Why are A-Levels set in Cambridge

International General Certificate of Secondary Education

International general secondary school certificate

The International general secondary school certificate is an English language exam similar to GCSE and is recognized in the UK as being equivalent to GCSE for the purpose of recognizing previous achievements. It was developed by the University of Cambridge International Examinations. The Edexcel and Oxford AQA Examination Boards also offer their own versions of international GCSEs. Typically, students start the curriculum at the beginning of the 10th grade and take the test at the end of the 11th grade. However, in some international schools, students can start studying the curriculum at the beginning of the 9th grade and take the test at the end of year 10.

The qualifications are based on individual subjects, which means that for each subject one receives an "IGCSE" qualification. Typical "core courses" for IGCSE candidates are a first language, a second language, math, and one or more subjects in science.

Types of International General Secondary School Certificate

Cambridge IGCSE

Cambridge IGCSE exams are held in February (India only), May and October. The results will be published in May, August and January, respectively. The exams are set by CAIE which is part of the Cambridge Assessment, which also includes the OCR gcse review panel.

The Cambridge Exam Board offers an ICE group qualification (International Certificate of Education) for candidates who achieve 7 A * -C passes in the following groups:

  • Group I: Languages
  • Group II: Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Group III: Natural Sciences
  • Group IV: Mathematics
  • Group V: Creatives and professionals.

The ICE is awarded in three classes: distinction, merit and passing. 2 rounds in languages ​​and one round in any other group are required while the seventh subject is in any group to be eligible for an award.

In order to reward top candidates with the highest performance, Cambridge awards "Outstanding Achievement Awards" in the categories "Top in Country" and "Top in World" for each subject.

Edexcel International GCSE

Edexcel International GCSE exams are carried out in June and January. The exams are set by Edexcel, which also sets GCSE exams in the UK.

OxfordAQA International GCSE

OxfordAQA International GCSE exams are held in May / June and November. The exams are set by Oxford International AQA Examinations, a joint venture between AQA, which takes GCSE exams in the UK, and Oxford University Press (OUP).


Changes to GCSE first made in 2017 were often viewed as more similar to the older O-Levels qualification than the current GCSE in England, and this has often been argued to be a stricter and more difficult exam. Prior to the early 2010s, most of the schools offering IGCSE were private international schools for foreign children around the world. However, in the 2010s, an increasing number of independent schools in the UK began offering IGCSEs as an alternative to traditional UK GCSEs for international IGCSE subjects, on the assumption that this would be more of a challenge than the national curriculum.

Grading, Courseload and awarding

The International General Secondary School Certificate has the same grade as GCSE. The move from an A * G grading system to a 9-1 grading system has resulted in an international grade 9-1 general secondary school certificate being made available. Previously, this qualification was rated on an 8-point scale from A * to G with a 9th grade "U", which means "not graded". This assessment measure was also found in the UK GCSE. Most IGCSE subjects offer a selection of graded exams: core or advanced work (in Cambridge) and foundation or higher work (in Edexcel). This is to make IGCSE suitable for students with different abilities. In some subjects, IGCSE can be taken with or without course work.

At one time, the "A *" grade did not exist in the GCSE, but was added later to identify the top end of performance. In the case of further mathematics, an additional grade A ^ was added for students who "can demonstrate sustainable performance in higher mathematical skills such as reasoning, proof and problem solving".

Recognition and equivalence

The qualification is recognized by institutions around the world. Many students who finish IGCSE switch to college after 16 to prepare for exams like high school graduation. or international high school diploma. It also enables professional development and is often viewed as a foundation for employment.

Its academic value is comparable to many curricula for secondary schools around the world, such as the English GCSE, the North American GED or high school diploma. Hong Kong's HKCEE, Singapore's O-Level and the Indian CBSE or ICSE courses. The IGCSE prepares students for further academic studies, including progression to A Level and BTEC Level 3 degrees, Cambridge Pre-U, IB Diploma Program, and other equivalents. It is recognized by academic institutions and employers around the world and viewed by many institutions as being equivalent to the standard GCSE.

Hong Kong

The IGCSE exam is widely used in international schools. Students in Hong Kong can either take the Cambridge Board Board and the Edexcel Exam Board at their school or register as an individual candidate through the Hong Kong Education Bureau.

Singapore and Malaysia

The IGCSE exam is mainly used in international schools, while other schools offer it as an alternative to level O exams.

United Kingdom

The official status of IGCSEs has changed several times in the UK.

In 2013, the Office of Qualifications and Examinations (Ofqual) allowed greater use of IGCSE subjects in government-funded schools. Ofqual allowed the use of Cambridge IGCSE exams under the name Cambridge International Certificates. Initially, 16 of the IGCSE curricula at Cambridge received UK government accreditation. The UK government then announced that the 16 accredited Cambridge IGCSE curricula could also be funded in government schools. As a result, Cambridge IGCSE German and Spanish were also accredited and funded, bringing the total number of Cambridge IGCSE accredited and funded to 18. For accreditation purposes, curricula in the UK are referred to as "Cambridge International Certificates" although they are commonly known the world as Cambridge IGCSEs. The IGCSE is offered by two UK Examination Boards, one of which is Edexcel and the other is AQA.

As of 2017, however, the government decided to exclude iGCSEs from official achievement tables, and consequently liked entries from state schools. So that "international GCSEs no longer meet the funding requirement, they are still considered to be equivalent to GCSEs in order to recognize previous successes"

In 2018, 91% of IGCSE UK entries were in core subjects were in private schools and around 75% in all subjects.

Cancellations -

During the 2019/2020 coronavirus pandemic, all IGCSE exams should be held in May / June 2020 have been canceled, along with GCSE and A-level exams this year. By March 31, 2020, the CAIE had decided to guide schools to predict student grades based on evidence such as bogus exam results.

United States

While the number of North American schools offering the IGCSE remains small, some homeschooling educators are said to be choosing the IGCSE instead of a typical North American high school curriculum. According to many of these educators, the IGCSE curriculum can be at least a year more advanced than a typical North American secondary school course.


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