When it comes to navigating education systems as a traditional student, distance learner or parent, there are many terms and qualifications that can cause overwhelm. If IGCSEs is a term that’s new to you and you would like to know what it means and how it may affect you, here is everything you need to know.

What does IGCSE mean?

Common qualifications including GCSEs and A levels are well known throughout the British education system, but IGCSEs still cause confusion for many people. 

IGCSE stands for International General Certificate of Secondary Education and was introduced by Cambridge Assessment International Education

What is the difference between GCSEs and IGCSEs?

In simple terms, the purpose of IGCSEs is to accommodate students worldwide and allow students the opportunity to gain a qualification that is recognised internationally. GCSEs (General Certificate of Secondary Education is a widely recognised qualification within the United Kingdom.

Whilst GCSEs are more common for UK based students, they are also able to obtain an IGCSE level qualification.

Can you take IGCSEs online?

Yes, just like GCSEs, A levels and other professional courses, IGCSEs can be taken online as part of a homeschool curriculum or a stand alone distance learning course.

NEC offer a range of IGCSEs that including: 

“I’m glad I studied for my iGCSE Biology with NEC. From the comprehensive course notes to the interaction with my tutor, it has been a positive experience.” – NEC Student

Are IGCSEs harder than GCSEs?

Whilst IGCSEs are commonly perceived as being more difficult than GCSEs, there are many factors to consider that could create this perception. The level of difficulty of an IGCSE can depend on the course subject, personal study habits, personal experience and more. 

Both course qualifications can lead to quality education and both will take time, effort and dedication to achieve.

Do universities accept IGCSEs?

Yes, universities and other educational institutions will accept an IGCSE as a recognised qualification when applying for higher education courses.

Do employers accept IGCSEs?

Much like educational institutions, employers should be able to recognise the significance of an IGCSE, however they may also take into consideration the subject relevance as well as related experience.

What is the pass rate of an IGCSE?

In order to obtain a full IGCSE qualification, you must achieve the minimum required G grade to pass. Passable grades range from the lowest G grade to an A* which is the highest possible grade.

What are the pros and cons of IGCSEs?

If you are considering taking an IGCSE course, here are some pros and cons to consider.


  • An IGCSE qualification is globally recognised
  • IGCSEs can be studied through flexible learning
  • There are many subject choices to suit you and your goals
  • IGCSEs are known as high quality courses


  • IGCSEs can cost more to study
  • There may be limited IGCSE options depending on your region of study

How do you choose the right IGCSE?

Choosing the right IGCSE course and subject comes down to your own personal choice. It’s beneficial to consider your own interests, the course provider, your personal and career goals. 

When you have a clear idea of your goals, do some research into providers until you find the option that you feel best aligns with your wants and needs.


If you think taking an IGCSE is the right next step for you and would like to know more, take a look at our courses and get in touch to speak to our friendly team.

Share this story