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Is Cambridge IGCSE more difficult than UK GCSE? What are the differences?

Cambridge IGCSEs are tailored for a multi-cultural, multi-lingual audience in a way that UK GCSE examinations are not. Grade for grade they are aligned to the standards of the UK GCSE, and this has always been recognised as the case by ‘users’ of the qualifications. UCAS and Universities in the UK and overseas recognise IGCSE qualifications as equivalent grade for grade with UK GCSE qualifications. Whilst some Cambridge IGCSE teachers would suggest that some Cambridge IGCSE subjects are more demanding than their UK equivalents, this is a subjective perception and is not a view endorsed by Cambridge International.

As you will appreciate, there are different views of what constitutes 'difficulty' in a given subject. Some teachers would say that difficulty is not only measured by how much a candidate can remember by heart, but also by how they can cross reference, interpret and apply information. When examiners are marking coursework, for example, they take into account the fact that candidates have time to prepare and have access to reference material, and mark accordingly. Likewise when they are marking examination papers sat by candidates who at the time of exam have no access to textbooks or notes, as is the case for Cambridge IGCSE, this is also taken into consideration, and marks awarded accordingly.

Differences in Content and Assessment between UK GCSE and IGCSE:

  • Significant differences exist in syllabus content and schemes of assessment.
  • Most IGCSE subjects have an optional coursework element, whereas with many GCSE subjects it is compulsory.
  • The content of IGCSE subjects is tailored to the multi-cultural, multi-lingual audience they serve, in a way the UK GCSE does not.
  • IGCSE subjects can be taken as individual subjects or as qualifications towards the International Certificate of Education, unlike UK GCSEs.
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