International General Certificate for Secondary Education (IGCSE) is a certification for secondary studies which prepares students for the A Level, International Baccalaureate and BTEC Level 3. It is an examination system developed by University of Cambridge International Examinations in 1988. It offers inter-national curricula and is an alternative to many other boards including GED of North America, CBSE or ICSE of India, HKCEF of Hongkong, O level’s of Singapore and many other equivalents. It is a globally recognised course taken in class 10. It is a two-year programme which is spread over class 9 and 10. The final exam of class 10 can be taken in May or November.
Subjects in IGCSE
What makes IGCSE different is that it is not a ‘Certificate of Education’; it is only a qualification for specific subjects taken by the student. It is principally exam-based but not a certified course. The student tests his/her knowledge in the individual subjects and is very similar to SAT Subject Tests and Advanced Placement exams. So it is convenient for homeschoolers and adults. The student who enrol into the IGCSE curriculum will have four core subjects- first language, second language, Mathematics and one or more subjects in science. Apart from this candidates can choose from a number of additional courses ranging from Creative Arts to Social Sciences. Candidates around the world choose anywhere between 5 and 14 IGCSE subjects.
Grading in IGCSE
The assessment is conducted by Edexcel , also known as London Examinations and CIE, Cambridge International Examinations; both are based out of UK. The course is spread over class 9 and 10 and IGCSE gives only “U” grade which signifies “Ungraded” in the 9th grade. In class 10 an 8 point scale from A* to G is given. In case the candidate has opted for Further Mathematics an extra A^ grade is given. A C grade in 5 core subjects is the minimum requirement for the certification. The ICE is a step further to IGCSE and has a slightly different grading pattern. They grade candidates into three categories : Distinction, Merit and Pass. To get a certificate from ICE the candidate must score 2 Passes in Languages, one Pass in each of the four groups and one pass from any one of the five groups. In total there are seven subjects to be covered to get an ICE grade. The groups are as follows.
- Group I – Languages ( First Language, Second Language, Foreign Language etc.,)
- Group II – Humanities and Social Sciences ( Geography, History, English Literature etc.,)
- Group III – Science ( Physics, Chemistry, Biology etc.,)
- Group IV – Mathematics
- Group V – Creative, Technical and Vocational ( Computer, Business Studies, Music etc.,)
IGCSE curriculum is flexible and can be easily adapted to the candidate’s aptitude. It offers high academic standards with importance given to a practical way of learning. Assessment is not just written, they include listening and oral tests. Since the choice of subjects is with the candidate, they score better grades as they enjoy the subjects.
Points on how to achieve excellence at IGCSE
International General Certificate for Secondary Education is a programme that has been accepted globally. It was developed in UK to support the present day curriculum and to encourage good teaching and learning methods. Two languages, Mathematics and any one science subject form mandatory subjects. Apart from this the candidate can choose any one from Group V which has humanities and social sciences. If a candidate chooses another extra subject from Group V and scores well, the grading is valued more. It has become very popular for its flexibility and for the reason that the candidate can choose what to study. However scoring well in IGCSE exam is not very easy and the candidate must be systematic and disciplined in his pursuit to score well in this exam.
Excellence In IGCSE
There is no magic formula to excel in this exam. Like in any other exam or learning the candidate has to put in smart and consistent effort. However some tips can be reiterated here to ensure good grades in the exam.
- Starting early is the best and good time to start. As they say ‘what is well started is well done.’
- When the lessons being learnt is started early there will be enough time for revision. Revision should be well planned.
- Being organised is as important as starting early. A fixed plan of study which is followed is the key to smart studying.
- Candidates who prefer to revise with friends should do it as the element of learning more from the other is always there. Some learn better when they hear and some learn better when they teach. If such a combination is found, both the candidates will benefit immensely.
- Knowing the marking scheme and preparing for it is a smart way of cracking the IGCSE exams. Specimen materials are available and going through it and working on it will help the candidate.
- The key to success in anything we do is to be completely focussed on what we do and the same goes for IGCSE as well. If the candidate can get 40 minutes of uninterrupted study with short breaks of 10 minutes, it will be help the candidate to study more, giving more time for revision. The time periods might vary but long periods of study with short breaks can be a practise.
- Writing the key points is a sure way to recollect the points and remember the details as well. Shading of key points is also a way. This has to be done while learning. And when it is time for revision these points will help the candidate recollect the details within each point.
- If the candidate has followed all the above and is well prepared for the exam, panic will not set in. However if the candidate is susceptible to panic bouts it is better to get good counselling before the exam. What one should remember that it is only an exam and if one panics all the effort put over the year is frittered away and very little can be salvaged.
To excel in IGCSE there are no shortcuts, planning, effort and a cheerful attitude during the exam can make a world of difference.