Content Differences Between IGCSE Maths and GCSE Maths

 You might be wondering what the differences are between the IGCSE and GCSE Maths.

Particularly if you are homeschooling or if you are an international student looking for a UK equivalent qualification, you may be wondering which is better.

When talking about education, a ‘better’ qualification, usually means harder. 

Some organisations see the IGCSE as more prestigious and I assume this is because the IGCSE Maths qualification has more content and slightly harder topics than the standard GCSE.

Here are the additional topics required in the IGCSE: 

 – Differentiation 

 – Matrices

Usually these topics aren’t covered until A-Levels.

Having said that, the difference between IGCSE and GCSE Maths was probably greater before the grading system changed to the levels system. Because along with the grading change, some A-Level content was also added into the GCSE Maths syllabus. 

So the Maths GCSE is harder than it was pre-2017, but is still slightly easier than the IGCSE.

So which one should you choose?

It depends on your circumstances and your goals.

If you are an international student or would like the flexibility to be able to take your GCSE Maths exam anywhere in the world, go for the IGCSE.

If you are in the UK and are looking to get a basic maths qualification, the standard GCSE will be fine.

If you love maths as much as I do and want to continue studying after GCSE, you may as well go for the IGCSE as you’ll have to cover those extra topics at some point anyway.

Hope that helps. If you have any more questions comment below or contact me, happy to help 🙂

2 responses

  1. Thank you for this
    I’m enjoying your blog as a parent and home educator. I heard november/January series exams are harder than June series exams? Could you shed light on this? Are the mark boundaries different for each series?

    1. Hi Maryam, great to hear the blog is useful to you and I greatly appreciate your feedback.

      It is possible that sometimes one exam paper is more difficult than another, particularly when some questions are written badly or are ambiguous. Mark boundaries do get changed to reflect this though, so it usually doesn’t make much of a difference.

      Some students feel that the Nov/Jan exams are harder, but this could be because they are more stressed at this time and have had less time to revise. In the UK, the days are shorter and colder and this can affect stress levels in students too.

      Some students feel that the summer exams are harder so it really just depends!

      Which exam board are you looking at or using?

      I personally have seen some exams that are terribly written, particularly in the foundation level. In some years, certain exams questions do seem harder than their counterparts in another exam for the same year, if I feel that consistently happens in the Nov/Jan rather than the summer ones, I will give you an update.

      With that all said, if students have put enough work in and then find the exam paper hard, this will be the same for everyone who takes the exam – i.e. it will be clear to the examiners that it was a hard paper, and thus grade boundaries are lowered to reflect this.

      Yes, grade boundaries do change every year, as its not possible to write exam papers that are always the exact same level of difficulty and of course every year the students are different too.

      However, my advice to students on this is to always aim to achieve one or two levels higher (ideally aim for 100%) on the exam so that all of the above issues become irrelevant and they will be prepared for anything.

      Are your children/students doing higher or foundation?

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