Revision Topics – Checklist for IGCSE ESL

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Revision Topics – Checklist for IGCSE English as a Second Language

How to use this guide The guide describes what you need to know about your IGCSE English as a Second Language (E2L) examination.

A guide for students

It will help you to plan your revision programme for the examinations and will explain what the examiners are looking for in your answers.

 It can also be used to help you to revise by using the tick boxes in Section 3, ‘What you need to do’, to check what you have covered. The guide contains the following sections:

Section 1: How will you be tested? This section will give you information about the different examination Papers that you will take. You will probably take three elements:

1.Reading & Writing question Paper

2.Listening question paper

If your teacher thinks you should enter for the Core examination, you will take Papers 1 and 3. If your teacher thinks you should enter for the Extended examination, you will take Papers 2 and 4. Your teacher will assess your skills towards the end of your IGCSE course and will discuss with you which Papers and which level of examination (Core or Extended) you should take. You may also wish to discuss the decision with your parents.

Paper number and level of examination 

How long and how many marks?  

What’s in the Paper? Which skills are being tested?

What’s the % of the total examination ?

Paper 1

1:30 Min

(60 Marks)

Part 1 – Reading Part 2 – Reading and writing as a combined skill Part 3 – Writing 


Paper 2

2:00 Hour

(80 Marks)

Part 1 – Reading Part 2 – Reading and writing as a combined skill Part 3 – Writing


Paper 3

35 Min

(30 Marks)

Part 1 – Listening and responding to short statements Parts 2 and 3 – Listening to longer conversations/interviews 


Paper 4

55 Min

(40 Marks)

Part 1 – Listening and responding to short statements Parts 2 and 3 – Listening to longer conversations/interviews 


Section 2:

What will be tested? The syllabus sets outs the skills which will be tested in the examination Papers. In E2L, there are four main skills – two which test how well you understand and receive information, and two which test how well you are able to convey, or pass on, information. This information might be information you have just received, or it might be new and original information. The skills are as follows:

NB:- In addition to the main skills outlined above, you will also be tested on how accurate and consistent your usage of English is. The Examiners will assess your usage of English according to: • How well you can control your grammar and structures. This applies to writing as well as speaking. • The range of vocabulary you use. You will be tested on your understanding and whether you are able to use words accurately and/or appropriately, in both writing and speaking. • How accurately you spell. • Your use of sentences, paragraphs and punctuation in longer pieces of writing. • Your awareness of ‘register’ in formal and informal situations, for example, whether you are aware that you should not write a letter to a friend in the same tone and style as a letter to your Head Teacher, also that spoken English is generally less formal than written English.

Section 3:

Section 3: What you need to do: This section shows the syllabus in a simple way so that you can check that:

• You have practised each skill.

• You can understand and respond, in English, in a variety of contexts and situations.

• You are well prepared for the level of examination (Core or Extended) you will be taking. (You will need to check which level with your teacher.)

• You have covered enough topics and themes to enable you to show your skills in writing and speaking English.

What you need to do: The E2L course doesn’t cover content in the same way as most other IGCSE courses do. In Science, for example, you might need to learn how a particular process works. This means understanding and being able to recall all the steps involved in the process in a logical way. Once you have reached a certain level of knowledge, you can move on and extend that knowledge base.

 The same principle can be seen in Mathematics, where understanding formulae is the basis for making accurate calculations.

 Learning both of these subjects is, therefore, structured in a logical, step-by-step manner. E2L is quite different.

The best way to approach the ‘content’ of your E2L course is to make sure that you have practised English in a wide variety of contexts, that you understand the different ways that English can be used and can respond appropriately.

E2L teachers in different parts of the world probably use different textbooks and teaching materials. This is because there is no single ‘correct’ textbook that should be used. It is generally agreed that the best approach to learning E2L is to use a variety of books, articles, newspapers, magazines, as well as the Internet; also to use as many recordings (to test listening) and oral activities (to test speaking) as possible. Success in learning ESL is certainly linked to using a variety of different resources that will enable students to practise all the skills and combinations of skills that they will be tested on.

The table – containing the checklist – is, therefore, simply a guide to the types of activities, which are useful. However, you should not think of the table as a list of activities that you must do, or as a list of contexts that you must cover. If you do not tick some areas, it does not mean that you have not completed the whole course!

Section 4:

Appendix This section shows you the importance of the command words and phrases that Examiners use in examination questions. It also gives you additional hints and details, which will help you feel more confident when you take the examination.

Exercise 1&2

Give Tick if you revised the skills

Identify key words in questions

Skim & scan the text for specific answers

Extract specific details

Follow the order of the text

Find the main idea in each paragraph

Write short, single word phrase/answers

Write answers on the lines provided

Match the sentences and synonyms

Identify  the paraphrases and ideas and match

Find answers to the last question from the whole text & LIST them.

Write points under relevant headings

Write short phrases/single word notes

Include all the key information

Exercise 4

Identify the topic of the summary question

Locate relevant points from the passage

Identify facts and opinions

Include all the key facts related to the subject

Connect ideas into a paragraph using linking words

Use own words to write the paragraph

Can keep to word limit

a) identify facts and opinions

b) use notes to write a paragraph

c) use linking words to connect sentences

d) use own words

e) keep to word limit

Exercise 5

Can write email to people in different situations

Write descriptions of events, places and people

Write an email or letter to friends or family explaining an event or which happened recently

Write an appropriate opening for any type of friendly letter

Develop ideas well

Employ and control a variety of grammatical structure

Use range of appropriate vocabulary/can use relevant idioms

Write in proper grammar, punctuation & spelling

Write in conversational tone[appropriate register & style]

Write at correct length 

Avoid repetition of ideas

Develop each bullet point in a separate paragraph

Avoid topics which are not relevant  

Employ and control a variety of grammatical structure 

Use sophisticated vocabulary

Write in proper grammar,  punctuation & spelling

Employ appropriate register & style

Write at correct length and audience

Avoid repetition of ideas

Write a report about a specific issue given

Write an appropriate & interesting introduction 

Write up the conclusion as recommendation


Identify specific pronunciation of words

Listen to announcements, factual details, directions, recordings of interviews, news programs or chat shows

Understand the homophones and write in correct spellings. 

Understand specific instructions.

Write short responses