The Cambridge IGCSE History syllabus looks at some of the major international issues of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as covering the history of particular regions in more depth. The emphasis is on both historical knowledge and on the skills required for historical research.
What do you enjoy about the subject?
Raisa: What I enjoy most about the subject, I think, is mostly the fact that I get to learn what has happened, how it has affected today’s events, and basically linking past events to these events and seeing how things have changed, and if they haven’t even. It’s mostly what I enjoy.
Thad: I enjoy learning about the past mostly to infer about how the present came to be and to know what the future could look like because there is a popular saying that is very true that those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it.
What is the most challenging about the subject?
Raisa: I think what’s most challenging - I think - is first of all, basics, which is having to remember tons of dates and facts and statistics because you need that as your evidence in your essays and it’s to prove your point. And apart from that, I think, it’s analysing certain events as well and being able to prove certain things because, you know, history is said to be written by winners, so you need to evaluate as well and be able to make judgements. So I think that can be pretty difficult.
Thad: The most challenging part would also be choosing the right evidence because there are a lot of different aspects to what happened, so figuring out which evidence best supports your point is challenging.
Why did you choose this subject?
Raisa: I chose history because I just really enjoyed the subject and it went really well with my other subject which is geography.
Thad: I enjoy the subject a lot too and I find it interesting and helpful in making decisions.
Was there anything in the subject that was different from your initial expectations? What were the main changes from year 9?
Thad: I was a little surprised that we didn’t cover World War 2 as it was very important in shaping the latter half of the 20th century.
Raisa: Apart from just the content, what surprised me was the exams itself because you have such little time to be writing a lot. You have so much to write and I think some of the most time you get is like an hour and a half and you’re going to be really tired so that surprised me a little bit.
What do lessons look like in terms of writing, independent study, collaboration, assessment etc?
Thad: There’s a lot of collaborating and note-taking; you take down a lot of facts when you’re doing this. [For] Independent study, it’s good occasionally. The history teachers are really good and you don’t need to constantly go back.
How much homework or independent study will I be doing a week in this subject?
Thad: [For] Independent study, you probably will have to do some per week but when it comes to homework, it’s rarely given.
Raisa: I agree. I think homework-wise, it’s not very heavy. But definitely the teachers always encourage reading outside, online, and watching videos as well.
What are the skills or knowledge you can develop in this subject and why are they useful?
Thad: You develop a lot of explaining, critical thinking and justification skills because a lot of the assessment questions ask you to explain why that’s happened or justify your opinion on a statement about a certain topic.
Raisa: Yeah, I think it was an important point he made with the evaluation skills which is your analytical skills. If anything I think that’s the key point in the subject, and identify certain events you need to be able to know which to pick and how to explain it and then you need to even be able to come up with an argument with that. So it’s really important.
Any tips for the new History students?
Raisa: I think read ahead, yeah. Read ahead and even read about current events because it really matters in what we’re learning inside the class. You’ll be able to make all these connections with everything and it will basically give you a step ahead of the class and you won’t feel left behind or confused that you have to step in.
Thad: Read ahead, and make sure that you understand what’s going on. You also need to know what happens before the events and after, or else it’s going to be a bit confusing learning about the post-WW1 treaties if you don’t know what happened in World War 1.
How do you study for the subjects?
Thad: I read through the textbook several times and I also like to review my notes and make sure that I’m not missing out any key details.
Will taking any other subject help me to be successful in this one?
Thad: Not particularly.
Raisa: Yeah, I think if anything, history will help with other subjects better than other subjects helping history itself. But if you want to go - if you really want a suggestion - maybe just economics because I remember in IGCSE when learning about the American depth study, it was really economics-based.
Thad: Geography might also help a little bit, at least physical geography, as you’ll understand a little better why the USSR was so keen on controlling eastern Europe and several other aspects of history.
Overview by Mr. Frazer
Describe your subject in 3 words
Challenging, engaging, satisfying.
What are the top 3 skills needed to be successful in your subject?
You have to be able to interpret historical sources, you have to be able to present logically compelling arguments, and you have to be able to analyse and critique other people’s arguments.
How does your subject promote personal development?
It teaches students about why the world is the way it is, it teaches them how to engage with the world, how to communicate, and so to understand other people’s communication with them.
How does your subject promote professional development?
It teaches excellent transferable skills which are going to be relevant for all kinds of business, law or lots of different academic professions.
What is the best thing about your subject?
The thrill of watching young minds the interconnectedness of the world they live in
Papers in IGCSE History
Paper 1: Knowledge paper
40% of total marks
Paper 2: Source paper
33% of total marks
Paper 4: Essay on depth study
27% of total marks