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.

476 Replies to “9 Powerful Tips To Score In 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”.

  1. 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

  2. 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*?

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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?

  8. 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.

  9. 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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