IGCSE Chinese First Language: What to Expect for Exams? 

igcse chinese first language

The IGCSE Chinese First Language is one of the 30 language subjects the Cambridge Examination board offers. As the name suggests, the IGCSE Chinese First Language is designed and taken by students whose first language is Chinese. The course of study for the First Language syllabus is more intensive and in-depth than the IGCSE Chinese Second Language and Foreign Language. The IGCSE board offers a different difficulty level that targets a different group of students. We will discuss the IGCSE Chinese First Language in this article today. 


Read also: 9 Super Tips and Habits to Help You to Learn Chinese Easily


Here are some of the things you will need to know and expect for the IGCSE Chinese First Language Exams 

IGCSE Chinese First Language

Things to expect for IGCSE Chinese First Language


IGCSE Chinese First Language

Getting exam practice papers from the IGCSE website 

Since subject-based examinations are not commonly taken like Science and Mathematics, the resources available online are also as limited. The best way to find related and relevant resources like exam papers and notes is through the IGCSE official website. The Cambridge Board uploads the latest examination papers onto their website for students to utilize for their upcoming exams.

On top of that, they also upload the examiners’ reports on the papers which will come in handy for students to understand how the examiners mark and assess. Find the latest examination papers here


IGCSE Chinese First Language

Assessment overview for IGCSE Chinese First Language

The IGCSE Chinese First Language paper consists of two written papers namely Paper 1 and Paper 2. 


Paper 1 

Paper 1 comprises a series of questions and sub-questions to respond to Passage 1, a fiction text. There will be comprehension questions worth 14 marks and 9 additional marks relating to the author’s use of language and structure and the effect these have. 


This section assesses students’ ability to identify and interpret explicit and implicit information and attitude, as well as demonstrates an understanding of how writers use language and structure to achieve effects and influence readers. 


There are 3 main sections in Paper 1 and they are assessed in the following ways: 


Section Assessment Area Total marks
1 Comprehension and Use of Language  23
Directed Writing 25
3 Classical Chinese  12


The total highest attainable score for paper 1 is 60 marks and candidates will need to complete the paper in under 2 hours and 30 minutes. 


Paper 2 

There are 2 sections in Paper 2 and they are as follows: 


Section Assessment  Total marks
Argumentative/ Discursive Writing 25
Descriptive/ Narrative Writing  25 


The total score obtainable for paper 2 is 50 marks and the duration of paper 2 is 2 hours. 


Section 1 

Students are required to answer one question from a choice of four titles and these four titles consist of 2 argumentative and 2 discursive questions. Students are advised to write about 400 to 600 characters. 


Section 2 

Similar to section 1, students are given four topic titles to choose from, two descriptive and two narrative questions. Students will be required to choose one of the four to develop and write a composition. Students are advised to write 400 to 600 characters for this section. 


Both sections carry the same weightage – 25 marks each. 

IGCSE Chinese First Language

Learning content for IGCSE Chinese First Language

Candidates taking the First Language syllabus will engage themselves with a range of genres and types of texts, including fiction and non-fiction, essays, reviews, articles, and Classical Chinese texts. The syllabus focuses on students’ use of language and style. There are 2 major assessment objectives for the Chinese First Language, and they are Reading and Writing. 


Combining IGCSE Chinese First Language with another syllabus 

Students are allowed to take this syllabus alongside other Cambridge International syllabi in a single exam series. The only exceptions are 

  • IGCSE Chinese as Second Language (0523) 
  • IGCSE Mandarin Chinese (0547) 
  • Syllabus with the same title at the same level.  



Candidates are allowed to retake the whole qualification as many times as they want to. They are, however, not allowed to re-sit individual components of the syllabus as it is a linear qualification. 


woman teaching girl


The grades obtainable for the IGCSE Chinese First Language are A*, A, B, C, D, E, F, or G. A8 is the highest attainable grade and G is the lowest. Candidates may also be given ‘Ungraded’ if they did not meet the standard required for grade G. It will not be reflected on the certificate. 


International General Certificate of Secondary Education - Wikipedia

Change in syllabus 

The Cambridge IGCSE board often reviews and updates its syllabus to keep the curriculum relevant. Hence, students are strongly encouraged and advised to read the whole syllabus before embarking on the curriculum. Any updates to the syllabus and curriculum will be reflected on the IGCSE official website here

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