The IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) 2020 examinations were cancelled in Singapore in 2020 due to Covid-19. Instead, Grade 10 students were promoted based on their predicted results from internal assessments.
The hard work of two years that the students put in, which culminated in a different way and needed their resilience, was something we appreciate as much as the results. We spoke with some of our students who are now in Grade 11 IB DP - Yash, Rehan, Jason, Nanditha, Kausar and Isabelle. We asked them about their approach to learning, the challenges they faced during their two-year IGCSE course, how they overcame their individual challenges and how they were supported through their difficult moments. Here are some of their responses:
The IGCSE is known as a rigorous academic programme that is internationally recognised, what did you learn from completing your IGCSE course successfully?
“The IGCSE is challenging no doubt, but nothing is impossible if you have the right mindset and are willing to work hard. Initially, in Grade 9, I left everything to the last minute and was overwhelmed with the amount of knowledge I had to acquire. I soon realised I had to change track and by the time I reached Grade 10, I was making daily ‘to-do’ lists and weekly plans for my school work. I spoke to friends who had already completed the IGCSE and got tips for specific subjects. This helped me see that it was quite manageable and prompted me to step out of my comfort zone and do things differently when needed.” - Kausar
“While concept knowledge is important, you have to put in regular practice and revision in order to do well. Pay attention to details as they are key to your success. When it came to my foreign language, French, I found it difficult to converse in the language as I wasn't a fluent French speaker. However, I used flashcards and memorisation of the vocabulary and grammar to help me. I even watched a few French movies to help me better my vocabulary and listening skills!” - Rehan
“I took a different approach with each IGCSE subject. Some subjects needed more practice - like Mathematics and Computer Science. For other subjects, I needed to be clear with the concepts but memorise formulas and specific details. My take on the IGCSE is that last-minute efforts won’t help you. Start early, space out your study schedule and make sure you know your strengths and weaknesses. This will help you understand where you need to put in extra effort to overcome your problem areas.” - Jason
What were some of the challenges you faced during the IGCSE programme and how were you able to overcome them?
“Time management was my biggest challenge. I struggled with procrastination and balancing my time at home at the start of the IGCSE programme. Making study timetables and planning a balanced schedule for my school work and other activities helped me enormously. The teachers at OWIS supported me with a lot of revision work at school and doing extra practice papers.” - Isabella
“I had the habit of procrastinating until the very last minute to get my work done. I knew it was a problem and asked my parents to help me out with this. They supported me by checking in on me regularly and ensuring that I had completed my school work for the day. Mr. Meyerhoff was also a big support at school and motivated me to do my best.” - Yash
“I found the IGCSE a bit daunting at first as it seemed there was a lot to do. I found it difficult to get started and complete my work on time. My family supported me by setting timetables and smaller daily goals for me to achieve. This helped me preserve and made me work more efficiently. Using flashcards and summarised revision notes also helped me prepare for the exams.” - Nanditha
“Our teachers explained concepts that were confusing to us, several times, and used different methods to explain the same concept so that we could understand it better. They made lessons interesting for us, completed the syllabus well within time and encouraged us to do well” - Rehan
“The teachers at OWIS continuously motivated me and told me that I can do better. Teachers gave us feedback on every piece of homework, assessment and exam that we took, so that we would know where to improve. Additionally, they gave us resources to prepare for exam-style questions and tips to create flashcards for subject areas that needed memorisation or the usage of formulas so that it would help us with quick recall.” - Kausar
“There were certain experiences at OWIS which I will cherish forever, such as the PE lessons. These lessons were an opportunity for us to bond, as a class, and to get to know each other better. Our PE classes enhanced our social and collaborative skills. During these lessons there were times when we had to do sports which we had never done before. This was a great experience for me and very memorable. My goal for the future is to work hard wherever I am and stay on the right track ”
“There were many memorable moments over the last 2 years at OWIS for me, including Sports day, Gala night and International Day. As for my future plans, I wish to do my MBA and work as a business executive in the financial field.” - Rehan
While the top tips from our IGCSE 2020 students involve managing time well by setting a regular timetable for study and revision, understanding key concepts, using flashcards for easy memorisation and practicing past papers, here are some other tips that were voiced:
“Try solving challenging questions for different subjects and understand the teacher’s analysis of a particular problem.”
“Take a balanced approach to the IGCSE programme. Don’t put too much stress on yourself thinking of the exams.”
“Take care of your health - body and mind - and have fun while learning! Find a learning style that suits you, understand your strengths and weak areas, and address those as best as you can.”
Good tips for our current batch of IGCSE students. We wish our post-IGCSE students much success as they continue their student journey with the IB Diploma Programme at OWIS.