Information and Communication Technology

Using email

and other ICT-based communication

One of the good things about modern information technology is the ability to communicate with large numbers of people quickly, easily and cheaply.

One of the bad things about modern information technology is the ability to communicate with large numbers of people quickly, easily and cheaply.

This might seem an odd thing to say, but the technology cuts two ways.

We want to be able to use email or instant message people easily and at low cost. We don't want spammers doing the same to us.

We want to let our friends know what we are doing, post pictures for them to see, arrange to meet them and so on. We don't want everybody else to see the same information.

We want other people to be responsive to our needs, to answer email quickly, to do things straight away.

We don't want other people pushing us for quick answers, demanding fast replies, wanting us to do thing straight way.

A lot of communication methods have been covered on the Common Internet services page. This page looks at the sort of tasks you may be asked to perform in a practical examination.

Using email clients

Email is also discussed here, as part of common Internet services.

For the IGCSE ICT practical examination, you will need to know how to use an email client. For obvious reasons, you will not have access to an on-line email system such as or, so you may be using an off-line client such as Windows Mail or Mozilla Thunderbird.

You may also be asked to prepare a suitable message in some other package such as a word processor.

Common tasks when using email

For the IGCSE ICT practical examination, you need to be able to:

Opening email. As a practical task this simply involves clicking on the required email. However, you may need to sort a set of emails and select the correct one to open. There are unlikely to be marks for simply opening an email, but the process will be required in order to score marks for doing things with the email once opened.

Read an email. Not really an ICT process, but something that you will need to do in order to answer a question. If there is an email activity in the examination, there will probably be information in the email that is relevant to that question and possible to subsequent practical tasks. Read it carefully.

Reply to an email. If the task is simply to reply, then the marks are likely to be for the content of your reply. Remember that a formal, business email needs the same items as a business letter. A 'Dear Sir' or other salutation at the start, and a 'yours sincerely' or other complimentary at the end.

Address an email. This is one of the tasks that is more likely to feature in a question on email. There can be several marking points in a small amount of text and it's easy to see if an address is correct and /or correctly formatted.

Attachments. These are files which can be sent with an email. Any type of file may be sent, but for the practical examination they would have to be something simple that everyone would be able to open.

Other ICT-based communication

The specification says 'Know how to create, access, read and respond to email and other ICT-based communication.' However, most forms of communication, e.g. forums, video chat, chat rooms, are not very suitable for testing in a practical examination.

It is possible that Instant Messaging may be tested, since it has many features that are similar to email, e.g. contact lists, attachments, ability to address single or multiple recipients.

Because of the interactive nature of messaging, questions asking for screen captures showing how features are used are more likely than ones involving an exchange of messages.

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