More than 35 years ago, Cambridge introduced the Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE), which has since become the world’s most popular international qualification for 14- to 16-year-olds. In my work as the Head of Global Recognitions, I frequently talk to schools and Higher Education institutions about Cambridge IGCSEs and why it prepares students so well for university.
1. A globally recognised qualification
Cambridge IGCSE is a globally recognised and respected qualification designed to provide a solid foundation for students in their academic journey. What sets the qualification apart is its tremendous versatility, making it a preferred choice for students aiming to pursue university education or those embarking on advanced programmes in schools, using it as a springboard to various international or local curricula.
Universities and colleges around the world accept and value Cambridge IGCSE, allowing students to pursue higher education in different countries. Preparing students for higher education isn’t just about teaching them subject knowledge; it’s about providing them with the skills and confidence they need to succeed in the real world. Students discover these skills and gain this confidence while studying for Cambridge IGCSE.
2. A wide choice of subjects
One of the most significant aspects of Cambridge IGCSE is the wide range of subjects – more than 70 in total. Whether a student’s passion lies in English, mathematics, science, arts, humanities, or languages, the curriculum caters to a wide range of interests. This versatility allows students to shape their educational journey around their strengths and passions, while giving schools the opportunity to provide a broad and balanced curriculum.
3. Flexible assessments
Cambridge IGCSE is inclusive and offers a variety of ways for students to learn and succeed. The assessments offer flexibility through a combination of written, oral, and practical exams. This diverse approach accommodates different learning styles and preferences. In this way, students can also choose subjects with assessments that align with their strengths. The assessments are also fair and accessible to students whose first language is not English.
Since the pandemic, offering flexibility in learning environments has become more widespread. The Cambridge IGCSE caters to both traditional classroom settings and online or blended learning environments. This adaptability has proven invaluable, especially when online learning became a necessity.
4. Proven record of success
In 2022, we carried out research with Arizona State University in the US to evaluate the impact of Cambridge IGCSE on first year student performance. The research revealed that students who participated in the Cambridge IGCSE programme and enrolled at Arizona State University exhibited strong performance in various academic metrics, including high school grade point average (GPA) and SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) and ACT (American College Testing) scores.
Based on these findings, Cambridge commissioned ECCTIS, a leading provider of services in the recognition and evaluation of qualifications, to undertake an in-depth mapping of the IGCSE Mathematics (0580) assessment against the College Board’s SAT Math Test. The study identified key similarities and differences in assessment structure, skills, content, and demand, before making grade comparisons between the two assessments.
Cambridge IGCSE stays popular worldwide because it gives students more options than any other international qualification – it offers many subjects, global recognition, flexible and fair assessments, and emphasises skills development. It not only prepares students for higher education but also equips them for 21st-century opportunities and challenges, adapting to students’ evolving needs.