IGCSE History Paper 2 exam tips

Paper 2 exam advice

The summer 2016 exam will include a Paper 2 exam on the Gulf 1970-2000. There are revision materials on this topic in the IGCSE/GCSE history revision menu.

This video (also available to download as a podcast) has been created specifically for students studying the CIE IGCSE History 0470 course, but a lot of the advice contained in it is appropriate for all source questions.  My advice comes from reading the examiner’s report, which is written by the chief examiner – that’s the person in charge of marking all your exam papers – in which they explain what students do well in the exam and what needs to be improved.

This episode provides general tips on how to improve the quality of source answers, drawn from common mistakes that students make in the CIE IGCSE History 0470 exam.  Specific advice is given on how the answer the final 12 mark question, which is always asks how far the collection sources agree (or disagree) with a particular point of view.

If you want more general guidance on answering source papers, download my other podcast called on Succeeding at Sourcework.  Although it’s not designed specifically for the CIE Paper 2, it still contains lots of good tips that you might find helpful.


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66 Responses to IGCSE History Paper 2 exam tips

  1. Usama says:

    Hey Mr Allsop, thanks for your podcasts, just one big question, when im marking my questions for this paper there are different levels, if i include everything in the highest level but not from the lower levels will i still get the highest mark , i.e. Level 2 (2-3 marks) says … I dont do that but i do what it says for level 5 for example

    • Mr Allsop says:

      Level Descriptions are based on the skills you demonstrate, necessarily the content you include. The markscheme often gives ‘indicative content’, which means it gives examples of the types of things a candidate might say. You aren’t expected to include all of the examples, and similarly if you identify other (relevant) examples that aren’t in the markscheme you can still be awarded marks.

  2. Vin says:

    Mr. Allsop is it true that in igcse paper 2 2016 about Gulf War?? like every sources??
    According to you, we as candidate don’t need to do an introduction sentence is it true??

    • Mr Allsop says:

      All anybody knows about the exact topic of the IGCSE Paper 2 is that it’s based on The Gulf 1970-2000. It could therefore focus on any of the five key topics:
      * Saddam Hussein’s rise to power
      * Saddam Hussein’s rule of Iraq
      * The Iranian Revolution
      * The Iran-Iraq War
      * The Origins or the course and consequences of the Gulf War
      You need to be prepared to respond to sources on any of those possible topics.

      In terms of an introduction, I’ve never said that you don’t need to. Instead I’d encourage you to think about what you’re actually saying in your opening sentence, and make sure it’s relevant to the question. Here’s my advice from the podcast/transcript: “It is much better to directly address the question in the first sentence of an answer. This will help you to focus on what is being asked. For example, if a question asks ‘What is the message of this source?’ the answer should begin ‘The message of this source is…'”

      • Vin says:

        Thank you!! i hope i can have a great score in this coming paper 2

  3. JB says:

    You’re my hero!
    Keep on doing what you’re doing man, coz I love history.

  4. Adam says:

    How might one judge the reliability of a source?

  5. tona says:

    where can i find specimen papers for paper 2

    • Mr Allsop says:

      You will need to get these from your teacher, since the CIE website is password protected and only accessible teachers at approved centres.

  6. Caroline says:

    Mr Allsop,
    Is there a transcript available for this podcast?

    • Mr Allsop says:

      Hi Caroline
      I’ve now uploaded a transcript for this podcast. I hope you find it useful.

  7. kelly says:

    hello mr allsop.
    may I know what the difference between to summary the source and telling the message about the source. in the podcast u have said that we shouldn’t summary the source but instead tell the message?

    • Mr Allsop says:

      Summarising the source is repeating the surface details. If it’s a cartoon, for example, you’d be saying “There are two men wearing hats. They are shaking hands.” It’s just description. Giving the message of the source is explaining what the features actually mean and what they are telling us about the historical situation. For example. “There are two men who represent Britain and the USA. Britain is wearing a bowler hat while the USA has a top hat with stars and stripes in the style of Uncle Sam. They are shaking hands, which indicates that they have reached an agreement.”

  8. -_ says:

    I am a student taking igcse history.
    I was looking at the past papers, and I’ve seen that in 2014, 2013, etc. on the Paper 1 Section 1, there was always a source alongside with questions.
    But since 2015, there were no sources for Paper 1 Section 1.
    Did the structure of the questions in Paper 1 Section 1 change?
    Thank you!

    • Mr Allsop says:

      The CIE IGCSE syllabus changed for the exams in summer 2015 – Paper 1 introduced a new topic of The Gulf 1970-2000 and cut the United Nations, changed the marks for the questions (old style was 5,7,8 marks but the new is 4,6,10) and switched to a short sentence to introduce the topic on the question paper rather than include a source.

      Paper 4 was also completely re-written to become a single question, rather than a mix of sources and knowledge.

  9. Jim says:

    Hi Mr Allsop!

    I was just wondering about how I should structure the 12 mark questions!
    Should I include an introduction or should I start my essay directly with one of the viewpoints?

    Thank you!

    • Mr Allsop says:

      On Paper 2 it’s always best to open by directly answering the question in a direct way. “The sources agree to…extent”. You may introduce some analysis here as well (e.g. “although there are more sources which appear to support the statement, their reliability is questionable because…”

      Once you’ve given a very short introduction, get stuck in to writing your balanced response.

  10. Varsha Dillikar says:

    My IGCSE history students are writing their paper 2 in Gulf Was -1970-2000. Can somebody help me with sources related to the topic or sample papers for the same for the kids to practice

    • Mr Allsop says:

      The Gulf only became a topic in the Summer 2015 exam, so there are no past papers other than Paper 1 that was sat in June and the sample paper published by CIE. There are, however, a range of sources on the Gulf in the official IGCSE textbook by Ben Walsh. I suspect Russel Tarr will probably add some to his excellent http://www.activehistory.co.uk website this year as well.

      • Varsha Dillikar says:

        Thank you so much Mr Allsop, My hearty thanks once again as your podcasts have really helped me a lot. I did check activehistory.co.uk but did not find many sources which could be used for designing a practice paper for my students so that they can prepare thoroughly for the exam.In future if you come across any such thing please post it,will be very thankful to you

  11. Harshita Ranjan says:

    thankyou Mr. Allsop,it really helped me gain confidence for my tommorows paper. thanx in loads…..once agian

  12. Dania says:

    Thank you, Mr. Allsop. Your podcast really helped me a lot. I always did have trouble answering paper 2 and this podcast has sure helped me overcome my fears.
    my exam is tomorrow and I hope i do well.
    Thank you 🙂

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