Difference between IGCSE and IBDP

Difference between IGCSE and IBDP

The two International education programs adopted by many Indian schools are the International Baccalaureate (IB) and the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE). IGCSE is also an examination conducting body overseen by Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE), a department of the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom. IB is an education foundation having its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

International Baccalaureate is an international education programme as a whole consists of Three Levels of Educational Programmes namely the Primary Year Programme (PYP), Middle Year Programme (MYP), Diploma Programme (IBDP). IGCSE as a whole is administered by the University of Cambridge, UK.

The IB programme places a strong emphasis on key aspects like critical thinking and intercultural understanding. Through questioning and discovery, this program fosters the spirit of learning, which is a striking feature that makes it stand out among other courses.

The main objective of IGCSE is the cultivation of critical skill development in students which includes vital areas like enquiry, creative thinking, and problem-solving. The programme lays a firm foundation for subsequent lifelong learning. The outlook of the IGCSE programme is international in but it also has relevance locally.

The IGCSE board is a class 10th certificate exam after which the students can opt for A and AS level exams, which are the class 12th pre-university of IGCSE which is also known as the Cambridge board. IGCSE students can also make a transition to IB Diploma Programme for class 11th and 12th. The students have a choice between Cambridge ‘A’ and ‘AS’ level or the IB Diploma Programme.

IGCSE provides curricular guidelines, whereas the IB programme gives the schools running it the liberty to design a curriculum. The curriculum thus designed must be as per the criteria prescribed by the IB and include scientific knowledge, scientific inquiry, scientific attitudes, communication, etc. in its assessment. IGCSE has a diverse International curriculum, which, while being international in orientation is adapted according to the national context offering around 70 subjects to be followed by the Cambridge community of International schools. Assessment is a pivotal factor in the IGCSE programme.

The difference between the two programmes is explained through the advantages and limitations of both the IGCSE and IB.


Advantages of IB

  • The teachers play a vital role in establishing a curriculum, and depending on the student’s socio-cultural context, they can personalize the implementation of the curriculum accordingly.
  • The teachers can use their imagination while teaching because of the absence of a strict curricular design and this translates into better learning outcomes for students.
  • The IB system can accommodate several different curricular designs and the best ones can be adopted while staying true to all the ways proposed within the framework.
  • The approach is skill-centered, which is more engaging than a content-based approach.
  • IB offers a mix of national and international point of view in education that are genuine and complimenting.
  • IB school students get preference as skilled employees from entrepreneurs globally.
  • The prospects of settling internationally are increased by IB education.

Limitations of IB

  • Curriculum designing and the work of providing inputs for it can make teachers feel overburdened.
  • There is a frequent revision of curriculum as per the expectations of the IB foundation.
  • More resources are needed for IB schools to effectively implement the IB Programme which directly leads to an increase in the fee.
  • Indian Schools find it difficult to implement all three IB programmes. Some schools may only have PYP, MYP, and DP. Some of them have only DP.
  • IB’s Career Related Programme (CRP) is not available in India as of now.
  • The level of knowledge that students gain in PYP and MYP may vary from school to school.

Advantages of IGCSE

  • IGCSE gives students an idea regarding what their future course should be.
  • It has a structured curriculum that is global in perspective but is still nationally relevant at the same time.
  • Credible assessment enables the students to stay more focused.
  • IGCSE doesn’t burden the teachers with curriculum designing which helps since a lot of teachers in India are not used to doing it.
  • The examination has a fixed assessment criteria along with the grades attained by the students enabling the results to be compared internationally.
  • Having their children giving fixed external exams is what parents in India prefer.
  • Teachers are more easily available for IGCSE as compared to IB schools since it requires curriculum design.

Limitations of IGCSE

  • Despite IGCSE being an international curriculum, the teachers have a traditional exam-oriented approach towards imparting education.
  • IGCSE is very fact-based and encourages rote learning.
  • Classwork and homework assignments are not considered in the final assessment for IGCSE.
  • IGCSE students can also opt for the IB diploma programme but many find it difficult to cope with the challenge.
  • Unlike IB, IGCSE has a fixed syllabus which is not revised as per the needs of the new fresh batch of students.


The emerging global needs have made international educational programmes like IB and IGCSE are very beneficial for students. These programmes are capable of developing an internationally comparable skill set in students which equip them for higher studies and research work. They programmes complement and complete the Indian education system.

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