IGCSE Language paper 3 : Descriptive writing

Descriptive Writing


There is a definite strategy to writing descriptive prose.

  • Starting with brainstorming and evoking sensorial (perhaps experience based) images in your mind.
  • Followed by planning, structuring and writing three distinct mood based paragraphs
  • building in literary tools such as sensorial imagery, onomatopoeia, effective diction, sentence structure, personification and  figurative language to name but a few.

In my experience, being technical however is not adequate to score an A* worthy piece of writing and students need to have have read and appreciated beautiful description in order to create their own masterpieces.


Listed below are a few excerpts and short stories that may should help inspire sensitive prose.


I have to start with  a work of pure art- A God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy with credit to BookBrowse.com, sheer perfection!

Paradise Pickles & Preserves

May in Ayemenem is a hot, brooding month. The days are long and humid. The river shrinks and black crows gorge on bright mangoes in still, dustgreen trees. Red bananas ripen. Jackfruits burst. Dissolute bluebottles hum vacuously in the fruity air. Then they stun themselves against clear windowpanes and die, fatly baffled in the sun. 

The nights are clear, but suffused with sloth and sullen expectation. 


Link to excerpt from The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy 

Raising the bar for descriptive writing even higher , with evocative ,poetic prose:

An exclusive extract fromThe Ministry
of Utmost Happiness
By Arundhati Roy- 

Link to Guardian exclusive excerpt from The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

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Disappointed with your IGCSE Results? Definitely not the end of the world

The pressure on students these days means that anything less than an A* or A may leave them feeling hugely disappointed but should not leave them despondent!


Most students will be heading to the US or UK for university and unless you are aiming for top tier establishments, strong and appropriate IB scores coupled with sincere, well written, personal statements will often supersede your IGCSE grades.


With 10 years of teaching IGCSE in Singapore, I have seen many students with B’s and C’s going on to highly respected universities such as UCL, Imperial College, Warwick University, to name just a few.


However there are other options available and things to consider.

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Literary analysis of Trump’s inaugural speech

An application of IGCSE/IB English Language skills.

Does Trump Really Have the Best Words?

A statistical analysis of Trump’s inaugural address
by Justin Rice, published on 01/20/2017

On January 20th, Donald Trump delivered the 58th presidential inaugural address. Trump is a singular figure in US history and hordes of pundits will spend countless hours dissecting the content of his speech.

Rather than doing the same, Analitics have analyzed what Trump says, using data analysis to explore how he says it, and comparing his words with those of the 57 previous inaugurals to see what we learn.

click the link below to read the analysis.

Does Trump Really Have the Best Words? A statistical analysis of Litcharts.com Trump’s inaugural address by Justin Rice, published on 01/20/2017

Books + Data by LitCharts

IGCSE Timetable: Edexcel and CIE Board June 2017

As you learn from the mistakes made in the mocks and start to prepare for the June 2017 IGCSE exams, click on the links below for the Edexcel and CIE exam timetables to help plan revision. Scroll further down for key dates for English, French and Economics papers. As schools opt for a mixture of examination board and paper combinations, be careful to note the corect dates and also to practice the right past exam papers.


June 2017 Edexcel IGCSE Timetable

June 2017 CIE, Cambridge Board,IGCSE Timetable (zone 5)


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IGCSE English Language: Narrative Writing

excite caps hat final 50 matching colourThe narrative writing task, a 1 hour component of the English Language Paper 3, is particularly  challenging as it requires multiple layers of depth.

Alongside careful planning, and timed practice of compositions, reading short stories is an invaluable way of improving writing style. For high-schoolers with limited time and attention span for reading long texts, follow the links below and read short stories.

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IB ENGLISH: MAYA ANGELOU- BBC World Club Book 2002 (Podcast)

Listening to this very personal interview today, I was inspired in many ways and at first wondered whether we have to have had a significant past in order to write well.

What struck and pained me the most, was Maya Angelou reading her very powerful and hard hitting poem “BORN THAT WAY”. Raped at the age of 7 by her mother’s boyfriend, she recounted a story of observing a father’s inappropriate behaviour towards his 8 year old daughter; the mother wearing blinkers and ignoring what she could see…


Maya Angelou explained that she simply writes about what she can see and it is her courage to speak up that makes her the great writer that she is.

I think that we all do have stories that we need to tell.. speaking out is maybe the only way we can really influence change.

Do listen to this podcast …