What is IGCSE?

(Welcome! We are here to help you to score A* in your Cambridge IGCSE exams and success in your life. However, we are not CIE (Cambridge International Examinations). If you would like to get your certificate or check your results, please write to CIE directly.)

IGCSE is the abbreviation of International General Certificate of Secondary Education. It is world most popular international certification for end of secondary school (equivalent to O-Level, UK GCSE, fifth form or year 11 in respective countries and schools), before one proceeds to Advanced Level (A-Level or sixth form or year 12&13) or pre-university studies.

IGCSE was developed by Cambridge International Examinations (previously known as University of Cambridge International Examinations), in short CIE, in 1988. University of Cambridge has been the UK local examination board since 1858. The term “IGCSE” is a registered trademark of University of Cambridge. Generally, when one mentions IGCSE, it is understood as the Cambridge IGCSE from the CIE board.

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


Many universities worldwide require a combination of Cambridge International A Levels and Cambridge IGCSEs to meet their entry requirements. For example, leading US and Canadian universities require Cambridge International AS & A Levels, but some US and Canadian colleges and universities will accept learners with five Cambridge IGCSEs at grade C or above.

In the UK, Cambridge IGCSE is accepted as equivalent to the GCSE. Many UK universities look at Cambridge IGCSE grades, as well as predicted grades for Cambridge International A Level, when making admissions decisions.

IGCSE is also popular among homeschoolers, and adult students. Though IGCSE is being taken by students typically in the age group 14-16 (or 15-17 depending on primary 1 entry age), it also allows students from alternative education and adult students to sit for the exam and continue personal education advancement at any age.

Some homeschooling educators in the US are choosing IGCSE as oppose to the standard American high school curriculums, because it is said to be a year (or more) advanced than the standard American high school course.


IGCSE offers more than 70 subjects. Students are required to take a minimum of 5 or maximum of 14 subjects. The core subjects are English, Mathematics and Sciences. Students can also choose other subjects ranging from Social Sciences (commonly Accounting, Business Studies, Economics, Sociology) to Arts & Technology (commonly Computer Studies, Information & Communication Technology (ICT), Art & Design).

Student is awarded with one IGCSE certificate on each subject. If you take 5 subjects, you will be awarded 5 IGCSE certificates. The number of subjects need to be taken is varied from school to school, and also depends upon individual preference.

Cambridge IGCSE subjects

Regularly updated and extended, Cambridge IGCSE provides you with a wide range of well-resourced and supported courses.



The IGCSE is graded from A* to G, with U stated as “Ungraded”. Students are required to obtain minimum grade C for the 5 core subjects in order to proceed to the next advanced level or further education. IGCSE grading overview is as below:

Difference between IGCSE Core and IGCSE Extended

To take account of differing abilities, there is a choice between Core and Extended curriculum papers in most subjects. This allows teachers to decide on the most appropriate level of papers for their students.

The Core curriculum in each subject is within the ability range of a large majority of students. It provides a full overview of the subject and is targeted at students expected to achieve grades C to G.

The Extended curriculum, which comprises the Core curriculum and the Supplement, has been designed for the more academically able and leads naturally into higher education or professional training. It is targeted at those expected to achieve grades A* to E. The Supplement describes the extra topics or depth which must be added to the Core to produce the Extended curriculum.

Students need not enter for the same level of curriculum in all subjects.

Target Grades Grades Available
Core Curriculum C D E F G
Extended Curriculum A* A B C D E

The overlap of three grades (C, D and E) is designed to accommodate students who perform either better or worse than their teachers expect. Students who fail to meet the minimum satisfactory standard for either the Core curriculum (Grade G) or the Extended curriculum (Grade E) will be ungraded.

In a few subjects, the examination covers the complete ability range and there is no choice of curriculum. For these subjects, the full range of grades is available.

Group Award - Cambridge ICE

The Cambridge ICE certificate is a group award designed for schools that want to offer a broad curriculum. Candidates enter and sit for a minimum of seven subjects selected from the five IGCSE curriculum areas:

    Group 1 – Languages
    Group 2 – Humanities and Social Sciences
    Group 3 – Sciences
    Group 4 – Mathematics
    Group 5 – Creative, Technical and Vocational

Cambridge ICE is awarded to candidates who pass in at least 7 (seven) Cambridge IGCSE subjects, including two from Group 1 and one from each of Groups 2 to 5. The seventh subject may be chosen from any of the syllabus groups.

Candidates who qualify for the Cambridge ICE award will be placed in one of three categories:

Distinction – Grade A or better in five subjects and grade C or better in two subjects.
Merit – Grade C or better in five subjects and grade F or better in two subjects.
Pass – Grade G or better in seven subjects.


Visit our IGCSE Recommended Books, IGCSE Past Exam Papers, and online classes to get the most out of this site for your education advancement.

1,936 Replies to “What is IGCSE?”

  1. I’m a grade 11 student. Is it okay if I write Cambridge this year and just don’t do grade 12. And can the Cambridge certificate be used as a grade 12 certificate for employment purposes?

    • Hi Youlanda,
      No, the IGCSE certificate meant for IGCSE level only. You can’t say it is A Level.

      If the employment requires only IGCSE level, then yes, you may use it for the employment application.

  2. Hello, I’m taking sociology next year as an extra subject, however since its an extra subject I’ll have to manage to do as a self-study. I would be more than grateful for your assistance and suggestions guidance for e.g. revision notes and etc, how could I manage to get an A* and may you suggest me any useful websites, videos etc. Furthermore I would like to become and I’m fascinated by sociologist and what courses do i need for universities since I’m only taking sociology because surprisingly I’m a science student, plus what are the benefits of sociologist occupation

    • Hi Muna,
      We thank you for the trust in us. However, we do not have any revision material for Sociology at the moment. You might want to try to google online.
      What we could suggest you is, practise lots of past papers, and try to find out what is required for a good answer.

  3. Hello , I have a C in ICT and E in maths and biology , does that mean I have failed. And what course can i study with this?

  4. Hello,
    I’m taking the igcse this year and very soon, but I wanted to know what subjects can I cut off or not take for igcse. Because I took physics and I find it really hard so I’m thinking of not taking it for the exam, is it possible?

  5. Hey igcse,
    I am from mumbai,India .I am appearing for igcse examinations in feb-march 2017 .Actually I had query that whether I can change my entries for the subjects I have chosen,as my statement of entry has been issued. Please reply fast.

    • Hi Virendra,
      Please go to your school or exam centre NOW and get that change. There is a cut off time for school. You must act now before it is too late.

      • My son is studying in std 6 ICSE pattern regularly at school in Mumbai. He is extraordinary brilliant and can cope 3-4 grades more in a year. Can he appear for IGCSE (i.e. 12th std) in the year 2018. In case yes, how do we prepare him for IGCSE exam. How should him get qualified and which are the schools in Mumbai allow him to give this exam. what are the likely fees and subjects to be chosen? To be successful and qualify for UG program, what needs to be done after IGCSE certification / min. grades etc.

        • Hi Sharad,
          You can always register your son with your local British Council and sit for the IGCSE exams there. Please pay a visit to your local British Council and find out more on: exam registration dates, fees, subjects available for your area etc etc…

          We are sorry that we do not know what is “UG” programme.

  6. Hi there. Tan is my name. its my very first time to take IGCSE.
    I wanna write three subjects in May/June 2017. I.e Geography, Business Studies and English Language. Do you think I can make it, if I devote to my studies. Thank you.

  7. Sir what if I give papers from 2 centres in one session not different session of I guess may June and get good grades and have about 3 certificates in total giving 2 papers then 6 and in those 6 giving 1 from different center will it affect my admission P.S both are regular centers not private Sir

    • Hi Ahmed,
      If we understand you correctly, you will be just fine with all your certificates. Once you have gotten your certificates, you may use them for further application.

  8. Sir what if I give papers from 2 regular centers in one session eg may june session and have 3-4 results will it effect our admission

  9. Hi
    I’m Muhammad form Egypt and I’m 21 years old and I have my local secondary school certification in my country..
    But I want to know if I can get this certificate to get better college ?

    • Hi Muhammad,
      You can first try to apply with your local secondary school certificate, if you have got good grades.

      Otherwise, yes, definitely you can obtain IGCSE certificates and apply to colleges.

  10. Hey,
    i’m applying for school in USA and i just wanted to ask since my school uses the IGCSE grading system, how do the schools in USA that i’m applying to know which grading system i use? if i get a B in a subject, will they think it’s bad?

    • Hi Jack,
      Most of the schools in the US know about IGCSE grading. They would know how to convert your scores into their system. You can always ask the school that you are going to apply to, and get the confirmation from them.

  11. Hi
    Will I lose marks if I don’t give my answer correct to 3 significant figures for Mathematics (0580) and Additional mathematics(0606)?

    • Hi Akshi,
      You must always follow the instruction of the question. If the question requires 3 significant figures, then you must provide your answer in 3 significant figures. If you failed to do that and the question specified that, then you won’t get be awarded full marks.

  12. Hi.

    I’m 21 years old can I take this certificate or something else like it instead of my locally secondary school certification ?


    • Hi Muhammad,
      Yes, definitely you can take the IGCSE certification. Just head to your local British Council and get more information on the exam registration.

    • Hi CK,
      You may consider Cambridge Pre-U, or IB, or Cambridge AICE Diploma, or Foundation courses from universities, etc etc… There are lots of choices. 🙂

    • Hi Shahd,
      You may choose the subject that is required as the entry requirement for university. Thus, we strongly encourage you to first check with the university on the required subjects.

  13. Hi
    1.Is Bengali as a first language available in IGCSE?
    2. If a child takes up Japanese as the first language then would he be required to take up a Foreign language and can he take English as a Second Language?

    • Hi Archana,
      1. Bengali as First Language is not being offered in IGCSE.
      2. He/she must choose one subject from the English group, can be English First Language or Second Language. He/she can also take up other foreign first/second languages. The foreign languages are your choice.

  14. hi there. Its my first time to take IGSCE classes doing five subjects. If I work very hard for you think I can make it for may/June exams.

    • Hi Tan,
      You do not need to work hard for us 😉

      However, we do not think it is feasible to write the exam in the May/June series. As you have only 5 months to learn all the syllabus. Perhaps you can try to take one/two subjects in May/June, then continue the rest in the Oct/Nov series.

  15. I don’t have any subjects from social sciences or ‘buisness, technical, or vocational’ will that make it difficult for me to get into college?

  16. Good day
    I would like to know if a student can complete their IGCSE examinations over a few years by taking only a few subjects per year. Will doing this grant them access to A levels?

  17. Hello. I just wanna ask if I can re-take IGCSE subjects in the may/june sessions? Or is it only october november? Thank you

    • Hi John,
      You can resit any subject in any examination session. You just have to check if that subject is available for that examination that you wish to sit for.

  18. Hallo, we operate a fully registered primary school in Kenya and are hoping to register our institution as a tutoon and exam centre for IGCSE. Do we go thru the British Council or whats the process?
    Thank you.

  19. Hey Igcse Center,(please reply)
    Umm so I am taking Igcse exams in the year 2018(may/jun).I am not a private candidate means I will give exams through my school.My school offers 9 basic subjects and in which you can take either sciences(phy,bio,chem) or commerce(acc,eco,buisness).So I have chosen the sciences group but as you can take maximum 14 subjects so I want to take 3 -4 more subjects.My question is that being a school candidate and giving those 9 subjects exams through school,Can I take more subjects privately?Like is there any rule that states that student who give exams through school cant give privately.If so I am hoping to give 3 of the commerce groups subjects privately in Oct/Nov 2018 with the other 9 through school in May/Jun.Is this possible?My location is Jeddah,Ksa.

    • Hi Alia,
      Yes, you can always take other subjects privately with your local British Council. You must make sure that the exam timetable is not clashing with your exams in your school.

  20. Respected IGCSE Team,
    I gave IGCSE examinations in may June 2016?
    When can I get my certificate? I did not get it stil.
    Also, from where do I get it? I mean, from the local Cambridge centre or British council OFFICE?
    Please reply fast

  21. I have done o’level bk in 2012-2013 sitting. I have conceded a “u” in one of my subject. Because of my family financial problem and moving abroad for some reason i didn’t tired to re-sit back then but is there any chance for me to re-sit for that particular exam now?

    • Hi Shahid,
      Yes, definitely. Just proceed to your local British Council and register yourself for the coming examination session.

  22. Hi there,

    My sister is hoping to sit for a few Edexcel O level subjects in January 2017 as a private candidate. She is hoping to sit for another set of exams in May/June 2017 and she was wondering if she could register to sit for some exams in Jan 2018 as well instead of sitting for all the o level subjects in 2017.

    Many thanks,Shamila

  23. SABIS Allowed Us To Start Taking External Subjects At 9th Grade. High Universities Require 10-12 Good Passes. And this is kind of impossible. So Will the sabis system give us an advantage or disadvantage?

  24. Hi! I’m a 15 yo Singaporean student taking the GSCE (O level) this month and in November. I think I didn’t do well for my math exam last week. Is it possible to re take only 1 subject (math) as a private candidate next year? Also, is it compulsory to enrol into a private school in order to register as a private candidate? Hope you’ll reply soon 🙂

    • Hi Alex,
      You can always sit for one subject as private candidate with any local British Council. You do not have to enrol into a private school. You can always study at home.

  25. hi , I’m an algerian last secondary school student (my 12 year which is my last year in secondary school here ) I’m in math class ( subjects besed on maths and physics) and I’m relly confused what Am I upposed to do …do I need to pass an ICE exam or what ?? I’d like to study astronomy or astrophysics i Really wish u can help me
    thanks anyway

    • Hi Sara,
      First of all, you must find out from your school, which exam board are they offering. Is it IGCSE or O Level or ??

      ICE is a group award for Cambridge IGCSE. You may find out more about ICE here: http://www.igcsecentre.com/what-is-cambridge-ice/

      Once you know which exam board your school is offering, you can then decide on what are the subjects combination you can take in order to qualify for ICE. You must also make sure that you have requested to register for ICE during your exam registration.

  26. where can I find the grades of the past exams other examiners took like math 2015?
    i saw some of them last year but i don’t remember now

  27. Hello would like to focus on one common problem faced by igcse students going India.getting admission in universities in India after a level is difficult since they need a equivalence certificate from Delhi.why can’t this certificate be available easily.many students drop igcse system when they go India.please let me know some colleges in India who give direct admission after submitting the a level certificate in igcse.it is not affordable for every student to go UK for university.when igcse has opened so many schools in India why not universities.we would love to send our kids.

    • Hi Keerthy,
      We do not have any list for universities in India. It would be best if you can check with the Indian government in this.

  28. hi

    i am Salma i am bangladeshi .I want to know that if i complete my o level hear can i join my a level in other country and how much marks should i earn for getting in medical.

    • Hi Salma,
      Yes, definitely. Usually for medical study, the minimum required grades are: AA*A* for top universities such as Cambridge and Oxford.

  29. Hey i m currently in 8 and i have to take IGCSE next year and i m so much confused to take wich subject because there are 2 groups in our school business group and science group i never liked science (chem,bio,phisc) and i dont know anything about bussines economics and accounting so confused could u help me
    Which subjects do u think is good for me ?

    • Hi Maryam,
      We can’t tell you which group is better for you. However, we can help you to narrow down your options.

      First, please tell us what do you plan to study in the university? Once we have gotten an idea on your plan, we can help you to choose one group.

  30. Hi. Please I would like to know if I could possibly change my entry for my Nov/Dec IGCSE. It’s two days to the beginning of my papers.

    • Hi Jackie,
      Guess we have missed your message. However, you can’t change your entry even we answered you that time. You have to write the exam no matter how. If you didn’t score a good grade, just re-sit the paper again in the next examination session.

  31. Please help me with this :
    What is the equivalent of O Levels part 1&2 in: Year of CIE, and Grade of US system? I am filling the admission form for my children currently in O Levels 1&2 and the admission form requires information about their current Year and Grade… confused! Please help!!

    • Hello Khawaja,
      O Level part 1&2 would be year 10 & 11 in the British system. Some countries call it “Year” some call “Grade”. For example: Year 1 means Grade 1, also means Primary 1.

  32. My daughter took her Hindi in March 2016 . Subsequently she had to withdraw from the
    June exams due to reasons of ill health. We now registered her as a private candidate from another
    centre – IN 690 for ESL and Maths Core.

    She will need to take two more papers to clear her exams for her 10th
    grade certificate. She will be taking Biology, Physics in March 2017 from a third centre, which offers the March series.

    With reference to the above I needed to know if
    her having taken the exams from three different different centres at different
    times (March 2016, Oct 2016 and March 2017) have any bearing on the issuance of the final certificate

    • Hi Kumar,
      No, she will not have any problems with the certificates. She will obtain respective certificates for each examination series.

    • Hi Vivek,
      There is no “maximum grade” in IGCSE. The student would obtain 5 IGCSE certificates if he registers for 5 subjects.

  33. Hello,
    My son is doing IGCSE in Malaysia (Year11). He has chosen English and English literature as his two languages. Now we are shifting to India and he is appearing for exam as private candidate. The school he has sought admission does not have English literature. Is it mandatory to have two languages? Can he have only one language (English) and seven other subjects.
    Kindly advise

    • Hi Deepak,
      Yes, he may take only one English subject. It is fine. Please make sure that he does not need English Literature for his further studies.

  34. Dear IGCSE
    I’m in grade 9 right now,and i am planning to be a neurosurgeon.
    Can you tell me in which specific subjects should i get good grades and what is the minimum grade which i can take.

    • Hi Maryam,
      First of all, you must get minimum Grade A for: English, Maths, Biology, Chemistry in your IGCSE. If you could get A* for Biology and Chemistry, that would help you a lot in entering into top universities.

  35. Hi there.
    I would like to know whether we can take 2 first language olevels. ( I am hoping to apply for both arabic and english first language).
    Thanks in advance!

  36. Hi my daughter is currently in IGCSE 10th grade. She is doing following subjects:
    English lang
    English literature
    May I know…Which are the core subjects out of all these?
    Art n Design

    • Hi Jerome,
      You have covered English group, Science group, however you are missing the Maths group. Please choose one subject from the Maths group.

  37. Please answer ASAP,
    Can you take two languages as first in IGCSE if you can totally handle it? Or is it not allowed? Please say yes

  38. So I’m currently doing gcse in grade 11 now but I want to sit for the igcse’s. Is it rational if I do them privately in 2018 when i am in my first year of A level. I do not want to them next year (2017) because I don’t think I can study for two things at once

    • Hi May,
      Yes, it is fine to do so. You must arrange your timetable nicely in order to sit for IGCSE exams and studying A Level at the same time.

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