Are GCSEs and iGCSEs the Same?

are GCSEs and igcses the same?

In the UK there are two main qualifications that are used for students who are 15/16 years old. These are the iGCSE and GCSE qualification. There are UK schools that use them interchangeably but a high number of parents are always asking to know the differences that exist between the two. Here are a few points that seek to explain the difference that exists between these two major qualifications in the UK.   


GCSE and iGCSE are similar in a number of ways. These two qualifications are level as they were designed to check a student’s completion of the “Key Stage 4” of the national curriculum in the UK. Both are done after the completion of the UK Year II when a student attains the age of 16. However, there are no age restrictions on the above as they have been sat by students who were older or younger in the past. A high number of employers and education institutions view both as equal qualifications.   


GCSE is traditionally studied in UK schools over a period of two years. There are some schools that allow their students to complete it in a year but this is not common. GCSE exams are usually sat in the month of June and those who do not pass get another chance to do their re-sits in November of every year. This qualification is often linear and students cannot be enrolled at any time of an academic year as the coursework is normally submitted all through the year.  


iGCSE was formally introduced about 25 year ago in order to give overseas students who did not have English as their first language a chance of sitting for the exam. The biggest difference between these two forms of qualifications is the lack of coursework for those who take iGCSE. This makes it possible for students to join at any given time without worrying about the submission of coursework. 

The iGCSE is becoming more popular in the UK due to a number of reasons. First, there is an increase in the number of overseas students who do not have English as their first language. Secondly, the exam marking of the GCSE English in the recent past years has greatly contributed to its popularity.   

Differences Between iGCSE and GCSE  

The common question that parents draw from these two types of qualifications remains to be what is the difference between them? Well there are a number of key differences that exist between the two. The iGCSEs have less coursework when compared to the GCSEs. iGCSEs tends to have a few administrative hoops to contend with and this makes them popular with students who wish to prepare for them online. iGCSEs are more challenging when compared to GCSEs and from the time they were launched in 1988, their standard and content have been quite a challenge. The iGCSEs have not been subjected to the same pressures that mark the regular GCSEs to become easier. iGCSE do not have their marks recorded in the UK GCSE League Tables. The GCSEs and iGCSEs offer diverse subjects e.g. iGCSEs are not offered in Ancient Greek or Latin.  

In summary, the difference between GCSE and iGCSE is the lack of coursework. This makes it easier for iGCSEs to study at any time of the year. Apart from this fact, there seems to be no real disparity between the two as most education institutions and employers alike view them as equivalent.

Want to know more about GCSEs? Try reading our blog posts on our whether GCSE grades effect university entrance and who is entitled to special considerations.

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