IGCSE A Level: Cambridge’s Educational Power Duo Explained

International education has become increasingly popular recently, with students seeking a competitive edge in the global job market. 

Two of the most recognized international qualifications are the IGCSE and Advanced Levels (A-Levels) offered by Cambridge Assessment International Education.

IGCSE is a two-year program that is designed for students aged 14-16 years old. It is an internationally recognized qualification that prepares students for further education, including A-Levels. 

The IGCSE curriculum covers various subjects, including languages, mathematics, science, and humanities. Students can choose from multiple subjects, including English, mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, and history.

On the other hand, A-Levels is a two-year program designed for students aged 16-19 years old. It is a more advanced qualification that prepares students for higher education. 

A-Levels are recognized by universities worldwide and are highly valued by employers. Students can choose from various subjects, including mathematics, science, humanities, and languages.

One of the critical differences between IGCSE and A-Levels is the difficulty level. IGCSE is designed to be a foundation course, while A-Levels are more challenging and require higher academic ability. 

Another difference is the number of subjects that students can take. IGCSE students typically take between six and nine subjects, while A-level students usually take three or four.

Cambridge Assessment International Education provides a comprehensive suite of support resources for educators and students, encompassing training programs, textbooks, and online materials. 

Curriculum Overview

The Cambridge International AS & A Level curriculum is designed to provide students with a strong foundation in their chosen subjects and prepare them for university-level studies. The curriculum is recognized worldwide and is taken by students in over 160 countries.

Core Subjects

The core curriculum has four mandatory subjects: English, math, science, and foreign languages. They form a strong base for further learning.

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English covers language and literature, math includes algebra, geometry, and calculus, and science has biology, chemistry, and physics. Students can choose from foreign languages like French, Spanish, or Mandarin.

Apart from these core subjects, there are elective options like business studies, computer science, economics, and psychology. These help students better understand their chosen field and prepare for higher education.

The Cambridge International AS & A Level curriculum is flexible for students to pick subjects they like and is challenging to equip them with the needed skills and knowledge for success.

Subject Breakdown


The IGCSE and A Level English curriculum aims to enhance students’ language abilities in reading, writing, and communication. In IGCSE, there are two papers: Language and Literature. 

The Language paper assesses comprehension and writing skills, while the Literature paper evaluates their grasp of literary techniques and analysis. Students can pursue English Language and English Literature at the A Level as distinct subjects.


Mathematics is a core subject in the IGCSE and A Level curriculum. The IGCSE Mathematics curriculum is divided into two papers: Core and Extended. 

The Core paper covers basic mathematical concepts, while the Extended paper tests students’ understanding of more advanced topics. Students can choose between Pure Mathematics, Mechanics, and Statistics at A Level as separate subjects.


The Science curriculum for IGCSE and A Level includes Biology, Chemistry, and Physics as separate subjects. The IGCSE Science curriculum covers basic scientific concepts and practical skills, while the A-level curriculum goes more in-depth and includes advanced topics. Students can study one or more of these subjects at A Level.


IGCSE and A Level offer a range of language subjects, including French, Latin, and Spanish. The language curriculum is designed to develop students’ language skills in reading, writing, and communication. 

The IGCSE language curriculum includes two papers: Reading and Writing and Listening and Speaking. At A Level, students can study their desired language as a separate subject or part of a Modern Languages course.

Grading System

The grading system used for Cambridge International Examinations is well-established and widely recognized by universities, parents, and schools worldwide. Cambridge IGCSE is graded A*-G, while Cambridge International AS and A Level qualifications are graded from A to E.

The grading system is designed to provide a clear and consistent measure of a student’s performance, and it is based on a combination of coursework and exams. Teachers mark the coursework, while the exams are marked by Cambridge examiners who are experts in their subject area.

The following table provides an overview of the grades and their corresponding percentage ranges:

Grade Percentage Range
A* 90-100
A 80-89
B 70-79
C 60-69
D 50-59
E 40-49
F 30-39
G 20-29

It is important to note that the grades are not awarded based on a curve or quota system but rather on the student’s performance. This means that it is possible for all students taking a particular exam to receive high grades or for all students to receive low grades.

Resources and Training

Cambridge International Education offers a wide range of resources and training to support teachers in delivering high-quality education to their students. These resources help teachers develop their skills, knowledge, and understanding of the Cambridge curriculum and assessment.


Cambridge International Education provides various resources to support teachers in delivering the Cambridge curriculum. These resources include textbooks, workbooks, teacher guides, and online resources. 

Online resources encompass a variety of tools such as videos, quizzes, worksheets, and comprehensive lesson plans. They are specifically crafted to assist educators in delivering captivating lessons and imparting complex concepts and skills.

Cambridge International Education also offers endorsed resources that Cambridge has reviewed and approved. These resources are marked with an endorsement logo on the front cover and an information panel on the back. Endorsed resources are designed to support teachers in delivering the Cambridge curriculum and assessment.


Cambridge International Education offers a range of training opportunities to support teachers in delivering the Cambridge curriculum and assessment. 

These training options cover in-person sessions, online courses, and webinars to enhance teachers’ expertise in the Cambridge curriculum and assessment.

Cambridge International Education also offers a range of support materials to help teachers prepare for the Cambridge assessment. 

These materials include past papers, mark schemes, examiner reports, and grade thresholds. These materials help teachers understand the assessment and prepare their students for success.

Benefits of IGCSE and A-Levels

IGCSE and A-levels are internationally recognized qualifications that universities and employers worldwide accept. Students usually study these courses between the ages of 14 and 18. Here are some of the benefits of IGCSE and A-levels.

Benefits for Learners

IGCSE and A-levels help learners develop various skills, including problem-solving, creative thinking, and flexibility. Learners are encouraged to think critically, analyze information, and communicate their ideas effectively. These skills are crucial for achieving success in higher education and the workplace.

Benefits for Abilities

IGCSE and A-levels are suitable for students of all abilities. The core curriculum is designed for students who expect to achieve grades C to G, while the extended curriculum offers more challenging content for students aiming for grades A* to C. This allows learners to choose the right level and develop their abilities accordingly.

Benefits for Confidence

IGCSE and A-levels help learners build confidence in their abilities and develop a sense of achievement. Students are encouraged to take ownership of their learning and set goals. This boosts their self-motivation and self-confidence, ultimately benefiting their future success.

Benefits of Cultural Awareness

IGCSE and A-levels provide learners with a global perspective and help them develop cultural awareness. Students are exposed to various cultures and perspectives, allowing them to create a broader understanding of the world. This can be particularly beneficial for learners planning to study or work abroad.

Comparing IGCSE, A-Levels and IB Diploma

When it comes to choosing a program of study after secondary school, students are often faced with a plethora of options. Three popular options are IGCSE, A-Levels, and IB Diploma. While these programs may seem similar at first glance, there are some key differences that students should be aware of before making their choice.


The IGCSE is an English language-based qualification recognized in the United Kingdom as equivalent to the GCSE. Cambridge Assessment International Education offers it and is mainly taken by students in the UK, although it is becoming more popular in the United States. The IGCSE program is designed to prepare students for further study and covers various subjects.


A-Levels are a popular option for students in the UK who want to continue their education after secondary school. The program is divided into two parts: AS-Level and A2-Level. Students typically take four AS-Level subjects in their first year and then continue with three A2-Level subjects in their second year. A-levels are highly regarded by universities and are considered good preparation for further study.

IB Diploma

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma is a program of study recognized by universities worldwide. It is designed to provide students with a broad education and to develop their critical thinking skills. The program covers six subject areas: Theory of Knowledge course, an Extended Essay, and a Creativity, Activity, and Service component.

When comparing IGCSE, A-Levels, and IB Diploma, it is crucial to consider the following factors:

  • Curriculum: IGCSE covers a wide range of subjects, while A-Levels and IB Diploma allow students to specialize in fewer subjects.
  • Assessment: IGCSE and A-Levels are assessed through exams, while IB Diploma includes coursework and exams.
  • Recognition: A-levels and IB Diplomas are recognized by universities worldwide, while IGCSE is primarily recognized in the UK.
  • Preparation for university: A-levels and IB Diplomas are designed to prepare students for further study, while IGCSE focuses on providing a broad education.

Choosing IGCSE, A-Levels, and IB Diploma will ultimately depend on a student’s needs and goals. Considering each program’s curriculum, assessment, and recognition is essential before deciding.

Global Reach of IGCSE and A-Levels

Cambridge Assessment International Education is one of the most prestigious international education providers globally, offering qualifications such as IGCSE and A-Levels. These qualifications are globally recognized, making them desirable to universities and employers.

IGCSE and A-Level qualifications are offered in over 160 countries worldwide, with over 10,000 schools registered to offer Cambridge programs. This global reach ensures that students can access high-quality education, regardless of location.

Cambridge International AS and A-Level qualifications are recognized by universities in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, and other countries worldwide. This recognition ensures that students can pursue higher education opportunities in various parts of the world.

Moreover, Cambridge International AS and A-Level qualifications are designed to suit the needs of students from different cultural backgrounds. The content of these qualifications is carefully curated to avoid cultural bias and provide a level playing field for all students.

Cambridge International AS and A-Level qualifications offer flexibility, enabling students to select from various subjects. This empowers students to customize their education based on their interests and career goals.

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