Learners following the Cambridge IGCSE Computer Science syllabus develop their understanding of the main principles of problem solving using computers. They can apply their understanding to develop computer-based solutions to problems using algorithms and a high-level programming language. Learners also develop a range of technical skills, as well as being able to effectively test and evaluate computing solutions. Studying Cambridge IGCSE Computer Science will help learners appreciate current and emerging computing technologies, the benefits of their use and recognise their potential risks.
Cambridge IGCSE Computer Science helps learners develop an interest in computing and gain confidence in computational thinking. It is an ideal foundation for further study at Cambridge International AS and A Level, and the skills learnt can also be used in other areas of study and in everyday life. From the 2015 examination series, this syllabus will replace Cambridge IGCSE Computer Studies.
What do you enjoy about the subject?
Sean: It’s computers. Everybody likes to play computer games, and this (using Computer Science) is how many softwares are developed and in ICT, because we learn a lot about computer systems, and basic coding like HTML and stuff like that, that’s my favourite part of my journey.
Isaac: To add on to that, ICT taught me a few practical skills that you can use for life like word processing and coding and all that nice stuff.
What is the most challenging thing about the subject?
Isaac: Most challenging part...The questions in the theory paper are pretty hard but if you study well you might be able to answer them with ease.
Sean: To follow up, he mentioned that for the theory questions, most of the time you need to memorise the answers so that you can actually to them in the exam. As well as coding, HTML, stuff like that, you have to have the skill to use the software- the CS5 Dreamweaver software.
Do you need to be familiar with the software beforehand?
Isaac: It’s always good to have prior knowledge of using the software but the software that we use in ICT is not really that hard [to use]. In ICT, the teachers here teach the software pretty well so even if you’re a beginner, I think you would catch up pretty easily.
Sean: And when exams are near, our teacher will encourage us to use a lot of the software because we have to do many past-year papers based on the software. You’ll have to design a website, create some word processing documents, some databases, yeah.
Why did you choose this subject?
Sean: I chose ICT because I have a great passion for computer science. I want to become a computer software engineer in the future so I thought that ICT would be that I would take to grab on to my dreams.
Isaac: For me, I also intend to do a degree in computer science so what’s better than ICT? Nothing.
How was the transition from IGCSE ICT to A-Level Computer Science?
Sean: In computer science, we will be learning a new software language called Python which will be useful to create simple apps. Even a calculator- you can program a calculator using that app. In IGCSE we talk more about how to use word processing documents, organising databases, as well designing websites.
Is it necessary to take IGCSE ICT before A-Level Comp. Science?
Sean: Yes, I think it will be a great help because many things you learn from ICT can be used in computer science, especially the theory part where you have what Isaac has mentioned: the input devices, output devices. There will be more detailed stuff about how it actually works.
Was there anything in the subject that was different from your initial expectations? What were the main changes from year 9?
Sean: There’s not much expectation from year 9 to IGCSE ICT because basically in year 9 we did quite a bit in HTML, as well as some video editing- it’s straightforward and all carried on, just more detailed learning.
Isaac: Yes. More in depth.
How are the lessons like?
Isaac: Well I have Mr. Mellor for my ICT teacher and we use this software called onenote. So what will happen is that we all will share a file where he puts our notes and he will go through the notes during class to explain- or if we have any questions, he will answer them. After we go through all the notes, he will ask us to research this [topic] at home. Yeah, that’s how we learn.
Sean: For me, I had Mr. Syed during year 10 and year 11. So what we did a lot during class is practice past-years most of the time and also doing our own research.
How much homework or independent study do you do a week for this subject?
What are the skills or knowledge you can develop in this subject and why are they useful?
Sean: For me, I continued studying computer science which is another subject linked to ICT and it has helped me a lot. When you take this course, you will go through a lot of problem-solving situations where you have to think outside the box to solve a particular question. For HTML, sometimes you have to write CSS codes which is something that designs a website- how it looks like.
Are the skills you learnt in this course practical to real life?
Isaac: Absolutely. Again, the world revolves around computers and ICT teaches you the practical skills, how computers work and how computers affect our lives. Those are all pretty essential [pieces of] knowledge that you can get from ICT. Databases, word processing: they might seem tedious at first but it’s a lot more applicable to life, you know?
Any tips for new Computer Science students?
Isaac: Well, for new students, it's always best to use the computer more. It’s not only fun but the more you know how to use simple software like Microsoft Word and all that stuff, ICT is going to be a breeze.
Will taking any other subject help me to be successful in this subject?
Sean: It will be useful if you take subjects like maths and physics because they have topics which are covered in ICT and also in maths an physics as well. That will be a help in the future. Most topics are covered in maths and physics in ICT so something like (?) if you’ve heard of it, it’s useful. And also some algebraic expressions.
How do you study for the subject?
Isaac: Well for me, I really go through syllabus (ie. what we have for the test) because Mr.Mellor gives us notes and I go through all of those notes and try to create MY notes off of THOSE notes so I can memorise things word for word. Memorise it and do a few past papers.
Sean: To add on, our teacher will always give us the syllabus content which consists of all the [topics] we’re going to learn and they’ll ask us to colour code it [to identify] which section[s] you are weak in [so] you can practice on that.
And for the practicals?
Sean: As we have mentioned a lot, you to practice. Constantly practice. Just keep doing past-years. Like that you will understand how the question format will be asked in the exam and that way you will be quicker in the exam. Also, time management is really important.
Overview by Mr. Syed
Hi there, I’m Mr Syed, I’m the Head of Computer Science at Tenby International School. Here I am to answer some of the questions of yours.
Describe your subject in 3 words
It’s interesting, challenging, and it’s fun once you know the programming language.
What are the top 3 skills needed to be successful in your subject?
You need logical skills, you need thinking skills, and last but not least, you need Maths skills.
How does your subject promote personal development?
It builds your problem solving skills, your logical thinking skills, to aid not only your studies but also aids your real life situations.
How does your subject promote professional development?
With the world innovating every single day, Computer Science is a skill that you will need in the future, because it is the future.
What’s the best thing about your subject?
It’s fun to be able to almost create and control everything that you make, including games, algorithm, and a lot more.
Papers in IGCSE Computer Science
Paper 1: Theory
1 hour 45 minutes
60% of total mark
Paper 2: Problem-solving and Programming
1 hour 45 minutes
40% of total mark
Students are given a pre-release material 2 months before the exam. Questions on the paper will be based on the pre-release material.