CIE IGCSE English Language

Practice Papers

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Practice Paper 2E

Question 1

Marks: 40

Section A: Directed Writing

Imagine there is to be a referendum on whether to re-introduce the death penalty.

Write a newspaper article, giving your views on whether or not to re-introduce the death penalty in the UK.

In your article you should:

  • evaluate the views given in both texts about the death penalty.
  • give your own views, based on what you have read, about whether re-introducing the death penalty would be good for the country.

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

Begin your article: “Let me clear…”

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

Let me be clear.  There are no easy answers when it comes to the highly emotive issue of capital punishment.  But, as we approach the referendum on the subject, we need to step away from the emotional arguments, and hold a rational debate.

The recent terrorist atrocities are what have led to the renewed calls to bring back the death penalty.  If terrorists have been shot dead at the scene, or killed themselves in the course of their activities, why should a trial and death sentence be considered any different, the argument goes – after all, the outcome is exactly the same – the terrorist is dead, and no longer represents a threat to our society.  However, a terrorist dead at the scene is unquestionably guilty.  A trial by jury, after an event, is not infallible.  Miscarriages of justice can – and still do – happen.  The examination of historical cases has revealed previously missed miscarriages, and it is highly likely that future examination of our own law courts will be found equally guilty of error.  Under our current system, errors can be redressed.  Those wrongly convicted are freed, and compensation paid.  Nothing can give these people back their time in jail, but they are alive and have their name cleared.  You can’t give a dead man back his life.

People argue that the death penalty can offer some relief to the loved ones of murder victims, knowing that the killer has suffered the same fate.  But what about the families of the killer him (or her)self?  They too are innocent.  Living with the knowledge that a family member has committed such a crime must be hard enough, without the added burden of bereavement.  If a murderer has no right to take a life, neither does the state.

And who is to say which crimes are serious enough for the ultimate sentence?  It is argued that the punishment should be reserved for the most heinous criminals, such as serial killers.  But how many murders are needed to label someone a serial killer?  Two?  Three?  Only one, if the killing is in cold blood and there is reason to assume there may be more to come?  Does who is killed, and why, influence the decision to impose the death penalty? There are no objective answers to these questions.   While there is any degree of subjectivity surrounding the issue, the only possible answer is that the capital punishment must not be reintroduced.

 

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 busy concert.

OR

(Descriptive writing)

Describe an occasion where people are shouting.

OR

 (Narrative writing)

Write a story that starts “The smell reminded her of…”

OR

(Narrative writing)

Write a story that involves a character getting betrayed.

Close

Question 1

Example Top-Grade Answer

Let me be clear.  There are no easy answers when it comes to the highly emotive issue of capital punishment.  But, as we approach the referendum on the subject, we need to step away from the emotional arguments, and hold a rational debate.

The recent terrorist atrocities are what have led to the renewed calls to bring back the death penalty.  If terrorists have been shot dead at the scene, or killed themselves in the course of their activities, why should a trial and death sentence be considered any different, the argument goes – after all, the outcome is exactly the same – the terrorist is dead, and no longer represents a threat to our society.  However, a terrorist dead at the scene is unquestionably guilty.  A trial by jury, after an event, is not infallible.  Miscarriages of justice can – and still do – happen.  The examination of historical cases has revealed previously missed miscarriages, and it is highly likely that future examination of our own law courts will be found equally guilty of error.  Under our current system, errors can be redressed.  Those wrongly convicted are freed, and compensation paid.  Nothing can give these people back their time in jail, but they are alive and have their name cleared.  You can’t give a dead man back his life.

People argue that the death penalty can offer some relief to the loved ones of murder victims, knowing that the killer has suffered the same fate.  But what about the families of the killer him (or her)self?  They too are innocent.  Living with the knowledge that a family member has committed such a crime must be hard enough, without the added burden of bereavement.  If a murderer has no right to take a life, neither does the state.

And who is to say which crimes are serious enough for the ultimate sentence?  It is argued that the punishment should be reserved for the most heinous criminals, such as serial killers.  But how many murders are needed to label someone a serial killer?  Two?  Three?  Only one, if the killing is in cold blood and there is reason to assume there may be more to come?  Does who is killed, and why, influence the decision to impose the death penalty? There are no objective answers to these questions.   While there is any degree of subjectivity surrounding the issue, the only possible answer is that the capital punishment must not be reintroduced.

 

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

The front-of-house lights go down.  The anticipation is tangible.  As the stage lights go up, there is a collective intake of breath.

It’s time.

As the band take to the stage, the crowd surges forward as one. Spotlights arc over the arena, illuminating the eager audience section by section, dazzling the screaming fans.  The band are moving into position, strapping on guitars and adjusting microphones.  There is a crackle as the sound system comes to life, and once again, the crowd draws that collective breath.

There are thousands here – tens of thousands.   They come from all walks of life.  They are strangers to each other but right now they are united by a common bond:  the adulation they feel for the four young men on stage.  The music begins, to thunderous applause and more screaming.  The spotlights continue to pick out the fans, projecting images onto the big screens that surround the stage.   There is a young girl, the excitement making her face gleam and her eyes water.  She shuffles herself around, craning her neck to try and see past the tall, oh-so-cool boy in front of her.  A group of college students are starting to dance, trampling on toes of others nearby, but no-one minds.

The music builds in pace, volume and intensity and the spotlight switches to the centre of the stage as the singer lifts his mike.  The crowd surges still further forward, and the spotlights compete for a moment with a thousand flashes of cameras, people frantically trying to capture the elusive perfect memory.

A roar.  The shrieks from the excitable fans threaten to drown out the singer’s opening notes for a moment, but then there is a change.  The crowd are quiet now, listening, absorbing.  Cameras are repocketed as the music takes over.  The look of excitement on the young girl’s face is replaced with one of rapture, and the oh-so-cool boy sheepishly makes space for her, so she has a clear view of her idol, barely fifty yards away from her.  The college students are still dancing, the odour of their sweat barely masked by cheap perfume – but still no-one minds

A final, thrilling, quivering chord and the first track draws to a close.

It’s begun.

 

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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