What is the IGCSE English paper known for?
The IGCSE English ‘O’ level exam is especially focused on critical thinking development and expanding one’s creative writing.
There is more focus on exploring the creative aspect of writing compared to the GCE ‘O’ Level English paper which is also an international exam.
Both papers deal with analytical skills, creative components, reading, ability to communicate and dealing with literary language.
However, the IGCSE English paper is more tuned in to the creative and critical skills as the paper deals with Directed Writing.
Two Types of Writing
The first type is the narrative type of writing. Students are expected to apply themselves to a variety of narrative topics and should be able to write with ease and confidence.
This develops a strong subjective style of writing with dialogues interspersed throughout the writing. The IGCSE English composition may be about personal topics such as “A difficult experience” or “The importance of being honest”.
It is either about a personal recount of one’s own experience or a moral essay highlighting the higher faculties of humanity.
The advantage gained in writing about such topics is that the student becomes fairly conversant about writing on a variety of personal themed topics.
The versatility with real-life experiences becomes mandatory as this paper is graded according to the ability to use good plot content and a strong template suited to the question.
The critical style of writing is when students are expected to write about topics that may be about lifestyles or people in society. It could be about the hobbies of teenagers or how much time students spend on the internet.
Critical writing in IGCSE English is more demanding and there should be a focus on what is going on in society at the moment.
The writing tasks can range from simple ones such as “The most important day” to “Online shopping”. There is an opportunity to develop styles of writing suited to both personal and public views.
Literary appreciation develops critical thinking amongst IGCSE English students. This is a much-needed skill in delving into writing and analysing the works of authors.
Critical thinking is a skill that ingrains a deeper observation and analysis in the student.
One has to look past the surface level and learn how to look for innuendoes and implications which make all the difference in any piece of writing worth it’s salt.
The first type of literary appreciation is poetry. This deals with rhyme and verse. IGCSE Students learn about rhyme scheme, tone, assonance and cadence.
The ‘musicality’ of poetry becomes a new medium for them to explore and appreciate.
The theme and structure of different types of poems from ballads to modern ones with blank verse are learnt with new critical structures peculiar to literary writing.
The second type of literary appreciation is prose. Students assess works from the Victorian period to works from the 20th and 21st centuries.
The range of work is extensive and they learn to assess the different types of thematic concerns and involvements of the various authors with the political and social scenes of those times.
It is a rich and colourful tapestry of literary periods which they will cover and ultimately are expected to piece together their own views independently.
The Ultimate Gain
What do the IGCSE students gain from doing this paper?
This should be the concern of all students and parents. One reason is exposure. Getting exposed to a variety of narrative topics and literary styles mean that the student would have developed a strong subjective writing base.
Writing with a personal overview and being bold enough to express one’s opinions becomes a major strength.
Enrolling for the IGCSE English paper is a worthwhile exercise as it improves the base strength in observation skills and in writing.
It will prove to be part of the much-needed reservoir of basic writing faculties needed for the long haul leading to advanced examinations at university levels.