We’ve had an avalanche of enquiries in the past week about iGCSE.  It sounds like another chance for Year 11 to attain their potential in English this year, but what’s the best way to prepare for it in the midst of an English Department’s planned programme of study full of preparation for end of year exams and Controlled Assessments?

What is becoming clear is that, whatever iGCSE a school may choose, these exams are a very different beast to the AQA Unit 1 paper or other exam board equivalents.  Here are some basic differences within a range of different specifications at first glance.  Some have:

  • longer texts for the reading task
  • a range of different texts (up to 5) to be read within one Reading section
  • significantly more questions in the Reading sections (up to 11 in one Board’s paper)
  • questions that are worded differently from the GCSE rubric
  • some writing tasks which also assess reading.

We’ve been able to give initial advice as to how to prepare students for these papers.  The most important factor is maintaining students’ confidence when faced with a challenging format that they are unused to.  With this in mind, we’ve been recommending the following:

  • activities that allow students to distinguish and sort questions that ask them to undergo different reading processes
  • once they’ve done this, they can be taught how to construct different styles of responses that allow them to engage in different types of thinking
  • timing exercises
  • skimming/scanning and good old précis routines

Any experience of iGCSE out there?  Would anyone like to get in touch for a further discussion?

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