IGCSE AND A LEVELS
The most popular secondary school qualifications are the International General Certificate of Secondary Education followed by A Levels, which
are attained in the final year of secondary school.
The last four years of secondary school in most British-curriculum international schools are spent learning and studying towards the IGCSE and A Level examinations.The latter is the most popular international qualification for 14- to 16-year-olds and offers extensive subject choices.
There are two examining boards for the IGCSEs – Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) and Pearson Edexel.The curriculum is spread over two years and begins inYear 9 (aged 14) with exams being taken inYear 11 (aged 16).The academic programme aims to improve and enhance problem solving, creative thinking and enquiry leading to the A Level curriculum.The IGCSE course also is a good foundation for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.
previous year. Grades are worked out by taking the marks for each of the components and combining them to get a total for the subject taken.This mark is then compared to the grade thresholds, e.g. if a student scores 75 marks and the threshold for an A is 80 marks and a B is 70 marks, the students gets a B.
In 2017, the grading system changed from an A-G system to a 9-1 grading system.This addition of two more ‘grades’ means that a student’s grade is a better reflection of ability and gives credit to high achievers – the 9th grade is top tier A*.
Advance level qualifications are taken at the end of the last two years of secondary school.They are subjectbased and form the basis of what students will study at university or pursue as a career. Most students take three A Levels in subjects that are related to what they will pursue at university, e.g. for architecture a mixture of science, or maths and humanities or arts subjects is preferred.
Common A Level subjects include English language and literature, modern foreign languages, economics, the sciences, history, geography and maths. Grades are mainly based on written exams taken at the end of the two-year course, with some marks given for coursework also included in the final grade. Grades are awarded from A* to E and it is important to note that students must work consistently throughout the course and be prepared to complete their papers during the timed exams.