An essential subject for all learners, Cambridge IGCSE Mathematics encourages the development of mathematical knowledge as a key life skill, and as a strong basis for more advanced study. The syllabus aims to build learners' confidence by helping them develop competence and fluency with mathematical concepts, methods and skills, as well as a feel for numbers, patterns and relationships. The syllabus also places a strong emphasis on solving problems and presenting and interpreting results. Learners also gain an understanding of how to communicate and reason using mathematical concepts.
What do you enjoy about the subject?
Hui Yen: The sense of achievement that I get from doing the questions. So whatever hard questions that I find really difficult to answer at first, I get the sense of achievement when I’m able to answer them afterwards.
Avenash: Yeah, I was talking about the sense of achievement things. For me, my case is like - you fail, fail, fail, fail and then suddenly you do well. So it’s good.
Ryan: So what I enjoyed the most is the formulas we learnt everyday, so it can apply to many other subjects.
What is the most challenging about the subject?
Hui Yen: I would say, definitely understanding the concepts at first. Because most of the time when you’re given a new topic for maths, you find it really hard at first, but afterwards as you learn it and you practice, it gets better. So just applying the concepts I guess.
Avenash: Yeah, for me it’s that you get scared when you get to the exam. But once you keep on practising then you won’t be scared.
Ryan: For me, I would say [learning] the new formulas can also be a tricky issue. Like what she said, learning the new topics.
Was there anything in the subject that was different from your initial expectations? What were the main changes from year 9?
Hui Yen: Essentially Maths is the topic that’s pretty much the same as year 9, just that you’re learning more, so the things you learn are more advanced. The main changes from year 9 are definitely how hard it gets, and you definitely get more workload. But other than that it’s the same.
Avenash: You can see that in year 9 it’s alright, in year 10 it gets hard, and in year 11 they go in depth. It gets real hard in year 11. But, again it’s all about just getting the practice, and you’ll get used to how hard it is.
Ryan: So in year 11 they compile all the topics together and give you the test, instead of in year 9 they test you topic by topic. So it’s not a topical test anymore.
How are the lessons like?
Hui Yen: I would say IGCSE lessons as a whole, not just Maths but as a whole, they’re more of a lecture style. So you’re just given the content and you’re taught the theories, concepts, and you’re expected to be able to practice it and learn it, rather than the collaboration work that you would do in year 9. So I would say definitely more independent work and less collaboration projects.
Avenash: Yeah, similarly with the independent [study], for us, we still get spoonfed - which is a good thing for weak students like me, because then I can understand the ideas better. And once I get to higher level maths then I don’t need to be spoon fed.
Ryan: For me, whenever we find any math problems we can’t solve, we normally approach the teacher or ask friends for help. So we still get a sense of collaboration but not in [terms of] poster work and etc.
How much homework or independent study do you do a week for this subject?
Hui Yen: Most of the time you would get homework every class, but if not homework then you’re expected to go back and review the topic, what you’ve learnt. So I would say do at least 4 hours a week, minimum. That would be great if you can do more. But I would say that it would really help you if you do 4 hours a week minimum.
Ryan: For me, normally our teacher would give us classwork and if we do not complete it, it’ll carry on to homework. But normally our class would ask for more work since we are independent students.
What are the skills or knowledge you can develop in this subject and why are they useful?
Hui Yen: I would say problem-solving skills and analysing. So most of the time you’re given a question and you would slowly learn to be able to break down the question, and answer it step by step. So it helps you be more systematic.
Avenash: For me, some of the formulas - you could actually use them in real life for once. You have the whole year, primary to secondary to test whether maths really works for you and once you go to college, by then you should already know what you want to do. So that you can choose properly whether you really want to do maths and it’s very well implemented between primary and secondary.
Ryan: So for me, I would say maths can be adapted into business and physics. In physics you go in depth and use even more formulas, which include algebra and maths.
How do you study for the subjects?
Hui Yen: Past-years, past-years, past-years. Normally you would have to go through your equations and you have to look at the equations, learn the equations. And I would say the best bet is just to apply those equations by doing past-years, because that’s really gonna make your life easier because if you do more past-years, it’s easier to remember all of the formulas. So you don’t have to spend as much time trying memorising them.
Avenash: Yeah. Like what she’s said, just do past-years. If you don’t understand, don’t do past-years yet, understand it first. Once you understand it, you keep on applying it in past-years because they’ll have all the questions that are going to appear in IGCSEs. So practice.
Any tips for the new Maths students?
Hui Yen: Make good notes, start early. So one thing I really like to do for my notes, is I would write my equations in blue and box it in red ink. Because that’s gonna make the equation stand out really well and it’s gonna make it so much easier to revise. Once you’re flipping through your notes you’re gonna see that equation in the red box. And you will automatically remember to memorise it, and you don’t have to look for your equations.
Avenash: The main thing is don’t slack. Don’t think that you’d be able to do it later. When the “later” comes, IGCSEs would also come. So when you start, write down what you remember straight away because you may not remember it in a few months time. So make a whole load of notes and make it as clean and neat as possible, so once it comes near to IGCSEs you can just read it.
Ryan: I would say remembering the formulas is very important, as some questions are not so straightforward in the IGCSE questions, so you can use different formulas to try adapt to that question.
Will taking any other subject help me to be successful in this one?
Hui Yen: Not really. Maths is a subject on its own I guess. There aren’t that many subjects that would help you. But if you do want to look at calculations, subjects like Econs with all your calculations might help, and Physics. But other than that, there’s not much that would help.
Avenash: Like what she says, there aren’t many subjects that can help with Maths but I feel like Maths is the one to help other subjects. If you know maths, you’re gonna be familiar with Physics and apply the same calculations in Physics.
Any other comments?
Hui yen: Maths is fun.
Ryan: Yeah, maths is really fun as long as you know the formulas.
Overview by Ms.Gayathri
Describe your subject in 3 words
Top 3 skills needed to be successful in your subject
Top 3 skills definitely gonna be mathematical skills, but underneath mathematical skills you need logical thinking skills, critical thinking skills, problem solving skills.
How does your subject promote personal development?
Maths will make a person a logical person, where you don’t tolerate nonsense and everything will either be right or wrong, and there will be specific answers to things.
How does your subject promote professional development?
For professional development, with Maths, engineering is a scope, and architecture, and medicine is important too, and now computer science, so most of the subjects needs Math.
What’s the best thing about your subject?
Maths is already the best, so what else do you wanna know?
Papers in IGCSE Maths
1 hour 30 minutes
35% of total marks
Short structured questions
2 hour 30 minutes
65% of total marks
Long structured questions