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 instructions very carefully and write the required number of words. Aim for 15 words plus or minus from the maximum word limit guideline.

For English First Language Extended syllabus, aim for 435 words or so; or in the range of 435-465 words.

For English as a Second Language Extended syllabus, aim for 185 words or so.

Though there is no penalty in writing more than the suggested limit, it would be self-penalising to wrote more as you leave no time for other questions.

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 was good.

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

      We ate delicious food and the music was fantastic!

Tip 4: Know your marks allocation

For example: Up to nine marks are awarded for content, and up to nine marks for language.

“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 dates, unless you are specifically asked to do so. However, you need to address the person whom you are writing to.
  • A formal letter is the type you write to someone you have never met before or 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’.
  • Formal letters usually contain at least two paragraphs, use of formal language and no abbreviations.
  • Colloquial language is absolutely unacceptable in this type of writing, even though you are asked to write to someone you know such as your grandparents, your parents or your relatives.

Tip 6: Style of writing

You may be asked to write an article or a narrative, describe something 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 all the English subjects papers, you’ll be required to summarise a text. Below are some important points to help you score maximum marks for this section:

  • If you are asked to write out your response as a single paragraph, be sure to do so.
  • The summary question will direct you to a specific topic in the text, so it is very important that you underline key points and make brief notes before you write your answer.

Tip 8: Keep to the topic

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.

For English First Language, be sure to cover all the bullet points given.

For English as a Second Language, 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, just be sure to 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 ensure you do exactly what is asked.

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

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

  1. hello team
    can you help , i don’t get if a letter should be formal or informal
    in our ESL book we have activity on pg 161 . where it says to write a letter to polly , who has write a problem on news paper letter and we have read it and telling him solution
    9 below the question we are given point for our letter which will be based n them)
    now we have for sure not meet polly, so will we consider this half formal and half informal .

    • Hi Janet,

      For English as Second Language, Exercise 5 requires candidates to write an informal piece such as an email to a friend. On the other hand, Exercise 6 requires candidates to write a more formal piece such as a report or an article.

      Check that you know why you are writing, who you are writing for and whether you should be writing informally or formally. For the content mark, the examiner is looking at whether you have done exactly what the task asks, including showing an awareness of purpose, audience and register.

      TIP: Think about who you are writing to. Try to write as if you are talking to this person and you’ll automatically use the correct conversational tone and register.

      You may be interested in our exam model answers. Our model answers will show you what is an A* answer is like for the writing questions/exercises: http://www.igcsecentre.com/igcse-exam-resources/.

      You may want to subscribe to our newsletter where we send out valuable FREE email courses. You will learn exam techniques & it will help you score A* in your exam.

  2. Hello IGCSE team! Thank you for providing us with this important tips. In 0500, on which side of the letter do we write the address and the date?

    • Hello Heti,

      The address and date should be on the left side of the letter. However, you must follow the instructions from your teacher – there is no penalty to write on the right side as we know.

      You may want to subscribe to our newsletter where we send out valuable FREE email courses. Learn exam techniques & score A* in your exam!

      You may also be interested to purchase our exam model answers. Our model answers will show you what is an A* answer like for the writing questions/exercises:

  3. Hi IGCSE team!
    I am taking the IGCSE ESL extended version, and I have some doubts on how to write descriptive articles, such as about a place, or a trip.

    What structure could I follow?

    Also, what variety of grammar structures could I use in my writings so that I get points for language?

    Thanks a lot!

    • Hi Raffaella,

      You’ll have to do a lot of practices and readings. Try increasing your range of vocabulary, adjectives, and verbs. We’ve also listed some tips for you below:

      – To write a strong descriptive answer you will need to use a wide range of vocabulary and even use imagery to engage reader interest. Unless the readers can see the picture they will not be able to relate to the experience
      – You will need to evoke all five senses to create an environment and atmosphere, as well as details of size, shape and colour.
      – Try to avoid common, overused, vague, short and childish vocabulary, such as ‘nice’, ‘big’, ‘little’, ‘a lot of’, ‘good’, and ‘bad’.
      – Descriptive compositions must not become a narrative, which means character and event should not take over or be dominant.

      You may want to subscribe to our newsletter where we send out valuable FREE email courses. Learn exam techniques & score A* in your exam!

      You may also be interested to purchase our exam model answers. Our model answers will show you what is an A* answer like for the writing questions/exercises: http://www.igcsecentre.com/igcse-exam-resources/

    • Hi Sheza,

      Highlight the important facts that you think could be on the test (you should refer to the latest syllabus on what is expected during exams here: http://www.igcsecentre.com/cambridge-igcse-subjects-syllabuses/). You can then use the past exam papers as your revision. Start with the latest papers as they have the newest syllabus format and continue with the older ones date back from 5 to 10 years. Then, revise on the most common mistakes that you always seem to make. Pay attention to the most common mistakes you always seem to make. Make notes and revise them, so you can avoid making the same mistakes in your actual exam.

      You may purchase the A* Model Answers which shows the A* answers for the respective exam papers here: http://www.igcsecentre.com/igcse-exam-resources/

      Work out what the question is asking for before reading the text by identifying key words. For exercises testing reading, first read quickly (skim) through the text – concentrate on finding the main idea in each paragraph. You will then need to re-read the relevant sections of text more carefully (scan) to find the answer. The text will include information that will answer the question, and other distracting information, so be careful in your selection.

    • Hi Raja,

      Spelling is very important for all language subjects. The examiner would not “cut” marks, you just won’t gain marks for wrong spelling.

  4. Dear IGCSE team,
    Can we reorder the points in IGCSE English as a second language 0510 letter writing ?

    best wishes,

    • Hello Mark Henry,

      It is best to follow the sequence of the bullet points given to build cohesion. If you want to reorder the points, please make sure you manage to build cohesion and cover all bullet points.

  5. IGCSE team i am kind of confused with the difference between newspaper report and simple report would love if you could elaborate the difference.

  6. Hi igcse team,
    I really appreciate your work and it give me a better concept of what should I do in exams. I would really appreciate if you explain how to answer in comprehensions which are most relevant to question and how can I identify which of the point is a content point.
    Paper: English

    • Hello there,

      Thank you for your kind words. You are most welcome. 🙂

      In your identification of points, you will need to focus on and select the specific ideas or details relevant to the question set. We suggest that you skim read the passages for the gist of it 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.

  7. Greetings,
    I just have a question regarding summary. Do we need to include all points present in the passage to gain full marks in content or writing a number of points according to the allocated marks would be fine?

    • Hi Anjella,

      The number of marks is usually a clue to how many different points are needed. For example, if the content has eight marks allocated to it, you must provide eight relevant points. Be reminded that the points must be taken from the passage and do not repeat similar points even if it was made twice.

      Kindly read this article for more tips: http://www.igcsecentre.com/how-to-write-a-summary/

  8. I desperately need a sample of report writing. Should this include headings or is it ok if it is in the form of paragraphs?

  9. hi igsce team,
    BTW Love you !
    Can you give me a list of strong words(vocab)
    verbs or adjectives
    I need to improve my modern vocab and I cant find what comes on past papers usually

    • Hello there,

      Thank you for your kind words. The quickest way to build vocabulary is, look for synonym for each basic words that you come across. Make a habit to keep a log book beside you, or use your smartphone if you have one, and start building your vocabulary by looking into a dictionary (or dictionary from your super smartphone) then copy down their synonym words or phrases.You can start by building verbs, as they are very interesting and you even get to learn phrasal verbs at the same time. The ability to use phrasal verbs in your writing, could land you some good marks! Furthermore, it is important that the replaced word must convey the essence of the point.

      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.

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