How Many IGCSE Subjects Should You Take

How Many IGCSE Subjects Should You Take? A Guide to Finding the Right Number

Students planning to take IGCSE exams often wonder how many subjects they should take. The answer to this question depends on their goals and abilities. 

The IGCSE syllabus offers a wide range of subjects, covering five main disciplines: Language, Humanities, Mathematics, Sciences, Creative, Technical, and Vocational.

According to the IGCSE syllabus, two mandatory subjects must be taken: Mathematics and English Language. However, the number of subjects a student can take varies from 5 to 10. 

Students who want to study a science subject for A level should study that subject as a single IGCSE course, but IGCSE Co-ordinated Sciences (double) may be accepted. The number of subjects taken also depends on the student’s academic goals and plans.

Choosing the correct number of IGCSE subjects can be daunting for students. However, it is crucial to remember that quality is often more important than quantity. 

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Students should choose subjects they are interested in and passionate about, which will help them perform better in their exams. 

It is also essential to consider their strengths and weaknesses and choose subjects relevant to their future academic and career goals.

Core and Optional Subjects

When choosing IGCSE subjects, it is vital to understand the difference between core and optional subjects. Core subjects are mandatory and must be taken by all students. 

On the other hand, students choose optional subjects based on their interests and future goals.

The two core subjects in the IGCSE syllabus are Mathematics and English Language. All students require these subjects, and they must be completed. 

Students must select at least one subject from each of the five groups: Language, Humanities, Mathematics, Sciences, Creative, Technical, and Vocational.

The subject groups offer a range of options for students to choose from. For example, the Language group includes more than 30 languages, while the Humanities group includes subjects such as History, Geography, and Economics. 

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The Mathematics group offers Additional Mathematics and Mathematical Studies, while the Sciences group includes subjects such as Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. 

The Creative, Technical, and Vocational group offers subjects such as Art and Design, Business Studies, and Information and Communication Technology.

Students are encouraged to choose additional subjects based on their interests and future goals. However, there is no compulsory requirement for other subject choices. 

It is important to note that most schools and universities only check the mandatory IGCSE Subject Group results, which include Language and Literature and Humanities and Social Sciences.

Language Subjects

Language subjects are an essential part of the IGCSE curriculum. English Language is a mandatory subject that must be taken in the IGCSE syllabus. 

In addition to English, students can also take other language subjects such as French, Spanish, and German.

The IGCSE Language syllabus aims to enhance students’ language abilities in reading, speaking, writing, and listening. It is divided into Core and Extended parts. The core focuses on fundamental language skills, while the Extended delves into more advanced ones.

The IGCSE Language syllabus is available in many languages, including English Language A. This syllabus is designed for students whose first language is not English. 

It focuses on developing students’ language skills appropriately for their proficiency level.

In addition to the language skills, the IGCSE Language syllabus also helps students develop their critical thinking and analytical skills. They must analyze and interpret texts, which allows them to develop their essential thinking ability and make informed decisions.

Math and Science Subjects

Mathematics and science subjects are mandatory subjects in the IGCSE syllabus. Learners are required to take these subjects regardless of their field of interest. 

Mathematics develops the learner’s mathematical skills and understanding, while science subjects aim to develop scientific knowledge and skills.

The Science subjects offered in the IGCSE syllabus include Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. These subjects are designed to provide learners with a broad understanding of scientific concepts, principles, and theories. 

They also aim to develop practical skills such as observation, experimentation, and data analysis.

Mathematics is a fundamental subject in the IGCSE syllabus. It is offered in two levels: Core and Extended. The Core level covers basic mathematical concepts, while the Extended level covers more advanced concepts. 

Learners who intend to pursue further studies in Mathematics or Sciences are advised to take the Extended level.

The science subjects are also offered in two levels: Core and Extended. The Core level covers basic scientific concepts, while the Extended level covers more advanced concepts. 

Learners who intend to pursue further studies in Sciences are advised to take the Extended level.

Humanities and Social Sciences

Humanities and Social Sciences are an essential part of the IGCSE curriculum. These subjects are designed to develop students’ critical thinking, analytical, and communication skills. 

The IGCSE curriculum provides students diverse subjects in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Some of the popular Humanities and Social Sciences subjects offered in the IGCSE curriculum are Geography, History, Sociology, and Economics. These subjects help students understand human behavior, social structures, and society’s functions.

Geography studies the Earth’s physical features, including landforms, climate, and natural resources. It also involves the study of human interactions with the environment, such as urbanization, population growth, and resource management.

History studies past events, including political, social, and economic developments. It helps students understand how societies have evolved and how historical events have shaped the world we live in today.

Sociology studies human social behavior, including social structures, institutions, and relationships. It also involves the study of culture, values, and beliefs.

Creative, Technical, and Vocational Subjects

The IGCSE syllabus offers a range of creative, technical, and vocational subjects for students to choose from. 

These subjects aim to equip learners with practical skills and knowledge applicable across diverse fields. The IGCSE syllabus offers a range of creative, technical, and vocational subjects, including:

  • Art and Design
  • Music
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
  • Business Studies
  • Design and Technology

Art and Design is a popular subject among students interested in visual arts. It covers various topics such as drawing, painting, sculpture, and graphic Design. 

Students who take Art and Design at the IGCSE level are expected to develop their creativity, imagination, and technical skills.

Music is another creative subject offered by the IGCSE syllabus. It covers various topics, such as music theory, composition, and performance. Students who take Music at the IGCSE level are expected to develop their musical skills and knowledge.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is a technical subject covering various topics, such as computer hardware, software, and networking. Students who take ICT at the IGCSE level are expected to develop their technical skills and knowledge.

Business Studies is a vocational subject that covers various topics such as marketing, finance, and entrepreneurship. Business Studies students at the IGCSE level are expected to develop their business understanding and knowledge.

Design and Technology is a technical subject covering various topics, such as product design, engineering, and manufacturing. Students who take Design and Technology at the IGCSE level are expected to develop their technical skills and knowledge.

Assessment and Grading

The Cambridge IGCSE assessment occurs at the course’s conclusion and encompasses written oral, coursework, and practical evaluations. 

This diverse approach allows students, especially those for whom English isn’t their native language, to showcase their learning effectively. The assessment aims to gauge how well students have met the syllabus’s learning objectives.

IGCSE grading now features A*-G and 9-1 grades, with schools in specific regions selecting their preferred system. Grade thresholds indicate the minimum marks needed for particular grades in papers or subjects. These thresholds are determined after each exam has been taken and graded. 

Every year, the goal is to position these thresholds appropriately—neither difficult nor easier than in previous years. This ensures fairness across different exam series.

Universities and employers worldwide recognize and embrace the grading scale. Strong IGCSE grades can substantially enhance prospects for higher education and employment. Students can utilize past papers for practice and exam preparation.

University Admission and IGCSE

When it comes to university admissions, IGCSE results are an essential factor that is taken into consideration by most universities around the world. 

Leading universities recognize IGCSE subjects, further education institutions, and employers as evidence of academic achievement and an ‘international passport’ to progression and success.

Most schools and universities want to check your mandatory IGCSE Subject Group results, which are divided into four groups – Language and Literature, Humanities and Social Sciences, Sciences, and Mathematics. These groups represent the core subjects that universities look for in their applicants.

While universities do not typically focus on IGCSE-level subjects and examinations, they do consider the grades achieved in these subjects. 

IGCSE grades can determine whether a student can take the Standard Level (SL) or Higher Level (HL) for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma or the H1, H2, or H3 for A-levels. 

A higher level is desirable if a student wishes to pursue a university degree requiring higher-level subjects, such as Medicine.

It is important to note that the number of IGCSE subjects a student takes is not the only factor that universities consider. The quality of the grades achieved in these subjects is equally important. 

Therefore, it is recommended that students take a manageable number of IGCSE subjects that they can excel in.

For example, Oxford applicants typically achieve 8-10 A* grades in their IGCSE subjects. However, students can skip 10 IGCSE subjects to be considered for admission to Oxford or any other university. 

It is better to take a smaller number of subjects and achieve top grades rather than taking too many and struggling to excel in all of them.

Choosing the Right Subjects

When choosing the proper IGCSE subjects, it is vital to consider various factors such as interests, skills, abilities, and future career aspirations. 

While two mandatory subjects need to be taken, Mathematics and English Language, students must take at least one subject from each of the five disciplines: Language, Humanities, Mathematics, Sciences, and Creative, Technical, and Vocational.

It is recommended that students start with a minimum of five subjects, with English Language and Maths being the first choices. However, there is no compulsory requirement for additional subject selections, and students are encouraged to choose a range of subjects they are interested in.

When selecting subjects, it is essential to consider personal interests and passions. Choosing subjects that align with interests can make studying more enjoyable and improve academic performance. 

It is also essential to consider future career aspirations and select subjects that can help achieve those goals.

Additionally, students should consider their skills and abilities when selecting subjects. Choosing subjects that align with strengths can lead to better academic performance and help develop skills useful in future careers.

IGCSE Curriculum and Learning Resources

The Cambridge IGCSE curriculum provides different paths for students with varying abilities, including those who still need to learn English as their primary language.

It provides a solid foundation of core subjects such as Mathematics and English Language, making adding breadth and cross-curricular perspectives easy.

Students can choose at least 5 to ten subjects from the IGCSE syllabus. These subjects are divided into five main categories: 

Language, Humanities, Mathematics, Sciences, Creative, Technical, Vocational. With a curriculum boasting over 70 subjects, including 30+ languages, students can create their unique combinations of subjects.

Many learning resources are available to ensure students can access the curriculum effectively. 

These resources include textbooks, revision guides, past papers, and online resources. Students can use these resources to learn actively and engage with the coursework.

The IGCSE curriculum is designed to be flexible, allowing schools to build a program around their specific needs. This flexibility means students can choose subjects relevant to their interests and career aspirations.

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