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IGCS Home Tutors share on an overview on the IGCSE Syllabus and how to prepare well for it!

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Understanding the Cambridge IGCSE Curriculum

What Is Cambridge IGCSE Examination? 

The demand for IGCSE Home Tutors has been on a steady rise here at MindFlex Home Tuition. You have probably heard about Cambridge IGCSE being the “International version” of GCE O Levels. Even though Cambridge IGCSE may be of somewhat the equivalent qualification of the local Singapore GCE O Levels, there is still a certain difference in its curriculum and examinable content. Cambridge IGCSE stands for the International General Certificate of Secondary Education and it is recognised internationally and viewed highly by well-known universities and companies worldwide. This popular international curriculum is mainly taken by international students at 14-16 years old. 

The Cambridge IGCSE curriculum is known to be a stepping stone for students to prepare them for higher level Cambridge Advanced stage exams, including International AS and A-Levels, as well as Cambridge Pre-University course. This curriculum offers a variety of routes for learners with a wide range of abilities, including those whose first language is not English. There are over 70 subjects offered for the Cambridge IGCSE exams including 30 languages, and schools can offer them in any combination. In schools, students are required to take a minimum of 7 or a maximum of 14 subjects. The core subjects include English, Mathematics and Sciences, you can also choose to take up other subjects from categories such as Humanities and Social Studies and Creative, Technical Vocational, etc.

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The IGCSE Exams are popularly offered by many international schools in Singapore and offer wide variety of subjects for students to choose from

Cambridge IGCSE VS GCE O Level – What Are The Differences?

As there is always confusion between the Cambridge IGCSE and local Singapore-Cambridge GCE O Level, it is important to clarify that the GCE O Level examination has no relation to the GCSE examination in the United Kingdom, as the local GCE O Level management has been taken over by Singapore’s Ministry of Education since 2006. Although both examinations are equivalent in their qualification, there are, however, different in terms of their grading system, coursework and syllabus.

IGCSE Examination Grading System 

In the local Singapore GCE O Level examination, most of the subjects are graded based on written papers during the actual examination, with exceptions of language subjects (with additional oral and listening comprehension components). The grading system spans from A1 to F9, where A1 is the highest achievable grade, and anything beyond D7 would be considered as a fail grade. Meanwhile, Cambridge IGCSE offers students a choice between Core and Extended Papers in their IGCSE chosen subjects, so as to account for students of differential abilities. 

The Core curriculum is taken by the vast majority of students who take the IGCSE exams. It provides a well-rounded overview of the subject and the grading system spans from grade C to G. Meanwhile, the Extended curriculum made up of Core curriculum and a Supplement, and is targeted for more academically inclined students, and range from grades A* to E. 

IGCSE Examination Coursework

Coursework refers to a project spanning across a year and which counts to a certain percentage of the final grade of the subject. Examples of these subjects include English, Geography, History, Art, Music, where students are able to express their knowledge, skills and talents through their very own individual projects instead of just a single final examination paper. There are coursework components for some of these subjects in both the IGCSE (non-compulsory) as well as the local GCE O Level examinations (compulsory). Students will be carrying out their coursework under the guidance of a mentor or teacher to ensure that you are on the right path and progressing correctly. If you are homeschooled, it is recommended not to take upon any subjects with coursework because they have to be done under the guidance of an instructor/teacher, and internally assessed by that instructor/teacher before the examination board assesses it. 

An example of coursework for IGCSE is for the English subject, Students are to complete three 500-800 word essays – firstly a descriptive and/or narrative piece, secondly an informative, analytical and/or argumentative piece, and thirdly a response to a text. This alone is worth 50% of the total English grade, so students should opt in for coursework if they prefer to distribute their marks out rather than banking it solely on 1 final paper.

The pieces for submission is to be done with the presence of an assigned teacher and according to the IGCSE examination guideline. Similarly, you may opt to do coursework in Maths, Geography and other subjects. For the GCE O Level examination, coursework is also offered to students as an examination component, compulsory for the subjects that have such a component. There are coursework components provided for subjects that are more practical and hands-on, for instance, subjects such as Art, Food and Nutrition, Design and Technologies etc.

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Coursework can be a desirable option for students who love a more hands-on approach in subjects such as Art, Music and the Humanities. A tutor / mentor will be guiding you through to ensure that you are on the right path.

IGCSE Examination Syllabus

Students taking the Cambridge IGCSE syllabus usually take up 7 main subjects, whereas students taking the local GCE O Levels can offer a student to take up to 9 subjects, depending on the subject combination at their individual schools. An example of 9-subject subject combination could be English, Elementary and Additional Maths, Triple Sciences, Combined Humanities and Higher Mother Tongue.

There is also a great difference in how examination papers are marked between Cambridge IGCSE and GCE O Level. Cambridge IGCSE papers are tested more on the application of knowledge rather than content, as compared to the GCE O Level papers. If you are able to memorise the points and keywords well, it would be easier for you to score good marks for your examination for the O Levels.

Who Takes Cambridge IGCSE? What Comes After the IGCSE? 

Most international schools in Singapore offer the IGCSE exams to students, with exceptions like SAS, SAIS which have their own syllabus and examination boards to follow. Some international schools also operate with the Middle Year Programme, so it is not compulsory for the students to sit for the IGCSE unless they opt to. There are 32 schools in Singapore offering IGCSE. Most students will sit for their IGCSE exams between Grade 9 to 11.

After passing the IGCSE Examinations, you are entitled to progress to prepare for the Cambridge International A-Level exams, IB exams or Foundation courses offered by universities. 

Cambridge A-Level

The Cambridge A Levels is a pre-university programme that is recognised in many countries around the world. It is a typical and great option for those who desire to pursue higher tertiary education at a university later. 

The International Baccalaureate Diploma

International Baccalaureate (IB) is a diploma programme recognised internationally. Students typically take 6 subjects, out of which 3 must be Higher Level subjects (more arduous) and the other 3 will be at the Standard Level. IB gives a very balanced and holistic education which provides a pathway to many universities around the world. If you intend to pursue the IB Diploma later on as well, fret not as we have IB tutors readily available to guide you through the 2-year course too!

Pre-University Foundation Course

A foundation course is generally offered by a university as an integrated pre-university course specially designed for the degrees offered by a university, providing the foundational knowledge required of the Degree. Students who had struggled with the IGCSE exams are advised to take a foundation course, as generally, the entry requirements for a foundation course are easy. Not to mention, once you have passed a foundation course from a university, you are almost guaranteed an offer for a degree from that university.

Cambridge IGCSE – Tips To Score Well

After familiarising yourself with the Cambridge IGCSE syllabus and comparing it to GCE O Level examinations, you must be wondering how you can score better for your Cambridge IGCSE Examination. Here are 5 tips shared by experienced IGCSE Tutors from MindFlex Home Tuition!

IGCSE Examination Tip #1: Consistent Work & Practice

Always listen to your teacher’s explanations during lessons, and writing down notes will help you to retain information that is useful. You should also complete your homework and use it to test your knowledge on each subject. Homework provides as an opportunity for practice and in doing this, helps you to further familiarise yourself with your newly-learnt concepts. Hiring an IGCSE Home Tutor could also help you greatly with achieving consistency in your work.

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Doing your homework and putting in extra hours of practice will greatly help you to consolidate your knowledge and improve your applications skills

IGCSE Examination Tip #2:  Clarify All Doubts As Soon As Possible

It is hard to move on with your studies if you are holding onto any doubts, especially for cumulative subjects where you need to understand concepts well in order to grasp the knowledge of the topics. If you are unsure of certain areas in a particular chapter, it would be best to clarify it with a private tutor or your teachers. By doing so, you are then able to move on to other topics/chapters at a good pace, therefore grasping the concepts of the subject more easily. It might be hard to seek help from your teacher due to the lack of time, so if you quite a fair bit of doubts you can consider hiring a private IGCSE Home Tutor to help you.

IGCSE Examination Tip #3: Learn Examination Skills

An exam tip to look out for is that the marks on each of the questions can act as a gauge on how much you should write in your answers. There is no need to write more points than needed based on the mark allocations. In some questions, your answer should be backed up with necessary diagrams and graphs to score more marks. Your drawings should be well labelled and in details and it is recommended that you use a pencil to draw diagrams to easily eradicate mistakes. Do also check on your punctuation, grammar and spelling in your answers to ensure that your answers are clear and coherent. If you are writing calculations or formulas, make sure to write it clearly. By hiring professional IGCSE Home Tutors, you will be able to receive more examination skills to help you do better for your papers!

IGCSE Examination Tip #4: Organisation Is The Key To Success

Right from the beginning, start making concise notes each topic, and this is extremely necessary for content-heavy subjects like Biology. You might want to invest more time at the start to make detailed and useful notes, to aid you in revision time later on. By writing it on your own, it also ensures that you clearly understand what is to be studied. When the exams draws near, you can then revise easily using your personalised notes that contains key concepts and vocabulary that you need to memorise. If you have already engaged IGCSE Home Tutors, you should ask your tutors to assist you in curating and organising your notes to make them suitable for you. With the help of the tutors, you might be able to get more out-of-textbook content, which might score you bonus marks!

IGCSE Examination Tip #5: Practice Using Past Papers

For the last three months, print out the past papers from the last 10 years. Do them as many times as you can and check your answers from the marking scheme. Review all the tests and exam papers done and learn from your mistakes. By practising with past IGCSE papers, you are able to know how everything is organised in the papers as well as identifying the similar questions which you can further understand how marks are given through the marking scheme. With professional IGCSE Home Tutors, you might be able to receive some additional questions from their very own question bank, and you can consult your tutor immediately when you encounter any trouble answering the questions. 

In Conclusion

It is important to do well for Cambridge IGCSE as your final grades fo affect your education prospects for the long-term to some extent. At MindFlex Home Tuition, we have some IGCSE Home Tutors with us who are familiar and have experienced teaching IGCSE students in the past or presently. Many IGCSE Home Tutors have been teaching International schools students for the past few years and have a good track record. Our IGCSE Home Tutors also provide their students with customised notes and practise papers to help them prepare them better for Cambridge IGCSE Examination. If you require help and guidance early, be sure to contact us today! if you are preparing for the IB Programme after completing your IGCSE Exams, do check out our IB Tutors, or Top 20 Options for IB Tuition in Singapore

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