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A Guide to Computer Science 2210

by Hasan Nawaz | 17 MAR 2024

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Computer Science is a mix of concepts and constant learning, and papers 1 and 2 are what separate the learning part from the conceptual part. Underneath this paragraph lies a guide aiming to help you ace your Computer Science (2210) exam!


The Computer Science syllabus has been updated with major changes for candidates appearing from 2023 onwards. The syllabus contains a total of ten topics; six in paper 1 and four in paper 2. Paper 1 is known as “Computer Systems”; meanwhile, paper 2 is called “Algorithms, Programming and Logic”. No calculators are allowed in either of the papers, the weighting for each paper is 50%, and maximum marks obtainable in both papers are 75. The duration for each paper is 1 hour and 45 minutes. Both papers contain short-answer, structured questions; however, paper 2 consists of a scenario-based question worth 15 marks. All questions are compulsory in both papers. 


The syllabus to be studied is brief and can be completed thoroughly over the course of three years with extensive practice. The syllabus of IGCSE and O Level Computer Science is the same. The best way to keep track of your progress is to get a hard copy of the syllabus and tick out each point once you’ve covered it. Highlight points that you find difficult, then review them once again, when you are done with the whole syllabus.

The syllabus provides a complete overview of all the skills, concepts, and, sometimes, the definitions too, which you have to cover! Try to learn definitions from the syllabus as they are provided by CAIE itself. It includes a pseudocode guide as well!

Check out the syllabus here.

Studying for Paper 1

Paper 1 contains theory-based content and the best way to prepare for that is by taking your own notes of the topics you are studying. These notes should be written by yourself physically and NOT digitally. Writing notes physically on a notebook or a register helps in retaining the content for longer than taking notes digitally does. Moreover, constant practice is also required in topics like Data Conversions, Calculation of File Size, Two’s Complement, Logical Shifts, etc.

Hardware is a lengthy topic that many students struggle to grasp. An efficient way to study this is to break the chapter in multiple smaller chunks. Make notes, and complete questions given at the end of the topic. Discuss things that you didn’t understand with your friends and teachers. Writing notes separately for Input/Output Devices might help as well.

The best way to cover the syllabus efficiently is to study a topic and then solve its practice questions in order to get a firm grasp over the concepts. Since the syllabus has been changed, few questions are available for students to practice, especially for the newly-added topics.. Hodder Education’s Computer Science Workbook for Paper 1 contains good questions for practice along with their answers. After completing each topic, read the syllabus points to make sure you have completed all the key points of the syllabus. In addition to that, do check out past papers to get a bird’s eye view about the content points to include in your answers.

Attempting Paper 1

When attempting questions from Paper 1, review the questions and try to understand the demand of each question. Have a glance at the number of marks and write at least the same number of points as the maximum marks for the question (in theoretical questions). Try to write extra points to try and get maximum marks. Do not write arguments that may contradict a point you have written previously; it shows you have weak concepts and you lose points in the examiner’s eyes.

Studying for Paper 2

Paper 2 is the conceptual half of O Level/IGCSE Computer Science. Students need to build up their problem-solving skills in order to code and provide a solution to a problem. Immense practice is required for solutions in Pseudocode, Structure Diagrams, and Flowcharts. For further help, in the “Details of Assessment” part in the syllabus, Flowchart symbols as well as Pseudocode examples are present along with the syntax. Moreover, Pseudocode can be practiced from the Hodder Education Workbook as well as from past papers. 

For Chapter 8, Python is recommended instead of Visual Basic and Java. It is similar to English/Pseudocode and allows you to learn quickly and efficiently. CS50P: Introduction to Python is a free course offered by Harvard University that covers all the requirements of the syllabus and contains extra content that might help out programmers thinking to pursue Python in the future! Moreover, Harvard University offers another course worth checking out called CS50X: Introduction to Computer Science. Even though the course introduces you to multiple programming languages throughout (most of which aren’t a part of the OL syllabus), the concepts taught would help you a lot when you start making flowcharts or writing pseudocode, as you’d get the hang of algorithms and understand how a programmer brainstorms his program before implementation. 

The SQL section of this course teaches about databases as O Levels examiners ask you to write a query, or comprehend one and predict its output. The course offers deeper insight into algorithms like bubble sort and linear search, both of which are taught in Paper 2 of O Levels Computer Science. Problem sets provided by these courses along with the Paper 2 Workbook and latest past papers provide sufficient material for practice.

Additionally, the syllabus for A Levels and O levels is quite similar. To further strengthen your concepts, after completing the syllabus for Paper 1 you can head over to Papers Dock and watch lectures on topics that are related, especially pseudocode. Pseudocode is a bit more advanced and complex when compared to O Levels, though. Everything is quite similar apart from how code is applied in more complex questions. Skip the things that aren’t in the syllabus as some content can be unrelated. Hence, it’s better to keep the syllabus alongside you. Another topic is logic gates. It is one of the easiest topics and the best way to practice for it is past papers as it is one of the oldest topics in the Computer Science syllabus.

Attempting Paper 2

When attempting Paper 2, students must be very attentive and focused to avoid syntax errors. The answers must be rechecked thoroughly to fix any errors made. Try not to attempt the questions with pencils during your preparation days, as attempting with permanent ink allows you to adjust to the examination conditions and pressure. When attempting a full paper, move to the 15 marker at the end. Solve the paper in its order. Try to make a rough flowchart or a mind map to plan out the logic of the problem given. Ensure all demands are being met and then start writing the code.

We wish you all the best in your endeavour of taking on this seemingly daunting subject. Remember, with adequate practice and hard work, nothing shall stand in the way of you and that A*! Before we leave, here are some of the resources we found the most useful that can aid you in your academic pursuit:

  1. Hodder Education Textbook and Workbook (Both P1 and P2)
  2. Mojza’s Notes for Computer Science
  3. Mojza’s Resources for Computer Science
  4. CS with Zain
  5. Specimen papers A and B (provided by CAIE)
  6. Papersdock – YouTube

Author: Hasan Nawaz
Proofreaders: Syed Muhammad Shaheer Ali


About Mojza

Mojza is a student-led organisation aiming to provide quality resources for Cambridge students.

Other than such weekly blogs, Mojza offers resources for your O levels, IGCSE, and A levels journey. We have notes from reputable teachers, our own original notes and a library of other helpful websites and resources!

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Published: 17 March 2024
Last Updated: 17 March 2024
Written by Hasan Nawaz