20+ Difference between GCSE and IGCSE

Historically, the GCSE qualification differed most noticeably from the IGCSE because it required students to complete more coursework and take final exams at the end of the course.

This was because the IGCSEs were developed with students who do not have English as their first language in mind.

However, in recent years the British government has altered the GCSE model to place more emphasis on final examinations rather than coursework.

Comparison Between Gcse And Igcse

DefinitionMost students in secondary schools choose to get their General Certificate of Secondary Schooling (GCSE) as they work toward completing their eleven years of compulsory education. Across the globe, the GCSE is widely taught in secondary education institutions.With the International General Certificate of Secondary Education, students in grades 10 and 11 may receive the same GCSE certificate (IGCSE). This prepares students for higher-level studies before college, such as the Advanced Placement (AP) tests. The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) is the “global” version of this academic credential since it is recognized by governments in numerous countries.
Exam boardThe five GCSE test boards that are recognized in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland are AQA, Pearson Edexcel, OCR, and WJEC. CCEA and WJEC are the other two. All five exam boards are under the purview of the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation. King’s College London allows students to earn GCSEs from both AQA and Edexcel.Both Cambridge and Edexcel are acknowledged as acceptable exam boards for the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE). Kings College’s four UK campuses use various examination boards for International General Certificate of Secondary Education examinations (IGCSEs).
ResultsExam boards will notify your school or institution of your GCSE results. On GCSE results day, you should contact your school to see how you did overall. You should talk to your school’s examinations officer to determine whether there is a procedure for accessing GCSE results online.The vast majority of pupils may check their Cambridge IGCSE results online. Obtaining your scores online will need a code and login, both of which may be provided by your institution. From 9 am on results day, students may see their Pearson Edexcel grades using the online portal called “ResultsPlus Direct.”
Exam dateThe General Certificate of Secondary Education, commonly called the GCSE, is only awarded once per year between May and June, and retakes are only permitted between November and December. This is because the GCSE is only given out during those specific months.Students can sit for the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) exam at any point between May and June, November and January, or January and February of each year. Still, the timing of their attempts is contingent on the curriculum they follow.
AvailabilityGeneral Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) programs are offered in only a handful of countries worldwide, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and India, to name just a few of these countries’ programs.The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) is one of the few secondary education programs legitimately claiming a global reach. It has gained acceptance in over 150 countries worldwide, making it one of the few programs to make such a claim.

Major Difference Between GCSE And IGCSE

What exactly is GCSE?

Exams after the GCSE (“General Certificate of Secondary Education”) program are required for graduation from secondary school in the United Kingdom.

Students in the United Kingdom take General Certificates of Secondary Education (GCSEs) in subjects like English literature, English language, mathematics, and science (and Welsh if you live in Wales), and they also have elective options in the arts and humanities, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; see this guide if you’re not sure what that means), and other areas.

Key Difference: GCSE

  • Almost all pupils will take a general certificate of secondary education (GCSE) exam after their required schooling. 
  • In most cases, this occurs in the eleventh grade, when a student turns 16 years old. Typically, students spend two to three years in school working towards their GCSEs. 
  • There were a total of 4,810,000 GCSE test takers in 2021, all of whom were 16 years old. A new form of evaluation, coursework was met with skepticism from educators. 
  • In 1986, the GCE ‘O’ Level and CSE systems were merged into the new GCSE system, which has been in use since. 
  • Attempting to solve the problem of coursework authenticity, the use of controlled assessment for coursework mandates that all coursework be supervised. 
  • Some have criticized the GCSE for being too easy and not challenging enough for students who are capable of more than the average workload. 
  • The GCSE is widely believed to be getting easier when more and more students achieve A-grades, and many argue that there is no longer an “absolute standard” for the exam. 
  • In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, students can take the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE); in Scotland, students must meet different standards.

What exactly is IGCSE?

IGCSE stands for “International General Certificate of Secondary Education,” and it is equivalent to a GCSE in terms of the foundation it provides to students.

It is (often) taken between the tenth and eleventh grades. Unlike the GCSE, which is exclusively offered in the United Kingdom, the International GCSE has been established for over three decades and is termed such because it is known by that name in nations all over the globe (and a few other countries).

Key Difference: GCSE

  • An IGCSE is a certificate earned by students across the world. The International Baccalaureate Certificate Examination does not need any coursework. 
  • The education it provides is on par with that of a standard GCSE, but it is not based on the curriculum or culture of the United Kingdom. 
  • Just two years after the introduction of the GCSE, the idea for the IGSCE was conceived as a way to increase the relevance of the GCSE qualification for an international audience. 
  • About 240,000 students from 146 different nations received their IGCSE certificates that year. Established in 1988, IGCSEs are now a globally recognized credential. 
  • Participants may take the IGCSE exams in any country. IGCSEs are offered in over 120 countries and cover more than 70 different academic areas. 
  • Ofqual, the government agency that governs qualifications, examinations, and tests in England, approved 16 Cambridge IGCSE curricula in February 2009. 
  • You may learn more about IGCSEs and the test boards that provide them (Cambridge, Edexcel, and AQA) by visiting the websites above. 
  • Given that IGCSEs are assessed solely through written exams, they represent a workable alternative to GCSEs for students who prefer to study from the comfort of their homes.

Contrast Between GCSE And IGCSE


  • GCSE – Most United Kingdom’s secondary education system students take the General Certificate of Secondary Education exam after 11 years of schooling.

    The General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is a secondary school curriculum primarily taught in British schools but also available in some other countries, including Australia, Canada, and India.
  • IGCSE – What we call the “International General Certificate of Secondary Education” (or “IGCSE”) is actually a global credential. Students in Years 10 and 11 in the United Kingdom take the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) to prepare for advanced secondary education before university.

    The IGCSE is the “international” version of the GCE A-level because it is recognized in various countries. The IGCSE is primarily taught at international and private schools in the United Kingdom rather than public schools.


  • GCSE – The General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is a British equivalency examination that serves as a stepping stone to further education in the UK and is widely recognized worldwide.

    If you want to graduate from high school in the United Kingdom, you must take the official GCSE test.

    Students aged 14 and above who choose to continue their education in the United Kingdom must complete the Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum.
  • IGCSE – If you want to continue your education in the UK or anywhere else in the world, the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) is the credential you need.

    International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) tests are taken by students aged 14 and above who want to continue their education with A-levels or a similar international curriculum before attending college.

    In addition to achieving the necessary A-level marks, certain undergraduate programs in the UK may also require candidates to achieve specific criteria at the IGCSE level.


  • GCSE – English language and literature, mathematics, economics, geography, history, biology, chemistry, and physics are just some of the many disciplines for which GCSEs are offered. Many languages than English are available for study.

    Math, English, Study Skills, Science, Information and Communication Technology, and either Geography or Humanities comprise the bulk of our GCSE curriculum here at King’s.

    The students also participate in an enrichment program that includes these subjects along with PE, ART, and PSHE.
  • IGCSE – English language and literature, mathematics, economics, geography, history, biology, chemistry, and physics are just a few of the many disciplines for which you may earn an IGCSE.

    They are also translated into a variety of languages than English. At King’s, the foundational IGCSE curriculum consists of six subjects: mathematics, English, study skills, science, information and communication technology, and either geography or humanities.

    These are studied with various supplementary subjects, including PSHE and Citizenship, PE, and the Arts.

Marks calculation:

  • GCSE – In recent years, the A*–G grading system for GCSEs has been replaced with the 9–1 grading scale.

    Your GCSE results are calculated by the overall number of marks you acquire in the exam paper, adjusted as required to reflect the overall accomplishment on a particular test paper by all students who took the same paper in that standardized test session.

    However, the exact calculation method varies depending on the subject and exam format.
  • IGCSE – Previously, IGCSE grades were marked from A* to G; however, as of June 2017, schools in England started using a 9-1 grading system for IGCSEs.

    However, in general, your IGCSE results will be decided by the overall number of marks you receive in the exam paper, modified as required to reflect the overall accomplishment on a given test paper by all students who took the same paper in that examination session.

Choosing subjects:

  • GCSE – All pupils attending public schools in the United Kingdom are required to take the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) exams in the subjects of English literature, English language, mathematics, and science.

    In addition to the ‘core’ topics, students have several elective options in the arts, humanities, STEM, and sports. Most pupils may study anything from five to twelve different topics at the GCSE level.
  • IGCSE – The three core disciplines of English, Science, and Math are required by most schools, and pupils are often encouraged to study a second language. In addition to these “core” topics, students can access electives in fields as diverse as the arts, humanities, STEM, and athletics.

    When deciding what IGCSE courses to take, it’s important to consider your preferences, intended major or field of study in the future, prior academic success, and the courses your school provides.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. Is it tougher to get good grades in the IGCSE than it is in the GCSE?

As a result of the fact that students’ final scores were determined solely by end-of-course exams rather than allowing students’ completed assignments to count towards their final ratings, some people in the past considered IGCSE credentials to be “harder” than GCSEs.

This distinction, however, is no longer relevant as of 2017, when GCSE course structures in the UK were revised, and the changes took effect.

Q2. Do universities in the UK recognize GCSE and IGCSE qualifications?

IGCSEs and GCSEs will both get you into university in the UK; that much you can count on.

The “Russell Group” universities in the United Kingdom, which include Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, and Durham University, recently confirmed that they do not differentiate between students with IGCSEs and GCSEs when deciding whether or not to accept them into their undergraduate programs.

The Russell Group is an association of 24 prestigious public research universities in the United Kingdom.

Q3. Do universities care about GCSEs?

Although your GCSE scores are essential for getting into the sixth-form or college of your choice, and even though universities do take them into consideration, they are not the deciding factor in whether or not you will be accepted.

Even if your GCSE grades were not as excellent as you had anticipated, there is still a strong chance that you will be accepted into a top institution.

Q4. Is the IGCSE a challenging examination?

Nevertheless, the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) exams are designed to be far more challenging to pass than other international examinations.

In most cases, they last for a longer length of time and cover a bigger area of territory. In addition, the IGCSE tests often incorporate questions in the form of essays, which require higher levels of both critical thinking and analytical skills.

Q5. Do GCSE grades expire?

After a certain length of time has elapsed, the GCSE credentials and any additional qualifications such as A-Levels or degrees do not become outdated.

This is a condensed answer to the question that you posed before. Because the certificates you received for your General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) do not include an expiry date, the evidence of your qualification is legitimate for an endlessly long length of time.

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