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Paper 2 CIE English First Language IGCSE

1. This question tests reading assessment objectives R1 to R3 (15 marks)

R1 demonstrate understanding of explicit meanings

R2 demonstrate understanding of implicit meanings and attitudes

R3 analyse, evaluate and develop facts, ideas and opinions

and writing assessment objectives W1 to W4 (5 marks)

W1 articulate experience and express what is thought, felt and imagined

W2 sequence facts, ideas and opinions

W3 use a range of appropriate vocabulary

W4 use register appropriate to audience and context

Imagine you are the Commander of Satellite Control. After this incident, you decide to write a letter to all satellite stations about safety issues for astronauts who go on missions.

Write the letter from the Commander of Satellite Control to all satellite



In your letter you should:


• briefly describe what happened to Astronaut A while out on the mission and why it is a matter of concern

• explain the existing safety features of the spacesuits and how they are adapted to perform missions

• provide advice on additional measures that need to be taken to ensure astronauts’ safety.


Base your letter on what you have read in Passage A, but be careful to use your own words. Address each of the three bullet points.


Begin your letter:

‘Dear Colleagues,

Last week we had a serious incident involving Astronaut A who had been sent out on an important mission􀂫’.

Write about 250 to 350 words.

Up to 15 marks are available for the content of your answer, and up to 5 marks for the quality of your writing.

Responses might use the following ideas: 

A1: What happened to Astronaut A and why it is a matter of concern 

•    identified the target (det. metallic debris, hazardous, 3km away) [dev. important to perform such retrievals for safety of whole crew]

•    activated jet control (det. pedal, low-powered rockets) [dev. should have been a quick and simple job to get there and back]

•    new sound(s) / usual sounds change(d) (det. intermittent, muffled thudding; occasional scraping noise ) [dev. indicates a problem]

•    equipment failure / more than one component fails (det. needles had not moved on gauge; oxygen regulator, safety valve and faulty joint) [dev. unusual for all three to go at once]

•    panic (det. several attempts to find the button) [dev. might have failed to make contact]

•    knocked unconscious / injured / nearly died (det. bruise on forehead)[dev. safety harness should have prevented this]

•    rescued (det. rescue squad, medical staff) [dev. no permanent injury]

A2: Safety features of space-suits and how they are adapted for missions

•    comfort (det. snugness of sleeves, padded seat) [dev. allows concentration on longer missions]

•    gauges (det. instrument panel, control board) [dev. red light would flash if there was a problem]

•    internal lockers (det. food and special equipment for extended missions)[dev. allows astronaut(s) to spend longer in space]

•    safety harness (det. restricted movement) [dev. should prevent accidents inside suit]

•    ergonomic / designed to be practical (det. could reach all the controls or lockers with hands or feet) [dev. need to be able to complete missions without tiring]

•    helmet’s external sunshade (det. visor shields eyes) [dev. stops too much light coming into the transparent hemisphere]

•    means of communication (det. transmitter, microphone, emergency wavelength) [dev. has worked well up to now]

A3: Advice on additional measures that need to be taken to ensure astronauts’ safety 

•    do not send astronauts out alone / do not send out unmonitored /safety crew on standby

•    astronaut’s responsibility to check (det. lockers) [dev. have to sign off /fill in a form/ will not be authorised] •    maintenance / repair / upgrade / replace suit(s)

•    ensure protocols are followed

•    improve safety harness [dev. fit correctly / review use of / replace]

•    (re)train astronauts (det. wrecked microphone) [dev. stay calm in an emergency]

•    improve technology (det. no need to trigger emergency wavelengths)[dev. automate alarms, make microphone more durable; automatic sunshield as default]

The discriminator is the development of the writer’s opinions and predictions for the future, as this requires candidates to draw inferences. Ideas and opinions must be derived from the passage, developing the implications. 

Use the following table to give a mark out of 15 for Reading.

Band 1: 13 - 15. 

The response reveals a thorough reading of the passage. A wide range of ideas is applied. There is sustained use of supporting detail, which is well integrated into the response, contributing to a strong sense of purpose and approach. Developed ideas are well related to the passage. All three bullets are well covered. 

Band 2: 10 - 12. ​

There is evidence of a competent reading of the passage. Some ideas are developed, but the ability to sustain them may not be consistent. There is frequent supporting detail. The response answers all three bullets, though perhaps not equally well. 

Band 3: 7 - 9.

The passage has been read reasonably well, but the response may not reflect the range or complexity of ideas in the original. There may be some mechanical use of the passage. Supporting detail is used occasionally. Opportunities for development are rarely taken and ideas are simply expressed. There is uneven focus on the bullets. 

Band 4: 4 - 6.

Some brief, straightforward reference to the passage is made. There is some evidence of general understanding of the main ideas, although the response may be thin or in places lack focus on the passage or the question. One of the bullets may not be addressed. 

Band 5: 1 - 3.

The response is either very general, with little reference to the passage or the question, or a reproduction of sections of the original. Content is insubstantial, or there is little realisation of the need to modify material from the passage. 

Band 6: 0.

There is very little or no relevance to the question or to the passage, or the response copies unselectively or directly from the passage. 

Use the following table to give a mark out of 5 for Writing.

Band 5

The language of the response sounds convincing and consistently appropriate. Ideas are firmly expressed in a wide range of effective and / or interesting language. Structure and sequence are sound throughout. 

Band 4​

Language is mostly fluent and there is clarity of expression. There is a sufficient range of vocabulary to express ideas with subtlety and precision. The response is mainly well structures and well sequenced. 

Band 3

Language is clear but comparatively plain and / or factual, expressing little opinion. Ideas are rarely extended, but explanations are adequate. Some sections are quite well sequenced but there may be flaws in structure. 

Band 2

There may be some awkwardness of expression and some inconsistency of style. Language is too limited to express shades of meaning. There is structural weakness and there may be some copying from the passage. 

Band 1

Expression and structure lacks clarity. Language is weak and undeveloped. There is very little attempt to explain ideas. There may be frequent copying from the original. 

Band 6

The response cannot be understood. 


This question tests Reading Objective R4 (10 marks): 
R4 demonstrate understanding of how writers achieve effects 

Re-read the descriptions of: 

(a)    the space station and what Astronaut A saw in paragraph 1, beginning ‘When Satellite Control called me􀀁’ (b)    the spacesuit in paragraph 4, beginning ‘Hastily, I clambered into my spacesuit􀀁’.

Select four powerful words or phrases from each paragraph. Your choices should include imagery. Explain how each word or phrase is used effectively in the context. Write about 200 to 300 words. Up to 10 marks are available for the content of your answer. 

General notes

This question is marked for the ability to select powerful or unusual words and for an understanding of ways in which the language is effective. Expect responses to provide words (listed in the mark scheme on page 9) that carry connotations additional to general meaning.


Mark holistically for the overall quality of the response, not for the number of words chosen, bearing in mind that there should be a range of choices to demonstrate an understanding of how language works for the higher bands, and that this should include the ability to explain images. It is the quality of the analysis that attracts marks. Do not take marks off for inaccurate statements; simply ignore them.


The following notes are a guide to what good responses might say about the selections. They can make any sensible comment, but only credit those that are relevant to the correct meanings of the words in the context and that have some validity. Alternative acceptable explanations should be credited. Credit comments on effects created by non-vocabulary choices such as 
grammar/syntax and punctuation devices. They must be additional to comments on vocabulary. 

(a) The general effect is of a sense of calm and wonder created by the experience of being in outer space.


observation bubble: spherical, transparent, relatively thin, floating, separate, fragile, beautiful 
glass-domed office: half-sphere of glass, offers incredible open view of universe 
(like the) hubcap of a wheel (image): circular shape attached to the space station, often silver/gleaming, protection 
performing their slow-motion ballet (image): floating, zero gravity, elegant, smooth, fluid, co-ordinated, choreographed movements of dancers 
(like a) giant jigsaw-puzzle (image): station is under construction; many pieces which all have to fit perfectly/ precisely, painstaking, careful, complicated 
blue-green glory (of the full Earth): sea and land on earth seen from Space, grandeur, idealised, heavenly picture, unpolluted earth  
floating against the ravelled star clouds: Earth shown in contrast to star clusters that move in and out of each other, weightless, suspended, gentle movement; stars appear entangled, moving around each other; beautiful, ethereal  

(b) The general effect is a reassuring, friendly one. Astronauts associate the space-suit with pleasurable, comfortable and safe missions.


baby space-ships: very small but have the technology of a much bigger craft, innocence, harmlessness, vulnerable 
cheerfully-coloured: bright, primary colours, playful, unthreatening  
stubby cylinders: short, chunky, fat tube-shapes, appealing, endearing softly-chattering (image): gentle noises of the propulsion jets, reassuring, friendly voices, companionship 
accordion sleeves (image): compress and expand like the musical instrument, flexible, soft, moveable, in harmony with their wearer’s movements

hospitable snugness: a comfortable fit, protection, friendliness 
gentle contours: smooth, curved, safe, unthreatening 
(being looked after by a) responsible friend (image): someone you trust, can rely on to take care of you, keep you safe, not expect to let you down 

Reading: Language analysis: 
Use the following table to give a mark out of 10 for Reading.

Band 1: 9 - 10. 

Wide ranging and closely focused discussion of language with some high quality comments that add associations to words in both parts of the question, and demonstrate the writer’s reasons for using them. Tackles imagery with some precision and imagination. There is clear evidence that the candidate understands how language works. 

Band 2: 7 - 8. ​

Explanations are given of appropriately selected words and phrases, and effects are identified in both parts of the question. Images are recognised as such and the response goes some way to explaining them. There is some evidence that the candidate understands how language works. 

Band 3: 5 - 6.

A satisfactory attempt is made to identify appropriate words and phrases. The response mostly gives meanings of words and any attempt to suggest and explain effects is basic, vague or very general. One half of the question may be better answered than the other. 

Band 4: 3 - 4.

The response provides a mixture of appropriate choices and words that communicate less well. The response may correctly identify linguistic or literary devices but not explain why they are used. Explanations of meaning may be few, general, slight or only partially effective. They may repeat the language of the original or do not refer to specific words. 

Band 5: 1 - 2.

The choice of words is insufficient or rarely relevant. Any comments are inappropriate and the response is very thin.  

Band 6: 0.

The response does not relate to the question. In appropriate words and phrases are chosen or none are selected. 

This question tests reading assessment objectives R1, R2 and R5 (15 marks)

R1 demonstrate understanding of explicit meanings 
R2 demonstrate understanding of implicit meanings and attitudes 
R5 select for specific purposes


and writing assessment objectives W1 to W3 (5 marks)

W1 articulate experience and express what is thought, felt and imagined

W2 sequence facts, ideas and opinions 
W3 use a range of appropriate vocabulary 

(a) Notes
What challenges would a person face if they became a Mars One astronaut, according to Passage B?

Write your answer using short notes. Write one point per line.


You do not need to use your own words.

Up to 15 marks are available for the content of your answer. (b)    


(b) Summary
Now use your notes to write a summary of the challenges that a person would face if they became a Mars One astronaut, according to Passage B.

You must use continuous writing (not note form) and use your own words as far as possible.

Your summary should include all 15 of your points in Question 3(a) and must be 200 to 250 words.

Up to 5 marks are available for the quality of your writing.

(Mark in Reading view) 

Give 1 mark per point in 3a up to a maximum of 15.  
The challenges a person would face if they became a Mars One astronaut. Give 1 mark for a point about: 

1. spend (rest of) your life on Mars / one-way mission / one-way trip / cannot return 

2. cold planet / hostile place / Mars is inhospitable (needs sense of planet) 

3. live without friends and family / limited contact with friends and family / cannot see your loved ones / (say) goodbye forever to friends and family / Space-call only visual one way [do not allow Space-call only] 

4. exploring new world / revolutionary research / to build a home for humans on Mars / colonise Mars 

5. eight years training / extensive training  

6. four months isolation / simulation exercise 

7. living with other(s) (astronauts) / not be able to choose your companions / get on with other(s) (astronauts) / share accommodation 

8. to repair structures / repairs to settlement / physical and electrical repairs 

9. cultivate crops ( in confined spaces) / grow greenery / grow fresh food [do not allow harvest on its own] 

10. medical issues [allow two examples from: dental upkeep / muscle tears / bone fractures] 

11. flight takes between 7 and 8 months / long flight  

12. lack of comfort(s) / limited space / no luxury / limited shower facilities / only wet wipes / no shower  

13. convenience food / freeze-dried food and canned food [needs both] 

14. constant noise  

15. regimented exercise routine / (must do) three hours’ exercise each day

16. solar storm  

17. risky to explore beyond the settlement / no health and safety (checks) 

18. stamina / resilience  



Although lifting of words and phrases from the passage is acceptable, candidates should show evidence of understanding and selection by clearly focusing on the key details.


Over-lengthy lifting (e.g. of whole sections containing more than two points) should not be credited.


Where errors of grammar / spelling seriously affect the accuracy of an idea, the point should not be awarded.


Credit responses which attempt to use own words and convey the essence of the point. 

B Quality of Writing: concision, focus, use of own words Use the following table to give a mark out of 5 for Writing. 

Band 1: 5

The response is well focused on the passage and the question. All points are expressed clearly, concisely and fluently, and in the candidate’s own words (where appropriate) throughout. 

Band 2: 4 ​

Most points are made clearly and concisely. Own words (where appropriate) are used consistently. The summary is mostly focused but may have a redundant introduction or conclusion. 

Band 3: 3

There are some areas of conciseness. There may be occasional loss of focus or clarity. Own words (where appropriate) are used for most of the summary. Responses may be list-like or not well sequenced. 

Band 4: 2

The summary is sometimes focused. It may lack some clarity. It may include comment, repetition, unnecessarily long explanation or lifted phrases. 

Band 5: 1

The summary is unfocused or wordy. It may be answered in the wrong form (e.g. narrative, commentary or as notes) or lack clarity. There may be frequent lifting of phrases and sentences.   

Band 6: 0

Excessive lifting; no focus. The response cannot be understood or consists entirely of the words of the passage. 

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