The Official Student’s Guide To The 0500 English IGCSE Examination
By Daniel Stavisky
Paper 2 question 1
• The passage will be literary and/or contain description of a person or place or both. You will have to be sensitive to atmosphere and show appreciation of the feelings of the characters in your response.
• This question is rewarded not only for identification of relevant material in the passage but also inference, development of the ideas and use of supporting detail. There are therefore four types of content required to show advanced comprehension for a top mark out of 15 for Reading.
• For full marks out of 5 for Writing you need to demonstrate structure, sequence, and ‘awide range of original and appropriate language’.
• It will help you enormously to highlight the material you are going to use in the text, andthen write a quick plan in order to organise it into a logical structure before you startwriting your response. This will enable you to avoid repetition and to make sure you arefully answering the question.
• Use everything which is relevant, not just some of the material. On the other hand, theremay be some parts which you should ignore because they are not covered by thequestion.
• Do not drift away from the text; everything you write must have a direct connection with it and be supported by references to it.
• Before you start writing, decide how formal the task is and adopt an appropriate tone.
• Though you can use short quotations from the passage within your response, you should not copy big chunks of text (you may use ellipsis to show where one quotation starts and another ends) and you should use your own words when not actually giving details.
• If the question has several parts you can either integrate the two, e.g. advantages and
disadvantages, or deal with them separately. You can decide on your own structure foryour answer, but what matters is that there should be a structure of some kind, and onewhich the reader can discern.
• What is important is that your answer should be divided into paragraphs, as all
continuous prose should be.
• If you are given bullet points to remind you what should be included, use them to check you have covered what is required, and they can also help you to structure your answer.
The material from the passage should be put into the appropriate section and not
Paper 2 question 2
• The second half of this question will be more demanding than the first. You need to give equal attention to each part and provide at least half a page for each.
• You should aim for 5 relevant quotations in each part of the question. Give the quotation,in quotation marks, explain its meaning, and then explain its effect on the reader. You cannot get higher than 3 marks if you only identify quotations, or higher than 6 marks if you discuss only meanings.
• For 10 out of 10 you should give a full range of explained effects and link them into an overview which shows understanding of what the writer was trying to achieve in the passage as a whole.
• Do not select a quotation which you do not understand as you will not be able to explain either its meaning or its effect.
• When explaining a quotation do not repeat the words used in it. Do not repeat quotations; you cannot get credit more than once.
• Generalised and subjective comments such as ‘The writer makes me feel as though I am there’ and ‘The passage is cleverly written’ gain no marks and give the impression that you are failing to find things to say.
-If you do use technical terms, such as onomatopoeia, makesure they are correctly used and that you are able to justify its intended effect.
• Select brief quotations only, of between one and four words. Do not lift whole chunks oftext, or clump quotations together, or list them. Each one must be focused on specific use of language and explained separately.
• Introduce your choices of language with phrases such as ‘gives the impression of’,‘suggests that’, ‘makes me think that.’ Do not say over and over again ‘This has the effectthat...’
• Once you have arrived at an overview, do not contradict yourself, e.g. do not say that onequotation makes a character seem physically old and another one makes her seemphysically young. This suggests that either the author has ‘got it wrong’ or you have misread the piece, more likely the latter.
• Things to look for are: use of the five senses; use of contrast; use of colour; use of noise;links between subject and environment; surprising, or unusual words; words which create sound effects; unusual or dramatic punctuation; imagery (similes and metaphors)
Paper 2 question 3
• Though this question is called Summary it is not a summary in the sense of being a general description of a situation but instead it is a focused list of the specific ideas or details contained in the passage, after anything irrelevant to the two questions has been removed.
• Find all the points you can for each part of the question; do not stop when you get to 15 as these may not be the same ones the examiner has on their list. The only way to be sure of getting all 15 Reading marks is to use everything relevant.
• To get all 5 Writing marks you need to show evidence of clear and concise summary style throughout, precise focus and the use of your own words.
• Do not attempt to synthesise the two passages as this is not required, is not rewarded; itmakes your task more difficult to attempt to do so as they may not be directly comparable.
Treat the passages separately and focus on the exact wording of the question.
• Do not give your summary in the wrong form as this is penalised i.e. do not offer bullet points or a list, or write in the first person, or comment on the content ofthe passages, or present a narrative, or use quotation.
• The lengths of the summaries of each passage should be roughly equal.
• Though you must use your own words whenever possible, you do not have to find
synonyms for technical objects e.g. solar conductors.
• Both halves of the question are equally important and should be answered in the same way and given the same length of about half a page.
• Summaries much longer than half a page will be penalised in the Writing mark.
• To be concise enough for summary style and to get in all the points you should use complex sentences containing two or three points in each.
• Do not repeat points, or express them vaguely; (these will be given an R (repetition) or PNM (point not made) respectively in the margin, and discounted.
• There is no need to introduce or conclude a summary, and doing so wastes time and words. Start by using the wording of part of the question e.g. ‘The features of the desert were...’