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IGCSE, Top 10 Things You Must Know About It

Have you heard of IGCSE? Have you ever thought of sending your children to IGCSE instead of the local school? 

Do you know that a different study environment and assessment could leave a great impact on the students’ personal and intellectual development? 

Here are the Top 10 things that you should know about IGCSE in Malaysia.

10 things to know about IGCSE

#1.  Offered by Cambridge Examination Board
Cambridge Examination Board is well-known for offering examinations and qualifications worldwide. IGCSE was developed by Cambridge Examination Board in 1985. IGCSE is also equivalent of the British O-Levels. All the exam papers are set and marked by the Cambridge Examination Board in the UK as well.

#2. A 5-year program in Malaysia
In Malaysia, the IGCSE is a 5-year program starting with Year 7 (equivalent to Form 1 in the local program) and ending with the Year 11 (equivalent of Form 5).

Stronger students can actually save 1 year and complete high school at the age of 16 or younger. 

#3. British curriculum
The program differentiates from the local program by following the British curriculum. Therefore, the medium of instruction of the program is English. 

#4. Exam base + Assessment
As compared to solely exam-based focus from the local program, the IGCSE also focus on development and abilities of the students. Therefore, In addition to examination-based qualifications offered by the IGCSE, the program also uses a wide range of assessment processes and techniques. These assessment include orals, practical, projects and coursework. The assessments will effectively encourages student participation in lessons. Thus, the program will help to develop students’ creative thinking and problem solving skills.

#5. Provide solid foundation for students at the College and/or University
During the 5-year program, it helps the student to adapt better in the English-medium courses in college and/or university as English is the medium of instruction of the IGCSE program. 

The curriculum in the IGCSE develops competitive students in the later studies as well as at the work place. Through the project work in the curriculum, it helps the students to adapt better to the the curriculum in the college and/or university. The exposure of project work in the IGCSE builds up the research skill of the students, which makes the student more capable of working on their own when they are required to work on research assignment in the college and/or university. It also helps to sharpen presentation skills of the students. This makes the IGCSE students to be more outstanding as compared to others because they are able to speak with confidence, clarity and conviction.

Encouraging student participation trains the students to be exhibit enthusiasm for learning.  This would further assist the students to learn new things, as well as grow professionally and personally.

Students who did IGCSE is more prepared for A-Levels and IB. 

#6. International Recognition
The IGCSE allows admission to the UK, US and also Canadian colleges and universities. This program thus creates a pathway for the local students from Malaysia to study abroad. Many of the leading companies worldwide also accept and recognise this program. 

Students who did IGCSE have higher recognition of english education thus many colleges and universities allow students to further studies without having the need to take up IELTS exam. As long as you score credit for IGCSE first language english (EFL), it will be considered as a pass for many tertiary academic qualification.

#7.  Two Examination Sessions in a Year
Unlike the Malaysian Certificate of Education (or Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia, aka SPM) which offers examinations once a year, the IGCSE offers examinations thrice a year, in Feb/Mar, May/June and October/November. The IGCSE is also more efficient in terms of issuing results. IGCSE results are issued in August and January each year. Therefore, the IGCSE graduates can quickly apply for scholarship or be admitted into college and/or university earlier as compared to the SPM graduates.

#8. Easy to Find Resources
IGCSE is available in many countries and many students worldwide have gone through the program. Therefore it is very easy to find books or past years in local bookstores, links in the internet and also topical past year questions from the local print shop.

#9. Easier than SPM
We have been coaching many students from international schools who did IGCSE and students in local public schools who have to go through SPM. It’s very obvious that IGCSE is easier for students to handle and score in all subject field.

The 3 sciences which includes Physics Chemistry and Biology syllabus is less in depth but broad base and relevant to university and colleges next time. Students find it easier to grasp and its less tedious. History, Geography and Economics are in English and the syllabus and exams are related to the world history, world geographical factors and effects and international economics case studies making the lessons more interesting and prepare students for a more global thinking. 

#10. More subject combinations.
SPM are well known in separating the subjects into science stream and art stream. Although there have been changes in recent years, students are only available to take one sub-science subject and not more.

However, in the IGCSE syllabus, they allow students to select their own subject combinations depending on their interest. There are no maximum subjects that students can take which means they are able to explore as many subjects as they want, if they can handle the pressure.

Examples of subjects that are not found in SPM are Global perspective, Art, Musics, other languages etc. Here are the list of popular subjects that students can take up for IGCSE.

English 1st Language or English 2nd Language
Foreign Language Malay
Foreign Language Mandarin
Business Studies
Additional Mathematics
Co-ordinated Science (Double Award)
Combined Science
Computer Science

Updated at 27 May 2019

Mr Sai Mun
Mr Sai Munhttps://mrsaimun.com
A teacher at heart, who's blog and YouTube has garnered over 5 million views. He co-founded multiple companies which creates breakthrough in education, special needs and entrepreneurship. Currently a father of two, navigating and exploring parenthood.


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