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Top 5 Mistakes in IGCSE Business Studies and How to Avoid Them

Having marked hundreds of IGCSE Business Studies papers, and discussed with colleagues from all over the world I’ve come up with the definitive top 5 mistakes to avoid.

Even better, for each mistake I’ve got a practical tip to help you avoid the minefield of potential traps that is an IGCSE Business Studies exam.


IGCSE Business Mistake #1 Running out of time

Time is money or marks in exams. It’s really tempting to spend more time on the questions you feel more confident with, or try and write the perfect answer to every question. But there is only a maximum amount of marks you can get in each question, and there are much greater consequences to your success in the exam if you don’t have enough time to finish the paper

Solution It’s roughly just 1 minute per mark in both paper 1 and paper 2, when you take away 10 minutes for reading time. To keep yourself on track you can write down the time you begin and when you should finish the question on your paper. Calculation questions can use up a lot of valuable time, skip and leave to the end if you don’t feel confident that you can answer them within your time limit.  Also don’t forget a watch! It may be difficult to see the clock in the exam hall.

IGCSE  Business Mistake #2 Writing down what you know rather than what the examiner wants to know

You’ve crammed for the past three days none stop to get ready for this crunch exam. It feels like you head is going to explode with the information. You make it to the exam just in time. The exam starts. You spill all the information you have learned onto the page. You fail the exam. Why?

Well, its not just about learning the information, it’s about using the information to answer the question. As an examiner I have seen countless example where students write page after page of information that does not link the information with the question, and results in disappointing exam results.

Solution Distract Yourself. 5-10 mins before the exam starts take yourself away from all the other students getting themselves into a frenzy talking about how terrible the exam is going to be. It could be a crossword puzzle, it could be doing a head -stand, or some stretching. Whatever it is, think about something else, relax, and go into the exam clear headed. You’ll be able to read the question and give the answer the examiner wants.

IGCSE Business Mistake #3 Not knowing the correct exam technique

The mark schemes the examiners use are therefore the key to high grades – if you know the exact ingredients of what to put in each answer examiners will award you top grades. Seems simple right? However, a huge amount of papers I mark seem to miss these essential ingredients, and it seems more like good luck if they score high marks in a question. The solution is to find out how the exams are marked, check out the marks schemes, what do you have to do to be awarded the marks?

Solution For Cambridge Business Exams we have tried to make this as simple as possible, you can find tutorials on all the different types of questions, example solutions and interactive online courses designed specifically for Cambridge International Business

IGCSE Business Mistake #4 Failing to plan is planning to fail.

I know it’s a cliché, but I see so many students figuring out the answers to the question as they write. This means students often repeat the same points and don’t include the most important information, ultimately leading to less marks and spending too much time on an answer.

Solution  Spend a few moments to figure out what the question is asking you, and think about how you are going to structure your answer, and what information to include.  Generally, the longer the question, the longer planning time you should have. I’d go with about 10% on planning, but it varies from person to person. A lot of how you plan depends on how the question should be answered. For a shorter answer structured essays on paper 1, you will just need a point for, a point against and an evaluation. For 12 mark paper 2 questions, spend some time thinking through the advantages and disadvantages of each option before you start, and why your recommendation will be best for the long term success of the business.

IGCSE Business Mistake #5 Don’t forget the application!

Ok, I know you have probably heard this a million times before and I know I say it all the time, but that’s because students forget to use application all the time. Especially as the exam goes on, when you are getting to question 3 or 4 it’s really easy to forget to include application as you are tired and just want to be finished already. To make sure you do use the context, refer back to the case study before answering each part of the question. Make it easy for the examiner, and keep referring to the case study in your answer, so they don’t have to hunt for the application in the answer. With a 12 mark paper 2 question with limited application you can only score a maximum of 4 marks. To get top marks you must analyse the different factors in context, and make a recommendation in context.

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