A very important key to exam success is to get the timings right.

Timings can go wrong in two ways:

  1. You spend far too little on all questions and have time to spare at the end. If you spend a lot of time doing nothing in your exam, this has a serious ‘opportunity cost’ …
  2. You take too long on earlier questions, so you don’t leave enough time at the end for later questions and lose valuable marks on these.

You need to use the clock (and a bit of quick mental maths) to your advantage.

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Paper 2 lasts 2 hours.

You have 4 main questions to answer.

You really should stick to 30 minutes per main question.

Each main question is worth 20 marks and is made up of smaller questions. Look at the example below from the specimen paper:


Source: University of Cambridge International Examinations – IGCSE Economics Site

Direct link to specimen paper here

Very important: Section B has 6 main questions to choose from but you only answer 3 of them (giving a total of 60 marks for section B).


You must also answer Question 1 in Section A (worth 20 marks).

The graphic below is a mock up of what the front page of the exam looks like. Check the specimen paper (or any other paper such as the past paper also hosted on the website given above). This graphic highlights the key bits for timings and the words in blue help explain why each mark has one and a half (1.5) minutes for you to spend on it.

IGCSE Eco Paper 2 Timings Opengecko

You should get in the habit of seeing how many marks a question is worth and then quickly calculating how many minutes you should spend on it. Keep an eye on the clock.

So a smaller 6 mark question deserves 9 minutes of exam time.

Please note that 1 and a half minutes per mark includes reading and checking time.


The shorter 2 or 3 mark questions probably will not need the full 3 or 4.5 minutes. These are often definition questions. They might only take one minute to answer, so you ‘save’ something like two minutes from these questions for your overall reading and checking.

The longer questions 4, 6, 8 or 10 marks (for example) should get their full time from you. So aim to spend a full 6 minutes on a four mark question, etc.

At the very least, stick to timings for the main questions:

Each main question (worth 20 marks each in total) deserves a full 30 minutes from you – no more and no less.

The best way to get all of this is simply to practice past paper questions as often as you can while sticking to the timings. If you do this, you’ll soon get a fell of how much you should be writing on different length questions.