How Many IGCSE Subjects Are Required in UAE

How Many IGCSE Subjects Are Required in UAE? A Clear and Confident Guide

In the UAE, students must complete six IGCSE courses to establish a robust knowledge and skill base for their future academic endeavors.

The IGCSE curriculum is internationally recognized and respected, making it an attractive option for students pursuing higher education abroad.

To register for IGCSE courses in the UAE, students must complete the registration process online and pay for the exams. Additionally, students will be required to take the Islamic studies and Arabic exams administered by the UAE Ministry. 

These exams are mandatory for all students in the UAE, regardless of their nationality or background.

If you are a UAE student considering taking IGCSE courses, it is crucial to understand the requirements and expectations of the curriculum. 

Students will be well-prepared for their future academic and career pursuits by completing the required courses and exams.

Understanding IGCSE in UAE

In the UAE, students must study six IGCSE courses, which include English, Mathematics, Science, and three other subjects of their choice. 

Additionally, each student is required to take the Islamic studies and Arabic exams administered by the UAE Ministry.

To enroll for IGCSE in the UAE, students need to register online, pay for exams, and take tests administered by the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) biannually in May/June and October/November.

The CIE is responsible for setting the IGCSE syllabus and conducting exams worldwide. The IGCSE curriculum is academically rigorous, internationally recognized, and specialized in English. 

It is designed to prepare students for International Baccalaureate, A-Level, and BTEC Level 3, which are recommended for higher-tier students.

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Cambridge IGCSE subjects are widely acknowledged by top universities, educational institutions, and employers globally, serving as proof of academic excellence and a global pathway to advancement and achievement. 

They offer students a strong base for future medicine, engineering, and business studies.

Subject Requirements for IGCSE

The courses are designed to provide students with a broad and balanced education, including various subjects across different disciplines.

The IGCSE curriculum covers various subjects, including English, Science, Mathematics, Humanities, Arts, and Languages. Students must take two Group 1 subjects, one subject from Groups 2-5, and a seventh subject which can be selected from any Group.

The Group 1 subjects are Languages, and students must take one Language subject from this group. The subjects available in this group are Arabic – First Language, Arabic – First Language (9-1), Arabic – Foreign Language, Bahasa Indonesia, Chinese, English – First Language, English – First Language (9-1), English – Literature, French, German, Italian, Malay, Spanish, and Tamil.

The Group 2 subjects are Humanities, and students must take one subject from this group. The subjects available in this group are Accounting, Business Studies, Economics, Geography, History, Information and Communication Technology, and Islamic Studies.

The Group 3 subjects are Sciences, and students must take one subject from this group. The subjects available in this group are Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Combined Science.

The Group 4 subjects are Mathematics, and students must take one subject from this group. The subjects available in this group are Mathematics, Mathematics (9-1), and Additional Mathematics.

The Group 5 subjects are Creative, Technical, and Vocational, and students must take one subject from this group. The subjects available in this group are Art and Design, Computer Science, Design and Technology, Drama, Music, Physical Education, and Travel and Tourism.

In addition to these subject requirements, each student will take the Islamic studies and Arabic exams administered by the UAE Ministry.

To register for the IGCSE exams in UAE, students can complete the registration process online and pay for the exams. 


The Cambridge International Certificate in Education (ICE) is a globally recognized qualification designed for students aged 14 to 16. 

It is a group award requiring students to pass at least seven subjects, covering the five IGCSE subject groups and including two different languages. 

The seven best results, irrespective of subject or group, will be used to calculate the Cambridge ICE grade.

The Cambridge IGCSE subjects are grouped into five curriculum areas: Languages, Humanities and Social Sciences, Sciences, Mathematics, and Professional and Creative. 

Students can choose two languages from Group I and one subject each from Groups II, III, IV, and V in the Cambridge IGCSE curriculum. With a selection of over 70 subjects, no mandatory courses provide flexibility for students to pursue their preferred studies.

The three separate sciences offered in Cambridge IGCSE are considered three valid subjects. AIU recognizes passes in 5 Cambridge IGCSE/ Cambridge O Level subjects, including English Language, as equivalent to Standard 10. Cambridge IGCSE grades F and G may not be accepted for admission to Standard 11 of any Indian exam.

Curriculum Overview

Cambridge Assessment International Education, a division of the University of Cambridge, provides the IGCSE curriculum, which offers flexible subject options to suit students’ preferences and skills. The curriculum encompasses diverse areas like languages, sciences, humanities, and vocational subjects.

The IGCSE curriculum has two tiers: core and extended. The core tier imparts fundamental concepts and skills, while the extended tier delves into higher-level subjects. Students can opt for either level based on their capabilities and interests.

The IGCSE curriculum in the UAE includes six subjects, mathematics, English language, English literature, physical activity and well-being, moral education, and UAE social studies. 

In addition to these compulsory subjects, students can choose from various elective subjects, including sciences, humanities, and vocational subjects.

Comparison with Other Programmes

IGCSE is widely accepted in the UAE. It is recognized as being equivalent to GCS in the UK. 

However, it is vital to understand how the IGCSE compares with other programs such as A-levels, IB Diploma, ASP, and BTEC Level 3.

A-levels and GCE are UK-based qualifications widely recognized in the UAE. A-levels are typically taken after completing the GCSEs and are often required for entry into universities in the UK and other countries. 

Universities globally accept the IB Diploma and offers a comprehensive curriculum emphasizing critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving.

ASP (American School Program) is a curriculum based on the American education system offered by some schools in the UAE. 

BTEC Level 3 offers practical industry-relevant skills and knowledge to students.

Universities and employers globally recognize the IGCSE and offers students versatile knowledge and skills for various fields.

However, it is essential to note that some universities may require additional qualifications such as A-levels or the IB Diploma for entry into specific programs.

In terms of curriculum, the IGCSE covers a wide range of subjects, including languages, arts, and humanities. The Edexcel International GCSE is another version of the IGCSE offered by the examination board Edexcel. 

It is important to note that the IGCSE and the Edexcel International GCSE are not the same, and students should check with their school or examination board to determine which qualification is suitable for them.

Admission Requirements in UAE

For enrollment in a UAE International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) program, students must fulfill institution-specific admission criteria, including certain prerequisites.

One of the main admission requirements for IGCSE in UAE is that students must have completed their secondary education. This means they should have obtained a UAE Secondary School Certificate or equivalent qualification from another country. 

In addition, students may be required to take the Emirates Standardized Test (EMSAT) to assess their academic skills in English and Arabic.

The Ministry of Education requires UAE national students to take the Islamic Studies and Arabic exams. Emirati mothers who wish to enroll their children in IGCSE programs must also provide a copy of their passport and a letter of no objection from their husbands.

Transfer students who have completed part of their secondary education in another country may be required to provide additional documentation, such as transcripts or certificates. Some institutions may also need students to take placement tests to determine their level in certain subjects.

Role of Parents and Teachers

Parents and teachers are crucial in ensuring students succeed in their IGCSE studies. They must work together to provide the necessary support and commitment to help students achieve their academic goals.

Teachers must equip students with resources and guidance for IGCSE success, fostering a positive learning environment and maintaining open communication regarding progress and concerns with parents.

On the other hand, parents should actively support their child’s academic pursuits. 

This includes ensuring that their child attends school regularly, completes homework assignments on time, and studies effectively for exams. 

Parents should also communicate regularly with their child’s teachers to stay informed about their child’s progress and to provide any necessary support at home.

Both parents and teachers should work together to create a support system that helps students succeed in their IGCSE studies. Working together can provide the necessary guidance and support to help students achieve their academic goals.

Grading and Passing Criteria

To pass an IGCSE subject in the UAE, a candidate must obtain a minimum grade of G. However, the pass grades for different subjects may vary. 

For instance, a candidate must get a minimum grade of C in Mathematics to qualify for higher studies in the UAE.

The grading system for IGCSE subjects is based on eight internationally recognized grades, A* to G. Grade A* is awarded to students with the highest ability level in a subject. 

In contrast, grade G is awarded for minimum satisfactory performance. Performances below the standard of grade G are not recorded on certificates.

It is important to note that the grading system for IGCSE subjects in the UAE may vary depending on the school or examination board. Some schools may opt for the traditional A*-G grading system, while others may choose the newer 9-1 grading system.

In the 9-1 grading system, grade 9 is the highest possible, while grade 1 is the lowest. The grading system also includes a grade U, which stands for ungraded. A candidate who scores a U grade has not met the minimum requirements to receive a grade.

University Acceptance and Career Opportunities

American universities accept IGCSE certification and regard it as a completion of schooling. Some colleges even accept the O Level as the completion of schooling. 

Grades up to C are accepted, and a minimum of five subjects in either Cambridge IGCSE or O Levels are required for university admission in the USA.

In the UK, IGCSEs are recognized as equivalent to GCSEs, and students who complete IGCSEs are eligible to apply for further education or university courses. Students who achieve good grades in IGCSEs can also apply for scholarships and bursaries to help fund their studies.

In the UAE, IGCSEs are recognized by universities and colleges as a valid qualification for admission to undergraduate courses. Students who achieve good grades in IGCSEs have a better chance of acceptance into their desired courses and universities.

Employers in the UAE also recognize the value of IGCSE qualifications. Students who achieve good grades in IGCSEs have a better chance of finding employment in their desired field. IGCSEs provide students with a solid foundation in critical subjects, including English, mathematics, and science, essential for many careers.

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