Here are some highlights from IGCSE examiners for common mistakes that students made in IGCSE English as Second Language (E2L) Reading paper. We are giving you some suggestion notes at the end, so you don’t repeat the same mistakes.
Mistake 1: Too long / unnecessary answers
As we have already discussed in our exam tips to score in reading, you should keep your answers short and precise. The examiners want to see that you have understood the questions, and able to give exact precise answers.
Suggestion: Don’t give more information or details than you need to. Short answers save you time for others.
Mistake 2: Out of questions
It is so common that students are not answering what it is asked for. For example the question might asks, “How did he get there?”. The common mistake here is by answering, “He got there because he wanted to…”.
The question here is asking “how”, which requires students to find out the “method”. By aswering “because”, students are showing the “reason”, which is completely out of the question.
Suggestion: Make sure you get what is asked from the beginning. Whether it is a “how” question, or it is a “why” question, or “where” or “what” etc.. It might be helpful to make a circle on these wh-questions from the beginning, to help reminding you when you put your answer down.
Mistake 3: Confusing answers
Some time students might just copy the whole phrase from the passage as the answer. It is ok to do so (if what you copy is the right one), but you might just give a confusing answers to the examiners.
For example, the question asks, “Describe the market”. Students know the answer is in this phrase, so by copying the whole phrase as answer, it becomes “There is a small town in Province, and on every Sunday there is a popular and busy market alongside the river.”. By copying the whole phrase, you’re talking about the small town instead of the market.
Suggestion: Use your own words to communicate the answers. It is best to check, though, that your answers can be understood by someone else clearly. Example of a good answer would be, “The market happens on every Sunday alongside the river. It is popular and busy.”
Mistake 4: Listing a number of possible answers
When students don’t know the answer to a question, they tend to list as many as possible answers they could find in the passage. Listing a number of possible answers is not a good idea. It will just waste your time.
Suggestion: If you don’t know the answer to a question, you can attempt a guess by choosing what you think is a relevant section from the passage. But you should write down only one point (or more if the question asks for more).
Mistake 5: Estimate own conclusion
Be careful not to offer an inference or try to come up with your own conclusion than what is stated in the text. When it is asked for comparison, just stated what is given in the text, not based on your own knowledge of the fact neither estimate what an answer might be, or should be.
Suggestion: Just look for the information (by scanning and skimming) that is in the text. Remember, all the answers needed are in the text.
Mistake 6: Insufficient number of answers
Make sure you have read carefully how many points (or answers) you need to provide for a question. When the question asks for 3 advantages, that means you need to provide 3, not 2 or just 1. If there are 3 lines provided in the question, put each advantage on each line. Beware not to use “and” on each line, cause you might have included the other point in one line. Thus causing you not able to find more point.
Suggestion: Be clear on how many answers (or points) are required. The questions will state this clearly, so make sure you have provided the number of points asked for.
Mistake 7: Create answer from the question
Some students think that if they turn the words around in the question, they might find the answer. This is never the case – the answers are always found in the passage that you will have read.
Suggestion: Don’t look for the answer in the question! The answer is always in the text – look there instead.
Mistake 8: Ignoring map, chart or diagram
Don’t think that a map, or a chart, or a diagram is just there as decoration. It is likely that the answer to one of the questions will be found there.
Suggestion: Make sure you read through all the resources you are given carefully. Including a map, or a chart, or a diagram.