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.)

Note: CIE (Cambridge International Examination board) has its name changed to CAIE (Cambridge Assessment International Education) since October 2017.

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.


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2,213 Replies to “What is IGCSE?”

  1. Hi.
    I am studying in igcse right now. Our badge is the first one opting igcse from our centre/school so we are a bit confused how to conduct tests. We have certain questions related to the same. We would be really grateful if you could answer our questions.

    • Hi Bhavika,

      We are very much willing to answer your questions. Just leave your questions on the comment box and we?ll get back to you.

  2. Dear IGCSE Team,
    I am going to be attending for my IGCSE Examinations coming May/June 2018 but i’ve recently encountered a problem.I would like to take 7 subjects but the school i go to have set a boundary of minimum 8 subjects.Cqn You please elaborate if the school has the final say on what subjects we take or is it our individual preference that decides our subject options.PS the subject that i am dreading the most is Urdu second Language and I would like to drop this subject,i could take up a separate subject but there is no extra options available in our school.Thanks

    • Hi Wahhab,

      Since you?ve already registered with a formal school, you must follow the school?s subject options.

      With regards to dropping Urdu Second Language, 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.

  3. Please i want to know what is the credit hours certificate and where should i get it from because i need it so much. Please answer my question

    • Hi Yousef,

      If you mean IGCSE certificate, you must collect your certificate from your school. We are sorry that we do not understand what do you mean by ?credit hours certificate?.

    • Hi Sama_pkh,

      It depends on the college/university you wish to apply to. Some university offer foundation programs which do not require A level. However, candidates normally proceed to A level after completing IGCSE.

      It is always best to check the entry requirements either from the university?s website or contact the university directly.

  4. Dear
    Dear IGCSE team, I am 14 years old soon to be a 15 year old. So am at the end of being a 9th grader. So I was wondering is it possible for me to take the IGCSE exam knowing that am not a 10th grader yet?

    • Hi Charissa,

      The minimum age to sit for IGCSE is 14. However, you must speak with your school for this matter. If you are a private candidate, please find out from your local British Council.

    • Hi Benjamin,

      6th Grade is still considered as Primary level in IGCSE, it is not ?lower secondary? as you mentioned.

      We are sorry that we do not have any past papers for Grade 6. Primary Checkpoint is only available for registered Cambridge School, not for private candidate. Please kindly obtain that from the school.

  5. I want to resit GCSE Maths & Science to change my career path. Can I apply for IGCSE maths & Science now and sit May/June 2018 exams?

  6. Hi, is IB the same as A level? Which one is harder? Will it affect my university application if I take the IB course instead of A level?

    • Hi Mark,
      A-level and IB are equivalent qualification. After completing A-level/IB, students would proceed to university.

      Lastly, all universities have their own set of requirements. It is best to check with your preferred university for their admission requirement.

  7. Hi my age is 23 i left my studies after grade 7 i want to continue my studies now do you have high school diploma program for adults and how long is it?

    • Hello Ayesha,

      If you haven?t finished secondary school, you need to take the IGCSE. And, after which you can proceed to A Level/diploma / any equivalent studies.

      You must find out the entry requirement for the Diploma that you intend to take. Each college and university has their own minimum grades requirement.

  8. Hey I wanted to ask in foreign countries,are the igcses considered as British system of education or international system of education .
    Thanks .

    • Hello Lili,

      IGCSE is the abbreviation of International General Certificate of Secondary Education.
      It was developed by Cambridge International Examination (CIE).

  9. Hi,

    If a student only passes in a subject for IGCSE for example, E in Business Studies and F in other subjects can he/she further his/her study in Diploma level? Did he/she pass the certificate or need to pass all 5 subjects

    Thank you.

    • Hello Abdul,

      You must find out the entry requirement for the Diploma that you intend to take. Each college and university has their own minimum grades requirement.

  10. I have a question,
    I took 4 igcse subjects in may/june 2017
    and i will take 1 subject in may/june2018
    and iam thinking in taking human biology in january 2019
    with bio AL in june2019
    so is it accepted or not?and how do you think of it.

    • Hello Noura,

      You may split your subjects in different examination series. However, please beware when you want to take both IGCSE and A Level exams in the same examination series, as you might face dates clashes incidents. This had happened tohttp://www.igcsecentre.com/wp-admin/edit-comments.php?comment_status=moderated&paged=6#comments-form many of our candidates.

  11. Can I take just 1 subject like add maths which my school has denied me of the opportunity? Can I sit for add maths as a private candidate same year as I sit for my other subjects registered under my school?

    • Hello Yvonne,

      Yes, you may register yourself as a private candidate with your local British Council. Please check on the exam dates, to make sure this subject does not conflict with other subjects.

  12. Dear Igsce team,
    My name is Sinchana ,and I am currently in year nine ( and I study the igcse course). Is it allowed for me to sit the igcse exam this for all the subjects that I take. Please reply as soon as possible!

    • Hello Sinchana,

      If you are a private candidate, you can take the IGCSE exams anytime whenever you are ready. However, if you are attached to a school, you need to abide to the school?s exam year. Please consult the school?s exam officer for this.

  13. Hi, I am currently an IGCSE O level student. I heard a rumour saying that if I get 5 A or A* in different subjects I can go to university without the need to complete my As level or A level. I was hoping if you can tell me if this rumour is correct.

  14. Hi , I am a student in my IGCSE I level. I heard some rumours saying that, if I get 5 A or above I can straight go up to universities without the need of me finishing my As level or A level.

  15. Hi
    My child is studying IGCSE O level in India. She has chosen English as second language, French, Business studies, Accountancy, Economics, Maths and Computer Science. Does she have the option of dropping 1 or 2 subjects while appearing for the final exams? What difference does it make if it’s 7 subjects? Please clarify.

    • Hello Mary,

      Please first make sure which exam board your child is studying, IGCSE and O Level are 2 different exam boards.

      As for dropping the subjects, if your child is attached to a school, you must find out if this is allowed in the school rules & regulations. Each school has its own set of compulsory subjects.

      For candidates who wish to obtain an ICE award, then only they need to fulfil the minimum of 7 subjects. Please read more about ICE award here: http://www.igcsecentre.com/what-is-cambridge-ice/

  16. Hi,

    My child is currently a 5th grader in an international school that follows the K12 curriculum. We wish to return to India in a couple of years and I am definitely interested in the IGCSE board. Which grade would be right to assimilate into this board – 7th grade or 8th grade? Please let me know. From what I understand, the 7th grade is when IGCSE students begin studying in-depth the subjects they’re keen on pursuing. Do help me understand this better.


    • Hello Madhu,

      IGCSE is a two year programme. You need to check with the school of which your son will would be admitted to, to see if he should be in 7th grade or 8th grade.

      As far as we know is, India is having the IGCSE exams in year 10, as opposed to international standard in year 11. Please check with the school regarding this.

  17. Dear igcse team, I am in year 9 ( and taking the igcse course) and i want to know if I can give the igcse exams for all the subjects this year in may and can I then directly go to ib as I will ne done with my exams?

    • Hi Sinchana,

      If you are a private candidate, you can take the IGCSE exams anytime whenever you are ready. However, if you are attached to a school, you need to abide to the school?s exam year. Please consult the school?s exam officer for this.

  18. Hello IGCSE Team,
    I just moved to Malaysia and I’m planning to admit my son to IGCSE. Currently he is studying 7th grade under CBSE, India. Request your input on my following queries:

    1. Level of comfort for a student ( above average student ) to adjust from another syllabus to IGCSE.
    2. Should he be admitted to 8th or 9th grade. (I was told by some that he should go to 9th as 1grade starts at 5 years in IGCSE)
    3. Can he take only English as first language and take other subjects? or In case both first and second language are compulsory, can he have take English as his first and second languages language ( because he doesn’t know Malay or Hindi or Mandrian language thought in schools here)
    4. Finally what is next after 0 level.

    Please help me on this, question 3 and 4 is bothering me a lot, as any wrong decision by me will impact his future. The worst case I shall allow him to study in India.

    Your help in this is highly appreciated.


    • Hi Sathya,

      Thank you for reaching out to us.

      Please see below answers to your inquiries:

      1. Do check the syllabus on this link and try to compare it with your son?s current syllabus.

      After comparing both syllabus, you will be able to know if your son will be comfortable with the changes.

      2. IGCSE is a two year programme. You need to check with the school of which your son will would be admitted to, to see if he should be in 8th grade or 9th grade.

      3. You don’t need a second language if you have reached the minimum subjects required. We strongly suggest you to consult the university on the required subjects as entry requirement.

      4. Students enter Advance Level (A Level) after completing O-Level.

  19. hi im 15 yrs old, from pakistan and i wanted to know if the subjects that i took qualify me for a Cambridge ICE; i took business studies, accounting, computer Science, English language, sociology and islamiyat. That being said something else that im unsure of is whether I should?ve taken up an additional language, or a natural science subject, so that i wouldn?t incur any problems later on when applying for sixth forms in the UK. A quick response would be much appreciated

  20. Hi
    I have finished high school too and I want to do medicine and i was advised to do IGCSE maths and physics then proceed to AS and do physics , maths, biology and chemistry. Please advise me on this.

    Thank you

    • Hi Pasca,
      You need Biology at IGCSE level as well if you want to do Biology at AS/A Level. Especially if you plan to do medicine in the university, you need Biology at both levels.

  21. Hi my son done IGCSE, now he want to continue for A level, I want to know what is diploma in British schools IGCSE or A level or As level ?

    • Hello Arezoo,
      The normal process would be: after completing IGCSE, proceed to A Level/IB/any equivalent qualification, then university. Each country might name it differently. You ought to check with your local exam board, or colleges.

  22. hi
    I’m a first degree holder and seeking for a job in a school n one of the requirements is that the applicant shd have teaching experience in IGCSE and IB. pls what do I do since I haven’t even sat for either exams before?

  23. I would like to take iGCSE exam in Travel and Tourism (0471). I study it at home and want to find a center in London (I live at HA8 9UU). Can you please help me to find an examination center and a site where I can apply for the May/June 2018 exam period, please? Thank you very much indeed.

  24. Hi
    I am Nandini from Bangalore India. I want to know what types of books I have to buy for grade 1 in igcse syllablus.is all books available in India other then igcse schools.

    • Hi Nandini,
      We are sorry that we do not have any recommendation books for Grade 1. You may want to google on Amazon UK site.

  25. Hi.
    I’m taking English, Mathematics, Physics, Economic, computer science next year for IGCSE.
    Does it reach the requirement or do I have to take a second language in order to take the exam.
    Is Second language Chinese available for Oct/Nov session?

  26. My son studying in 11 igcse with commerce
    Accounts, English, business studies,maths economics are his subjects
    He scored U in English business and economic
    So in 12 What he should do??

  27. Hi im taking my boards this year using IGCSE syllabus and i wanted to know more about the grading and marking.
    How much marks are we expected to get to achieve A*,A,B,C respectively.It would be a great help
    if you could reply as soon as possible.

    • Hello Dayyan,
      You need to start your study as early as possible. Always plan a schedule in order to finish everything in time before your exams.

  28. Hi,
    I’m portuguese so never did GCSE’s, and now to apply for Teacher Training I’m asked for GCSE English and I was told I can do IGCSE. How soon could I do the exam and how much would it cost?

  29. Hi, my 12 years old son wants to appear for igcse exam for English and maths subjects, he studies in IB school that conducts igcse exams every year, can he appear if the school thinks he is capable enough to undergo the exam.
    What’s the procedure and what’s the eligibility?

  30. Hello,
    I am currently 11 years old and I study in yr 7. I am supposed to take a Career Placement Test next year. I took a CAT test a few months ago. My question is, how would those tests help me choose IGCSE subjects? Am I allowed to go for IGCSEs at age 13 as this is going to be my age in yr 9? My country’s official language is Arabic but I speak English just as fluently and perhaps more fluently, should I take English as a First or Second Language? I currently study in Dubai, UAE, would I need to study till yr 13 or is yr 12 ok, I want to finish an equivalent to gr 12.

    • Hello Zahra,
      If you are attached to a school, you must abide to the school’s study term. We do not know about your CAT, therefore, we can’t provide any advice or suggestion.

      As for the English language choice, we would suggest you to download both past exam papers here: http://www.igcsecentre.com/cambridge-igcse-past-exam-papers/, and you could try to work on them. In this way you would know which one suits you best.

  31. im in yr11 and i took eng Lang, maths, islamiyat, business, accounting, computer science and sociology. Unfortunately my school doesn?t offer traditional sciences along with social sciences so it was one or the other. Would I still be accepted in UK sixth forms/unis or would I have to give an additional science paper? Also would I still be eligible for receiving a Cambridge ICE?

    • Hello Aisha,
      It all depends on what do you want to study later. If you would like to do science subjects in sixth form/university, then you must take some science subjects that are required as the entry requirement. Please check on the university’s entry requirement in order to make a proper decision.

  32. Hello

    my nephew is in grade 9, yet in cairo egypt and is already enrolled in the IGCSE. I am thinking of moving him to canda to live with me. yet not sure how do i search for schools that offer the same IGCSE program, i would really appreciate it if somone can point me in the right direction. thank you

  33. Hi.
    I’m interested in taking igcse but I have already finished high school. What should I do first and how do I get the syllabus needed for the upcoming exam?

    • Hi Ayesha,

      If you have finished high school, you do not need IGCSE anymore. Just proceed to A Level / diploma / any equivalent studies.

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