Preparing for the IGCSE Business Studies paper can be one of the most trickiest things you do as a candidate. If you are like most candidates, your IGCSE Business Studies teacher conducted most of his/her classes by continuously talking and giving you the false sense you understood everything about the syllabus.
Highly likely you too think that you’ve mastered the syllabus and have the A* in your pockets. Once you started to practice past year questions or once your mock results were released, you were shell shocked. You can not believe that despite studying the entire time and practically swallowing the textbook, your results are still dismal.
The problem is most students don’t even know they are going to fail IGCSE Business Studies till it is too late. You must have experienced this too. Your answers fill up every nook and cranny of the exam paper. You write everything that you have mugged but your grades are still in the red.
How do you avoid this from happening in your actual IGCSE? Fret not, I am going to share three things that you should do to guarantee your A* for IGCSE Business Studies.
1. Mindset Transformation
First and foremost, you need to transform your mindset. You need to set clear and achievable goals based on the timeline in front of you. You need to start practicing the winner’s mindset. You need to be sure you are going to get this done, no matter how hard the going gets or how long it takes you to practice. Having this mentality alone can help you gain an insane amount of advantage in your preparations for IGCSE Business Studies papers.
2. Syllabus Mastery
Next, you need to work on mastering the syllabus. For this, you would need to become familiar with two documents provided by Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) for IGCE Business Studies, namely :
A) IGCSE Business Studies Learner’s Guide
B) IGCSE Business Studies Syllabus
A) IGCSE Business Studies Learner’s Guide
As the name suggests, this is a pivotal document that every IGCSE exam candidate must be introduced to at the beginning (the earlier, the better) of their IGCSE journey.
Here is a snapshot of what the document covers :
As you can see, reading through this document will give you a great deal of clarity of what is expected of you for IGCSE Business Studies papers. Sadly, most students are not taught how to use the learner’s guide effectively.
B) IGCSE Business Studies Syllabus
This document details what you need to know for each chapter. Unlike what your teachers have told you (shockingly and a tad bit pleasantly surprising), you do not have to mug the entire book.
The syllabus is quite clear that you do not need to know or master certain things.
Here is a good example of CAIE clearly stating what you need to know to the tee. Anything beyond the scope of what is stated here will not be examinable.
Most teachers fail to refer to the syllabus and force students to study everything in the textbook, resulting in students getting both stressed and burned out.
Most importantly, as you can see from the excerpt above, CAIE requires you to demonstrate different skillset for different parts of the syllabus. There are certain things you only need to be able to recall and state. There are some parts where you need to be able to provide consideration based on the questions. There also parts of the syllabus that requires you to be able to compare, contrast, recommend a choice accordingly and justify that choice.
Learning how to use the IGCSE Business Studies syllabus booklet can have a significant impact on your exam results.
It is important that you are correctly guided by expert teachers to ensure your success in IGCSE Business Studies exam papers. Inexperienced, rookie teachers can cause harm to your chances of securing excellent grades. If you are confused and would like to understand where you stand in terms of syllabus mastery, drop us a message to arrange for a subject-specific discovery session.
3. Know Thy Opponent
Anthony Horowitz put it aptly when he said, “ You cannot defeat your enemies until you know who they are”. To conquer IGCSE Business Studies and secure an A*, you must know in excruciating detail what the examiner requires of you.
In this section, we will cover everything you need to know about your “enemy” and defeat “him” as easily as a child breaks a toothpick. Here is what you must know :
A) Exam format, duration and mark allocation
B) Assessment objectives
C) Command words
D) Marking scheme
F) Examiner reports
As you can see, there are quite a bit of things you need to know inside out before you stand a fair chance of conquering the examiners’ fort.
A) Exam format
It goes without saying, a candidate must be extremely familiar with the exam format for IGCSE Business Studies.
Unlike other humanities subjects (IGCSE Economics, IGCSE Accounting) the marks are split evenly between Paper 1 and 2, which means you need to master the requirements of both papers even to obtain a decent passing mark (not only to get an A*).
You must also be able to tell from the table that you have 0.9 minutes for every mark allocated. That means you should not be spending more than 4.5 minutes on a 5 mark question. Spending more than the allocated time on each question means you are stealing marks away from other questions that you could easily score.
Why do I say this? You only have to take a sneak peek at the assessment objectives CAIE has set to understand what I am saying.
B) Assessment Objectives
As you can see, the AO3 requires you to display a deeper understanding of the syllabus than AO1. Further, the assessment objectives are not evenly distributed throughout the papers.
Here is how they are distributed in your IGCSE Business Studies paper.
As you can see, only 40 % of your total marks (in comparison to 65% for IGCSE Accounting) is from AO1. This means only 50% (in comparison to 80% for IGCSE Accounting) of Paper 1 and 30% of Paper 2 for IGCSE Business Studies are from the easiest assessment objective. IGCSE Economics assessment objectives are distributed closely to IGCSE Business Studies.
In any case, when you do not follow the time allocated for each question, you end up sacrificing “easy marks”(from AO1) that are available in other questions.
If your teacher has never taught you these techniques and you need help before your exams then reach out to us for our IGCSE Business Studies online tuition classes.
C) Command Words
Most teachers (and students) spend all their time mastering the syllabus and leave none to master the command words used by the IGCSE Business Studies examiner. They do so at their peril.
The command words are how the examiner communicates with the candidate on what he/she expects out of an answer. For example, let’s compare and contrast two command words that most students are confused about; consider and explain.
“Consider” requires students only to review all the information given and provide a plausible response whereas “Explain” requires you to make the existence of a relationship between things evident by providing relevant evidence.
There are only 8 (compared to 25 for IGCSE Accounting) command words for IGCSE Business Studies. Each of them requires a specific action from the candidate.
For example, it might not be the most efficient use of time to write a whole paragraph on a question that tells you to just state the answer. You might think that this is obvious but according to the marking scheme and the IGCSE Business Studies examiner report, this is where most mistakes are made.
To help you navigate the rather confusing list of command words, I’ve listed them below for your reference during your revision period.
D) Marking scheme
It is wise for you to know that Sun Tzu once said, “To know your enemy, you must become your enemy”. This can’t be more apt for IGCSE Business Studies candidates. You must learn to see how the marking scheme is laid out so you can understand how the examiner will be marking your paper.
Let’s look at a simple example from a past year question. The question below carries 6 marks.
“Identify and explain two methods of promotion (other than advertising) that Party Pops could use to increase sales.”
Here is how the examiner chose to award the 6 marks :
As you can see, out of a total of 6 marks, only 2 marks is allocated for AO1. Even if you identified 4 methods of promotion, you will only get a maximum of 2 marks as the examiner has placed a cap on the marks you can earn from AOI (Knowledge marks).
This is why trying to write as many points as possible in the point when you have panicked is a bad idea. You are simply “stealing” marks from other questions. The marking scheme is extremely structured, leaving the examiner little room to avoid marks when you do not answer the question according to the requirement.
Further, you should take note of the AO3 (Analysis) marks that are avoided when you are able to provide a solid explanation on how the methods you recommended will end boosting sales for Party Pops.
You should also note that an absence of analysis will not hinder you from obtaining full marks as there is no upper limit for AO2 (Application) marks. However, you should always try to follow the best practices required by the examiner to ensure a safe A*.
Of course, before you could peek into the marking scheme you must first practice the past year questions.
E) Past Year Questions
Any teacher worth their salt will tell you this: Practice your past year questions. However, most fail to add another important part: Do not depend on it or count on spotting trends. The IGCSE Business Studies examiner is known to throw a surprise every now and then, leaving candidates shocked if all you’ve done is mug the past year papers. Use the past year papers as a guide on what to expect but continue to sharpen your analytical skills and “outside the box” thought process if you wish to face no hiccups during the IGCSE Business Studies exam day.
It is also equally important that you DO NOT audit your answers while practicing them. This leads to a false sense of confidence which can ruin your exam results. It is best for you to time yourself while doing the papers and mark them objectively once you are done.
If you need assistance in preparing for your IGCSE Business Studies papers, feel free to reach out to us for our online tuition classes.
F) Examiner report
Lastly, if you have the time, it would be highly beneficial to read a few examiner reports. The reports will give you an idea of where most mistakes made and what are the common pitfalls among candidates. Having a clear idea of where others have succumbed before will help you avoid the same mistake. As Ken Schramm puts it, “A smart person learns from his mistakes, but a truly wise person learns from the mistakes of others.” You have the chance to be a truly wise person so be one.
Besides being wise, the report will provide you insight into what the examiner is expecting from each question, making you truly ready to take on IGCSE Business Studies exam papers.
By mastering these three elements, namely your mindset, the syllabus and the exam requirements, you set yourself up for success from day one. You can also check out our detailed guide for :
- IGCSE Accounting
- IGCSE Economics
- IGCSE Mathematics
- IGCSE English As Second Language
- And many more to help you ace your IGCSE
At Pasxcel, we’ve coached each and every one of the students to become a success story. If you need more help in your IGCSE, please drop us a message for online tuition classes or our IGCSE Ascension program.