9 Powerful Tips To Score In Writing

Tip 1: Informal letter

You may be asked to write an informal letter to a friend or family member. Often, the question will require you to describe or explain something, or it may ask you to say what you think about a suggestion or a plan. The exam question will give you some ideas, and will tell you what you should include in your letter.

Remember: It is important to show that you can write in an informal style.

Example of opening:

      Hi Sally,
      Dear Mum,

Example of ending:

      Love,
      Your lovely daughter,

Tip 2: Follow the required number of words

Make sure that you follow all the instructions very carefully, and write the required number of words. If you are taking the Extended syllabus, aim for about 185 words. If you are taking the Core syllabus, your target should be about 135 words.

Tip 3: Use more adjectives and adverbs

When you write, use your imagination as much as possible, but remember that your answer must always be relevant to the question.

One way to improve your writing is by using more adjectives and adverbs.

Example:

      We had food and the music too was good.

The above sentence could be made better by applying some adjectives like the below sentence.

      We ate really delicious food and the music was fantastic!

Tip 4: Know your marks allocation

Up to nine marks are awarded for content, and up to nine marks for language (5 + 5 in the Core papers).

“Content” refers to the relevance and development of ideas; “language” refers to style and accuracy.

Tip 5: Formal letter

Below are some important points about writing a formal letter in your IGCSE exam:

  • You do not need to supply addresses or a date, unless you are specifically asked to. However, you need to address the person that you are writing to.
  • A formal letter is the type you write to someone you have never met before, or to someone with whom you have no personal relationship.
  • If the letter begins with ‘Dear Madam’ or ‘Dear Sir’, it should end with ‘Yours faithfully’.
  • If the letter begins with somebody’s name, for example ‘Dear Mr. Robert’, it should end with ‘Yours sincerely’.
  • A formal letter will usually contain at least two paragraphs, and will use formal language and no abbreviations.

Tip 6: Style of writing

You may be asked to write an article or narrative, or to give a simple description, or to write something persuasive. It is important that you read the question very carefully, and that you express yourself effectively. You should also show that you can vary the style of your writing, depending on the topic.

Tip 7: Summary writing

In Exercise 5 of the IGCSE English as Second Language (E2L) paper, you’ll be required to write a summary for a text. Below are some important points to help you to score maximum marks for this section:

  • Your answer should be written as a single paragraph if the question requires it.
  • The summary question will direct you to a specific topic in the text, so it is very important that you underline the key points and make brief notes before you write your answer.

Tip 8: Keep to the topic

In Exercise 6 and 7, you may be asked to write your opinion about something in the form of a newspaper article, or perhaps for your school newsletter or magazine.

Usually, you will be given help in the form of a list of ideas or other people’s opinions, but you do not have to use them in your answer. You are free to use your own ideas but make sure you keep to the topic.

You must show the examiner that you can use the English language for a specific purpose and that you can organise your ideas in a logical way.

Tip 9: Organize your ideas

Although you don’t have much time for planning, you should underline the key word(s) in the question to make sure you do exactly what is asked.

Write very brief notes, putting your ideas into a logical order. Check for repetition. When you have finished your writing, check your spelling, grammar and punctuation.



536 Replies to “9 Powerful Tips To Score In Writing”

  1. Hi, do you have any tips on how to score high marks for content purpose and audience in the essay section? I don’t have any problem with the others except for content purpose and audience. I’m a Year 9 student and I am having Checkpoint exams starting tomorrow. Please reply as soon as possible. Thank you 🙂

      • Hello there,

        For Writer’s Effect segment, you must build your ability to spot the required phrases or words. Besides that, you must also practise on how to elaborate those phrases and words that you have chosen.

  2. Can you please tell me how to score good in narrative because I tend to exceed my word limit so I land up getting less marks

    • Hi Lemon,

      Here are some tips when writing narrative plots:

      – Decide on a tense and then stick to it; do not jump between present and past. The normal narrative tense is past and those who try to write in the present usually forget to do so after a while, so it is safer to start off in the past.
      – Know what your last sentence is going to be before you write your first. A narrative has to build up to a climax and lead towards a conclusion which is planned before it starts or it will end lamely or incomprehensibly, or the pace will be too slow or too fast.
      – Don’t try to do too much; you can’t cover many events and many years in one short composition. Select key moments and skip over the rest, changing the pace according to the intensity of the moment.

    • Hello Loga,

      There should always be a headline needed and it would be given in the question. Please follow the headline needed in the question. You should not simply copy the same headline from the reading passage – you would lose marks if you do so.

      With regards to the format, it is not necessary to draw columns or pictures to depict a real newspaper report. Your paragraphs must contain all the bullet points that are requested in the question.

    • Hi Anushree,

      Persuasive writing is based on how you structure your sentences and the use of appropriate vocabulary. Support all points with proofs and think about how you might persuade your reader – for example the use of tricolon, rhetorical questions, direct address perhaps. The points would be developed based on the question.

  3. Hello I just would like to ask as i am highly confused on how do you actually structure and write down the Paper 3 Question 1 Directed writing.
    Usually they give you 2 bullet points like:
    -Identify and Evaluate arguments
    -Explain why you do or do not agree with… views.

    Are the 2 bullet points integrated with one another?

    Is this an opinion based question since the article they provide usually lists the writer’s views and we can either go against it or support it with our views?because many tutorials i read keep saying don’t use your opinions and take ideas from the passage when writing

    Isnt explaining why you do or do not agree with their views already done when we evaluate the arguments stating our advantages or disadvantages of each argument?Or is that 2nd bullet point wrote as a conclusion when we restate our opinions on their views in further depth.

    How do we actually structure the whole thing?

    I know it’s alot but if someone can help me.It will really be much appreciated

    • Hello,

      The recommended structure for the response will be offered in the wording of the question, and you should follow this.There will be at least two factors to focus on – for example advantages and disadvantages. You will need to make two lists before you start in order to make sure you have enough material for both sides of the question. The third element of this question is evaluation; you will have to decide which of the options is better, present reasons why you have formed this opinion and justify it. Though you cannot make up things which are not in the passages, you should try to use your own ideas in the way that you extend those of the passages, provided that they are ‘based on the reading material’. You should try to use as many ideas from the passage as possible as they will all be relevant, but you will have to change the way you express them; all the material you use from the passage must be modified to suit the new genre. The ending needs to be definite and provide an effective and satisfying conclusion to the piece.

    • Hi Evy,

      In the letter exercise,

      – Think about who you are writing to.
      – Try to write as if you are talking to this person and you’ll automatically use the right tone and register.
      – Don’t forget any of the bullet points – you’ll lose marks if you do.
      – Write a paragraph for each bullet point – it will give your writing good balance.
      – It’s a good idea to give your writing a start and a finish. If you don’t, it can become more like a story, and you might lose the tone.

      In writing an article,

      – Decide right at the start if you’re going to write about the topic from two sides (for and against) or from just one (your opinion).
      – If you write a two-sided (balanced) piece of writing, don’t forget to include your opinion in the last paragraph.
      – If you want to write only from your own point of view, include it in the first paragraph.
      – You can use the phrases and opinions given in the question, but if you want to get higher marks, you must develop these ideas and not just copy them.
      – Try to think of your own ideas on the topic.
      – Remember to organise your writing: include an introduction, one paragraph for each idea in the middle section, and a conclusion.

  4. Hi,can you please explain what we need to do in argumentative letter. We have paper 3 tomorrow and I have no idea. Thank you ..

    • Hi Leyla,

      In writing an argumentative letter, write down all the relevant and logical points made by the writer. Evaluate each point and include your opinion. Then decide if you are in favor or against and how far you agree to the writer’s view. You can use the phrases and opinions given in the question, but if you want to get higher marks, you must develop these ideas and not just copy them.

  5. Hi,
    Tomorrow is my IGCSE English paper 2 exam, I’m facing problems writing summary, Letter and Article. PLEASE help..!!

    • Hi Era,

      In a summary you should:

      • Keep to the word limit
      • Include all the key facts relating to the subject of your summary.
      • If you use your own words instead of copying from the text, you have more chance of getting a higher mark for language.

      In the letter exercise,

      • Think about who you are writing to.
      • Try to write as if you are talking to this person and you’ll automatically use the right tone and register.
      • Don’t forget any of the bullet points – you’ll lose marks if you do.
      • Write a paragraph for each bullet point – it will give your writing good balance.
      • It’s a good idea to give your writing a start and a finish. If you don’t, it can become more like a story, and you might lose the tone.

      In writing an article,

      • Decide right at the start if you’re going to write about the topic from two sides (for and against) or from just one (your opinion).
      • If you write a two-sided (balanced) piece of writing, don’t forget to include your opinion in the last paragraph.
      • If you want to write only from your own point of view, include it in the first paragraph.
      • You can use the phrases and opinions given in the question, but if you want to get higher marks, you must develop these ideas and not just copy them.
      • Try to think of your own ideas on the topic.
      • Remember to organise your writing: include an introduction, one paragraph for each idea in the middle section, and a conclusion.
  6. Hi. Can you help me out in article writing? I have practised it a few times but my exams are drawing near and I feel like I am not prepared for it. A few tips would be very helpful!

  7. Hi I find answering the last question in Paper 1 (IGCSE Edexcel) quite difficult
    What are the ways I could improve answering those type of questions?

    • Hi Ammar,

      For Paper 1, skim read the passages before you look at the different parts of the question. Then scan the passage to find the answer to each part of the question in turn. Generally, the questions will get more challenging as you work through, so watch out for instructions designed to help you. Try if you can to “hear” your answer read out in your head – this will help you to check that you are using an appropriate register (that it sounds right). Lastly, remember that the quality of your writing is being judged in this part of the question paper.

      You can consider making use of our available resources to help improve your writing:
      Exam model answers – http://www.igcsecentre.com/igcse-exam-resources/
      You can also get your practice papers marked by a qualified subject expert here: http://www.igcsecentre.com/mark-your-papers/

  8. Hi, in Paper 2(section A),candidates are usually required to address 3 bullet points.
    We need to base our answers on the passage but to use our own words.
    My question is; can we add (develop) the ideas from the passage using our own ideas?

    Thank you in advance.Looking forward for your reply.

    • Hello,

      You must always provide all the necessary points according to the 3 bullet points in the question.
      If you are given bullet points to remind you of what should be included, use them to check you have covered what is required. These bullet points can also help you to structure your answer. The material from the passage should be put into the appropriate section and not repeated.

      You must always take the points from the passage without creating your own which is not mentioned inside the reading passage. The more you can adapt the details from the passage to suit the task you have been set, the more likely you are to score well for reading.

      • Hello , IGCSE I would like to ask you about the ESL Paper 2 , for the writing and summary is it okay if I write more than the numbers of words expected. 🤔🤔🤔

  9. Your site is really amazing but I am suffering from English as a First language exam .can you help me by giving some more tips to attempt paper1 of it.

    • Hello,

      For Paper 1, skim read the passages before you look at the different parts of the question. Then scan the passage to find the answer to each part of the question in turn. Generally, the questions will get more challenging as you work through, so watch out for instructions designed to help you. Try if you can to “hear” your answer read out in your head – this will help you to check that you are using an appropriate register (that it sounds right). Lastly, remember that the quality of your writing is being judged in this part of the question paper.

      You can consider making use of our available resources to help improve your writing:
      Exam model answers – http://www.igcsecentre.com/igcse-exam-resources/
      You can also get your practice papers marked by a qualified subject expert here: http://www.igcsecentre.com/mark-your-papers/

  10. hi,
    can I write numbers in like this in my exams 123 or I have to write it in like this one two three
    (for English as a second language and Arabic as a first language

    • Hi Alia,

      One or two proverbs/idioms are ok. But not more than that. Otherwise, your essay would sound too stereotypical. Go for sayings that could be used to talk about any topic or topic-specific ones that you know you’ll be able to use in the exam.

      You may google for some free proverbs/idioms resources online.

    • Hi Kushagara,

      Unfortunately, if you have written beyond the lines, there’s a chance that your answers will not fit into the scanned screen. If this happens, you will lose marks as the examiners won’t be able to see your full answers.

      With regards to your handwriting, it shouldn’t be any problem as long as your handwriting is legible.

  11. Hi your website is really amazing but i am really struggling with Language & Effect English 0500 paper 2. Please can i have some tips.. THank you

  12. Hi.
    In summary writing, for example, there are 12 points in the marking scheme and a total of 6 marks are awarded for content. My question is, if I wrote 7 points out of 12, will I score 6/6 in content?

  13. If i exceed the word limit in the article or the letter, will the examiner read after 200 words? Will i get penalized for writing too much (like instead of 200, i write 300)
    Thanks!

    • Hi Fatima,

      You will not be penalised if you exceed the word limit in an essay writing. However, you have to make sure you can finish all the writing on time. If you wrote under the word limit, chances are you did not provide enough points to answer the questions, and might end up getting a lower score. While a few words below the word limit is fine, too many words below the limit – you will end up being penalised.

      Our advice is not to write too much. Aim for quality rather than quantity. This means to focus more on writing excellent English rather than a long essay.

      On a side note, if you are writing a summary – DO NOT exceed the word limit.

      Do refer to the syllabus: http://www.igcsecentre.com/cambridge-igcse-subjects-syllabuses/ to get a better idea of what is expected.
      You can also refer to the mark scheme of past exams: http://www.igcsecentre.com/cambridge-igcse-past-exam-papers/
      And use our model answers as a reference: http://www.igcsecentre.com/igcse-exam-resources/

      Hope this helps 🙂

    • Hi Ajay,

      For Speaking exams:
      1. Pick 3 or 4 practice exam questions that are different from each other (closest to what is expected in the latest syllabus). You can refer to the latest syllabus on what is expected during exams here: http://www.igcsecentre.com/cambridge-igcse-subjects-syllabuses/.
      2. Prepare answers to questions that are likely to come up
      3. Find out how to pronounce the words and read them out loud.
      4. Learn your answers by heart. Learn your answers one phrase or sentence at a time. Select a chunk and repeat it to yourself over and over until you’ve got it.
      5. Understand and learn the questions. Look up any words you don’t know and learn to recognise keywords. Learn each question alongside the answer that goes with it.
      6. Learn two or three idiomatic phrases or sayings and memorise them. Go for sayings that could be used to talk about any topic or topic-specific ones that you know you’ll be able to use in the exam.
      7. Compile a list of topic-specific vocab that’s likely to come up. If you can, learn the gender of any nouns and the different tenses of any verbs. Learn the vocab so you can use and recognise it.
      8. Get a parent or friend to do a mock exam with you. Pay attention to where you slip up and then work on improving those areas. [For Speaking] You should also consider recording yourself so that you are confident speaking English during your test.
      9. Make useful notes.

      Also, keep in mind to:
      1. Speak clearly and try not to speak too quickly
      2. Be confident. Be friendly.
      3. And, there are no right or wrong answers in the Speaking test. You will be assessed on how well you can express your ideas and opinions in good English.

      You can practice with the latest past exam papers as they have the newest syllabus format and continue with the older ones date back from 5 to 10 years. http://www.igcsecentre.com/cambridge-igcse-past-exam-papers/

      Hope this helps 🙂

  14. My question is : when a directed writing question in first language English says to start with a particular line for eg start with “dear editor,……” So do we hv to write the two addresses? Please help

    • Hello Jasmeet,

      Yes. You must always follow the instruction in the question. If you fail to include the needed addresses, you will not gain mark for this part.

  15. hi,
    I often face difficulties while attempting the writer’s effect segment in paper 2. I will be attempting the 0500 english paper in february-march. What is your advice on this?

    • Hello Sharanya,

      For Writer’s Effect segment, you must build your ability to spot the required phrases or words. Besides that, you must also practise on how to elaborate those phrases and words that you have chosen.

      These A* Model Answers could help you in this, and you are able to see what is an A* answer like:

      http://www.igcsecentre.com/igcse-exam-resources/

  16. Hi,should students be prepared in order to write formal letters too?i haven’t seen a formal letter come up in igcse english as a second language for years.

    • Hello Thal,

      Exercise 7 is usually the formal writing format. It’s not in a letter form, but it is considered formal writing.

    • Hello Abhishek,
      There is no “best scoring” essay type. It all depends on your strength. You must choose according to your strength.

    • Hi Jason,
      You need to include the points which are required by the question in order to obtain full marks. Please look at how many marks are being awarded for “Content”, that would be how many points you need in order to score full marks for “Content”.

  17. Hello,
    Regarding First Language English (0500), is it acceptable if I exceed the word limit for all questions – excluding the summary one?

    Also, about the summary question, does the examiner reward marks for points written past the 15 points limit?

    Thank you.

    • Hi Habiba,

      You will not be penalised if you exceed the word limit. However, you have to make sure you can finish all the writing on time. If you wrote under the word limit, chances are you did not provide enough points to answer the questions, and might end up getting a lower score. While a few words below the word limit is fine, too many words below the limit – you will end up being penalised. Please refer to the mark scheme for the explanation.

      Our advice is not to write too much. Aim for quality rather than quantity. This means to focus more on writing excellent English rather than a long essay.

      As for the summary question, do refer to the past papers’ marking scheme to get a better idea on what is allowed: http://www.igcsecentre.com/cambridge-igcse-past-exam-papers/

    • The first task for summary writing is to choose points i.e I’ve been given an extract related to tourism and I have to choose advantages and disadvantages from it ..can u give some advice related to this task ..
      Thank you

  18. Q1 :How can I improve my summary writing,letter writing and article?
    Q2 :How the marks are divided in summary?
    Q3 :Can you give some examples of idioms and phrasal verbs sentences which is used in almost all the letters?
    Q4 :From where can i get the recordings(tracks) to practice the listening past paper?
    Q5 :What other things we should do to get an A*?

  19. If we are asked to write a newspaper report, would be okay to use the same headline given in the passage (if there was a headline in the passage)? Also, after writing the headline, is it required to write a brief detail of what is going on before explaining it specifically in the paragraphs?

    • Hi Bryan,

      If you are referring to English First Language, there should always be a headline needed and it would be given in the question. Please follow the headline needed in the question. You should not simply copy the same headline from the reading passage – you would lose marks if you do so.

      Your paragraphs must contain all the bullet points that are requested in the question as well.

      Please read the newspaper to see how is news being reported.

    • Hi Monia,
      This part of the article writing is not mandatory, and there are no marks being awarded to it. However, it is customary that schools would teach the proper article writing. Normally, your name should come after the headline (at the beginning of the piece). However, you must always follow the style that your teacher is showing you.

  20. Hi, Could you help me on summaries?Everything else for me is fine,at the moment.And if you dont mind,could you help me on language analysis?

  21. No matter how hard I try, I never get any more than 50% on letters. I always use compound and complex sentences. How can I improve?

    • Hi Hassaan,

      Some general rules in writing Informal letters:

      always remember that you (probably) are supposed to know the person to whom you are writing
      keep that person in mind and don’t tell them things they will already know about you
      add a few bits of personal chat, usually at the start of the letter, to make it seem genuine
      make sure main part of letter relates to task and that you use appropriate tone. Don’t be bright and cheerful if writing to pass on bad news.

      Formal letters must be organised in a proper way to make communication easier.

      the letter should begin with an introductory paragraph explaining the general topic of the letter
      the main body of the letter needs to be in a logical sequence and give enough detail to make the reader ‘get the message’
      the last paragraph should be a conclusion summarising the main purpose of the letter in such a way to get the reaction you want, to get something done
      the tone of the letter must match purpose outlined in the task – it can be neutral giving straightforward factual details or emotive using language to persuade reader about some issue
      formal letters must stick to the conventions of formal writing, no slang, no shortened word forms, etc.
      always match letter to purpose of writing

      Lastly, practice, practice, and more practice. Use our past exam papers (http://www.igcsecentre.com/cambridge-igcse-past-exam-papers/) to practice and refer to the syllabus (http://www.igcsecentre.com/cambridge-igcse-subjects-syllabuses/) to get a better idea on what is expected.

  22. Any tips for the first language English summary? Or writers effect. They are really hard as I don’t know how to start and end and the contents of the answer.

  23. Must we use our own words when writing the main points in the summary? Will any marks be deducted if we copy the main points word for word from the text?

  24. Hi, is it okay if I exceed the word limit in IGCSE English as second language
    (Exercises such as 6 or 7/ writing)
    Is there a penalty?, like would I lose marks?

    • Hi Nayra,
      Yes, you can exceed the word limit. However, please make sure you can finish writing in time. Do not try to write too much until you do not have enough time to finish your paper in time.

    • Hello,
      In summary, the most important thing is, you mustn’t go above the word limit. Secondly, cover all the needed points with simple sentences and joining them together to build coherent.

  25. For English as second language 0510 (extended), in reading part (question 1 and 2), should the answer must be in complete full sentence or short answer will do. For example, if question asks how many apple he bought? If we just write ” number” will it do?

    In question 4 writing short notes, will it be fine we just provide 1 or 2 notes, instead of full sentences?

    • Hi William,
      In short answer/short note is fine. Below are some comments from the examiner report:

      In Exercises 1 and 2 it is important that candidates take time to read and understand the requirements of individual questions. Responses should be as brief as possible but precise and candidates should take care not to add incorrect information that negates a response.

      In Exercise 4, candidates should not repeat points, and should ensure they provide the required number of discrete bullet points under the relevant heading without adding any extra bullet points of their own. There should be only one relevant note per bullet point. If candidates provide more than one, only the first can be credited.

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