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.

2,056 Replies to “What is IGCSE?”

    • Hello,

      If you’re sitting in for your IGCSE in 2019, you should use the 2019 syllabus. The exams will be based on the updated syllabus.

  1. hie i would want to know if its possible to go to pre university using igcse subjects to do engineering . what subjects are required

    • Hello Atipa,

      The normal process would be: after completing IGCSE, proceed to any A level/IB/any equivalent qualification, then university. But it depends on the university you wish to apply to. Some university offer foundation programs which do not require A level. With regards to subjects, good guideline is English, Maths, Additional Maths, Physics, Chemistry. You should get the confirmation from the university on their entry requirement.

  2. Hii.I am planning to study at Faculty of Dentistry in Kuwait.What subjects i need to take for IGCSE and I will need also AS and A?If yes how many subjects.?

    • Hi Dana,

      The usual required subjects are English, Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Add Maths. Furthermore, we suggest you to check with the university the wish you apply to, and get the confirmation on required subjects.

  3. Good day Dear.

    Are there any independent centres in South Africa through which one can write IGCSE Examinations without attending a day school?

  4. Hi IGCSE Centre!
    I’m wondering whether I should take Business Studies(0450) or Accounting(0452). What is the difference between them? Please help.
    Thanks in advance!

    • Hello Sam,

      Business Studies (0450) syllabus develops learners’ understanding of business activity in the public and private sectors, and the importance of innovation and change. Learners not only study business concepts and techniques but also enhance related skills such as numeracy and enquiry. The syllabus provides both a foundation for further study at Cambridge International A Level and an ideal preparation for the world of work.

      On the other hand, Accounting (0452) syllabus introduces learners to the theory and concepts of accounting and the ways in which accounting is used in a variety of modern economic and business contexts. Learners focus on the skills of recording, reporting, presenting and interpreting financial information and build an ideal foundation both for further study and for a future career within the profession.

      Furthermore, kindly download the subject syllabus for more information here: http://www.igcsecentre.com/cambridge-igcse-subjects-syllabuses/

    • Hi Jesar,

      It depends on the university you wish to apply to. Some university offer foundation programs which do not require A level. However, it’s best to check the entry requirements either from the university’s website or contact the university directly.

  5. Is it mendatory to take either geography or history on igcse level,because i don’t want to study those subjects so i am curious if i can drop them ? Thank you

    • Hi Sara,

      You should decide on the subject based on what you want study in the university. You may also check on the university’s entry requirement. In this way you have 100% confirmation on the needed subjects.

    • Hi Jennie,

      You should decide on the subject based on what you want study in the university. You may also check on the university’s entry requirement. In this way you have 100% confirmation on the needed subjects.

    • Hi Dheer,

      ‘Distinction’ comes under Cambridge ICE award. If you did not register for ICE award, you will not obtain any ‘Distinction’. You will obtain separate IGCSE certificates.

        • Hello Dheer,

          If you did register for ICE during your exam registration and have fulfilled the requirements of the subjects, then you are qualified for the Cambridge ICE award. You will be placed in one of the 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.

          You can read more here: http://www.igcsecentre.com/what-is-cambridge-ice/

  6. Is it really necessary to take subjects from the 5 categories? What if the school doesn’t offer subjects in the fifth category? Will this affect the students entering A levels and universities in future?

    • Hello,

      Since you’re already registered with a formal school, you must follow the school’s subject options. There is no need to follow this rule, “2 subjects from Group 1 and 4 subjects from rest of the groups and 7th subject with his or her choice,” if you’re not taking the ICE Award. Since the school is not offering one of the group required for ICE Award, you do not have to worry about it. You can read more about ICE Award here: http://www.igcsecentre.com/what-is-cambridge-ice/

      Furthermore, it is not necessary to get ICE Award if that is not required for your further studies. We suggest that you check with the university that you wish to apply to, and get the confirmation on required subjects as each university has its own requirements.

  7. Helo good after noon I want to ask if its possible for me to take biology chemistry and physics because in two years I’m going to college and I want to study in London

    • Hi Pilar,

      IGCSE is a two year programme so yes it is possible for you to take these subjects. However, if you are attached to a school, you must follow the school’s subject options. Furthermore, it is wise to check with the university the wish you apply to, and get the confirmation on the admission requirements and the required subjects.

  8. Hey
    i just wanna make sure if biology, chemistry n physics are treated as 3 different subjects.. Additionally for o/l we have to do 5-14 ryt?

    • Hi Hailey,

      Biology (0610), Chemistry (0620), and Physics (0625) are three different subjects. But IGCSE also offers Sciences – Co-ordinated (Double) (0654) which studies Biology, Chemistry and Physics within a cross-referenced, scientifically coherent syllabus. It is a double award qualification, earning two grades. Furthermore, If you plan to take science subjects in A-Level, you might want to consider taking the Triple award. To give you more idea on Single Award, Double Award and Triple Award Science, kindly read this: http://www.igcsecentre.com/single-award-double-award-triple-award-sciences-which-is-better/

      With regards to O-level, there is no minimum subject required if you’re a private candidate, and the maximum number of subjects you can take is 14. However, if you are attached to a school, you must follow the minimum/maximum subjects as required by the school. Normally, students take up 7 – 9 subjects. For more information on O-level, http://www.igcsecentre.com/what-is-o-level/ .

  9. can i please know when are the closing dates to apply for the IGCSE exam that will be held in October & November.

    • Hi Soumya,

      If this language is the official language for that country, then it would be compulsory to take that language in that country. You have to check with school if this rule apply to you or not. You can always opt out from this language if the country’s official rule does not apply to you.

  10. Hello,I would like to know that is it compulsory for Pakistani students to take at least one first language whether first language Urdu or English

    • Hi Taha,

      Urdu might be the official language subject that is needed for that country. If this rule does not apply to you, you can always choose other subject. However, you need to to check with the school on who is required to take Urdu. We strongly suggest you to discuss with your school about this.

  11. Hello, I would like to know if extended students for IGCSE are only to write paper 2 and Paper 4, and if not which papers are they to write for the upcoming IGCSE exams

  12. hi ,
    i just wanna ask ….. how grades are counted in igcse maths is getting an “A” in paper 2 and an “A” in paper 4 is an A* please help ?????

  13. Hi my IGCSE exams will start on the 2nd of May, which is about 10 days from now. I was wondering if anyone here could help me with how the grading system works? When I do a mock examination in school, my school never adds the “weighing grade” to the final mark of the subject but on the IGCSE website it states it does apply weighing into the final grade? This has really confused me as to how to properly calculate my final examination mark of a paper I did as revision at home. I hope somebody here can help me with this.

  14. So i have about 2 weeks left until my igcse exams and im freaking out, what do you reckon is the best revision method for this time around? past papers, revision guides, re-reading? please reply as soon as possible

    • Hi Gabriella,

      First, relax. Make sure you’re well rested before you sit for an examination.
      Then, do targeted revision. Revise on the most common mistakes you always seem to make. Read and annotate your textbook for the questions you got wrong. This is because you won’t have much time to go through the whole textbook. Then, re-do those questions you got wrong.

  15. is i compulsory for students to complete all their subjects at year 11 for the IGCSE exams for British university requirements. can they complete some subjects in year 10 and the rest in year 11

    • Hi John,

      It is not compulsory to complete all subjects at Year 11. You may split your subjects if your school allows you to do so.

  16. Hello, how many papers should i face in the IGCSE examination? Should i face all paper from1-6? I’m really confused 🙁

  17. Hi im a British citizen that noes abroad when I was little I am now 18 years old and moving back to the uk
    I haven’t been to school here for a while and the system here in turkey is different. Would I be able to take igcses as I want to make something of my life and t would be over if I couldn’t.

    • Hi Janey,

      Yes, you can take IGCSE exams privately. You can always continue your study at any age, there is no age limit to sit for IGCSE exams.
      Please pay a visit to your local British Council, and find out on the exam registration dates, fees etc…

      You may do your own self-studying, practise past exam papers and register for online revision courses here: http://www.igcsecentre.com/cambridge-igcse-revision-courses/

  18. hey, i have a question regarding exam. In my 10th exams igcse i have written mohammad in front of my name in every paper and the name registered with igcse doesnt include it. will there be a problem for me. my center number and roll number is correctly written and the name is also correct just a additional mohammad is added in it.

  19. Hi, I’m going to take English (IGCSE) and A-Levels in May/June,I’m afraid that the date would be clashed. What should I do?

    • Hi Ben,

      You must only register for the subjects which do not clash with each other. Get advice from your school/exam centre.

  20. I tried to download an IGCSE add maths syllabus but at the end, it said for India only. What does that mean I am in the Caribbean and needed the syllabus to follow through as my son is doing it as a private candidate. It was the updated one for use 2017-2019.

    • Hi Uma,

      IGCSE offers more than 70 subjects. Students are required to take a minimum of 5 subjects or maximum of 14 subjects. There core subjects are English, Math and Sciences. You can learn more about IGCSE by reading the article above.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *