The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (abbreviated IGCSE or iGCSE) is an internationally recognized qualification for school students, typically in the 15-16 age group. It is similar to the GCSE in England, Wales & Northern Ireland, Standard Grade in Scotland or Junior Certificate in the Republic of Ireland. The Cambridge IGCSE was developed by University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) in 1988. The examination board Edexcel, offers its own version, the IGCSE.
The IGCSE prepares students for further academic work including progression to AS Level and A Level study, Cambridge Pre-U and the IB Diploma Programme. It is recognized by academic institutions and employers around the world. In entrance to U.K. higher education, UCAS recognizes it as equivalent to the U.K. GCSE.
On 15 February 2009, 16 Cambridge IGCSE syllabuses received Ofqual accreditation. They are listed on the U.K. National Database of Accredited Qualifications.. For accreditation purposes, the syllabuses are referenced as “Cambridge International Level 1 and Level 2 Certificates” in the U.K., although they are known across the world as Cambridge IGCSE.
CIE is currently in discussion with the U.K. Department for Children, Schools and Families on whether state schools can have the same access to Cambridge IGCSE as U.K. independent schools, 300 of whom offer it.
Cambridge IGCSE provides a broad study program and covers subjects from a variety of areas: Languages, Humanities, Social Sciences, Mathematics, Creative, Technical and Vocational. Most IGCSE subjects offer a choice of Core or Extended papers (in Cambridge), and foundation or higher papers (in Edexcel). This is designed to make IGCSE suitable for students with varying levels of ability. In some subjects, IGCSE can be taken with or without coursework. Cambridge IGCSE allows teaching to be placed in a localized context, making it relevant in different regions. It is intended to be suitable for students whose first language may not be English and this is acknowledged throughout the examination process.
In 2009, Cambridge IGCSE papers in more than 70 subjects were taken by students in over 120 countries worldwide, including the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Egypt, Kuwait, Hong Kong, India, Bahrain, Peru, UAE, New Zealand ,Vietnam and Costa Rica
Commencing from 15th September 2009, students in British state schools will be allowed to sit for the iGSCE following Ofqual approval.