The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (abbreviated IGCSE or iGCSE) is an internationally recognised qualification for school students, typically in the 14–16 age group. It is similar to the GCSE in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Standard Grade
Standard Grade
Standard Grades are Scotland's educational qualifications for students aged around 14 to 16 years, which are due to be fully replaced in 2014 when Scottish Qualifications Authority's Higher Still system becomes the main qualifications as part of the major shake up of Scotland's education system as...

 in Scotland or Junior Certificate
Junior Certificate
The Junior Certificate is an educational qualification awarded in Ireland by the Department of Education to students who have successfully completed the junior cycle of secondary education, and achieved a minimum standard in their Junior Cert. examinations...

 in the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

. The IGCSE was developed by University of Cambridge International Examinations
Cambridge International Examinations
University of Cambridge International Examinations is a provider of international qualifications for students between the ages of 14 and 19, offering examinations and qualifications in more than 150 countries. It is an Examination Board under Cambridge Assessment, founded in 1858 as a department...

 in 1988. The examination board Edexcel
Edexcel, a UK company, is one of England, Wales and Northern Ireland's five main examination boards, and is wholly owned by the private-sector Pearson PLC, a UK-based media and publishing conglomerate. Its name is a portmanteau word derived from the words "educational" and "excellence"...

 offers its own version, the Edexcel IGCSE. The term "IGCSE" is the registered trade mark of the University of Cambridge and is used under licence.

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
SAT Subject Tests
SAT Subject Tests is the name for 20 multiple-choice standardized tests given on individual subjects, usually taken to improve a student's credentials for admission to colleges in the United States. Students typically choose which tests to take depending upon college entrance requirements for the...

. For this reason, it is also a viable option for many home-schooling educators or in Adult education
Adult education
Adult education is the practice of teaching and educating adults. Adult education takes place in the workplace, through 'extension' school or 'school of continuing education' . Other learning places include folk high schools, community colleges, and lifelong learning centers...

, when one is seeking a qualification but has no time to attend full-time school classes.

Its academic worth is comparable to many Secondary School curricula worldwide, such as England's GCSE, the American GED
General Educational Development tests are a group of five subject tests which, when passed, certify that the taker has American or Canadian high school-level academic skills...

 or High school diploma
High school diploma
A high school diploma is a diploma awarded for the completion of high school. In the United States and Canada, it is considered the minimum education required for government jobs and higher education. An equivalent is the GED.-Past diploma styles:...

, Hong Kong's HKCEE and Singapore's O-Level. The IGCSE prepares students for further academic study including progression to AS Level
GCE Advanced Level
The Advanced Level General Certificate of Education, commonly referred to as an A-level, is a qualification offered by education institutions in England, Northern Ireland, Wales, Cameroon, and the Cayman Islands...

 and A Level study, Cambridge Pre-U
Cambridge Pre-U
Cambridge Pre-U is a new UK qualification from University of Cambridge International Examinations that is an alternative to the current A Level qualification, which is considered by some to have become devalued...

, IB Diploma Programme
IB Diploma Programme
The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme is a two-year educational programme for students aged 16–19that provides an internationally accepted qualification for entry into higher education, and is recognised by universities worldwide. It was developed in the early to mid-1960s in Geneva by...

 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 United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Oman
Oman , officially called the Sultanate of Oman , is an Arab state in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by the United Arab Emirates to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the...

, El Salvador
El Salvador
El Salvador or simply Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America...

, Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

, Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

, Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, Malaysia, Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

, Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

, Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

, India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Bahrain
' , officially the Kingdom of Bahrain , is a small island state near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. It is ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family. The population in 2010 stood at 1,214,705, including 235,108 non-nationals. Formerly an emirate, Bahrain was declared a kingdom in 2002.Bahrain is...

, Qatar
Qatar , also known as the State of Qatar or locally Dawlat Qaṭar, is a sovereign Arab state, located in the Middle East, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterly coast of the much larger Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its...

, Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

, Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, Uruguay
Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

, UAE, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

, Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

, Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

, Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 and Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, among others.


The 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 School
International school
An International school is loosely defined as a school that promotes international education, in an international environment, either by adopting an international curriculum such as that of the International Baccalaureate or Cambridge International Examinations, or by following a national...

s 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
The International General Certificate of Secondary Education is an internationally recognised qualification for school students, typically in the 14–16 age group. It is similar to the GCSE in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Standard Grade in Scotland or Junior Certificate in the Republic of...

 subjects on the supposed basis that it is more challenging than the national curriculum.

In addition, some public schools in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 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 & Awarding

The 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

The ICE is awarded in three grades: Distinction, Merit and Pass.

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 Equivalence

In many countries and institutions, the IGCSE satisfies the entry requirement for university courses. However, many students finishing the IGCSE move on to post-16 study such as the International Baccalaureate or A-Levels.

United Kingdom

Recognition 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
The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation is a non-ministerial government department that regulates qualifications, exams and tests in England and vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland.-Role:...

 allows the use of Cambridge IGCSE exams under the name of "Cambridge International Certificates".

On 15 February 2009, 16 Cambridge IGCSE syllabuses received Ofqual
The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation is a non-ministerial government department that regulates qualifications, exams and tests in England and vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland.-Role:...

 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 States

Though the number of American schools offering the IGCSE remains small, some homeschooling educators are said to be choosing the IGCSE as opposed to a standard American high school curriculum. According to many said educators, the IGCSE curriculum may be a year(or more) advanced than a standard American secondary school course.

The binational, jointly funded US-UK Fulbright commission under the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

' Fulbright Program
Fulbright Program
The Fulbright Program, including the Fulbright-Hays Program, is a program of competitive, merit-based grants for international educational exchange for students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists, founded by United States Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946. Under the...

 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)
A A 4.0
B A- 3.7
C B 3.0
D C+ 2.3
E C 2.0
F D+ 1.3
G D 1.0
U E/F 0.0 (IGCSE Ungraded)

The University of Cambridge advises educators that "IGCSE subjects are roughly equivalent to a US honors high school curriculum". Additionally, "Five passes at grade C or higher would indicate a student’s readiness to begin freshman level courses in American universities". Receiving a ICE (International Certificate of Education) "equates to a US advanced academic or honours high school diploma".

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
General Educational Development tests are a group of five subject tests which, when passed, certify that the taker has American or Canadian high school-level academic skills...

 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.


Subjects are offered mostly under the Cambridge boards, 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 Cambridge International Examinations unless otherwise noted that it is an Edexcel subject.


  • English
    • English - Literature
    • English - First Language
    • English - Second Language (oral endorsement)
    • English - Second Language (count-in oral)
  • Afrikaans
    • Afrikaans - First Language
    • Afrikaans - Second Language
  • Swahili(Edexcel)
  • Arabic
    • Arabic - First Language
    • Arabic - Foreign Language
  • Bengali(Edexcel)
  • Chinese
    • Chinese - First Language
    • Chinese (Mandarin) - Foreign Language
  • Classical Arabic(Edexcel)
  • Czech - First Language
  • Dutch
    • Dutch - First Language
    • Dutch - Foreign Language
  • French
    • French - First Language
    • French - Foreign Language
  • German
    • German - First Language
    • German - Foreign Language
  • Greek - Foreign Language
  • Gujarati(Edexcel)
  • Hindi as a Second Language
  • Indonesian - Foreign Language
  • IsiZulu as a Second Language
  • Japanese
    • Japanese - First Language
    • Japanese - Foreign Language
  • Kazakh as a Second Language
  • Korean (First Language)
  • Latin
  • Malay - Foreign Language
  • Portuguese
    • Portuguese - First Language
    • Portuguese - Foreign Language
  • Russian - First Language
  • Sinhala(Edexcel)
  • Spanish
    • Spanish - First Language
    • Spanish - Foreign Language
    • Spanish - Literature

  • Tamil(Edexcel)
  • Thai - First Language
  • Turkish - First Language
  • Urdu(Edexcel)


  • Mathematics(Standard Level)
  • International Mathematics
  • Additional Mathematics
  • Further Pure Mathematics(Edexcel)


  • Agriculture
  • Environmental Management: A Core Text for O Level and IGCSE
  • Food and Nutrition
  • Physical Education
  • Physical Science
  • Science - Combined
  • Sciences - Co-ordinated (Double)
  • Twenty-First Century Science
  • Sciences (Triple)
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Physics

Social Sciences

  • Accounting
  • Business Studies
  • Child Development
  • Commerce(Edexcel)
  • Development Studies
  • Economics
  • Enterprise
  • Sociology
  • Travel and Tourism


  • Bangladesh Studies
  • Geography
  • Global Perspectives
  • History
  • Pakistan Studies
  • Religious Studies
  • Global Citizenship(Edexcel)
  • Islamiyat(Edexcel)

Arts And Technology

  • Computer Studies
  • Design and Technology
  • Information and Communication Technology
  • Art and Design
  • Drama
  • Music

External links

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