How To Pass IGCSE Maths Quickly: Options and Strategies (2024)

How To Pass IGCSE Maths Quickly: Options and Strategies (2024)

October 12, 2023 | 6months | Exams

Maths is one of the core subjects that all students sitting for GCSEs must choose, together with English. These two subjects are among the most demanded by universities for A-levels. For this reason, preparing for and taking the Maths GCSE can pave the way for successful academic performance in the future. However, it is also true that this may be one of the most troublesome subjects for many students, who struggle to understand topics and succeed in exams. Let’s dive into what are GCSE Maths topics, what is the best way to prepare for them and what the preparation phase is like.

Understanding the IGCSE Maths

What is the difference between IGCSE Maths Foundation and Higher?

One of the first things you need to know about the Maths I/GCSE is that two different options are available for this subject. These are the Foundation and Higher levels, which represent the difficulty and the topics involved in each exam.

The Foundation tier aims at all students who are sitting for the exam, providing them with the essential and most important topics in the area. The Higher tier, on the other hand, offers a more challenging alternative for students aiming to pursue further studies that require advanced knowledge in the matter. Also, while you can get up to a 5 grade with the Foundation exam, students taking the Higher tier can aim for a 9 grade.

When enrolling for the I/GCSE Maths online course, select which tier you are applying for to pick the most suitable preparation course.

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What are the contents of IGCSE maths?

Maths I/GCSE content varies according to the Foundation and Higher tiers. The Foundation level focuses more on Numbers, while the Higher one includes more Algebra.

Specifically, they include the following topics:

Maths Topics

How many papers are there in IGCSE maths?

All Maths I/GCSE exams include two papers of 100 marks each, which take two hours to solve. In this case, grade distribution is 50% per exam, making both papers equally important for the final result.

What is the marking scheme?

In the past, I/GCSE exams used to be marked with letter grades, from G to A*, the latter being the highest grade possible. However, this system has been changed and most exams are now graded with a numeric scale, from 1 to 9, the latter being the highest grade possible. It is believed that this new scheme with nine levels instead of eight is more representative of students’ skills. Here are some considerations about the new marking scheme:

  • U is still a possible grade, which stands for Ungraded and is used to mark exams that have not passed the minimum expectations.
  • Level 9 is even higher than A*. For this reason, very few students achieve this grade, as it requires a huge amount of effort. However, at CloudLearn, 12.4% of students following our study recommendations achieve 9 grades, which is well above the national average.
  • Intermediate grades 4, 5 and 6 represent the old C and B, making assessment more accurate.

Key skills to train

Maths exams are divided into two areas of knowledge (AO), including a set of skills students are expected to portray in the exam. AO1 involves the ability to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of mathematical techniques, while AO2 focuses on the capacity to reason, interpret and communicate mathematically when solving problems. What does this mean? In terms of specific skills, these two areas involve being able to process and express information accurately, interpret mathematical notation correctly, solve problems using suitable methods and tools (formulae, calculator, protractor, compass and ruler), understand systems of measure, make logical deductions, and apply combinations of mathematical skills and techniques for problem-solving.

How to study for IGCSE maths

Because Maths is a practical subject, exam preparation is different from that of theoretical subjects. History, Biology or Geography, for instance, mainly focus on reading texts, creating mind maps and summaries and memorising information, while Maths implies being able to solve problems by understanding calculation processes and applying them in different contexts. For this reason, these subjects require other forms of study and preparation.

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How to prepare for IGCSE Maths Language: 4 Top Recommendations

Set a study schedule

The first thing you need to do when starting a GCSE course is have a look at the syllabus and calculate how much time you have until the day of the exam. Based on these two pieces of information, measure how many weekly study hours you require and distribute the topics within this time frame. Set up a fixed schedule to create the habit of weekly study.

Practice questions with past papers

Being a practical subject, the best way to prepare for Maths exams is to practice with exercise sheets, past papers and mock exams. Check your answers with a key paper, set a time limit and identify mistakes you need to avoid next time. Try to resemble the exam situation as closely as possible to be ready for the day of the exam.

Get help from a tutor

CloudLearn offers unlimited tutored support for every student to contact in case of having doubts. Whenever you have questions to ask, don’t hesitate to contact your assigned tutor. He or she will know how to help you during the studying process and test your readiness for examination day.

Establish revision days

Since Maths is an accumulative subject, it is always a good idea to go back to basics now and then to revise previous key topics. We recommend establishing a specific time frame for periodic revision. For example, you can decide to schedule a revision day at the end of every month.

Examination day tips

Beyond all you have studied beforehand, there are a few tips you may want to follow to ensure a successful outcome on exam day.

Trust yourself

We know that sitting for exams is a stressful situation that makes most students anxious. To reduce anxiety, think about the preparation you had during the course, and all the exercises you solved and take a deep breath. Also, keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with getting a lower grade than you expected. You can always enrol for GCSE resits and sit for the exam as many times as you need.

Manage your time wisely

This applies both to how you organise your entire day and also during exam solving. Plan the day of the exam in advance to be sure you don’t oversleep, you arrive at the exam centre on time, and you don’t miss any documentation.

Regarding the resolution of the exam, take the first few minutes to have a look at the entire exam and get an idea of what kind of exercises you need to answer. We recommend doing the exercises you find easier first, to help yourself gain confidence and relieve anxiety before tackling the most difficult questions.

Pay attention to the answers you write

Read all questions carefully, making sure that you have not left out any details in the process and that you have included all the information requested. Keep your answers well-organised, so that it is easier for the assessors to see how you completed the exercises and find answers quickly.

Double-check after finishing

After you have finished all exercises, take the last few minutes of the exam to double-check all your answers and make sure that none are left unanswered. You can even grab your calculator and make a final revision to check that all results are correct.

Don’t hand it in as soon as possible

If you still have some spare time after finishing the revision, don’t hand it in right away. Take your time to go over the exam, think about your weakest and strongest points or simply relax after the test. If you couldn’t solve any of the questions, give yourself the time to think it over instead of handing in an incomplete paper.


Maths can be challenging for most students, but there is nothing to fear when you’ve had consistent preparation on the topic. Remember to go over topics repeatedly, revise periodically and contact your tutor to answer your questions. CloudLearn’s plans include an assigned tutor, fast-tracking possibilities to shorten study time and a guaranteed pass! Book your place in our courses now.

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What is the difference between IGCSE and GCSE maths?

Although both Maths GCSE and IGCSE are equally valid and challenging, it is true that there are differences between them that are worth mentioning. Maths GCSE is made up of 3 papers of 90 minutes each, and calculators cannot be used in paper 1. On the other hand, IGCSE consists of two papers of 2-hour duration each and calculators are allowed for both.

What is the difference between Maths A and Maths B in Edexcel IGCSE?

There are several exams to prepare for Maths, and each of them has different difficulty levels. Maths A is the most commonly taken (it is the one described in this article), and Maths B is the most difficult version for those seeking to get A-level certifications and later degrees with a high amount of Maths involved.

Is IGCSE maths hard?

Although most people find Maths difficult, proper preparation can make the study process easier and help students achieve a successful grade. Additionally, CloudLearn has a Guarantee Pass to ensure that all students studying with us will achieve passing marks.

How do you score an A * in IGCSE?

Achieving an A* (or a 9 in the new marking scheme) requires effort and commitment in the course. Additionally, we recommend picking subjects that you like to feel more motivated and confident during the studying process. Remember that A*/9 grades in Maths I/GCSE are only possible by choosing the Higher tier alternative.

What is the difference between IGCSE Maths Paper 1 and 2?

There is virtually no difference between Papers 1 and 2 in the IGCSE Maths exam. Both of them evaluate the same skills and abilities, and neither of them is considered to be more difficult than the other.

Does IGCSE Maths have a formula sheet?

Yes, along with their copy of the exam, students receive a formula sheet to use to solve exercises.

How are IGCSE Maths graded?

Unlike other subjects, Maths has two different marking schemes depending on the alternative you choose. With the Foundation tier, students can achieve up to a grade 5, while the Higher tier allows students to reach grade 9. Keep in mind that the latter also has a higher passing standard, making grade 4 the minimum to pass.

What topics are in IGCSE Maths?

The topics evaluated in the Maths IGCSE can be divided into six big areas: numbers; algebra; ratio, proportion and rates of change; geometry and measures; probability; and statistics.

What is the hardest topic in Maths IGCSE?

When researching blogs and forums, you may find students saying that vectors are the most difficult, while others mention trigonometry, circle theorems or algebra. The truth is that each student has their own weaknesses and strengths and they usually differ from other students’ experiences.

How can I revise better in maths?

Our main recommendation is to revise periodically. Do not wait until the end of the course to revise all topics at once, as they are accumulative and the course feels easier if all topics are fresh in your mind along the way. Set up a monthly revision schedule, adding the new topics you saw throughout the month.

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