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5 Tips to Ace IGCSE Alternative to Practical

An internationally popular qualification for the age group 14-16 years, the Cambridge IGCSE focusses on improving the skills of students in areas of enquiry, creative thinking and problem solving. It helps students to think out of the box and gain mastery over their theoretical concepts through a practical application method. This method of assessing the students, on their knowledge of how to apply classroom teaching in a practical manner not only boosts the confidence levels in students but also adds respect and value to their qualification.

The IGCSE Alternative to Practical assessment is a written paper that tests the knowledge of the students in the process of conducting practical experiments in the laboratory. Called as Paper 6, it is a one-hour paper and covers 20% of the total grading. It is available for Physics, Chemistry and Biology subjects.

The test examines how students would approach and carry out experiments. Given below are 5 tips that can help students ace this examination:

1. This paper should be treated like any other examination. Students should prepare for this paper like they would do for a practical examination. They must individually and independently carry out all the experiments in laboratories. Extensive lab experience would be a great advantage. Familiarity with standard laboratory equipment is a must; students will also be tested on their data handling skills.

2. Students should work on past papers, as many as they can, and even repeatedly. This will help them master the technique of tackling this examination. They must take complete ownership of the experiments, right from planning the process to writing the report.

3. Answers should be kept simple and to the point. Descriptions, unless relevant or asked for, should be avoided. There are other papers to test the theoretical knowledge of the students.

4. If asked to justify a statement, it should be justified with reference to the readings, and not with reference to the concerned theory. Questions must be understood properly and answered to the point.

5. And finally, and most importantly, students should give utmost importance to accuracy, be it in their observations, or their choice of instruments or even in taking measurements. Parallax errors and zero errors will not be accepted or accounted for.

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