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:

      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.


      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.

409 thoughts on “9 Powerful Tips To Score In Writing

  1. Hi IGCSE team,

    I am going to be joining the IGCSE curriculum next year. Is there anything I can do to prep for the subject, English as I’ve heard ICSE andIGCsE English are very different?


  2. Hello IGCSE team,my exams are next year may so i have plenty time! But i would like to know how to write narratives,because every time i describe something such as the atmosphere and other surrondings, my teacher deducts marks so:(

  3. I have difficulty in comprehension. I can’t generate ideas in descriptive writing. English is extremely challenging subject for me. Iam very hardworking. I’m not sure if I will pass igcse English first language. My school has advised me to drop literature.

    • Hi Shilu,

      You’ll have to do a lot of practices and readings. Try increasing your range of vocabulary, adjectives, and verbs.

      There are a number of ideas and skills you can use to improve the quality of description in your writing. Using interesting words can help to stop writing becoming dull and flat. The first words that occur are not always the most interesting that could be used, for example “nice” and “really”. It can help to think about what specific verbs and adjectives apply to the situation. For example, “We had a really nice dinner,” could become, “We enjoyed a tasty meal”. Variety makes writing interesting but remember adjectives are only one way of improving descriptions. Careful choice of verbs can help too.

      To write effective descriptions you have to observe things around you and remember them so you can see them in your mind. Always try to experience the whole picture in your mind using all your senses, what you can see, hear, smell, feel, taste.

      Good description should make a scene vivid to the reader. That means it should be clear and strong and, of course, believable. Scenes can be real – you are remembering a place, an event, or imaginary – you are writing a story and creating a setting. Description might involve time and place, a park at night requires a completely different description from during a busy day. How much description you put in depends on the purpose of your writing. If you want to set a scene for a story you will need less than if you are opting for descriptive essay. You must not be tempted to put in too much unnecessary description but select details which are needed to create the impression you want your reader to have. Don’t focus on something unless it is needed for plot, or to create a mood, or to capture atmosphere.
      Whether describing a real person or creating characters they must be believable. Try to imagine that all people you describe, both real and made-up, have a full life, a history, a background but you only select what is needed for your writing. As you write always ask yourself, Is this the sort of thing this person would say? or do? or think? Remember people have appearance and personality. It is personality which is more important for your readers though you can use their appearance to make a point about their personality. As with describing scenes, avoid a list-like approach and remember you don’t have to describe everything from the top of a person’s head to their toes.
      Hope this helps.
      You can also use our available resources to help improve your English:
      Exam model answers – http://www.igcsecentre.com/igcse-exam-resources/
      Past exam papers – http://www.igcsecentre.com/cambridge-igcse-past-exam-papers/
      You can also get your practice papers marked by a qualified subject expert here: http://www.igcsecentre.com/mark-your-papers/

  4. I would like to know if in the narrative/descriptive question (Paper 3, q2,3,4,5), are candidates penalised for exceeding the limit of 450 words.
    Thank you.

    • Hi Arush,
      No, you won’t be penalised for exceeding the word limit. However, you must make sure that you could finish writing in time. Do not try to write too much and be in danger to stray away from the topic.

    • You need to have proper opening: “Dear xxx,…” and proper ending: “Love, xxx” or “Sincerely, xxx” for letter writing.

  5. Hello,
    I am giving my examinations right now in 2017 May/June session. Could you please tell me that can we exceed the given number of lines in any IGCSE examination if there is little space. Also will the examiner mark them if it is visible to them. Finally I would like to thank IGCSE Centre for giving us all the resources on time.

    • Hi Sidhant,
      As long as you make sure your writing is within the paper frame, and it is visible to the examiner, then the examiner will certainly mark them.

  6. i was using the Cambridge IGCSE First Language English textbook at the start of this year, but now we have switched to English checkpoint Cambridge. i want to know how i can add an effective and interesting opening to a narrative essay.
    can u also give me tips on how to write a good narrative and descriptive essay.

  7. My teachers always say that she will give me core paper for English even if I want extended paper. give some tips I, how should i show improvement. I have lots of time with me approx 7 months. I wish I could get A* in English. But can’t by anything (book etc). Help me out!! plz

  8. May I know what type of articles is usually given in Exercise 7 of English as a second language (0511 Extended)? How many paragraphs should be written other than introduction? I would like to ask the same question about Exercise 6 which is often an informal writing, isn’t it?

    • Hello Julie,
      You may download all the past exam papers and try to look for the trend in the topics. We cannot speculate what would be the topics in the exams.

  9. how can i earn much marks in a anthology part question….its very hard to give the thoughts and feelings of the writer and what language techniques to use and also need to learn many language devices…..

  10. Dear IGCSE centre,
    Should I use these tips for First Language English (0500)? Also, are there any tips for Weiters Effect that is Question 2 of component (0500/02)?

    • Hi Shreyansi,

      Yes, these tips apply to any English Language. We do not have any post for Writer’s Effect at the moment. We will see if we could include this in our post in the near future.

  11. Dear IGCSE,
    Can we use informal words in our article? What kind of informal words can use in email writing. Moreover, can we use the comments in exercise 7 in our article in our own words

  12. Hi, for the summary writing task, do i have to change the keywords for my points into another with the same meaning or write the points in my own words with the same keywords?

    • Hi Sarrah,
      You should always use your own words but in the same meaning as the original. However, some words just do not have other options, for example: chair is chair, leg is leg. It’s not necessary to always change to “other words” with the same meaning – you have to justify it 🙂

  13. I’m going to take the exam this year.and i would like to know how to get an A* in IGCSE english as a second language.
    I am a little bit week in writing.Specially on opinion writing and letter
    And I’m in need of your advise.

    • Hi Minu,
      You could consider to purchase these Model Answers, and copy the style into your writing. Many candidates had done that and scored A*. Just read more here: http://www.igcsecentre.com/igcse-exam-resources/

      You must always provide enough points to answer all the 3 bullet points in the questions. Make proper paragraphs to arrange your points, and use variety of vocabularies.

  14. Please can you help me with my artical writing by sending me some formats or phrases and can you tell me that which type of language style l should use like l should use formal or informal writing style in an article

  15. Please can u help me with my artical writing by sending me some formats or phrases and can u tell me which type of language style I should use like I should use formal or informal writing style in an article .

  16. I am yugishri next year i am going to write english exam as second language but i have problem with listening can you please help me to score in listening.

    • Hi Yugi,
      For listening, you must practise with the CD and learn to “catch” the answers from the conversation. Just play the CDs repeatedly until you have gotten the idea how.

  17. Hello!

    I’ve been told not to use the word ‘too’ in informal letter writing…. I need your advice… Do you agree with it?? And should i use difficult words in informal letter writing??

    • Hello Elsa,
      You can use “too” in informal letter writing. There is nothing wrong with it. You should always use various vocabularies.

  18. Please If you don’t mind can you send me the format of news REPORT as well as some tips as I always loose marks in the format as well as the language that has to be used.

  19. Hi,
    For the informal/formal letter can it be 4-5 paragraphs ?

    can you send me a link which can improve my writing skills?

    Thank you

  20. Hi Igcse team,

    I am a student of grade 9. My question is what book shoul d I use for English as a first language? I am not a native English speaker. Currently I am doing syllabus 0500

  21. Hello there
    I am in year 9 and I am practicing igcse past papers from now on because in my school examination they get questions from the past papers so i am leaning how to write the answers yet i still dont understand the how and I am prone to get many mistakes so even though i am year 9 can i still get the following help

  22. Are there any key points to keep in mind when you are writing a letter to a friend who is visiting your home for the first time?
    Thank you

    • We won’t say “hard vocabulary”, just “a variety” of vocabulary.

      For example: if you use “big” throughout your essay, it would make your essay sounds very plain. You can substitute with “enormous”, “colossal”, “humongous”, etc etc…

  23. Is there a limit to how many different ideas we can put in a letter , for example, there is only 3 main ideas in a standard essay and do you know any websites that can help me show the structure of a letter (I’m a yr10 but done hardly any letter writing)

  24. Hello..
    I wanted to know in the informal letter writing shall it have to be 5 paragraphs including the starting and the ending or it doesn’t have to ?

    • Hi Marcy,
      The 5 paragraph-rule is quite good in helping you in organising your points. The introduction and ending should always have their own paragraph.

  25. Please let me know if it will help me to get an A* for English by using the book IGCSE English as a Second Language focus on writing second edition book?? If it doesn’t please suggest me any other books which will help me get an A* for English IGCSE?

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