1. Everything You Need to Know About The IGCSE

Everything You Need to Know About The IGCSE

Published on 18 Jul 2024

Many parents are opting to send their children to international schools in Malaysia for their preschool, primary, secondary and pre-university education. These international schools offer internationally recognized curricula, some of which lead to the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE), which open doors to prestigious universities worldwide. What makes the IGCSE such a sought-after qualification?

Let’s dive into this article to know the IGCSE better and the list of international schools in Malaysia that prepare students to sit for the IGCSE! 

What is IGCSE? 

The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) is the international equivalent of the GSCE examinations that has been adapted for students outside of the UK. First introduced in 1985 by Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE), the IGCSE is offered by many international schools in Malaysia as the qualification is globally recognized and opens many doors for students who want to study locally or abroad. In Malaysia, there are three examination boards namely the Cambridge Assessment International Education, Pearson Edexcel and Oxford AQA that offer the IGCSE. 

What are examination boards? 

Examination boards are organisations that confer qualifications to students, and their responsibilities include crafting exam papers, grading your work and ultimately determining your grade. 

What is Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) and how does it work? 

CAIE is the world’s largest provider of international education programmes and qualifications for students aged 14 to 16. Renowned for its rigorous evaluation of students’ learning abilities and competencies, CAIE is widely recognized by many British universities as proof of a student’s language proficiency and fluency. Designed to be unbiased for international applicants, it is a popular choice for non-native English speakers seeking admission to universities abroad. 

Students are required to take between five and fourteen subjects, focusing on the ‘core’ curriculum which includes First Language, Mathematics and at least one science subject. For the full list of subjects CAIE offers, visit their site here.

To accommodate different abilities, CAIE offers a choice between ‘core’ and ‘extended’ curriculum papers in certain subjects. The ‘core’ curriculum serves the majority of students, offering a broad overview of the subject and targeting grades C to G. The ‘extended’ curriculum is tailored for more academically able students, aiming for grades A* to E. 

What is Pearson Edexcel and does it work? 

Pearson Edexcel IGCSE qualifications, offered in over 80 countries and UK independent schools, equip students aged 14 to 16 with the skills needed for A Levels, university and career. Developed with input from experts, teachers, and professors, these qualifications feature a globally relevant curriculum enriched with culturally sensitive and local contexts. This ensures students receive an engaging education that connects local learning to international standards, paving the way for their future success. 

What sets Pearson Edexcel apart is its unique offering of a modular route alongside the traditional linear assessment route. This means courses can be divided into different units, or modules, with an exam at the end of each unit. In contrast, the linear assessment route requires students to take all exams at the end of the course. 

Pearson Edexcel IGCSE has replaced the traditional A*-G grading scale with a more expansive 9-1 grading system. This shift aims to elevate academic standards and better distinguish top-performing students. 

What is Oxford AQA and how does it work? 

Oxford AQA, known as UK’s largest provider of GCSEs is a collaboration between Oxford University press and AQA. At Oxford AQA, the focus is on assessing students’ subject abilities without the barriers of language skills or cultural knowledge, giving every student a fair chance to shine. But remember, fairer doesn't mean easier!

In today’s evolving world, transferable skills are more crucial than ever. That’s where the International GCSE Plus steps in, introducing students to the dynamic world of project work. This program not only helps students develop essential planning, research and report writing skills but also fosters creativity, encourages risk-taking and promotes thoughtful reflection. It’s all about preparing students to thrive in a world where adaptability and innovation are key. 

Like the Pearson Edexcel IGCSE board, Oxford AQA uses the innovative 9-1 grading system. This allows students to aim for the new ‘exceptional’ grade 9, a level of achievement even higher than the traditional A* and provides the top academic talents the recognition they deserve. 

Why should I enrol my child in an IGCSE programme? 

  • Worldwide recognition. Well, who wouldn’t want their child to earn qualifications recognized around the globe while mastering English? With IGCSE qualification, your child will be recognised by universities and employers globally. Think of is as a golden ticket to impress admissions offices and HR departments!
  • Flexibility. Your child can choose the subjects they love! Whether they want to study rocket science or the art of making the perfect cup of tea, there’s something for everyone. It’s like an educational buffet where they can load their plate with whatever interests them most. 
  • Holistic Assessment. The IGCSE program evaluates students using a mix of written, oral, practical and coursework assessments. This approach indeed gives your child the chance to shine in multiple ways!
  • Preparation for Higher Education. IGCSE programs lay down a rock-solid foundation for students aiming for higher education. Students will acquire the knowledge, skills and confidence needed for advanced study programs like the Cambridge International AS & A Levels. 

Which international schools in Malaysia offer the IGCSE programs? 

Kuala Lumpur

  1. Alice Smith School
  2. Charterhouse Malaysia 
  3. Epsom College in Malaysia
  4. Garden International School 
  5. International Islamic School Malaysia (IISM) 
  6. R.E.A.L Schools Cheras
  7. Sayfol International School 
  8. Spectrum International School 
  9. St. John’s International Primary and Secondary School 
  10. Stellar Academy
  11. Wesley Methodist Schools (International & Private)


  1. Acmar International & Private Schools 
  2. Baseerah International School 
  3. Beaconhouse Gamuda Gardens International School 
  4. Beaconhouse Newlands International School (BNIS) 
  5. Beaconhouse Sri Inai International School (BSIIS) 
  6. Dwi Emas International School 
  7. elc International School Sungai Buloh
  8. HELP International School 
  9. Idrissi International School, Shah Alam
  10. Maple Leaf Kingsley International School 
  11. MITstem International School 
  12. Mutiara International Grammar School (MIGS) 
  13. R.E.A.L Schools (International and Private) Shah Alam 
  14. Seven Skies Islamic International School 
  15. Sri Emas International School 
  16. Sri KDU International School, Klang
  17. Sri KDU International School, Kota Damansara
  18. Sri KDU International School, Subang Jaya 
  19. Tanarata International Schools
  20. The British International School of Kuala Lumpur 
  21. TLS International School 


  1. 100 Lambs International School 
  2. IDRISSI International School, EduCity
  3. Invictus International School (Horizon Hills) 
  4. Invictus International School (Spring Hills) 
  5. LUCA International School 
  6. Marlborough College Malaysia (MCM) 
  7. R.E.A.L Schools Johor Bahru 
  8. Stellar International School


  1.  Stonyhurst International School Penang


  1. Seri Botani International School 
  2. Westlake International School (WIS)


  1. Nexus International School Malaysia 

Negeri Sembilan

  1. Soka International School 


  1. Kinabalu International School (KIS) 


  1. Lodge International School 

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