1. Everything You Need to Know About The IGCSE

Everything You Need to Know About The IGCSE

Published on 02 May 2023

Many parents are opting to send their children to international schools in Malaysia for their preschool, primary, secondary and pre-university education. The opportunity to obtain globally recognised qualifications in a school where English is the main medium of instruction may help explain why many parents choose an international school education for their children.

The General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is a part of the National Curriculum of England taught to students aged 14 to 16 years (Years 10 and 11, where students are at Key Stage 4. The GCSE has replaced the Ordinary (or O) Levels and Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE) which students pursued in the past. In the UK, students sit for the GCSE exams from May to June and results are usually released in August.

The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (or IGCSE) is the international equivalent of the GCSE examinations that has been adapted for students outside of the UK. First introduced in 1985 by Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE), the IGCSE is offered by many international schools in Malaysia as the qualification is globally recognised and opens many doors for students who want to study locally or abroad. In Malaysia, there are three examination boards namely the Cambridge Assessment International Education, Pearson Edexcel and OxfordAQA that offer the IGCSE.


Cambridge Assessment International Education 

Introduced more than 30 years ago, the Cambridge IGCSE is a popular international qualification for students ages 14 to 16 years. The curriculum provides students with a diverse range of subjects, opening doors to m many ways to learn and succeed. The standards applied for the Cambridge IGCSE are aligned with the GCSE qualifications of England.

The Cambridge Assessment board offers over 70 subjects, inclusive of 30 languages, available for students to make their selection. It is important to note that schools may offer these subjects in different combinations., So it is best to check with the schools to find out what sorts of subjects they offer and in what combination prior to making a decision on which school to opt for.


Students must take a minimum of five subjects and a maximum of 14 subjects with its ‘core’ curriculum consisting of a First Language, Second Language, Mathematics, and one or more subjects in the area of science. For the full list of subjects, the Cambridge IGCSE curriculum offers, visit the site here

There is an option between Core and Extension curriculum papers on various topics to allow students with different learning abilities to pursue a challenging subject.in keeping with their abilities.

The Core curriculum is within the range of abilities of the vast majority of students as it provides a comprehensive overview of the subject and is intended for students with grades ranging from C to G. The Extended curriculum is intended for students who are more academically capable than the vast majority. The grades of these students range from A* and E.

The IGCSE examinations are carried out twice a year in May and October. Students sit for the examinations in international schools or at private examination centres. The results are released from August that year to January the following year. Each subject is graded from A* to G, with A* being the highest grade.


Pearson Edexcel 

The Pearson Edexcel IGCSE is used in over 80 countries and in various independent schools in the UK. The IGCSE is aimed at learners aged 14 to 16 and seeks to provide them with the skills and knowledge needed to progress to A Levels, university and employment.

The Pearson Edexcel board offers over 35 subjects for students to choose from. The subjects offered represent a blend of Mathematics, English, Science, Business, IT and Arts and Design. For the full list of subjects offered by Pearson Edexcel, visit the site here.

Exams that involve written, oral, coursework and practical assessments are typically held between January and June. The 9-1 grading scale is used for Pearson's IGCSE.  The argument made is that a nine-point scale (9-1) rather than an eight-point scale (A*-G) makes it easier for teachers to identify where their students stand academically. Results are typically released in August for May-June exams and in March for the January exams.



OxofrdAQA is a partnership between the Oxford University Press (a department of the University of Oxford) and AQA the largest provider of GCSEs and A Levels in the UK. The OxfordAQA IGCSE is benchmarked to the UK standards in terms of the subjects offered, the teaching, materials used in class and assessment.

The OxfordAQA offers eight different subjects such as Business, Science, Maths and English for students to choose from in addition to their project-based learning where students plan, research and write a report based on a certain topic. For an in-depth look into the subjects offered by OxfordAQA, click the link here.

The OxfordAQA IGCSE examinations are designed to be fair for all students by only testing their subject knowledge and not touching on literacy or British cultural awareness. This is to ensure that students get the results that they deserve,

Exams are typically around January, May/June and November with results released typically a few weeks after. OxfordAQA also uses the 9-1 grading scale, similar to the Pearson Edexcel board. Certificates are then issued eight weeks after the announced results.


International Schools Offering the IGCSE

Here are some international schools in Malaysia that offer the IGCSE examination.

Kuala Lumpur 

  1. Acmar International School
  2. Charterhouse Malaysia 
  3. Sayfol International School 
  4. St. John's Primary and Secondary School
  5. The Alice Smith School 
  6. The British International School 
  7. Wesley Methodist School 


  1. Dwi Emas International School 
  2. elc International School 
  3. HELP International School 
  4. Maple Leaf Kingsley International School 
  5. Regent International School 
  6. Sri Emas International School 
  7. Sri KDU International School 
  8. Straits International School Rawang 


  1. 100 Lambs International School 
  2. Destiny International School 
  3. Marlborough College Malaysia 
  4. Repton International School 
  5. Stellar International School 


  1. Stonyhurst International School 
  2. Straits International School Penang 
  3. Wesley Methodist School 
  4. XCL International School 


  1. Seri Botani International School 

Negeri Sembilan 

  1. Epsom College Malaysia 


  1. Lodge International School 

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