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Cambridge IGCSE

A guide for students, by students.

Are you looking for the best way to study for your incoming IGCSE’s? The St Francis Post has written a comprehensive guide to help all students find and create habits that will allow them to see growth and achieve the best results for upcoming examinations.

Studying for the IGCSE’s is most certainly a stressful and daunting period. For many, it becomes a period of anxiety, endless stress, procrastination, worry, and even sleepless nights. However, by managing your time, establishing effective studying habits and creating a healthy balance, you can guarantee a decrease in stress levels and reach your greatest potential.


What is Cambridge IGCSE?

Cambridge International Examinations prepares school students for life, helping them develop an informed curiosity and a lasting passion for learning.

The Cambridge International Examinations IGCSE courses are internationally recognized as the most academically challenging courses currently on offer to 14-16-year-olds. The IGCSEs are a key milestone in preparing students for the rigorous IB Diploma Program, and the world’s leading universities look to them as an additional performance indicator when considering applications.

Learners develop a strong understanding of each Cambridge IGCSE subject they study and acquire creative thinking, inquiry, and problem-solving skills.

Understanding the way you work best

We are all unique and individual in our way, it might sound cliché, but that is the truth. We differ from our physical features to our cognitive behaviors to our psychological development. We are all different.

Everybody has their preferences of learning styles and techniques that suit them the best. While some may prioritize notes, others prioritize reading. Some prefer creating detailed, creative, and colorful notes, while others prefer black and white. Some people are visual learners, while others are auditory learners.

Understanding your learning style is critical to ensure that you get the most out of study sessions. It is essential that you do not compare yourself or your study efforts and notes to others; since everyone works differently, what may help you might not work well with someone else. The most suitable studying pattern for you is the most effective way to study for you.

Are you a visual learner? Are you an auditory learner? Kinesthetic learner? Social learner? Find out now what kind of learner you are by taking this short quiz, and then you will be ready to start studying in the most efficient way possible! Or ask yourself the following questions:

  • Out of the following seven styles, which one do you think best applies to you?

    • Visual (spatial) Learner

    • Aural (auditory) Learner

    • Verbal (linguistic) Learner

    • Physical (kinesthetic) Learner

    • Logical (mathematical) Learner

    • Social (interpersonal) Learner

    • Solitary (intrapersonal) Learner

  • Why do you feel that is your learning style?

  • What sort of activities do you think help you retain information the best?

  • What would an ideal review session look like to you?

Get Organized!

We have always been told, by our parents and teachers, that 'organization is the key to success', and it turns out that they're not joking!

1. Building revision timetables

Revision timetables might sound daunting to some, while others praise their function. Yet, it is undoubtedly true that they provide a way to structure your time coherently and logically; and, as a result, can provide significant benefits.

Timetables allow students to break an array of topics into manageable chunks while covering everything needed ahead of time. While simultaneously giving a perspective of the tasks ahead. Not only will the timetable allow you to cover all topics, but creating one will let you decide which subjects need to be prioritized, thus spending a more significant amount of time revising.

Without planning, nothing can be accomplished. Therefore, by curating a revision timetable, students will effectively plan their studies according to their level of focus and learning type. By building yourself a revision timetable three or four months before your IGCSE examination, you will ensure that you have sufficient time to revise all subjects, especially the weaker ones.

An everyday plan is also a great way of staying organized. Before your revision day begins, plan what you're going to finish revising that day; be it finishing notes, reading articles, or going through past papers; it is always good to be efficient with your time by planning ahead.

You can download the revision timetable templates here! For more information on how to build proactive schedules and planners, read the article here.

2. Prioritizing Subjects

Ensure that you are allocating your time for each subject diligently.

There are, undoubtedly, subjects that you are more robust in and others where you are weaker. Establishing priorities, and learning to prioritize, is an invaluable skill to master. It allows you to organize your workload and create realistic plans that can be completed efficiently.

Prioritization is critical since it will allow you to give the most significant amount of attention to tasks that are the most demanding; while allowing you to later focus on subjects that demand less dedication.

Having trouble prioritizing your subjects, read this article.

3. Setting Goals

Setting goals for yourself is a skill you can carry throughout life, triggering new behaviors, positive changes, and guidance to greater focus and sustained momentum.

Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation. Not only does it allow you to focus on acquisition of knowledge, but setting goals also helps you organize and allocate your time and resources, ensuring a more efficient study session; while simultaneously providing greater motivation during revision.

Goal setting gives you a sense of personal satisfaction, provides motivation, clarity, and direction. Track your progress and be prepared for your examinations by creating daily goals!

Creating Your Study Notes

1. Note Taking

We often attempt to convince ourselves that we don't have to write down notes and that we 'can just remember them'; yet it is very probable that we will forget, without reinforcing our memories by taking notes.

Important: Note-taking does not mean writing every detail down; quite the contrary, note-taking focuses on the central and most critical concepts. Note down the key ideas, equations, or even examples your teacher has gone through in class.

Note-taking is a phenomenal skill to develop. It obliges you to pay attention and remain focused, thus helping you learn and maintain engagement within a topic by listening and then summarizing. Making notes helps you stay active and engaged during your lectures, helps with future revision and greater understanding and comprehension.

Note-taking should not stop once the class ends; it should extend to further hours, where you can personally review and connect additional ideas upon a more extensive subject. When it comes time to revise, having thorough notes will not only provide you with a clearer understanding of the concepts that were taught, they will simultaneously save you time.

2. Mind Maps

Are you a visual (spatial) learner? Do you find it challenging to summarize a topic or remember a ton of new study notes? If so, then this note-taking form is made for you! Mind mapping is an advantageous technique for those who enjoy visualizing concepts; since they are, in fact, an image themselves. Your brain can process the information in a Mind Map much quicker than linear notes, boosting the efficiency of your revision and your ability to recall your topics.

Mind maps summarize vital points while showing a thorough overview of topics in an organized manner.

Mind maps can help you:

  • Improve your memory with visual cues, words, and images.

  • Identify relationships between different topics.

  • Make associations connect ideas.

  • Develop your subject understanding.

  • Boost the efficiency of your revision and your ability to recall your topics.

“If you can’t summarize it, you don’t know it!”

3. Last-minute revision notes

As the name suggests, these are the notes that you can devise when exams are coming up right around the corner. These notes should be concise, not long and not detailed, short and to the point! These notes should contain key phrases, concepts, and equations critical for the subject and help you understand and remember broader concepts studied prior. Further, these notes can also include reminders and essential tips when answering certain types of questions. For instance, ‘Remember: In mechanics, acceleration is the rate of change of the velocity of an object concerning time.

4. Model Answers

Models help us visualize systems as they are or as we want them to be. They give us a template that guides us when constructing a system.

Model answers have a similar concept. They are, essentially, an ideal response to a question, sample responses of what would receive full marks. They are enablers, providing us with a comprehensive way to understand how outcomes could/ should look like.

An effective way to model could be writing down the answers to all questions you got wrong in a test or past paper. This will allow you to learn from your mistakes and succeed in later events.

Practice Makes Perfect

1. Past Papers

Past papers are critical. In fact, they might be the best way to study for the IGCSE.

Past papers are tools that allow you to assess how well you know the content. It provides students with the understanding of the areas of strengths vs those that still need prioritizing. Further, this can be a great way to plan and prioritize the rest of your revision, allowing you to direct your learning to topics that require further attention.

Moreover, all IGCSE exams are formatted in ways that expect you to answer questions in a specific way. By practicing on past papers, you will become familiar with the way the exam and questions are structured and formatted, allowing you to find the best way you can format your answers in ways that the examiners want.

Tip: Refrain from waiting until the last minute to begin revising past papers. Try not to cram more than three practice papers a day.

By practicing under real exam conditions, you can further understand the exam dynamics and leave behind fear and anxiety.

When completing past examination papers, practice under actual exam conditions. This will give you a realistic look at the test, ensuring minimal fear and anxiety for the actual exam, further providing yourself with a greater notion of time, and helping you improve your overall ability to answer questions under specific circumstances.

You can find the practice papers online at Cambridge IGCSE Past Exam Papers.

2. topical questions

Are you still questioning yourself after revising a specific topic or past paper? The best way to test yourself after a revision session is to revise through topical questions.

Topical questions are questions that are arranged according to a topic.

For instance:

Topic - The Particulate Nature of Matter

Topical questions e.g.

What Not to do

Stay Calm

The most important thing, however, is to take care of YOUrself. Find time for YOUrself. You will do great! Believe in yourself and what you have done to prepare.

Shift your mindset about intelligence and talent from something that is fixed to something changeable over time; it can incredibly alter your academic and professional success.

I encourage you to watch this TED Talks, discussing the importance of growth mindsets.

Helpful Websites and Resources

  1. Save My Exams

    1. Possibly the greatest find! This website includes a variety of IGCSE resources, ranging from topic questions, to past papers, to revision notes. 10/10

  2. IGCSE Aid

    1. This website is written by past IGCSE students, who have combined a series of notes and mind maps into one place. Strongly recommended, as well!

  3. BBC Bitesize

    1. BBC is a phenomenal online tool, with notes from a wide range of courses, and online quizzes to test your knowledge!

  4. Youtube

    1. For visual and auditory learners I recommend watching youtube videos as a revision tool. Below I will include three youtube channels that helped me last year!

    2. Mathsaurus - Science with Hazel

  5. Course Hero

    1. A great website with notes and video tools for numerous courses.

  6. Spark Notes

    1. Fantastic online tool, strongly recommended!


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