Difference between IGCSE and ICSE

When families are considering homeschooling in India one of the questions that crops up repeatedly is, what is the difference between IGCSE and ICSE?  

When you break it down the main difference is the flexibility in subject choices. With ICSE you are required to study languages, Maths, Science, Geography, History, Civics, Economics, and Computers and appear for your boards at the end of Year 10. With the IGCSE curriculum (studied by students of age 14-16) students pick the subjects they enjoy and are strong in and study them over a two-year period. Aside from English and Maths, which is required by many universities, there is no requirement to take any specific subjects. When the time comes to write IGCSE exams students also have the option to split their exams and, for instance, write half of their exams at the end of the first year and write the remaining exams at the end of the second year. 

In relation to courses there are several key differences. IGCSE Maths offers two options- core and extended. This means a student who knows they will not need Maths at an Advanced level for future studies now has an option to study Core Maths rather than the extended course. While a student who may be interested in pursuing a career in Architecture or Engineering would opt for the extended course covering advanced Mathematics. In the Sciences IGCSE once again offers several choices. Students have the option to study Physics, Chemistry and Biology and write three separate exams or they can choose the Combined Science course where the final exam is made up of a third Physics, a third Chemistry and a third Biology. A further choice is Co-ordinated Sciences where the syllabus for the three subjects (Physics, Chemistry, and Biology) is covered in two papers and counts as two IGCSEs. 

Another difference between IGCSE and ICSE is that ICSE exams take place once a year while students writing IGCSE exams have the opportunity to sit exams in either March, May/June or October/November. 

In summary the IGCSE approach offers far more flexibility than the ICSE and focuses on the students interests and ability rather than taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach to learning. Students in India would choose their IGCSE subjects after Year 9 allowing them to study over a course of two years. This helps to reduce the pressure of the traditional ICSE board exam because they are getting more time to prepare for the subjects of their choice. It is important to note that the IGCSE and A levels (studied by students aged 16-18) are accepted by top universities around the world.

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