GCSE Document Reference
Theory of computer science
1.1.1 Binary systems
Use binary in computer registers for a given application
1.1.3 Data storage
Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) files
Communication and Internet technologies
1.2.1 Data transmission
Integrated Circuit (IC)
1.2.2 Security aspects
1.2.3 Internet principles of operation
Distinguish between HTML structure and presentation, cookies
Hardware and software
1.3.1 Logic gates
NAND, NOR & XOR gates
1.3.2 Computer architecture and the fetch-execute cycle
1.3.3 Input devices
1.3.4 Output devices
1.3.5 Memory, storage devices and media
1.3.6 Operating systems
1.3.7 High- and low-level languages and their translators
Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS)
Distinguish between free software, freeware and shareware
Practical problem-solving and programming
2.1.1 Problem-solving and design
2.1.2 Pseudocode and flowcharts
2.2.1 Programming concepts
2.2.2 Data structures; arrays
Congratulations, you’ve made it – you’re about to take your (I)GCSE exams! In a mere few weeks, you’ll be sitting your exams. As that period gets closer, the fact that you’ll have to memorise and regurgitate so much content may be starting to worry you. But luckily for you, there’s absolutely no need to worry because help has arrived! We are here to guide you through the revision season. The first thing to do will be to write a well-structured and thought out revision plan. Take your time, there is no such thing as too many details in this plan because the more you pay attention to them now, the less you’ll stress later. Got your plan? Excellent! Now all you have to do is follow it. Here’s what you need to remember along the way and how we can help you.
Be it GCSEs or IGCSEs, secondary school exams are largely standardised across the many examination boards. This is because everyone then gets an equal chance to do well and everyone can be equally prepared for further studies, whatever they may be. But, that’s not the entire truth. In fact, there are small differences between exam boards that are important to keep mind during revision so you can optimise your preparation. OCR is unique because you don’t have a separately graded coursework component. Instead, your second written paper will test you on the knowledge you will have acquired during your practical programming sessions throughout the year. So clearly the best way to be prepared is to pay attention during the year in programming sessions and read the pre-release material as soon as it’s out ahead of the exam itself.
About the Board
The Cambridge Assessment International Education board, also known as CIE, was created all the way in the 19th century as a division of the University of Cambridge. This makes it one of the oldest examination boards in the country. It continues to be run out of the University, offering a broad range of secondary school certifications to both national and international students. Much like the standard GCSE options, the CIE IGCSE Computer Science course is assessed in a ‘linear’ and not ‘modular’ way. This means that instead of being tested throughout the year, you will take all of your exams at the very end of the course. However, don’t take it to mean as a license to not pay attention throughout the school year!
How long will the course take to complete?
The CIE examination board outlines that the IGCSE Computer Science course was designed for approximately 130 hours of guided learning. As you will likely be doing Computer Science amongst at least 10 other (I)GCSEs, you are likely to complete those guided learning hours in 2 academic years. However, bear in mind that some people do take more or less time to finish the course.
Is any prior knowledge required?
No prior knowledge whatsoever is required from students taking the CIE IGCSE Computer Sciences course. However, CIE recommends that students starting the course ought to have studied a general curriculum such as Key Stage 3 (or equivalent) ahead of starting the GCSE course.
What will I study?
Your curriculum in the IGCSE Computer Science course can be broken down into the theory of computer science and practical problem-solving and programming. Within the theory of computer science, you will cover data representation; communication and Internet technologies; hardware and software; security; and, ethics. Meanwhile, within practical problem-solving and programming, you will cover algorithm design and problem-solving; programming; and, databases.
What is the examination process like?
The examination process for the IGCSE Computer Science course can be broken down into two parts. First, students will sit a 1 hour and 45-minute-long paper (Theory) which will count for 60% of your final grade. Next, you will sit another written assessment (Problem-Solving and Programming) which will also last 1 hour and 45 minutes and will count for the remaining 40% of the grade. Although there is no timed practical assessment, the second written paper does require that students have sufficient practical experience in order to answer the questions in the exam.
In order to excel at CIE IGCSE Computer Science, you should start revising two to three hours a day. This is the ideal amount of time as it strikes that balance between working long enough to enter the deep learning phase and not working so long as to risk burnout. Another way to avoid burnout is to maintain a healthy lifestyle leading up to and during your exams. Eat good food, with plenty of protein and vitamins, and do exercise (preferably outdoors). That way you’ll wake up every morning feeling fresh and prepared for learning!
To keep up your efficiency try to stay away from distractions like TV or social media during revision hours. Half-reading half-scrolling through Instagram never works as a revision technique. Instead, leave things like that as a reward for the end of your revision session. You’ll see your efficiency go up as you only have one thing to focus on and something to look forward to later. Another way of keeping up efficiency is to switch up your revision routine. Don’t just read or just take notes on any given day. Doing the same thing for hours makes it easy to stop paying attention. Instead, combine revision techniques like drawing mind maps and writing out flashcards in the same session. As your brain engages with information more actively, you’re more likely to retain it.
Finally, as you start feeling more confident about your content knowledge, start taking on some practice papers. You can use past exam papers and test yourself under timed conditions. That way you’ll be able to gauge how to manage your time when the real exam comes. Don’t forget that we’re here for you throughout your revision weeks! To help you ace your exams we have a lot of great prep material waiting for you on our website. So don’t wait around, let’s begin!