IGCSE courses and examinations

Secondary education is the launch platform for higher and professional studies. IGCSEs are among the most widely accepted qualification across the globe for eligibility for higher, advanced and professional education and degrees.

The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) is based on the British curriculum (GCSE) but adapted for a more internationally focused student-body. It is mainly exam-based and is assessed through the exam board chosen by the school.

Why is the IGCSE programme good for students?

• The IGCSE is accessible to those of almost all levels of ability. The questions are often differentiated in terms of levels of difficulty to meet the needs of both the most able student as well as those who find academics challenging.
• The wide array of subjects available for IGCSE enables students to work on many different topics to better understand their strengths and interests. This makes choosing the direction of higher studies easier.
• Students find some subjects difficult and frustrating and other easy and enjoyable. The wide range of IGCSE subjects means that it is easier for students to find the subjects they enjoy and are good at.

IGCSE courses and examinations

• IGCSE offers studying subjects are core (basic) or extensive (advanced) levels so students may obtain a more comprehensive and in-depth knowledge of subjects they are particularly interested in and devote less time and effort to other subjects.
• Being able to focus, to a large extent, on subjects they enjoy and are good at translates into good examination results and increased opportunities for higher studies.
• IGCSE gives importance to learning languages and cultural studies which equips students to be able to cope with regional demands wherever they may be located.
• The importance given to languages and cultural studies also helps to create more well-rounded students who are able to create a positive impression when being interviewed for admission to colleges.
• IGCSE focuses on strengthening students’ understanding of what is being studied and their analytical skills and problem-solving skills. This enhances their ability to learn on their own, even outside the formal school environment. This is an important strength when the time comes to leave home for higher studies or to work.
• Cambridge IGCSE assessment takes place at the end of the course and can include written, oral, coursework and practical assessment. This broadens opportunities for students whose first language is not English allowing more time to learn over the course of the programme before demonstrating their learning at the end.
• The IGCSE is certainly a good option if you know your child has strengths in assimilating knowledge and demonstrating this knowledge in exam conditions.

The most well-known IGCSE Examination Boards are Cambridge International Education / Edexcel.

While the content of the IGCSE changes very little, or not at all, between the exam boards, the format of the exam might. The two examinations are structured slightly differently. CIE uses a tiered examination system which offers students the option of entering at either the Foundation or Higher levels. In the case of Edexcel, only mathematics has tiered entry; for all other subjects, there is only one set of question papers meaning that both difficult and easy questions will be in the same paper.
The Cambridge IGCSE curriculum combines an exam-based approach with a focus on research, problem-solving and inquiry-based learning. It offers a variety of routes for learners with a wide range of abilities, including those whose first language is not English.

The Cambridge approach supports schools to develop learners who are:
• confident in working with information and ideas – their own and those of others
• responsible for themselves, responsive to and respectful of others
• reflective as learners, developing their ability to learn
• innovative and equipped for new and future challenges
• engaged intellectually and socially, and ready to make a difference in the world.

Starting from a foundation of core subjects, it is easy to add breadth and cross-curricular perspectives. Encouraging learners to engage with a variety of subjects, and make connections between them, is fundamental to this IGCSE approach.

It develops learner knowledge, understanding and skills in:
• subject content
• applying knowledge and understanding to new as well as familiar situations
• intellectual enquiry
• flexibility and responsiveness to change
• working and communicating in English
• influencing outcomes
• cultural awareness.

Core and Extended Curricula (CIE)
In many subjects there is a choice between core and extended curricula, making Cambridge IGCSE suitable for a wide range of abilities.

The Core curriculum in each subject is within the ability range of a large majority of students. It provides a full overview of the subject and is targeted at students expected to achieve grades C to G.

The Extended curriculum, made up of the Core curriculum and the Supplement, has been designed for the more academically able and leads naturally into higher education or professional training. It is targeted at those expected to achieve grades A* to E. The Supplement describes the extra topics or depth which must be added to the Core curriculum to produce the Extended curriculum.

• Core Curriculum C D E F G
• Extended Curriculum A* A B C D E

Cambridge IGCSEs are graded A*- G around the world. This grading system is well understood by students, parents and teachers, and is widely recognised by universities internationally.

However, the grading for GCSE and IGCSEs is transitioning to a number system of 1-9 (9 being the higher score). This will not immediately take place in IGCSEs until 2021, but a guide to the equivalence of numbers to letter grades.

Schools provide a broad range of CIE Cambridge and Pearson Edexcel IGCSE subjects for you to choose from including mathematics, English, Sciences, Humanities and Languages, and the Creative Arts.

Many students at IGCSE Level have not yet formed a clear career path, so taking a good mix of subjects will enable students to keep their options open as they approach their A level choices.

Considering your IGCSE choices . . .
There are many factors to take into account when considering your IGCSE choices.
On the whole, your best choices will be the subjects that you enjoy most and in which you think you are most likely to be successful. However, there are some subjects that are either essential, or at least very important, for some careers. If you have plans at this stage to follow a particular career, you must find out what subjects are needed so that you do not choose an inappropriate combination for your future studies.
It can help to do a quick overview of factors that you should and should not take into account before making your final decision:

Factors that should not influence your decision:
• Don’t be influenced by what subjects your friends choose.
• Do not let your personal likes/dislikes of teachers affect your choice of subject
• You think it will be easy
• You have been told it involves less work
• You want to do something new for the sake of it

Factors that should influence your decision:
• Your level of interest in the subject Does a subject really interest you. Why? You need to be interested in the subject matter and enjoy the skills involved in it. For example, does it involve extended writing? Is it a more practical subject?
• Your ability in the subject What are your strengths and weaknesses? Look at your latest school report and be clear about the subjects in which you have been most successful so far and why this is. What skills come more easily to you?
• Talk with your subject teachers, the Year 9 Year Tutor, the Exams Officer and Careers Guidance Team, present IGCSE pupils.
• Talk to your parents – discuss your choices and your possible career aspirations.
• Read the IGCSE syllabus of the subject you are interested in. Your teachers will be able to show you the syllabus and examples of past papers.
• Consult the Cambridge International Exams and Pearson websites. These give information about the subjects available and the structure of the exams.
• Try to achieve a sensible mix of IGCSE subjects.

All students at MIS study core subjects in English, Mathematics, Biology and ICT and are able to take other option subjects from a selection of academic and creative subjects.

Our advice is to take a balance between Languages (Mandarin Chinese, Thai), the Sciences (Chemistry and Physics) Humanities/Social Sciences (History, Geography, Business Studies) and creative subjects of a higher practical content (Fine Art, Textiles, Photography).

You are not advised to take two subjects of a higher practical content owing to the considerable time required for producing coursework outside allocated curriculum time.

To ensure students’ health and wellbeing pupils also engage in Physical education, PSHE and a careers focus, along with being active members in our House system and competitions.

In order to arrive at the right choice of IGCSE subjects you must balance three important factors:
• Your academic strengths and weaknesses.
• Your personal abilities and aptitudes.
• The implications of your choices on your possible A level or BTEC, degree and career choices.

How many IGCSEs are needed to apply to university?
The primary use of the IGCSE grades are for students to gain entry into sixth form courses that will help shape their entry into university and employment.

Be Aware: Most universities require pupils to have a minimum of 5 IGCSE passes including mathematics and English Language. So, to enroll on most sixth form courses, students are required to achieve 5 IGCSEs at grades C and above; often needing to include English and mathematics.
We call this the Golden 5, as this is the golden number of IGCSEs that students need to achieve to move on to their next educational step in Thailand or abroad.

Why IGCSEs at MIS?
These qualifications are globally standardised and so offer students lifelong qualifications that will gain them access to higher educational courses in Sixth form and then university.
IGCSEs are globally recognised by top universities as entry qualifications for courses and they are a benchmark for schools to enrol students on the correct sixth form courses.
One of the biggest selling points for both our IGCSE and A level students is that unlike other international schools, we are a smaller community school which focuses on holistic approaches to education.

Our smaller class sizes mean that every student gets time with the teacher, and with a teacher student ratio of 1:7, it’s no wonder our students achieve so well.

What to do next . . .
Contact the MIS School Admissions Team for further information.
Telephone: +66 (0)2 102 6100 (ext. 0)
Email: [email protected]

Come and talk to the Admissions Team at MIS and book a personal meeting with the Academic Directors.

The Examinations Officer will be able to give guidance and support as you make your IGCSE choices.

The MIS CEIAG (Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance) service is here to help prepare students for life in the modern global workforce by providing the knowledge, understanding, confidence and skills that they need to make informed choices and plans for their future learning and career.

Good preparation and valuable advice will help to ensure that you can make a good IGCSE choices for your future and move forward with confidence.