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Among the many concerns parents have is making the best education choices for their children, considering all the options available today. The choice of education curriculum often has a significant effect on that child’s future, be it accessibility to universities, finding work, or overall performance in life.

It is no wonder IGCSE is the most preferred curriculum for parents who take their kids to an international school in Malaysia. As the most recognized secondary school certification globally, holders get the opportunity to join top local and international universities easily. IGCSE certification also opens employment doors in the future, thanks to the desirable skills taught in the system.

What is IGCSE?

IGCSE was developed by Cambridge International Examinations 30 years ago, and it is the equivalent of the UK’s curriculum GCSE. It is a five-year program that starts from year 7 to year 11 (kids between 13-17 years old). Though students can move to A-Levels after completing the certification, IGCSE is accepted in the UK and given the same credit to Cambridge International A-Levels.

The curriculum was developed through consultation with leading international schools worldwide to create a global system, free of local bias. At the heart of it, the IGCSE system instills in student’s application of knowledge, communication in English, cultural awareness, flexibility, critical thinking, and intellectual inquiry.

If you are considering an IGCSE school for your child, here are five things you should know about the curriculum.


The system offers more than 70 subjects to choose from, but only five are mandatory-English, mathematics, chemistry, biology, and physics. Students can choose a combination of more favorable subjects to their interests or future career goals as long as they are offered in that particular school.

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While IGCSE is primarily taught in English, students are also encouraged to take a foreign language from their long list of language choices. In 2018, international schools in Malaysia offering IGCSE will need to have First Language Malay, which will be examined in June 2021 for the first time. While it’s not a new language in the curriculum, it will now be a crucial part and no longer offered as a foreign language.


IGCSE has two assessments per year, May and October, and the results come out in August and January, respectively. The subjects are graded from A to G, and students need to get an average of grade C in the five mandatory subjects to move to the next level. 

Once you finish the final year, you get a certificate for every subject you do. On top of the exam-based subjects, students are also assessed on skills development, including orals, projects, and practicals.

Extended curriculum

Considering that every student learns at their own pace, IGCSE has given provision for advanced learners to take on more challenging subjects. Students whose average score is between C and G take the Core curriculum, which is within most students’ abilities. Advanced curriculum is for students who score A to E, and it comes with supplemental topics to push students to attain a higher level of understanding. The overlap between C, D, and E is there to accommodate students who sometimes perform very well and other times not so well.

It’s easy to find resources

IGCSE is the most popular international curriculum globally, and it’s available in almost every country. Therefore, it’s very easy to find books, past papers, and links in book stores or the internet. According to a Malaysian student who scored 7 A’s, using textbooks and constantly trying out past papers is the best way to perform well. While the curriculum has definitely improved over the years, many things remain the same, so past papers give you the chance to go through commonly asked questions.

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It prepares students for college and university

Through project work and practical activities, IGCSE prepares students for the university curriculum. They are exposed to doing research, carrying out projects, and writing reports from an early age, activities which are very common in university.

The system also teaches students presentation skills, public speaking, and persuasion, giving them the confidence to stand in front of other people and sell their ideas. IGCSE surpasses other curriculums in this aspect as it’s the only system that fully prepares students for the university/college system to make the transition easier.

IGCSE also put particular focus on students developing the art of critical thinking and problem-solving. As young adults who learn to think for themselves and not just follow the crowd, they are better positioned to be trend-setters in whatever field they find themselves in.

When you want a standard above the rest for your child, IGCSE is definitely the right choice. The system teaches your child basic subjects like sciences and math and real-life skills they will use in the future. Your child will have an improved chance of getting into any university, including international and Ivy League schools. What’s more, it’s a much easier curriculum to understand and score well than SPM, not to mention more interesting as it often relates to real-life scenarios.