I love IGCSE’s! The noble IGCSE is an Qualification that is like the UK GCSE exam, but international. It’s of a slightly higher standard than the GCSE qualification, with 3 different exam boards Edexcel, CIE (cambridge) and AQA, and there are so many exams you can do, from Maths and English, to Astronomy and Bangladesh Studies. Some of them are so cool, I mean SO COOL, and it’s quite nice to be able to say to my very worried granparents, my future university and myself that i didnt waste this year, instead spent it studing ancient greek or doing my project for Global Citizenship. Of course you still can do the standard exams, just the kick-ass ones as well.

From September 2014 to Early January 2015, I studied for my Edexcel Mathematics A course. This was my first time doing an IGCSE and I was pretty sure 3 months wouldn’t be enough. I only had to do 2 hours of maths a day (5 days a week) and even then I never really did that much. The recommended time of study was about 140 hours, however that was for a class room situation and on my own I whizzed though chapters daily. The IGCSE covered all of the topics in the Junior cert as well as basic calculus (just simple differentiation), some further trigonometry, vectors and quadratic simultaneous equations. That was the Higher Level paper, and although it sounds hard, all it takes is for the penny to drop and everything falls into place. I finished the book by the end of November, though spent most of October pretending it didn’t exist.

As an external candidate (i wasn’t attending a Centre or school), everything was done through the textbook, the Internet and my mother. Getting through the textbook was definitely the easy part, but with only one month left I was panicking. I did about 3 or four pastpapers a week, spending a small fortune on ink. My advice to people who want to do this exam, buy the pastpapers. for 10/15 euro it saves hours of time, and about 20/30 euro on ink. That was probably the biggest mistake we made. However the pastpapers were crucial because the exam NEEDS to be thoroughly nit-picked. I had a habit of writing my answers as top-heavy fractions, which if I hadn’t corrected would have cost me 5-8%, as well as other things.

I sat my two papers at The Dublin Tutorial Centre, one on the 6th of January and one on the 12th. I had no idea what date or time my exam was at until very close to the exams, and while I don’t know if it was because I wasn’t an official pupil at their school or whatever, it took a while for them to send us the information. Due to the exam being international, the exam board only gives the date of the exam, and whether it s AM or PM. Anyway, I sorted it out when I went for a last minute study session with a teacher at the centre.

The exam situation was lovely! I sat my exam with only two other people, which meant that there was minimal noise and theres wasn’t a sense of unimaginable doom that comes with large exam halls. Although I wasn’t allowed my phone, camera etc(pretty standard), could bring in a little nibble of chocolate (YUM) and leave when i felt I’d finished. Each paper was 2 hours long, and I had plenty of time to check my work 2 or 3 times.

Now I just wait. I should be getting my results some time early march, and I’m very much hoping for an A*. the exam is graded on a curve so I’m not really sure what percentage I need to get, but 70-85%+ is usually the A* mark.

Currently I’m looking for my next set of exams. As the examinations for the IGCSE have many dates during the year, I can sit my exams In January, May/June and November, although this vary per exam (for example I can only sit Latin in May/June). Yesterday I spent my day looking up past papers and syllabus’ for CIE Physics. CIE Geography, Edexcel Global Leadership and CIE Chemistry. I think for May/June I’m going to sit CIE Geography, CIE physics and CIE Chemistry. Global Citizenship looks like a lot of fun, but there is not really a textbook for it and it involves doing a project in your community. As much as I want to the work load is too high, so I’ll just have to take it next year.

Note: for anyone looking to do any IGCSE’s as an external candidate, some exams require coursework that needs to be marked by a Centre. Although some Subjects offer an alternative, its best just to check that before jumping straight it.