The IGCSE is an international alternative to many popular national curricula. However, unlike many school-leaving qualifications, the IGCSE is not a group award or "certificate of education" as in many countries. It is a qualification based on individual subjects of study, meaning one receives an "IGCSE" qualification for each subject one takes. For this reason, schools worldwide have different expectations for their students as to how many IGCSEs should be taken. Typical "core" curricula for IGCSE candidates includes a First Language, Second Language, Mathematics and the Sciences. IGCSE candidates then choose a number of additional courses ranging from Social Sciences to Creative Arts.
The IGCSE is predominantly exam-based, meaning they are not actual certified "courses", but rather exams that test knowledge in individual subjects in the same way as Advanced Placement exams and SAT Subject Tests. For this reason, it is also a viable option for many home-schooling educators or in Adult education, when one is seeking a qualification but has no time to attend full-time school classes. It is significantly harder than O-Levels.
Its academic worth is comparable to many Secondary School curricula worldwide, such as England's GCSE, the American GED or High school diploma, Hong Kong's HKCEE and Singapore's O-Level. The IGCSE prepares students for further academic study including progression to AS Level and A Level study, Cambridge Pre-U, IB Diploma Programme and other equivalents. It is recognised by academic institutions and employers around the world.
Cambridge IGCSE provides a broad and flexible study program and covers subjects from a variety of areas: Languages, Humanities, Social Sciences, Mathematics, Creative, Technical and Vocational. Most IGCSE subjects offer a choice of tiered examination: Core or Extended papers (in Cambridge), and foundation or higher papers (in Edexcel). This is designed to make IGCSE suitable for students with varying levels of ability. In some subjects, IGCSE can be taken with or without coursework. Cambridge IGCSE allows teaching to be placed in a localized context, making it relevant in different regions. It is intended to be suitable for students whose first language may not be English and this is acknowledged throughout the examination process.
In 2010, Cambridge IGCSE papers in more than 70 subjects were taken by students in over 120 countries worldwide, including the Sultanate of Oman, the United States, the United Kingdom, El Salvador, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Serbia, Sweden, Denmark, Malaysia, Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait, Hong Kong, India, Bahrain, Qatar, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Uruguay, UAE, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Ecuador, Vietnam and Singapore, among others.
PresenceThe IGCSE is often considered to be more similar to the older O-Levels qualification than to the current GCSE in England, and for this reason is often argued to be more rigorous in terms of examination difficulty. Up until recently, most schools offering the IGCSE were private International Schools for expatriate children around the world. However, an increasing number of independent schools within the United Kingdom are now abandoning the British GCSE for international IGCSE subjects on the supposed basis that it is more challenging than the national curriculum.
In addition, some public schools in the United States are also becoming Cambridge examination centres. As of the 2011 school year, 11 such centers exist, offering the CIE IGCSE curriculum. Schools offering the IGCSE often also offer the more advanced AICE Diploma.
Grading, Courseload & AwardingThe IGCSE is graded on an 8-point scale from A* to G with a 9th grade "U" signifying "Ungraded". This measure of grading is also found in the UK GCSE. Previously, the "A*" grade in the GCSE did not exist, but was later added in 1994 to recognise the very top end of achievement.
International schools around the world normally allow students to study anywhere from 5 to 14 IGCSE subjects. 5 core subject passes at C or above, like in the case of the English Baccalaureate, is the minimum required.
Cambridge offers a ICE (International Certificate of Education) group qualification for candidates who achieve 7 subject passes A*-C across the following groups:
- Group I: Languages
- Group II: Humanities and Social Sciences
- Group III: Sciences
- Group IV: Mathematics
- Group V: Creative, Technical and Vocational
In addition, to award top candidates with the uppermost achievement, Cambridge awards "Outstanding Achievement Awards" in the categories of "top in country", and "top in world" for each subject.
Recognition and EquivalenceThe qualification is recognized by many institutions in the world. Many students finishing the IGCSE move on to post-16 study such as the International Baccalaureate or A-Levels.
United KingdomRecognition and accreditation of the IGCSE in the UK is growing. As of now, only Independent schools can easily offer IGCSE subjects, though the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation is allowing more use of IGCSE subjects in state-funded schools. Ofqual allows the use of Cambridge IGCSE exams under the name of "Cambridge International Certificates".
On 15 February 2009, 16 Cambridge IGCSE syllabuses received Ofqual accreditation. Following that, on 8 June 2010, the UK Government announced that the 16 accredited Cambridge IGCSE syllabuses would also be funded in state maintained schools. Since then Cambridge IGCSE German and Spanish have also been accredited and funded, taking the total number of accredited and funded Cambridge IGCSEs to 18. They are listed on the U.K. National Database of Accredited Qualifications (NDAQ). For accreditation purposes, the syllabuses are referenced as "Cambridge International Certificates" in the U.K., although they are known across the world as Cambridge IGCSE.
The UK Government’s School Performance Tables, published in January 2011, included the percentage of students who received the new English Baccalaureate (EBacc). It is awarded to pupils who achieve A*-C grade passes at GCSE, or IGCSE, in maths, English, the sciences, a language, and geography or history. Cambridge IGCSEs were the only IGCSEs to be included in the first EBacc. Cambridge IGCSE Biology, Chemistry, English, French, Geography, German, Greek, Hindi, History, Mathematics and Spanish all count towards the measure. More Cambridge IGCSE subjects will count towards the EBacc next year following their accreditation by Ofqual and subsequent funding in state schools. Over 500 UK schools, including 200 from the state sector and 300 independent schools, offer Cambridge IGCSE in the UK, and it is popular worldwide.
United StatesThough the number of American schools offering the IGCSE remains small, some homeschooling educators are said to be choosing the IGCSE as opposed to a typical American high school curriculum. According to many said educators, the IGCSE curriculum may be a year(or more) advanced than a typical American secondary school course.
The binational, jointly funded US-UK Fulbright commission under the United States' Fulbright Program suggests the following GPA conversations as a measure of the contrasting GCSE(8-point) and US(5-point) grading scales. In Addition, the University of Cambridge International Examinations recommends similar conversions for the IGCSE as well:
|IGCSE Grade||US Grade||Equivalent GPA|
|A*||A or N/A||4.0 or 4.3 (Weighted)|
|U||E/F||0.0 (IGCSE Ungraded)|
Though this equivalence between IGCSE and US High School Diploma exists, the Fulbright commission advises students who have completed their IGCSEs at 16 to take the GED test as well, if they plan to directly enter American universities without holding a post-16 qualification such as the IB Diploma or A-Levels qualifications.
SubjectsSubjects are offered mostly under the Cambridge board, although Edexcel exams are becoming more common. Many schools may offer subjects from both IGCSE boards. As it is produced for an international market, the IGCSE offers curriculum in many more languages than the GCSE or any other secondary school qualification. Note: not all subjects here are available in both boards. All subjects below are available through University of Cambridge International Examinations unless otherwise noted that it is an Edexcel subject.
- English - Literature
- English - First Language
- English - Second Language (oral endorsement)
- English - Second Language (count-in oral)
- World Literature
- Arabic - First Language
- Arabic - Foreign Language
- Chinese - First Language
- Chinese (Mandarin) - Foreign Language
- Classical Arabic(Edexcel)
- Czech - First Language
- Dutch - First Language
- Dutch - Foreign Language
- French - First Language
- French - Foreign Language
- German - First Language
- German - Foreign Language
- Greek - Foreign Language
- Hindi as a Second Language
- Malayalam as a Third Language(Optional)
- Indonesian - Foreign Language
- IsiZulu as a Second Language
- Japanese - First Language
- Japanese - Foreign Language
- Kazakh as a Second Language
- Korean (First Language)
- Malay - Foreign Language
- Portuguese - First Language
- Portuguese - Foreign Language
- Russian - First Language
- Spanish - First Language
- Spanish - Foreign Language
- Spanish - Literature
- Thai - First Language
- Turkish - First Language
- Mathematics(Standard Level)
- International Mathematics
- Additional Mathematics
- Further Pure Mathematics(Edexcel)
- Environmental Management
- Food and Nutrition
- Physical Education
- Physical Science
- Science - Combined
- Sciences - Co-ordinated (Double)
- Sciences (Triple)
- Business Studies
- Child Development
- Development Studies
- Travel and Tourism
- Bangladesh Studies
- Global Perspectives
- India Studies
- Pakistan Studies
- Religious Studies
- Global Citizenship(Edexcel)
Arts And Technology
- Computer Studies
- Design and Technology
- Information and Communication Technology
- Art and Design