A Complete Overview of The IGCSE Exam Pattern

Jack Prot

IGCSE is expanded as International General Certificate of Secondary Education. It is a popular international certification for the secondary school. It is also referred to as O-Level or year 11 or fifth form in respective schools and countries, prior to proceeding to advanced levels such as the sixth form or A-level or 12 &13 year or even the pre-university studies.

IGCSE was previously University of CIE, Cambridge International Examinations, in 1988. In fact, since 1858, University of Cambridge is the UK local examination board. The term “IGCSE” is a trademark registered of University of Cambridge. Normally, when someone says IGCSE, it is taken as the IGCSE Cambridge from the CIE board.

The curricula of the IGCSE are similar to O-Level rather than the GCSE UK national curriculums. Thus, the examination basis is considered rigorous and more challenging.


IGCSE is now offered in independent schools and private international schools in more than 120 countries. The IGCSE certificate is recognized by most major colleges and universities. It satisfies the entry level requirement of universities and institutions in many countries. Thus, students may enter university on completing IGCSE. Nevertheless, most prefer pursuing to International Baccalaureate or A-Level.

IGCSE is prominent among adult students and homeschoolers. IGCSE is taken by students in the age group of 14-16 or 15-17. It permits students from alternative education and also the adult students to sit for exams and pursue personal education advancement.

Some homeschooling educators are choosing IGCSE opposing the regular American high school curriculums as it is one more year advanced than the regular course of American high school.


IGCSE has over 70 subjects. Students must take a minimum of 5 and maximum 14 subjects. First, second languages, sciences including physics, biology and chemistry and Mathematics are the core subjects. Students choosing other subjects are accounting, economics, business studies and sociology to computer studies, art & design and information & communication technology.

Students are awarded the IGCSE certificate for each subject. If you take 5 subjects, you receive 5 IGCSE certificates. The number of subjects to be taken vary with each school.

The IGCSE follows grade system from A* to G, and “Ungraded” is U. Students must obtain minimum C grade for the 5 core subjects to proceed to the advanced level or further education.

IGCSE grading overview is as below:

A* is 4.0 or 4.3 as grade

A is 4.0

B is 3.7

C is 3.0

D is 2.3

E is 2.0

F is 1.3

G is 1.o

U is 0.0(ungraded)

Group Award Cambridge ICE

The Cambridge ICE certificate denotes group award designed to offer a broad curriculum. Candidates give minimum seven subjects from the five IGCSE curriculum areas:

Group 1 – Languages

Group 2 – Social Sciences and Humanities

Group 3 – Sciences

Group 4 – Mathematics

Group 5 – Creative, Vocational and Technical

Cambridge ICE is awarded on passing in at least 7 Cambridge IGCSE subjects, and this includes two from Group 1 and one from Groups 2 to 5. The seventh subject can be anything chosen from the syllabus groups.

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