement and education? (1990) 5. Do schools try to teach too much? (1985) 5. ‘The main function of education should be to enable people to gain employment. Should one aim of education be the development of talent in such fields as music. Write a critical account of the newspapers and popular magazines produced in your country. television. (1997) 12.” To what extent to you agree? (1996) 9. would you like to see in your country’s education system? (1980) 2. newspapers. (1997) 11. Do you think there is any need for change in the educational system in your country? (1990) 9.’ How far is this true? (2002) www. Compare the effectiveness of any two of the following as a means of news coverage: the radio.’ Is such a statement always valid? (1998) 13.’ Do you agree? (1994) 10. (1986) 4. What changes. (1984) 3. “Statistics can be both helpful and misleading.thegptutor. Should advertising be restricted in any way? (2001) 11. (1983) 2.The Mass Media 1.” Discuss. ‘Television will eventually be the death of sport. drama? (1984) 4.

‘The teenage years are the best years of one’s life. Young people are slaves to fashion. Can you suggest any improvements? (1982) 2. What rights and responsibilities should teenagers have? (1989) 11. Describe the part that grandparents play in the family life of your country.Crime and Punishment 1.com 6 . Is the idea of having one partner for life still a realistic one? (2001) Teen Issues 10. Consider the arguments for and against the use of the death penalty in a modern society. They have no reverence for parents or old age. Is a world without racial conflict an impossible dream? (1993) 3. (1997) The Role of Men. ‘The world of the future will be a woman’s world. Discuss the view that children always suffer when both parents work. Are they true today? (1990) 12. Do you agree that a woman’s most important role is that of wife and mother? (1984) 4. (1981) 3.’ What are your views? (1999) 9. (1992) 13. (1988) 5. Should marriage be a life-long commitment? (1995) 6. traditional family ties are weakening. In general. What do you consider to be effective means of keeping law and order in today’s society? (1988) 3. Women and Family in Society 1. Examine some forms of prejudice in the world and consider the ways in which they might be tackled. (1997) 5. They are impatient of all restraint.’ Would you agree with this view? (1994) 14. Do you think girls should be given the same education as boys? (1981) 2.’ These words were written many years ago. Discuss. (1999) www. To what extent is a stable family vital for a successful society? (1997) 7. What effects is this trend likely to have on your society? (1980) 2. Discuss the qualities you would look for in an ideal parent.thegptutor. Discuss the reasons for crime among young people and the ways in which they can be encouraged to behave differently. Should the police have unlimited powers when dealing with crime? (2002) Prejudice & Discrimination 1. Consider the criticism levelled at young people that their only values are self-centred ones. Describe the system for maintaining law and order in your country. (1998) 8. (1993) 4. ‘The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They talk as if they alone know everything.

What are the most popular types of film in your country and why? (1982) www.com 7 . Is this desirable? (1992) 8. Why paint when you can use a camera? (1981) 14. “Music is a kind of international language. would leisure then become as tedious as work? (1989) 4. Eventually computers will allow people to work from home. Describe some of the interesting things that tourists are rarely shown when they visit your area. Should efforts be made to preserve traditional forms of dress? (1985) 5.” Discuss.thegptutor. (1984) 4. (1992) 9. Can a country preserve its culture nowadays when subject continually to outside influences? (1986) 6. As technology advances. in spite of all the changes in society. what arguments would you advance for the encouragement of local arts and crafts? (1980) 2. What considerations have to be taken into account when choosing a career? (1983) 2. (1980) 13. How far do we agree that. Discuss the appeal of either modern novels. (1993) 10. ‘The most worthwhile jobs are those with the least financial gain. or modern music. Is there sufficient provision for the leisure activities of teenagers in your country? (1990) 6. traditional values always remain the best? (1998) The Arts (in general) 12. Apart from the need to earn a living. Which are the most important days in the calendar for the community to which you belong? Explain their significance. If life were one long holiday. (1982) 3. (1993) 11. What in your view is distinctive about the culture of your country? Give examples to illustrate your answer. How important is ceremony in your country? (1987) 7. Is it right that a ‘pop’ singer should earn more money than a nurse? (1990) 5. How far should architecture be both beautiful and practical? Discuss with reference to particular examples in your country. (1991) 9. or modern drama. Assess the ways in which the geographical features of your country have shaped its development and its people. On what should rates of pay for work be based? (1985) 3. Is it foolish to believe in superstitions? (1989) 8. Do we need to be educated in how to use this time sensibly? (1991) 7. ‘‘Work is the only route to happiness.’ Do you agree? (2001) Culture 1.Work & Leisure 1. our leisure time is increasing.” Do you agree? (1981) 15.

Discuss the part music plays in public and private life. Do you agree? (1986) 23.’ By reference to specific examples. drama or literature. ‘Films which have the greatest appeal are usually those which have the least value. (1990) 26. (2000) 32. ‘Public money should not be wasted on supporting the Arts. (1982) 18. (2001) 33. music or literature to support your answer.’ Using examples. (1997) 29. (2002) www. consider how far this is a fair assessment.’ Discuss. Should a work of art always have to give you something to think about? Discuss in relation to either novels or paintings. they should support themselves. (1994) 27. but ultimately of little practical use.16. Consider the influence of pop stars and their music.’ Discuss. What makes a great film? (1986) 22. ‘A film has one purpose – to entertain. Do you agree that the primary purpose of the Arts. consider this view.thegptutor. What is the place of music in modern life? (1989) 25.’ Do you agree? Refer to specific examples from painting. ‘All art is propaganda in some form. (1998) 30.com 8 .’ Discuss. (1983) 20. television and radio plays or any combination of these. whether music. painting. Consider the importance of drama in your country today. (1982) 17. In a world without books or music. ‘It is impossible to prove that one art form is superior to another. ‘Enjoyable. (1999) 31. Which of the artistic talents would you most like to possess and why? (1987) 24. Music is purely for relaxation.’ Consider the value of music or art or literature in the light of this comment. (1995) 28. what would be missing? Discuss with reference to specific examples. is to entertain? (1985) 21. You may refer to live theatre. ‘A work of art can never be valued just in financial terms. What do you understand by “fashion” and why does fashion change? (1983) 19.

(d) thunder and lightning? (1981) 2.thegptutor. Are the poor an inevitable feature in any society?(2004) Nationalism 1. How far do you think English is a good universal language? (1988) 2.” (G. M. What do you see as that of your own country? (1980) 2. Write a critical review of a book. What significance do any two of the following have in the folk tales that you know (a) rivers. (b) forests. (1988) 3. What contributions might be brought to a country’s culture by immigrants? (1980) 2. Are there advantages in living in a multi-racial society? (1981) 3. (1992) Population 1. Discuss the causes and consequences of the refugee problems in the modern world. ‘It is a sweet and honourable thing to die for one’s country.com 9 . (1991) 3. “Education… has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading.’ The poet Wilfred Owen described this saying as ‘the old lie’.” Discuss. What would you most miss about your country if you were obliged to live abroad permanently? (1988) 5. Does pride in one’s country still have a place in the modern world today? (1999) www. (c) mountains. Trevelyan). ‘Reading novels is a waste of time. play or film which you have read or seen. (1991) 6. What types of fiction do you enjoy reading and why? (1984) 4.’ How far would you agree? (1994) 2. (1994) Poverty 1. ‘If people are poor it is largely their own fault. How far would a universal language be valuable and practical? (1995) Literature 1. Do you agree? (1992) 6. Assess the arguments for and against the control of population.” Discuss.Language 1. What makes a best-selling novel? (1983) 3. Every country has its special kind of natural beauty. What do you consider to be worth reading? (1988) 5. How far should the teaching of history aim to foster pride in one’s country and its past? (1986) 4. ‘Mathematics is the most perfect language of all.

What do you think have been the most important changes in your country during the last 100 years? (1991) 3.’ Do you agree? (2001) 7. How can we build up friendship between nations? (1990) 6. How do you think the world’s politicians could best promote more understanding and better relations among different nations? (1985) 2. What are the main causes of international tensions today? (1989) 4.” Do you support this view? (1984) 2. ‘History can never be anything more than an intelligent guess at what the past was like. Does a study of history make you optimistic or pessimistic about the future of the human race? (2002) 8. ‘The decisive use of force is the only practical means to resolve territorial conflicts.’ Is a knowledge of history important? (1992) 4. To what extent should richer nations help the poorer ones? (2000) www. The reality is inevitably lost forever. Is it ever right for one country to become involved in the internal affairs of another? (1997) 8.’ Discuss.com 10 . it is vital to prepare for war. (1995) 6. What influence can the world’s non-aligned nations exert on the international scene? (1988) 3. “All history books are biased.’ To what extent is such a viewpoint justifiable? (1998) 7. Is a preoccupation with the past merely an escape from the present? (2000) 6. (1996) 7. Can terrorism ever be justified? (1987) 3. To what extent can international aid be really effective? Refer to specific examples to support your case.thegptutor. In what circumstances is the invasion of one country by another justified? (1982) 2. Is History anything more than the study of warfare? (2003) 9. Can anything worthwhile be gained from continued research into historical events? (1996) 5. ‘To ensure peace.War and Terrorism 1. Has war ever been justifiable? (1988) 4. ‘The prospect of a Third World War is now unthinkable. (1993) 5. What can be done to alleviate suffering in the world? (1989) 5. ‘Nuclear weapons have ceased to serve any purpose and should be abolished. ‘Those who have no knowledge of the past are condemned to repeat it.’ Discuss.’ Do you agree? (2002) History 1. Do the past and present offer any guidance for the future? (2004) Regionalism & Internationalism 1.

‘In today’s world.’ Do you agree? (2003) 16. (1996) 12. not by military might. Politics is the art of persuasion.’ Discuss. should decide how to organize their lives.’ How far would you agree? (1999) 15. Is equality for all a realistic and desirable aim within a society? (1994) 10. not the government. have the great empires of the world achieved? (1983) 4.’ Discuss. ‘People. How far and in what circumstances has the state the right to restrict the freedom of the individual? (1981) 3.’ Is this true? (1993) 9. we have more government and less freedom. ‘A benevolent dictatorship is the most effective form of government.’ Is this a fair comment? (2004) www. What priorities would you set for government expenditure and why? (1984.’ Discuss this statement.thegptutor. Discuss the extent to which global and national interests can be balanced. ‘Public campaigns are hardly ever effective. (1996) 11. ‘Freedom of speech is a basic right. ‘A good leader must always look beyond the needs of his or her country.’ Discuss. “As society becomes more complex. (1998) 14.as long as the speakers do not abuse it. power is determined by economic success. In what ways does a country both benefit and suffer from where it is situated? (2001) 11. Can small countries have a significant voice in world affairs? (2004) Politics 1. ‘The best test of a civilised society is the way in which it treats its weakest members. ‘Good government requires the courage to take unpopular decisions. Is “one man one vote” the best way to choose a government? (1987) 7. (2001) 10.” Discuss. Discuss. if anything.1993) 5. What lessons can be learnt from the study of past dictatorships? (1980) 2.com 11 .9. (1989) 8. What. with examples to support your answer. (1986) 6. (1997) 13.

of the various ways in which society deals with waste materials. To what extent are small businesses preferable to large ones? (2003) 9. (1993) 7. (1982) 4. The problems of survival for mankind have never been so great as they are today. (1998) 12. ‘The sea is a bottomless rubbish pit. (1982) 3. (1984) 5. Should we be concerned about the “greenhouse effect”? (1992) 10.’ Discuss. How far is recycling the answer to the problem of waste? (2004) www. they merely respond to them. What scope is there for industrial development in your country? (1986) 5. Have multi-national businesses had a positive or negative impact on your society? (2004) Environment 1. Evaluate the problems. Consider the importance of grass. ‘The only future for the car is its elimination. (1998) 13. Why should a world wide afforestation programme be considered? (1986) 6. Consider whether noise is a problem in modern society.Economics 1. How important is foreign trade to your country? (1987) 6. Describe the effects of inflation in your country. What do you understand to be the main differences between “developed” and “under-developed” countries? (1981) 3.’ Discuss. Discuss the causes and consequences of erosion. Discuss the benefits of and the problems caused by the artificial damming of rivers. (1987) 8. and benefits. Describe the part played by either the banking system or multi-national companies in the economic life of your country.thegptutor.” Discuss. Economists do not control events. (1980) 2. Consider the importance of trees. (1980) 2. How far can we satisfy the world-wide demand for food and still protect the environment? (1997) 11.com 12 . (1983) 4. (1999) 14. (1991) 9. Do you agree? (1986) 7. ‘Consider the advantages and disadvantages of the tourist industry for your country. Consider how the transport system in your country might be improved. (1994) 8.

’ To what extent is this an accurate claim? (1994) 12.com 13 . ‘For parents to choose the sex of their unborn child is neither natural nor desirable. ‘As science advances. Is a world dominated by science a dream or a nightmare for future generations? (1998) 18. in a scientific age. (2001) 21.’ Discuss. What benefits are likely to result from an increasing use of computers? (1980) 2. ‘Science can never provide a final answer to things. In your opinion what are the most interesting current developments in science? (1993) 10. ‘Science never provides any solutions – it only poses more questions.thegptutor. Why. (1983) 4.” Discuss. ‘The family has suffered at the expense of career in Singaporean society. Examine the implications of cloning for the human race. ‘Science and religion will always conflict.or afraid of. Discuss with examples the relationship between pure and applied science. Examine the advantages and disadvantages resulting from the use of satellite technology. (1995) 15. it is only a way of studying them. Was life for young people in Singapore better in the past than it is today? (2003) 3. Does the modern world place too much reliance on technology? (2003) 24. How far should scientists be held responsible for the uses made of their discoveries? (1990) 6. How might advances in technology affect society and the individual in the near future? (1984) 5.” Do you agree? (1992) 9. Is space exploration worthwhile? (1990) 7.’ Is this a fair comment? (2003) www.’ Discuss.’ Do you agree? (2004) S’pore Questions 1. “Scientists are the explorers of today.the supernatural? (1996) 17. (1994) 11. the importance of religion declines.Science & Technology 1. (2002) 22. What scientific or technological advances have most affected modern life in your country? (1990) 8.’ Is this a fair comment? (1995) 14. ‘Computers and mobile phones have made us all worse at talking to one another. How far can the needs of minorities be met in modern Singapore? (2003) 2. ‘How inventions and discoveries are used is not the concern of the scientist. are people still interested in. (1982) 3. not better!’ What do you think? (2001) 20.’ Is this a fair comment? (2000) 19. To what extent is continued research into nuclear power justifiable? (1995) 13. Should any limits be placed upon scientific developments? (1996) 16. ‘Computer games have great appeal but little value. Should medical science always seek to prolong life? (2003) 23.

Discuss the appeal and value of fantasy stories and films. hearing. Does the book still have a future? (2003) 11.Others 1. taste and smell. Consider ways in which household furniture and equipment could be better designed. (1982) 2. Discuss the relative importance to men and animals of the five senses of sight.com 14 . (2003) 12.’ Discuss. ‘Far too much attention is given to beauty products and treatments. ‘Statistics measure everything but prove nothing.thegptutor. ‘To live is to change. and the dangers. Is air travel as safe as it should be? (1989) 6. (2004) 13. ‘Pets need us more than we need them. ‘Air travel creates more problems than benefits.’ What do you think? (2000) 8. Discuss the importance of colour in the world of nature.’ Is change always beneficial? (1994) 7.’ Is this a fair comment? (2002) 10. (1988) 5. (1983) 3. touch. Discuss the appeal. of attempting to predict the future. (2001) 9.’ Do you agree? (2004) www. How does the climate of your country affect the design and construction of its buildings? (1987) 4.

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