The Cambridge IGCSE First Language English Paper 2 is title Directed Writing and Composition. Section A tests both reading and writing skills. You can check out our previous post on genres to learn more about that. Section B, though, tests only the student’s writing skills.
Section B of Paper 2 gives the student four options to choose from: two descriptive prompts and two narrative prompts. This post will give some suggestions for succeeding in the descriptive writing.
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Below are sample descriptive prompts:
- Write a description with the title ‘The playground.’
- Write a description with the title, ‘The factory’.
- Write a description of a place where animals are kept in captivity, such as a zoo, wildlife park or
- Describe the inside of an interesting shop.
- Describe waking up to find the scene around you has changed.
- Describe a group of tourists outside an attraction.
24 marks are given for style and accuracy: 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.
16 marks are given for content and structure: Many well-defined and developed ideas and images create a convincing overall picture with varieties of focus.
- Metaphors: Compares two dissimilar things saying it is something else
- “He was a beaten dog.”
- Similes: Directly compares two dissimilar things.
- “He looked the way a beaten dog might look.”
- Sensory details: words that stir any of the five senses: touch, taste, sound, smell, and sight.
- Personification: Speaks of concepts or objects as if they had life or human characteristics.
- “ I saw a crowd, / A host, of golden daffodils; / Beside the lake, beneath the trees, / Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.” -“I Wandered Lonely….”, Wordsworth
- “April is the cruellest month, breeding / Lilacs out of the dead land” -The Waste Land, by Eliot
- “Her heart was divided between concern for her sister, and resentment against all the others.” -Pride and Prejudice, Austen
- Adjectives: words that describe the qualities or states of being of nouns (enormous, silly, yellow, fun, fast).
- Hyperbole: exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.
- Juxtaposition: placing two elements close together or side by side. This is often done in order to compare/contrast the two, to show similarities or differences, etc.
Varied Sentence Structure
- Simple: has one independent clause.
- I read the novel.
- Compound: has two independent clauses.
- I read the novel, but I did not like it.
- I read the novel because it was homework.
- I read the novel; it was amazing.
- Complex: has one dependent clause joined to an independent clause.
- Because I was lucky, I did not get caught.
- Whenever I study, we don’t have a pop quiz.
- Compound-Complex: has two independent clauses joined to one or more dependent clauses.
- While I was studying, Tom was gaming; however, he already knew the material.
- Variety of sentence openings:
- The biggest coincidence that day happened when John and I ended up seeing each other.
- Coincidentally, John and I ended up seeing each other that day.
- In an amazing coincidence, John and I ended up seeing each other that day.
- Guided by some bizarre coincidence, John and I ended up seeing each other that day.
- Short and long sentences
Some points to keep in mind
- Show don’t tell.
- Point of view movement; zoom in on different objects of focus.
- Think of a photograph.
- There will be some components of narration (action and movement), but avoid writing a narrative.
- Complex and effective, but not difficult for your reader; instead, it shows thought-out organization and progression.
- Engaging and interesting.