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Let’s unravel the mysteries of Urdu IGCSE! Explore this guide about Urdu 0539. Navigate through this blog to learn about this subject and understand what it has to offer to you, its aims and objectives, general subject overview, examination, and performance enhancements. This blog fosters clarity, shaping your study strategy and illuminating the path to your desired grade. Delve in for enlightened mastery!


Cambridge IGCSE Urdu as a Second Language offers learners the opportunity to develop practical communication skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. In written and spoken Urdu, students will develop the ability to comprehend factual content, dig out relevant information and grasp both explicit and inferred meanings. Students acquire the ability to proficiently utilize Urdu in the specific scenarios and immersive Urdu-speaking contexts they are likely to come across in their daily life. Comparatively, the level of difficulty of Urdu IGCSE 0539 is much lower than that of Urdu GCSE 3247 and Urdu GCSE 3248. Urdu IGCSE is generally opted for by foreign nationals and Urdu GCSE is chosen by Pakistani students.


All candidates appearing for Urdu IGCSE 0539 take two components. The first component is Paper 1: Reading and Writing and the second component is Paper 2: Listening. Students can also choose a third optional component which is Speaking. Paper 1 (Reading and Writing) comprises 60 marks, and it is externally assessed. Its weightage on the final grade is 67%. Paper 2 (Listening) comprises 30 marks, and it is also externally assessed. Its weightage on the final grade is 33%. The grades range from A* to G. Component 3 is separately endorsed and its marks do not contribute to the overall grade. Component 3 (Speaking) comprises 60 marks, and it is internally marked and externally moderated. For speaking, certificates record a grade separate from other components on a scale of 1 (high) to 5 (low). You can find this information on the official website of Cambridge by clicking here.



The time allocated for this paper is 2 hours, and students have to attempt 6 compulsory exercises. Dictionaries are not allowed in this exam.

The first exercise is short questions and answers, consisting of 8 marks. Students are expected to answer short questions with a single word or phrase after reading a brief paragraph. The text will be one of the following types: advertisement, brochure, leaflet, guide, report, manual, instructions, or newspaper/magazine article.

The second exercise is multiple matching, consisting of 9 marks. Students go through a sequence of short paragraphs followed by a set of sentences, and subsequently, associate each sentence with one of the paragraphs. 

Exercise 3 targets note making. It consists of 9 marks, and candidates read a long text and make short notes under the respective headings.

The fourth exercise is summary writing. Students use their notes from exercise 3 and use those to construct a summary consisting of a hundred words. This exercise carries 10 marks.

The fifth exercise assesses writing skills. Students are presented with a prompt to write a short piece of prose, such as an email. Candidates are expected to follow the instructions as they are directed. The wording should be around 120 words and this carries 8 marks.

The last question, exercise 6, also assesses writing skills. Students are expected to write a 200 word essay on a given prompt. This question is worth 16 marks.


The time allocated for this paper is 35 to 45 minutes. Candidates have to attempt all exercises, and the use of dictionaries is prohibited. In this exam, an audio is played and students have to solve the paper with its help. This audio consists of different dialogues, conversations, stories, interviews, public announcements, etc. The audio is played twice for each exercise and contains short pauses to allow students to read the questions and write their answers.

In the first exercise, the candidates answer eight short questions. The answers can be a single word or a short phrase. This exercise carries 8 marks.

The second exercise is filling in the gaps. The students must concentrate on the audio and write appropriate answers in the gaps between the sentences. This is also worth 8 marks.

Exercise three is multiple matching. Candidates hear six short extracts and match each speaker to appropriate content. This exercise holds a score of 6 marks.

The last exercise is of multiple choice questions. A discussion/conversation between two speakers is played, and students answer multiple choice comprehension questions. Marks allocated to this exercise are 8.


This exam is optional for candidates. There is no question paper for the Speaking test. The test is conducted and assessed in Urdu. Dictionaries can not be taken into the test.

The first part of this component is a two-three minute long presentation by the student on the chosen topic. The student can bring with them a small postcard with a few headings to help remember the notes of their presentation. Additionally, they can also bring 3-4 illustrative materials such as maps, statistics and photos. This presentation carries 20 marks. 

The second part is a three-four minute discussion with the examiner about the presentation. Candidates are given the opportunity to explain and justify their opinions and are expected to give natural replies to questions.

Part 3 of the Speaking Test, consisting of 20 marks, is a three-four minute conversation with the examiner covering two or three general topics. At least two topics will be covered in the general conversation: one from Areas A–B i.e A: Everyday Activities, and B: Personal and social life; and one from Areas C–E i.e C: The world around us, D: The world of work, and E: The international world.


Before sitting for your actual exam, make sure you attempt past papers, so you have an idea of the paper pattern and can manage your time appropriately. Refrain from trying extremely dated papers as the pattern has changed recently. You can access past papers from here.

For the note making in paper 1, you are not expected to use your own vocabulary. You can lift and paste the information as it is mentioned in the text. However, for the summary, try to mix up the wording and avoid using the same phrasing and terminology. For the email writing in paper 1, you can learn some commonly used phrases beforehand, so you don’t waste time on thinking and can use the sentences you have prepared. Since the content of the exam itself is unknown, work on your dictation, reading, and comprehension skills throughout the year. There is no deduction of marks if the spelling is wrong — granted the meaning and pronunciation remained unchanged. In the listening exam, first note down the answers with a pencil and retrace them with a pen on the second replay of the audio. There is a very short window of time, and the audio is only played twice back-to-back for an exercise, so make sure to write the answer in the first go. In case you miss to identify the answer both times, quickly move onto the next question and focus on its answer because if you remain stuck on a previous question, you might miss the chance to listen to the answers of the questions ahead. 

Good luck with your Urdu exam! We’re rooting for you.


Author: Khadija Hashmat
Proofreaders: Syed Muhammad Shaheer Ali


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Published: 14 April 2024
Last Updated: 14 April 2024
Written by Khadija Hashmat