Feel Confident About Your Potential Qualifications

If you are a student in the UK, you have likely heard of GCSEs and IGCSEs. These are two qualifications that students typically take in their final years of secondary school. But what exactly are they, and how do they differ? Let's explore the differences between GCSEs and IGCSEs, with a focus on how they relate to Oxbridge.  

A group of students sitting their GCSE/IGCSE exam.
A group of students sitting their GCSE/IGCSE exam.

What are GCSEs?  

GCSE stands for General Certificate of Secondary Education. This is the main qualification that students in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland take at the end of their secondary education. GCSEs are offered in a wide range of subjects, including English, maths, sciences, languages, social sciences, and the arts.

GCSEs are assessed through a combination of exams and coursework. The exams are usually taken in May and June, and they assess a student's knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. The coursework, which is completed throughout the school year, allows students to demonstrate their skills and abilities in a more practical and creative way. 

What are IGCSEs?  

IGCSE stands for International General Certificate of Secondary Education. IGCSEs are similar to GCSEs, but they are offered by a different organisation – Cambridge Assessment International Education. IGCSEs are designed to be more globally focused, and they are recognised by universities and employers around the world.  

Like GCSEs, IGCSEs are offered in a wide range of subjects. They are also assessed through a combination of exams and coursework. However, the exams for IGCSEs are typically taken in November, January, and May/June. Additionally, IGCSEs tend to have a greater emphasis on independent learning, critical thinking, and problem-solving.  

While there are some differences between the two qualifications, they are generally seen as equivalent. If you're a student preparing to take your GCSEs or IGCSEs, make sure you study hard and aim for high grades in the subjects that are relevant to your future goals.

So, are IGCSEs better than GCSEs? 

IGCSEs are more internationally recognised than GCSEs. If you are able to gain IGCSE qualifications, you will be able to study a broader range of subjects. However, GCSEs have a larger emphasis on practical skills - so both qualification types are beneficial for students. In any case, whether pursuing IGCSEs or GCSEs, it guarantees increased employability and personal development.

At Oxbridge, we offer a vast number of GCSE courses for both young and mature students. As well as IGCSE courses for those interested in going down that route.   

A student sitting his GCSE exam
A young student sitting his GCSE/IGCSE exam

Do universities prefer IGCSE or GCSE?  

IGCSE and GCSE are accepted as equivalent qualifications. One is no better than the other in the eyes of universities, colleges, and other educational institutions. Some universities may have specific entry requirements for certain courses that require a certain number of high grades in relevant GCSE or IGCSE subjects. In such cases, it is important to check the specific entry requirements of the university and the course you wish to apply to.  

It is also important to note that some universities may have different requirements for international students who have taken IGCSEs instead of GCSEs. These requirements may include demonstrating English language proficiency, as IGCSEs may be taken in a language other than English.  

An image of a university campus
University campus

Overall, universities are primarily interested in a student's academic achievements, skills, and potential, and whether they meet the entry requirements for their chosen course. Therefore, whether a student has taken GCSEs or IGCSEs is unlikely to be a deciding factor in the admissions process.