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Difference Between Cambridge O-Level and Cambridge IGCSE

Cambridge IGCSE full form in English is International General Certificate of Secondary Education. Along with Cambridge O Level, they are qualifications offered by Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) and are considered equivalent to the British GCSE and 10th board in India. Recognised by prestigious global universities, these qualifications serve as stepping stones for students in their academic journey. For 14-16-year-olds in Bangalore, there are several Cambridge IGCSE schools in Bangalore providing these options. While both qualifications serve a similar purpose, it is essential to be aware of their key differences before choosing between the GCE O Level and Cambridge IGCSE.

What is the O level?

What is O Level? - it is a subject-based qualification conferred as part of the General Certificate of Education. It is a public examination that prepares students for Cambridge Advanced and other progression routes. There are more than 40 subjects from which students can choose subjects they want to study and it enjoys international recognition.

What is IGCSE meaning?

If you are searching for an IGCSE meaning, it is the world's most popular international qualification for 14 to 16-year-olds. The board is led by UK’s Cambridge International Education and has affiliations with international schools around the world. As per CIE, the purpose and IGCSE meaning is to - develop learners' skills in creative thinking, enquiry and problem-solving. It gives learners excellent preparation for the next stage in their education in college and for career and life.

Different Grading System

IGCSE Level and GCE O Level have based their grading system on internationally recognised alphabetical characters. However, the two curriculums have a minor difference in the range of characters used in their grading process. IGCSE awards grades from A* (highest) to G (lowest), with the core curriculum grade ranging from C to G and for the extended curriculum going from A* to C. On the other hand, Cambridge O Level students are only awarded grades from A to E, with A being the highest achievable grade.

One-Tiered VS Two-Tiered System

One of the most noteworthy differences between the two curricula is that while O-level exam candidates are offered the same paper regardless of their capability level, IGCSE gives its students the option to choose between the Core and Extended paper. The IGCSE level for Extended paper is higher than and is a recommended requirement in admissions for many college programmes. The core curriculum paper matches the academic capabilities of the vast majority of students and the extended curriculum paper is designed for academically gifted learners who thrive in challenges.

Choice In Subjects

Both GCE O Level and IGCSE curricula improve the learner's ability to gain knowledge on subject matter and apply it in real life. The difference lies in the choice of subjects offered. On one hand, IGCSE offers 70 subjects including 30 languages for the schools to choose from and design their curriculum. In the case of O-level, the subject range is limited to only 40 from which the educational institutions can frame their curriculum. Further, the student can choose the IGCSE Level at which they wish to study the subject, that is, basic or Extended.

Opposite Outlook

The curriculum of IGCSE was set by leading schools from around the world to eliminate local bias in an education that is recognised internationally. Therefore the syllabuses in various IGCSE schools have a more international outlook. The IGCSE Level is higher as the course is exhaustive and focused on fulfilling the demands for setting the university-level foundation for every subject. This isn’t the case with O-level because its syllabus is designed while keeping in mind the specific local needs such as minority languages and cultural barriers. Thus, the overall outlook of the O-level curriculum is local instead of more international.

Contrast In Assessments

IGCSE and O-level use a combination of oral, written as well as practical exams for a student's assessment at the end of the course. However, the practical portion of the assessment is restricted in the case of GCE O Level since schools in many areas face a limitation of resources. Another difference in their assessments is the addition of coursework assessment in the case of IGCSE. This method is beneficial to students whose first language is not English since they get to demonstrate their growth throughout the course instead of just at the end. The difference in the way of assessments is because the O-level focuses more on the reading and writing skills of the students whereas, IGCSE tests the candidate’s initiative, problem-solving and practical skills in addition to knowledge and understanding.

Choosing between Cambridge O-level and Cambridge IGCSE requires an understanding of the learner's goals, academic abilities in various subjects and the learning support available. While the two curricula have a lot in common, it is still evident that with their global perspective and lack of local bias, IGCSE better prepares its students for international education and subsequent careers in their chosen field of study.

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