Common difficulties in IGCSE Math

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Any subject is the same, during the learning process, it is not always possible to grasp the lesson quickly, common difficulties in IGCSE Math are no exception.

🏫 Levels in IGCSE Math

IGCSE Math is divided into three levels so students can choose based on their abilities, interests and future orientation. The choice of IGCSE Math level is very important, because it will be compatible with higher education. For example, the student who chooses basic level is difficult to study for A-level Math or IB Math. Common difficulties in IGCSE Math also depend on the levels they choose.

  • IGCSE Math Core: This is suitable for students who are not gifted in Natural and oriented to study related to Social or Arts later. Because at this level, the knowledge taught is very basic.
  • IGCSE Math Extended: For students who have good knowledge base and are interested in this subject, this is also the preparation step into higher level programs at A-level or IB.
  • IGCSE Math Additional: This is the separate subject from Core and Extended. The content taught in IGCSE Math Additional is similar to the high school curriculum but at the less advanced level.

Common difficulties in IGCSE Math

With IGCSE Math, if you choose the Core, it is not too difficult to get good grade, just listen carefully to the lecture in the classroom, complete the basic exercises in each chapter and practice again and again will quickly master.

On the Extended, the common difficulty is that although they have mastered the theory and applied it to the basic types of exercises, until they do the exercises that combine formulas, then it’s embarrassing. This is not difficult to understand because the theory is just the single lesson, but the exercise requires the skillful applications.

IGCSE Math Additional is really the challenge for students in grade 9-10, because they have to study the content equivalent to grade 11-12. The difficulty of this level includes not only the inability to apply the theory to solve advanced exercises but also to be familiar with the knowledge that will make them easily depressed. But there will be workarounds, just really try to spend a lot of time to learn many different textbooks and ask the teachers to fix and then solve it again. This certainly greatly supports your IGCSE Math Additional learning process.

3 Must-Know IGCSE Maths Tips to Maximise your Scores

Challenges of IGCSE Maths

As a compulsory subject for IGCSE students, it can take a lot of effort to improve and build confidence in Maths. At Tam Tai Duc, our experience is that there is no magical solution to perfect results in maths.

Students build up their tool-kit for maths from a young age, and subsequent years add layers to it, but the pathway to mastery is an individual journey. Nonetheless, IGCSE Maths is a demanding subject. By high school, absence for a single lesson can be a serious setback. 

Depending on whether your school opts for the CIE or Edexcel Mathematics course for IGCSE, and whether you do the Core or Extended exams, the structure of the assessment will be slightly different.

In general, for IGCSE Maths there are several tips for consolidating crucial skills and maximising test scores:

📚 Tip #1: Understand the question

Questions on the IGCSE Maths exam are often designed to trick students. This means that students might not even be able to comprehend the question itself, much less know how to process the data involved. 

Understanding the verbal presentation of mathematical problems requires a level of fluency with mathematical concepts, relationships, and skills. To become fluent in IGCSE Maths you have to know the command words, which comes with reading mark schemes and examiners’ reports to understand the types of questions in the exams.

You also need to be able to anticipate the best way to solve the problem, which often requires guided practice with a qualified IGCSE Maths tutor.

📐 Tip #2: Do what’s expected

This may seem obvious, but showing working out is just as important as putting down the right answer. Even when revising with IGCSE Maths past papers, taking the time to show working out can help you understand which areas you need to work on. It should be a matter of second nature.

It doesn’t matter if the question is worth 1 mark, if the question doesn’t demand this explicitly, or if it’s a simple single-step problem—getting into the habit of showing working out can always prevent you from losing unnecessary marks on the IGCSE Maths exam.

Showing your thought process and calculations on paper helps you verify your answer, identify any mistakes, and clarify for the examiner where to give you marks. 

🔢 Tip #3: Find patterns

Being able to conceptualise on a deeper level, whether calculating interest or understanding coordinate geometry, will prove very useful.

IGCSE students are expected to show understanding of patterns and relationships of different areas of mathematics, and show that they can apply this knowledge. This is especially important for longer questions.

Improving in this aspect comes with exposure to more past papers, and trying to critically conceptualise a problem before selecting a strategy.