The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) is usually offered by schools that follow the National Curriculum of England and Wales (the British Curriculum). The IGCSE is an internationally recognised and valued qualification that is an excellent preparation for pupils who intend to go on to study for A-Levels or the IB (International Baccalaureate). Schools from around the world have contributed to the development of IGCSE programmes and it is therefore a truly international qualification.
IGCSE courses are available in more than 120 countries and in over 70 subjects with many being offered at both core and extended level, making them suitable for students of all abilities. Programmes of study are updated regularly and are designed to be accessible for both native English speakers and those whose first language is not English.
Examining bodies provide a large range of resources for students, both online and in print, and schools who offer IGCSEs use texts and study materials approved by the relevant examination boards. Individual schools are able to offer combinations of courses designed to fit their pupils’ needs (including over 30 language courses), each subject being examined separately. Grading is on an eight-point scale (A* – G) and there are clear standards of achievement for each grade.
The International Advanced Level General Certificate of Education (A-Level) is usually offered by international schools following the British Curriculum, often as an alternative qualification for university entrance alongside the International Baccalaureate. A-Levels are the standard entry qualification for UK universities and are widely recognised throughout the world, in particular in Commonwealth countries.
The International A-Level programme is extremely flexible and schools are generally able to offer a range of combinations of the 60 or so subjects available. In this way, A-Levels allow pupils either to specialise in one particular curriculum area or to choose a broader programme of study, depending on their strengths, interests and ambitions.
International A-Levels have several assessment options. A pupil may opt to take examinations only at A-Level at the end of two years’ study. Alternatively, they can choose a ‘staged’ assessment path by taking an AS-Level examination at the end of their first year of study, followed by an A-Level examination at the end of their second year (although this option is not available for all subjects). Thirdly, a student can decide to take an AS-Level examination only. (AS-Level syllabus content is half that of an International A-Level programme.)
Like the IGCSE programme, International AS- and A-Level syllabuses are designed specifically for an international students. Each subject is examined separately and grades range from A* – E.