Most of us are familiar with GCSEs. These are mandatory exams taken in Years 10 and 11, and are the gateway to further education including A-levels. But did you know that GCSEs are also offered in other countries?

The IGCSE, or International International General Certificate of Secondary Education, is the same level as a GCSE. It is recognised in both the UK and further afield, in countries including India, Canada and Australia. Essentially, IGCSE qualifications are available in more countries than customary GCSEs, while still sharing the same level of credit and recognition.


On paper at least, GCSEs and IGCSEs sound very similar. But there’s more that separates them than simply the countries in which they’re available. Let’s take a look at exactly how GCSEs and IGCSEs differ:

Country-by-Country Availability

The most obvious way IGCSE vs GCSE courses differ is in the countries where they’re available. GCSEs are offered in only a handful of countries, whereas IGCSEs are accessible on a much wider scale. Some courses are available in as many as 160 countries.

You can also sit IGCSEs in countries which also offer standard GCSEs, including the UK. Some institutions that cater to international students offer IGCSEs as a means of ensuring a flexible learning experience, no matter where you’re studying in the world.

This also means that if you are a UK resident looking to study overseas, you can use IGCES as an entry point into international institutions.

Say, for example, a student began studying an IGCSE in the UK; if they chose to return to their home country, they would be able to pick up their studies where they left off, provided IGCSEs were available.

Our selection of IGCSE and GCSE courses cater for a broad range of distance-learning students from all walks of life.

The Difference Between GCSE & IGCSE Course Content

While there are a vast number of subject areas available for both IGCSE and GCSE, the content of individual courses may differ between the two qualification types – even for the same subject.

For example, the content for GCSE Maths may differ from the IGCSE version. The reason for this is primarily because some topics and subjects are more relevant to English-speaking UK students.

As another example, in English Literature, the customary GCSE course may focus on well-known British writers like William Shakespeare. For the IGCSE, the course may take a broader and more international approach, focusing on writers from other countries and cultures.

Syllabuses also differ between GCSEs and IGCSEs, with different compulsory subjects depending on the course area. For instance, subject areas differ for courses such as History and Geography, better reflecting the needs of an international student base.

GCSE & IGCSE Exam Dates

In the UK, we’re familiar with GCSE exams taking place in the early summer, with students receiving their grades in August. The main GCSE exam period typically lasts from May to June, giving students maximum time to complete coursework and prepare for the exam season.

This is slightly different for IGCSEs. While the majority of exams for these qualifications happen in May to June, some are sat between November and January each year. It all depends on the subject in question, but you will always have enough time to fully prepare for your exams, regardless of whether that is GCSE or IGCSE.

Should I Take GCSEs or IGCSE?

While this post may have focused on the differences between IGCSE vs GCSE, both are highly regarded and accepted as recognised pathways into higher education, both here in the UK and abroad.

It is more common for international students to take an IGCSE simply for the flexibility and variable course content they provide. Some students may even end up taking a combination of IGCSEs vs GCSEs, depending on the institution in question.

When choosing between IGCSE vs GCSE, the main thing to consider is that the qualification meets your aspirations for the future. How will the course help you progress to the next step in your career? And will it open the right doors for you? One of the great benefits of taking IGCSEs is that they are widely recognised in many countries around the world – which could be incredibly useful if you are planning on studying or working abroad in the coming years.


So, if you are looking to attain school leaver qualifications, it might be worth considering that IGCSEs can provide all the benefits of traditional GCSEs as well as a few bonuses that could help your learning and career ambitions.

At Oxbridge, we provide a range of IGCSE vs GCSE courses that are suitable for remote distance learners. To find out more, visit our online GCSE courses page or talk to one of our experienced course advisers on 0121 630 3000.