How To Prepare O Level Computer Science (2210) and IGCSE Computer Science (0478) Subject From Scratch To Get The Best Grade In CAIE Exams | Tips By Sir Hunain Zia

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Studying routines can be quite stressful, especially when one is trying to get a good score on the exam. However, what can increase this stress is the excessive level of myths that exist about exam preparation. The main purpose to make this post series is to bust those myths about preparation of subjects for CAIE O Level / A Level and IGCSE. The post will be accompanied by 2 other posts: Examination Solving and Attempting Tips, and Schedules for each subject

How To Prepare: General

  • O Level Computer Science and IGCSE Computer Science Subject requires you to solve 2 exams: The theory paper and the Programming paper.
  • The following method is what I prefer for the preparation in most cases.

The Prerequisites

  • Both the components (papers of this subject) have different syllabuses. Thus, we will follow different strategies for both papers to be solved.
  • The entire paper 1 is based on your book. You can either use Sir Hunain Zia’s free notes provided on Educate A Change for all chapters of Computer science to prepare your exam, or you can use the IGCSE official Computer Science Course Book for both O level and IGCSE preparation.

Time Line of Preparation

  • Our initial focus will remain on Paper 1, because the syllabus of this paper is lengthy.
  • The preparation of Paper 2 will start halfway between paper 1.

How To Prepare Paper 1 of O Level Computer Science and IGCSE Computer Science

  1. Always start by detailed study of each chapter. At least study the chapter 3 times, because most of the information is asked directly from the book/ notes.
  2. After you have read a chapter, complete the topical past papers of that chapter for the last 10 years. Use both variants and both series. Series means May / June and Oct / Nov, and variants mean 11 and 12.
    1. When attempting the topical past papers, try to check each answer from the marking scheme and do revise the marking scheme answers thoroughly. Sometimes, questions are repeated. Thus, you can copy paste the answers you have learned from the marking schemes in such cases.
    2. Secondly, the syllabus changed in 2015. When you attempt topical past papers from before that time, make sure you are only attempting relevant questions only. Irrelevant questions can waste your time as they are no longer a part of the syllabus.
  3. Do the same procedure for all the chapters
    1. Do remember, you may need to memorize some stuff from the book
      1. For example, in Ethics chapter, you need to memorize the ethical considerations
      2. You need to memorize the standards as well
      3. Similarly, you need to memorize the difference between different types of software, printers etc.
  4. Once you are done with all the chapter and their past papers in this way
    1. Start revising the chapters from the notes
    2. Start completing yearly exams for Paper 1.
  5. Concurrently, you need to start the preparation of  Paper 2 at this point

How To Prepare Paper 2 of O Level Computer Science and IGCSE Computer Science

  1. Paper 2 is quite easy if the direction is set right. Remember
    1. The paper has the first question that is based on prereleased material.
    2. The rest of the questions have a pattern.
  2. The simplest way to start preparing for paper 2 is to try the backward approach.
    1. NEVER start with the pre-release material pseudocode question first.
    2. NEVER EVER learn programming for O Level and IGCSE computer science. Instead, prefer learning pseudocode to save your time.
  3. Topically attempt the past papers of each topic in the paper other than those in question 1.
    1. For example, topically complete the last 10 year past papers for Changing The Loop Type Questions
      1. Topically Completing Database Questions
      2. Topically Completing Trace Table Questions
      3. Topically solving Flow Chart questions
    2. Etc.
    3. Remember, syllabus has changed so do not do irrelevant topics like Logo Turtle
  4. Once you are done with this, move on to compulsory question
    1. DO NOT start cramming the pre-release answer provided by any teacher at this point.
    2. Instead, learn the common recurring questions that occur in all pre-release material questions
      1. Focus on the types of errors – they are repetitive
      2. Focus on the way you can declare an array
      3. Focus on how to write specific parts of the code
      4. Focus on how to comment on efficiency of your own code
        1. Use marking schemes for guidance in this part.
  5. Once this aspect is done, you will only have 2 parts left of around 7-9 marks total of writing the code.
    1. Now attempt the code part.
    2. Do not MEMORIZE any teacher’s answers
  6. You are all set and ready for the exam.

The Pitfalls

  • Try maximizing your potential rather than cramming pre-release answers
  • There is a delicate pattern in Paper 2 – identify and master it.
  • Paper 1 needs a lot of memorization – revise, revise and revise.

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