What you need to know about the IGCSE

What you need to know about the IGCSE

If you plan to educate your child in an international school, you must have come across the term IGCSE. It is one of the most widely used international curricula across the world. Here’s what you need to know about IGCSE.

What is it?

IGSCE is the short form of International General Certificate of Secondary Education. It is one of the most popular international certifications for students to complete their secondary education. It is equivalent to O-levels, UK GCSE, 5th form or 11th year. After completing this certification, a student can move on to the Advanced Level (A-Level) or 6th form or pre-university studies.

Age Group

IGSCE is ideal for students who are 14 to 16 years old.


The curriculum has been developed by Cambridge University Examinations and is 30 years old. The University of Cambridge has been the local examination board of the UK since 1858. IGCSE is a registered trademark of the University of Cambridge.


IGCSE is one of the most widely accepted certifications across the world. World’s leading universities use it as a prerequisite for entry. In the UK, it is accepted and given similar credit to UK’s GCSE and Cambridge International A-Levels.


Leading schools from across the world were involved while designing this curriculum. Hence, the syllabus has both an international and a local flavour. The specific intent was to create an international curriculum without including any local bias.

A student can follow a variety of routes to suit their learning abilities while obtaining an IGCSE certification. In fact, there is a specific route for those who do not want English as their first language. The curriculum has been designed keeping several aspects in minds such as content, application of knowledge, flexibility, communication in English, cultural awareness and intellectual enquiry.

There are core subjects and there are other subjects for adding a wider horizon to education. This helps learners to make a connection between subjects and study what they like. The curriculum is designed with an intent to build creating thinking and problem-solving capabilities among students. A student needs to take a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 14 subjects. The number of subjects that need to study varies from school to school and also depends on individual preference.

There are more than 70 subjects to choose from including 30 languages. The core subjects include English, Mathematics and Science. Alternative subjects range from Art and Technology to Social Sciences. A student can study subjects such as Business Studies, Accounting, Sociology, Computer Studies, Information and Communication Technology, Art and Design, Economics and many other subjects.

The 5 subject groups in IGCSE are as follows:

Group 1: Languages.

Group 2: Humanities and Social Sciences (History, Geography and so on)

Group 3: Sciences (Physics, Chemistry, Biology and so on.)

Group 4: Mathematics

Group 5: Creative, Technical and Vocational Subjects. (Business Studies, Computer Studies, Accounting, Music and so on.)

For each subject, the certificate merely indicates the grades scored, and not pass or fail.

Five scores of ‘C’ or higher indicates a students readiness to pursue +2 level qualifications, like the Class 12 CBSE, IB Diploma, Advanced Placement Diploma (US), etc.

For each subject, a student is awarded one IGCSE certificate. If a student takes 5 subjects then he/she will be awarded 5 certificates. The grades given range from A to G with U denoting ungraded. A student has to score at least a C in all the core subjects to move on to the next level.

Extended Curriculum

IGCSE takes into account that each student learns at a different pace. Hence there is a choice to follow an extended curriculum in most papers. For students who are more academically advanced can choose the extended curriculum and take a supplement paper along with the core. This helps the students to be more academically advanced and professionally trained. The core subjects only provide an overview of the subjects and are followed by students who can obtain a grade from C to G. However students who have the capability of obtaining a grade of A to E study the extra topics and follow the extended curriculum. The extended curriculum is graded from A* to E. Students who fail to obtain grade G for core curriculum or grade E for extended curriculum are ungraded (grade U).

How can IGCSE benefit your child?

With a high academic standard, IGCSE has a practical approach to learning. The assessment also includes various unconventional methods such as oral and listening tests apart from written papers. The curriculum is balanced yet flexible offering a wide range of subjects and topics to be chosen as per the learning capability of a student. The extended curriculum provides an in-depth knowledge of a subject which is very beneficial in the long run.

While there are several certifications that a student can choose from in the secondary level, the IGCSE curriculum has a multicultural outlook and is therefore good for students.