Facts About the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE)

Here are the key facts about the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE).

If you’re an adult learner or high school graduate/student the below facts about the IGCSE could be of interest to you.

As you’re aware, CegastAcademy.com is focused singularly on supporting you to become a functioning local and global citizen through learning for life.

The simple reason is this. Wherever you are in the world, you still have the chance to learn even in the comfort of your home and acquire this world-acclaimed certificate.

Apart from WASSCE (another international certificate awarded to senior high school graduates in English-speaking West Africa), the IGCSE test presents every ambitious individual with a golden opportunity to study and gain the prestigious International General Certificate of Secondary Education.

So what is IGCSE? Who qualifies to sit for this examination? What are the specific subjects for the IGCSE?

Where can you study for the examination? Where will you sit for the examination and how do you get your results and your IGCSE certificate assuming you are successful?

The above questions, and even more, are what I will be addressing in this post.

I really want you to consider the IGCSE as a good alternative to the others such as WASSCE, GCE ‘O’ Level and SSCE.

Please note: The points in this post are general facts about the IGCSE. You must do your own checks to fully satisfy yourself before taking any action.

Now, relax and educate yourself about the International General Certificate of Secondary Education.


Here are the similarities between IGCSE and other international or national certificates like WASSCE and GCSE.

  • English language curriculum
  • Prepares senior high school level students and adult learners for entry into intermediate or tertiary level courses such as ‘A’ Level, BTEC, International Baccalaureate and other diploma and undergraduate courses across the globe.   
  • Based on GCE O Level
  • Equivalent to WASSCE (West Africa), GED (North America) and comparable international qualifications
  • An international alternative to such popular national curricula as NECO/SSCE (Nigeria), SSSCE (formerly in Ghana), GCSE (England), CBSE and ICSE (India), ‘O’ Level (Singapore)

Differences between IGCSE and WASSCE, SSCE/NECO, GCSE etc.

Below are the major differences between the IGCSE and its international and national equivalents.

  • The IGCSE is not a group (subject group) award certificate. In other words, it is not a CERTIFICATE OF EDUCATION.
  • It is a qualification/certificate based on INDIVIDUAL subjects of study only.
  • You will receive an IGCSE QUALIFICATION for each individual subject you take. For example, IGCSE qualification/certificate in Literature-in-English, IGCSE qualification/certificate in English Language etc.
  • Individual schools or learning centres that prepare students for the IGCSE in different parts of the world have their own expectations as to how many IGCSEs their students must take.

In many cases, however, the “core” curricula for IGCSE candidates include the following:

A first language

A second language (usually English Language)


One or more science subjects

An additional set of subjects chosen (ELECTED) by individual candidates ranging from Social Sciences to Creative Arts.

  • It is subject exam-based (like the Private WASSCE popularly called Nov/Dec) rather than a certified “course” (like the school WASSCE taken in May/June).
  • It tests knowledge in individual subjects the same way other popular PLACEMENT EXAMINATIONS like SAT do.

Examination Board

Cambridge University is responsible for the conduct and administration of the IGCSE.

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The official language for the IGCSE is English.

Required number of subjects

As stated early on, the IGCSE is an individual subject examination. Just like the private WASSCE (NOV/DEC) for candidates in West Africa, you may choose to sit for a single subject or more. The choice is entirely yours.

Nature of the IGCSE

It is exam-based, not course-based.

Target group

Who should take advantage of the IGCSE as a good option?

  • Homeschooling educators and students
  • Adult Education institutions/centres
  • Mature student/learners
  • Part-time students or independent learners
  • Persons who wish to register as private candidates at this level.

Number of subjects

Number of IGCSE subjects studied worldwide: 70+


Countries that participate in the Cambridge IGCSEs: 120+

They include Ghana, United Kingdom, the United States, Hong Kong, India, Bahrain, Qatar, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Sudan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Myanmar, Portugal, China, Kuwait, Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Oman, El Savador, Cambodia, Canada, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Serbia, Sweden, Malaysia, Denmark, Guatemala, Chile, Peru, Brunei, Argentina, Uruguay, UAE, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, Thailand, Costa Rica, Indonesia, the Phillipines, Singapore,  Ecuador, Vietnam among others.   


A* (to recognize the very top end of achievement)







G (Fail)

U (Ungraded)


INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS (mostly for expatriate children):

  • Number of subjects required: 5 to 14
  • Awarding: Minimum 5 core subject passes at C or above


This is a group qualification offered by the Cambridge examination board.

  • Awarding: A* to C passes across the following 5 groups:

Group I: Languages

Group II: Humanities and Social Sciences

Group III: Sciences

Group IV: Mathematics

Group V: Creative, Techinical and Vocational

  • Number of subjects required to be qualified for an award: 7 (2 passes in Languages and one pass in every other group whilst the 7th subject be in any group.
  • 3 Available ICE Grades (signifying level of overall performance)




There is an additional Cambridge award for candidates with uppermost achievement in individual subjects:

  • Award: Outstanding Achievement Award

2 Categories:

Top in Country

Top in World

Exams Periods

  • 3 times every year in every participating country worldwide




  • Place of marking of Papers: United Kingdom
  • Release of Results:

May (for February exam)

August (for May exam)

January (for October exam)

Exam (registration) Fee

  • US$80 approximately

The cost may vary depending on the country in which the test is taken.

So now you know

I have tried to give you the important details you need to know about the International General Certificate of Secondary Education examination in as clear terms as possible.

Are you interested in taking the IGCSE exam any time soon? There is a lot more to discover here about this international award. They should help you to prepare properly for the test.

You will also find the prescribed texts for the IGCSE Literature-in-English paper on this site. IGCSE syllabuses and study guides for English Language and Literature-in-English will also be made available to you.

Have any questions? Let me know in a comment below.

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