IGCSE English – Tips for Reading and Writing + Exam Resources

igcse english

Cambridge IGCSE English will test your ability both to read and understand material written in English and also to express yourself in that language in writing and speaking. Hence, we have noted all the following tips you could use in order to help improve your reading skills and prepare better for your upcoming exam. So let’s dive right into in here and now! 

Read also: 5 Tips To Get Through Your IGCSE Exams


Tips for IGCSE English Reading and Writing  

Reading Passages 

person writing on brown wooden table near white ceramic mug

For IGCSE English, the content of some of the reading passages on which you are tested and many of the questions set on these passages will be the same for both Core and Extended candidates.


However, in the IGCSE English Extended Paper exam, there will be some additional questions on which will require you to show an understanding of some of the ideas that are merely implied in the passage, rather than being directly stated by the writer.

Questions such as these are referred to as inferential questions.


The Extended Paper will also have an additional reading passage and questions as compared to the Core paper.

Paper Type  Number of Texts Duration
Core 4 1 hour 30 minutes
Extended 5 2 hours 

To find out more about IGCSE Core and Extended syllabus, visit their official website here


Overall, the Cambridge IGCSE Second Language English Core tier reading questions will expect you to be able to do the following:

– Understand straightforward texts such as notices, signs, timetables, and advertisements and identify and retrieve simple facts and details contained in these texts.

– Read and understand a range of more complex texts (such as letters, brochures, and fiction texts) and select and organize relevant information contained in them including ideas, opinions, and attitudes expressed by the writers.

– Show some understanding of what is implied by the writers but not directly expressed in the text.


The Reading Questions 

girl in black t-shirt writing on white paper

Before we move on to look at how to approach some of the particular types of questions that will be set, it will help to summarise the key points which will ensure that you answer the reading questions as successfully as you can.

Try to keep the following points in mind when preparing to answer the questions.


A careful reading of the entire passage

You have plenty of time to read the passage carefully; don’t rush into writing your answers until you have gained a clear understanding of what you have been asked to read.

Remember that a careful reading and clear understanding of the questions is as important as reading the passages.

This will help to ensure that you select those details that are relevant to the question you are answering. 


Dive deeper into the sections of the passage 

Once you have achieved both an overview of the passage and a clear understanding of what the questions require, then look closely at the relevant sections of the passage on which the questions are based. 

It may help to underline or highlight key points in the text so that you can easily find them when writing your answers.


Answering the questions 

The next step is to produce your written answers to the questions. Remember, it is important that what you write makes it clear that you have understood exactly what the question requires. A reader can judge your understanding by what you have written. Hence, don’t leave out points that may seem obvious if they want relevant answers. 

Use your own words as much as possible to demonstrate your understanding.


If you are asked to explain the meaning of a word such as “exciting” remember that an answer which says “something that makes you feel excited” cannot be rewarded as you need to use the word “thrilling” to show your understanding.

Remember: the more marks a question is worth, the more detailed your answer should be.


Types of texts

The first types of passages that we are going to look at are those which are likely to be set for the earlier questions on both Core and Extended papers.

Advertisements, brochures, leaflets, guides, reports, manuals, and instructions will all be used as a basis for questions, although not all these types of texts will appear in any one question paper.

Owing to the nature and content of these types of writing it is likely that, for both tiers, the question set on them will be quite straightforward and require you to identify factual details contained in the passage.

They will almost certainly be one of the short-answer type, rather than extended responses such as summary.


How to approach short-answer comprehension questions 

Short-answer questions are straightforward. They require brief, factual Anders to show that you have understood a particular piece of information in the text.

You should try to express your answers in your own words. Some questions will be more than one mark.

Pay close attention to how the question is phrased. It gives you an indication of the approach you can use in your answer.


For example:

Questions will contain instructions such as “Give two reasons” which require a straightforward retrieval of details from the passage.


For questions that require you to “Explain” the writers’ opinions, you will need to say what the opinions are about and make comments about them in your own words. 


Where to find Past Year Exams Resources

The IGCSE Cambridge Examination board releases past year paper questions for students to download over at their official website. You can access it here.

Alternately, Tutopiya has our very own Resource Centre that offers students free resources available for download! Get the most updated resources by subscribing to our weekly newsletter!


IGCSE English Online Tuition

Tutopiya Live Online Tuition provides online tuition for students taking the IGCSE English Core as well as the Extended Paper. 

New students on our platform are entitled to a free lesson trial on any subject and curriculum of choice. Our tutors have also been screened and trained to deliver effective and enriching tuition lessons for our students. 

Sign up with Tutopiya today to experience online learning! 

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