CIE IGCSE English Language

Practice Papers

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Practice Paper 2B

Question 1

Marks: 40

Section A: Directed Writing

Imagine you are a citizen of the UK.

Write a newspaper article, giving your views on whether to keep or abolish the British monarchy.

In your article you should:

  • evaluate the views given in both texts about the British monarchy
  • give your own views, based on what you have read, about whether abolishing the British monarchy would be good for the UK.

Base your article on what you have read in both texts, but be careful to use your own words. Address both of the bullet points.

Begin your article: ‘Is It All Over for the British Monarchy?’

Write about 250 to 350 words.

Up to 15 marks are available for the content of your answer, and up to 25 marks for the quality of your writing.

Close

Example Top-Grade Answer

Is it all over for the British monarchy? Perhaps not while they’re so popular with the public, but it’s certainly all over for their all-expenses-paid, luxury lifestyles.

Many of us see the royal family as extra members of our own family — albeit much posher, richer members who never send us a card (or presents) at Christmas. Our attachment to them is mostly emotional and nostalgic, but it’s a very strong attachment. That might explain why, despite their enormous cost, they enjoy an 80% approval rating. In short, Brits love the royals.

But as much as I love my real family, I’d feel strongly about any relatives spending $34m on a wedding, like William and Kate did. I’m not alone; 57% of Brits agree they should pay for their weddings with their own money, not the public’s.

But it’s not just their expensive weddings we pay for – they also cost us tens of millions of pounds, every year, in security costs, lavish holidays and, of course, their many palaces. I know everyone needs a home – a single palace, if they must have one – but why on earth do they need more than one?! Perhaps that was OK 1000 years ago, but times have changed.

Why should we work hard so they don’t have to? How hard must it be to cut ribbons for a living? If any member of the royal family genuinely thinks it’s hard work living in palaces and travelling all over the world, then I’ll happily do their job for them.

Perhaps, then, that’s the solution. We keep the monarchy, but we abolish the royal family and we – members of the public – take turns to be the head of state. It could even be a lottery, where people pay for a ticket; that way all the costs are covered, rather than losing $468 a year.

I realise that’s very unlikely to happen. And I realise with such a high approval rating it would be too unpopular to out-right abolish the monarchy. But I think it’s healthy to question whether some change is needed, and whether we’d prefer to pay for more schools and hospitals, rather than luxury palaces and glitzy weddings.

 

Marking Criteria for Writing

22-25 marks:

  • Highly effective style capable of conveying subtle meaning.
  • Carefully structured for benefit of the reader.
  • Wide range of sophisticated vocabulary, precisely used.
  • Highly effective register for audience and purpose.
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar almost always accurate.

18-21 marks: 

  • Effective style.
  • Secure overall structure, organised to help the reader.
  • Wide range of vocabulary, used with some precision.
  • Effective register for audience and purpose.
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar mostly accurate, with occasional minor errors.

14-17 marks:

  • Sometimes effective style.
  • Ideas generally well sequenced.
  • Range of vocabulary is adequate and sometimes effective.
  • Sometimes effective register for audience and purpose.
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar generally accurate though with some errors.

 

Marking Criteria for Reading

13-15 marks:

  • Successfully evaluates ideas and opinions, both explicit and implicit.
  • Assimilates ideas from the text to give a developed, sophisticated response.

10-12 marks:

  • Some successful evaluation of ideas and opinions, both explicit and implicit.
  • A thorough response, supported by a detailed selection of relevant ideas from the text.

7-9 marks: 

  • Begins to evaluate mainly explicit ideas and opinions.
  • An appropriate response that includes relevant ideas from the text.
  • A relevant response that is expressed clearly, fluently and mostly with concision.
  • The response is well organised.
  • The response is in your own words (where appropriate), using a range of well-chosen vocabulary.
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar are mostly accurate.

2-3 marks:

  • A relevant response that is generally expressed clearly, with some evidence of concision.
  • There may be some lapses in organisation.
  • The response is mainly expressed in your own words (where appropriate) but there may be reliance on the words of the text.
  • Errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar.

 

Exam Tip

For top marks, make sure you:

  • Start with a powerful sentence that clearly and confidently states your view.
  • Say what do you REALLY think! Write your own personal opinion in your plan and let that be your north-star to stop yourself being too wishy-washy.
  • Write with passion – argue your case like you really care about the topic.
  • Include a personal anecdote 
  • Write with urgency – is this a crisis? Does change need to happen quickly? Then say so.
  • Mix up your persuasive writing techniques (ethos/pathos/logos)
  • Evaluate the counter arguments 
  • Round off your speech/letter/article with a powerful sentence reenforcing your view. Let the examiner know you didn’t run out of time.
  • Write an enjoyable response! Remember the examiner has to read 100s of answers – cheer them up. Attempt some humour where possible/appropriate.

Question 2

Marks: 40

Section B: Composition

Answer one question from Section B.

Write about 350 to 450 words on one of the following questions.

Up to 16 marks are available for the content and structure of your answer, and up to 24 marks for the style and accuracy of your writing.

EITHER

(Descriptive writing)

Describe a person who works outdoors.

OR

(Descriptive writing)

Describe a loud noise.

OR

(Narrative writing)

Write a story that involves an elderly character.

OR

 (Narrative writing)

Write a story that involves a character with a secret.

Close

Question 1

Example Top-Grade Answer

Is it all over for the British monarchy? Perhaps not while they’re so popular with the public, but it’s certainly all over for their all-expenses-paid, luxury lifestyles.

Many of us see the royal family as extra members of our own family — albeit much posher, richer members who never send us a card (or presents) at Christmas. Our attachment to them is mostly emotional and nostalgic, but it’s a very strong attachment. That might explain why, despite their enormous cost, they enjoy an 80% approval rating. In short, Brits love the royals.

But as much as I love my real family, I’d feel strongly about any relatives spending $34m on a wedding, like William and Kate did. I’m not alone; 57% of Brits agree they should pay for their weddings with their own money, not the public’s.

But it’s not just their expensive weddings we pay for – they also cost us tens of millions of pounds, every year, in security costs, lavish holidays and, of course, their many palaces. I know everyone needs a home – a single palace, if they must have one – but why on earth do they need more than one?! Perhaps that was OK 1000 years ago, but times have changed.

Why should we work hard so they don’t have to? How hard must it be to cut ribbons for a living? If any member of the royal family genuinely thinks it’s hard work living in palaces and travelling all over the world, then I’ll happily do their job for them.

Perhaps, then, that’s the solution. We keep the monarchy, but we abolish the royal family and we – members of the public – take turns to be the head of state. It could even be a lottery, where people pay for a ticket; that way all the costs are covered, rather than losing $468 a year.

I realise that’s very unlikely to happen. And I realise with such a high approval rating it would be too unpopular to out-right abolish the monarchy. But I think it’s healthy to question whether some change is needed, and whether we’d prefer to pay for more schools and hospitals, rather than luxury palaces and glitzy weddings.

 

Marking Criteria for Writing

22-25 marks:

  • Highly effective style capable of conveying subtle meaning.
  • Carefully structured for benefit of the reader.
  • Wide range of sophisticated vocabulary, precisely used.
  • Highly effective register for audience and purpose.
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar almost always accurate.

18-21 marks: 

  • Effective style.
  • Secure overall structure, organised to help the reader.
  • Wide range of vocabulary, used with some precision.
  • Effective register for audience and purpose.
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar mostly accurate, with occasional minor errors.

14-17 marks:

  • Sometimes effective style.
  • Ideas generally well sequenced.
  • Range of vocabulary is adequate and sometimes effective.
  • Sometimes effective register for audience and purpose.
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar generally accurate though with some errors.

 

Marking Criteria for Reading

13-15 marks:

  • Successfully evaluates ideas and opinions, both explicit and implicit.
  • Assimilates ideas from the text to give a developed, sophisticated response.

10-12 marks:

  • Some successful evaluation of ideas and opinions, both explicit and implicit.
  • A thorough response, supported by a detailed selection of relevant ideas from the text.

7-9 marks: 

  • Begins to evaluate mainly explicit ideas and opinions.
  • An appropriate response that includes relevant ideas from the text.
  • A relevant response that is expressed clearly, fluently and mostly with concision.
  • The response is well organised.
  • The response is in your own words (where appropriate), using a range of well-chosen vocabulary.
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar are mostly accurate.

2-3 marks:

  • A relevant response that is generally expressed clearly, with some evidence of concision.
  • There may be some lapses in organisation.
  • The response is mainly expressed in your own words (where appropriate) but there may be reliance on the words of the text.
  • Errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar.

 

Exam Tip

For top marks, make sure you:

  • Start with a powerful sentence that clearly and confidently states your view.
  • Say what do you REALLY think! Write your own personal opinion in your plan and let that be your north-star to stop yourself being too wishy-washy.
  • Write with passion – argue your case like you really care about the topic.
  • Include a personal anecdote 
  • Write with urgency – is this a crisis? Does change need to happen quickly? Then say so.
  • Mix up your persuasive writing techniques (ethos/pathos/logos)
  • Evaluate the counter arguments 
  • Round off your speech/letter/article with a powerful sentence reenforcing your view. Let the examiner know you didn’t run out of time.
  • Write an enjoyable response! Remember the examiner has to read 100s of answers – cheer them up. Attempt some humour where possible/appropriate.

Question 2

Example Top-Grade Answer

Marianna clicked the switch of her old Anglepoise lamp, which made its familiar creak as she angled it towards her desk. She sat under its warm vanilla glow and glanced out, across the lawn and towards the house as she waited for her laptop to load.

Out of all the belongings in the house, the lamp was the only thing she really cared about keeping after her mother died. Her brother had wanted it too, so she traded it with the wedding portrait. Every time she hears that click and creaking – like the sound of an arthritic elbow – she thinks briefly about her mother, and how she’d read to her as a child, under that lamp.

These lamps are built to last; in 100 years from now, when her future granddaughter’s new husband refuses to have the battered old thing in the house, it will sit on top of a rubbish dump – and that clicker will still click.

“Good luck to whoever has to get this damn bed out the house when I croak!” Ruby thought to herself as she heaved up onto the thick mattress – sagging in the middle now – careful not to knock her thin legs against the solid walnut frame. The purple bruise spread down her paper-thin skin was a reminder she needs to be more careful. The bed looked like a huge wardrobe on its back and dominated the room with a quiet dignity. Her son Mark has told her countless times that she’ll fall off it and break her neck one day, and that she should replace it with a much smaller bed.

What a taste of money! There’s nothing wrong with this one. Anyway, she’ll probably be dead in a couple of years, so what’s the point in buying a new one now?

On her nightstand sits a small battery-powered camping lantern, for when she needs to get up in the night. Otherwise, she has to put her bedroom lights on, then the hall light, and then the bathroom light; all that electricity for one lavatory visit!

She was thrilled when she found the lamp in the loft – it was just what she needed. She wasn’t sure if it had faded away with all the other trinkets from the grandchildren’s old guest room; she remembered how she would use it to read to the grandchild from inside a den she’d make with bedsheets and blankets. They’d sometimes have hot chocolate and biscuits at night inside the den and would laugh at the voices she’d do, then Ruby would carry them into bed when they fell asleep. She can barely carry a hot water bottle now.

“What are you using that old thing for!” Mark said when he saw it, unaware of how much Ruby enjoyed the silent company of her grandchildren’s laughter each night on the way to the bathroom.

Marianna’s husband, Patrick, gently knocked on the glass door and let himself in, holding a cup of hot chocolate he made for her.

“I found this in the garage – I thought you might find it useful when you’re coming back to the house in the dark. It’s a bit done in, but I’ve put some new batteries in and it works fine.” He placed Marianne’s grandmother’s camping light on the desk and headed back to the house.

 

Marking Criteria for Content & Structure

14-16 marks:

  • Content is complex, engaging and effective.
  • Structure is secure, well balanced and carefully managed for deliberate effect.

DESCRIPTIVE:
Many well-defined and developed ideas and images create a convincing overall picture with varieties of focus.

NARRATIVE:
The plot is well-defined and strongly developed with features of fiction writing such as description, characterisation and effective climax, and convincing details.

11-13 marks:

  • Content is developed, engaging and effective.
  • Structure is well managed, with some choices made for deliberate effect.

DESCRIPTIVE:
Frequent, well-chosen images and details give a mostly convincing picture

NARRATIVE:
The plot is defined and developed with features of fiction writing such as description, characterisation, climax and details.

8-10 marks:

  • Content is relevant with some development.
  • Structure is competently managed.

DESCRIPTIVE:
A selection of relevant ideas, images and details, even where there is a tendency to write in a narrative style.

NARRATIVE:
The plot is relevant and cohesive, with some features such as characterisation and setting of scene.

 

Marking Criteria for Style & Accuracy

21-24 marks:

  • Precise, well-chosen vocabulary and varied sentence structures, chosen for effect.
  • Consistent well-chosen register suitable for the context.
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar almost always accurate.

17-20 marks:

  • Mostly precise vocabulary and a range of sentence structures mostly used for effect.
  • Mostly consistent appropriate register suitable for the context.
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar mostly accurate, with occasional minor errors.

13-16 marks: 

  • Some precise vocabulary and a range of sentence structures sometimes used for effect.
  • Some appropriate register for the context.
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar generally accurate, but with some errors.
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