Information and Communication Technology

Selecting appropriate software

Selecting the right software to meet needs and solve problems

This page deals with the requirement at IGCSE / GCSE level, to be able to select appropriate software for a task and, more importantly, to be able to justify your choice.

Sometimes, 'it's the only software I have' is a good justification for using it. Unfortunately that rarely gets marks in an examination. You will need to think about what software could be used for a task, or which components of a piece of software would be best suited.

Then comes the hard part, giving some sensible reasons that don't involve cheaper, easier, faster, or simpler without some explanation of why

Selecting software in theory and practice

This topic may be examined in both the theory and practical examinations.

The Software listed in the Learning Objective (LO) is word processing, spreadsheet, database, graphics, web authoring, presentation, audio and video editing software.

However, you should also note that an earlier LO about ICT systems mentions control software and project management software, and these types of software may also be examined in the theory paper.


Word processing, spreadsheet and database software each have one or more LOs dedicated to them and will therefore be dealt with in detail on other pages. Graphics, presentation and web authoring software also get a mention in other LOs but in lesser detail. These software types, together with audio and video editing will be looked at on this page.

Graphics software

In a written examination it quite difficult to write a question about the tools and techniques available in a graphics package, as they differ between packages.

In a practical examination, the questions will involve altering graphics that have been provided and selecting graphics, or parts of graphics, to put into a word processed document as evidence of work done.

Questions are likely to be concerned with processes and functions that are common to all graphics packages, or be about how a graphics package could be used in a particular situation. They may also involve justifying why a particular tool or technique has been or should be used.

Common processes and functions include:

Presentation software

There are several presentation packages available but over 95% of the market is shared by just two, MS Powerpoint and Open Office / Libre Office Impress, with Impress taking about 15 - 20% and Powerpoint the rest. Since Impress and Powerpoint have similar interfaces and features, examiners tend to assume those features to be standard.

In a practical examination, the questions may involve producing or editing a short presentation. Probably no more than four slides.

Questions are likely to be concerned with common processes and functions, slide design, or how a presentation package could be used in a particular situation. They may also involve justifying why a particular tool or technique has been or should be used.


Much of what a presentation package does is similar to what word processing or desktop publishing packages do. It's just that the presentation package has a smaller, fixed page size with a landscape format. The difference is in the ability of the presentation package to add a few extras. e.g. slide transitions, audio, video, and animations.

There are also ways of moving the slide (page) order, duplicating slides, adding notes for each slide, and getting the presentation to print handouts and multi-slide pages.

Web authoring software

In a written examination it quite difficult to write a question about the tools and techniques available in a web authoring package, as they differ between packages.

Questions are likely to be concerned with common processes and functions, page and site design, or how a web authoring package could be used in a particular situation. They may also involve justifying why a particular tool or technique has been or should be used.

Much of what a web authoring package does is similar to what word processing or desktop publishing packages do. In fact many word processors and desk top publishers can generate web pages using HTML and / or XML. It's just that a web authoring package will usually have a wider range of tools and functions. In addition, word processors and desk top publishers usually produce portrait orientated pages by default, whereas web pages tend to be viewed as landscape.

In the practical examination, questions are likely to be about page and site design, including making links between pages. It is unlikely that more than a couple of pages will need to be made but it is possible that pre-made pages will be provided that must be altered or completed or linked.

Hyperlinks and / or hypermedia links are likely to be examined and students should know how to make these links in their chosen package. It is also likely that objects will need to be imported or embedded into a web page. These objects may include images, video clips, audio files, tables, and sections of text.

Audio editing software

Most audio editing packages have a similar layout. i.e. one or more areas where an audio clip can be displayed graphically, and a set of icons for tools and controls. The range of tools and controls will vary according to the package used.

Common tools and controls that will be available in all packages are; select, cut, copy, paste.

In addition, most packages will have a simple set of effects that can be applied, e.g. fade, echo, reverse, pitch change, and speed change.


In a written examination, questions are more likely to be about why audio editing software might be used rather than how it is used.

In the practical examination, a simple edit of a supplied file may be required, with screen captures to provide evidence. There may also be a requirement to link or embed an original or edited file into a multi-media item such as a presentation slide or a web page.

Video editing software

Most video editing packages have a similar layout. i.e. one or more areas where a video clip can be displayed, and a set of icons for tools and controls. The range of tools and controls will vary according to the package used.

Common tools and controls that will be available in all packages are; select, cut, copy, paste.

In addition, most packages will have a simple set of effects that can be applied, e.g. fade, rotate, add text as titles or captions, add or edit an audio track, and take snapshots.

In a written examination, questions are more likely to be about why video editing software might be used rather than how it is used.

In the practical examination, a simple edit of a supplied file may be required, with screen captures and snapshots to provide evidence. There may also be a requirement to link or embed an original or edited file into a multi-media item such as a presentation slide or a web page.

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