IGCSE Exam: Is This For Me?

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IGCSE Exam is unlike other exam syllabus. Keep reading.

Ranging from IGCSE exam, period of completion and grading systems, these are the common questions that we have gathered from both students and parents.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. What are the difference between IGCSE, GCSE and O Levels?
  2. Which one is easier? IGCSE, GCSE or O Levels?
  3. Which syllabus requires shorter period to complete?
  4. What is the minimum number of subjects for each syllabus?
  5. What are the universities’ preferred choice?

In this is article, IGCSE will be used as a basis of comparison with other syllabus.



IGCSE exam includes some additional components or elements from the old GCSE.

Components may include coursework, oral and practical assessment depending on the subject.

The IGCSE is offered at different level (core and extended).

Depending on the students, teachers may advise students to which level they should register depending on their ability.

It is arguable that IGCSE is easier than GCSE. Some arguments received stating that IGCSE is easier because the content (scope) of the syllabus is slightly lesser than GCSE.

The range of assessment are therefore slightly smaller compared with GCSE.

However, in general there are not much different in terms of the depth of questions asked.

Overall it really depends on individual and how the question is been asked or phrased at that point.

The period needed to complete both IGCSE exam and GCSE are the same (i.e. about 24 to 36 months).

Both syllabus are assessed with a mixture of exam and coursework (depending on the subject taken).

Students are expected to earned a minimum of 5 credits.

Which means, students are required to take a minimum of 5 subjects.


IGCSE vs A Levels

A Levels is a pre-university programmed based on the UK education system.

The long name for A Levels is called the Advanced Level.

Most parents may decide to enroll their children for A Levels after completing their IGCSE before pursuing further studies with the college or university.

In this case, IGCSE comes first before A Levels.

The entire period for IGCSE varies between schools or home tuition.

It will approximately take 24 to 36 months to complete.

For A Levels, depending on the college or university, this programme may take 15 to 24 months period.

A Levels is 100% exam-based, while IGCSE is the mixture of exam and coursework.

For A Levels, students are expected to register for a minimum of 3 subjects.

A Levels consists of two parts (AS & A2 Level), whilst IGCSE only have one part.

AS Level is the first half of the entire A Levels programme, A2 is just second half that covers a more in-depth understanding in the subject.

For A Levels, the weight of assessment at different level may vary between subjects.

Typically, it will be 50% from AS Level, and the remaining 50% will be from A2 Level.

In IGCSE, the weighting also varies between subjects.

For example, for some IGCSE subject there may be two papers. Paper 1 may weigh 30% and Paper 2 may weigh 70%.

The maximum number of papers allowed to be taken for A Levels is 4 papers.

Whereas for IGCSE there is no limit.


IGCSE vs O Levels

For this comparison, kindly refer to our O-Levels post.


IGCSE vs IB Diploma

IB (International Baccalaureate) Diploma is assessed at the similar level with A Levels.

Clearly, IGCSE will be easier given the level of assessment.

Unlike IGCSE and A Levels, IB Diploma subjects are based on 6 groups of subjects.

IB students must select one subject from each of the five groups (1 to 5).

These 5 groups are in the areas of language, additional language, social sciences, experimental sciences and mathematics.

In addition, student may select either an art subject from group 6, or a 2nd subject from group 1 to 5.

For IGCSE and A Levels, such grouping system does not exist in terms of subject selection.

In terms of grading, the overall grade is a total of all they key areas studied for IB Diploma.

The passing mark for IB is 24 as long as minimum number of marks is achieved across each part.

Whereas for IGCSE and A Levels, grading are assessed individually.

The IB Diploma provides an opportunity to study several subjects areas in depth as well as personal development.

The main disadvantage of the IB Diploma syllabus is that it requires demanding workload and some students may have to work very hard to maintain their overall performance.

Although it is not covered in IGCSE, schools and home tuition do provide for such training.

Readers may seek advise from your local school or home tuition provider on how they assess their students in terms of personal development.

Visit our IGCSE centre tuition page to learn if we can help you.

Additionally, you may wish to learn more about us first.