Thursday, 12 January 2017

A New Series about Exam Tips - Which Board for iGCSEs?

Here's another question that's asked frequently on the various home-education boards on Facebook: which iGCSE board should you use, CIE or Edexcel?

The truth of the matter is that most people don't have a choice - you have to choose the board that's offered at your nearby exam centres. If your exam centre offers both, then you will need to weigh up the style of exam, learning style of your teen, exam dates, and other factors to make your decision.

For example, these exams vary in how long each session is for taking the papers. CIE's exam is two different papers at 2 hours each. Edexcel has two options: Spec A which is also 2 papers but of 2 hours 15 and 1 hour 30, and part of this Spec requires knowledge and preparation of an anthology beforehand, whereas Spec B has no anthology but is a single paper of 3 hours' duration.

Second, CIE changed its spec back in June 2015, so it isn't due any overhaul or alteration in the near future, whereas Edexcel is going over to the 1-9 mark scheme of the "new GCSE" style for the summer 2018 exam series.

It's this fact that recommends serious consideration for anyone due to sit exams in 2018. I don't want to scare monger, but I was an examiner for CIE when they changed the spec in 2015, and there were big percentages of schools and private candidates who received marks that were wildly different from those predicted.

It's my belief this was because the new style of paper was not very well written compared to the ones they're producing now, plus the examiners were feeling their way with a new way of marking that was unfamiliar and sometimes unclear. It's inevitable that making big changes in an exam will lead to some experimentation with a mixture of success.

So if you have a choice of CIE or Edexcel for 2018, I would go with CIE because you have plenty of past papers that support the current spec, and the examiners and papers are bedded in now, whereas Edexcel will no doubt be feeling its way.

Personally, I wouldn't want my child to be a guinea pig for an exam board.

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