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What is GCSE/IGCSE?

GCSE (or IGCSE), known as the General Certificate of Secondary Education (or International General Certificate of Secondary Education), is an academic qualification taken by students studying in the UK in grade 10 and grade 11. Students usually complete the GCSE/IGCSE in 2 years. Students will choose 6 to 11 subjects in total, including a combination of languages (English / English Literature / Chinese / French / Spanish / German, etc), sciences (Physics / Chemistry / Biology etc), and arts and humanities (Economics / Business Studies / Geography / History / Psychology, etc). GCSE/IGCSE grades range from an A* to unclassified (U), with A* being the highest grade in each subject.

When would the examination take place?
The most common GCSE/IGCSE examination boards are Edexcel, AQA and OCR. The boards offer GCSE/IGCSE examinations at different times during the year. Most students take the GCSE/IGCSE in May/June. The GCSE/IGCSE prepares students for the IB (International Baccalaureate) or GCE A-level.

What are the differences between GCSE and (I)GCSE?
The (I)GCSE is the international version of the GCSE. Compare with the GCSE, (I)GCSE students are assessed purely on (I)GCSE examinations offered every May/June. No coursework is required from (I)GCSE students.

What are the GCSE/(I)GCSE requirements for university admission?
In terms of university admission, most UK and Hong Kong universities require students to have taken and passed at least 7 subjects (including English) in the GCSE or (I)GCSE. You would have to check with individual universities for their specific GCSE or (I)GCSE requirements. 

 

What is (I)GCSE English

The English (I)GCSE is a core subject which most (I)GCSE students take.  Schools generally require a grade C or above in English Language in order to be accepted into further studies. There are different boards that offer (I)GCSE English. Edexcel is the most commonly taken board in Hong Kong.

1. IGCSE English Language A

Options  - there are two assessment routes for candidates:
a.100% written examination paper. (Paper 1 & 2)
b.70% written examination paper & 30% internally assessed coursework. (Paper 1, 3 & 4)

Paper 1 Contents
Section A - questions on an unprepared passage
Section B – question on a passage from Section A of the Edexcel Anthology
- A writing task based on the topic of the reading question from the Anthology
Section C - Writing –Question to test candidate’s ability to “inform, explain and describe”.

Assessment
2hr 15 min examination
Single tier
70% of IGCSE

Paper 2 Contents
Section A – Reading:
Question to text understanding of Section B of Edexcel Anthology

Section B - Writing :
Question to test writing to “explore, imagine and entertain”
Question to test writing to “argue, persuade and advise”

Assessment
1 hr 30min examination
Single tier
30% of GCSE

Paper 3 - Contents (Written Coursework)
Reading – Section B of Edexcel Anthology
Writing - Question with the aim to “explore, imagine and entertain”, "argue, persuade and advise”

Assessment
Two coursework assignments
20% of IGCSE

Paper 4 -  Contents (Speaking and Listening Coursework)
• To explain, describe and narrate.
• To discuss, argue and persuade.
• Formal and informal contexts.
• Individual talk.
• Pair work.
• Group work

Assessment
Three coursework assignments
10% of IGCSE

2.IGCSE English Language B
Comprises of one written examination

Contents
Reading –
Read and understand a variety of texts, selecting and ordering information, ideas and opinions from the texts provided.
Reading and Writing -
Adapt forms and types of writing for specific purposes and audiences using appropriate styles.
Writing -
Write clearly, using a range of vocabulary and sentence structures, with accurate spelling, paragraphing, grammar and punctuation.

Assessment
3hr examination.  Paper is in three sections.

3.IGCSE English Literature

Options  - there are two assessment routes for candidates:
a.100% written examination paper. (Paper 1 & 2)
b.60% written examination paper & 40% internally assessed coursework. (Paper 1 & 3 )

Paper 1 – Drama & Prose
Students will have studied both a drama and prose prescribed text.  Paper is divided into 2 sections – Drama and Prose.Students must select a question from each section.

1hr 45 min examination.
60% of IGCSE

Paper 2 – Unseen Texts and Poetry Anthology
Students will have studied Section C of the Anthology.

Students answer a question on either an unseen poem or prose extract.
Students answer a question on Section C of the Anthology.  Students will have a copy of the Anthology in the examination.

1hr 30 min examination
40% of IGCSE

Paper 3 – Poetry Coursework
A coursework assignment on the Edexcel Anthology section C.

40% of IGCSE

 

There are 4 examination boards that offer (I)GCSE/GCSE Economics examination, including Edexcel, AQA, OCR and CIE. Students studying in the UK will sit for the GCSE examination while those that study outside UK will study (I)GCSE (I = International) Most students outside UK take Edexcel or CIE (I)GCSE Economics examination. The contents included in Edexcel and CIE (I)GCSE Economics are fairly similar.

For Edexcel (I)GCSE Economics, the 4 topics included are:

A. The Market System
B. Business Economics
C. Government and the Economy
D. The Global Economy

The Edexcel (I)GCSE Economics examination lasts 2 1/2 hours, composing a mixture of structured, data response, short-answer, multiple choice and open-ended questions.

For CIE (I)GCSE Economics, the 8 topics included are:

4.1 Basic economic problem: choice and the allocation of resources
4.2 The allocation of resources: how the market works; market failure
4.3 The individual as producer, consumer and borrower
4.4 The private firm as producer and employer
4.5 Role of government in an economy
4.6 Economic indicators
4.7 Developed and developing economies: trends in production, population and living standards
4.8 International aspects

The CIE (I)GCSE Economics examination consists of 3 papers, including

Paper 1: Multiple choice – 30 compulsory questions in 45 minutes
Paper 2: Structured questions – 1 compulsory question and 3 out of 6 questions in 2 hours
Paper 3: Analysis and critical evaluation – 2 compulsory questions which candidates are required to interpret and analyze previously unseen data in 1 1/2 hours

Click here to read more on how to do well in GCSE Economics.  

What is (I)GCSE Biology

Introduction

The (International) General Certificate of Secondary Education (I/GCSE) is an internationally recognised qualification held by students aged 14 to 16. Currently for (I)GCSE Biology, there are 5 examination boards offering (I)GCSE Biology: Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA), Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations (OCR), Edexcel, Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC), and the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE).

 

Course structure

The majority of non-UK students will usually take the (I)GCSE CIE Biology examinations. There will be three papers for all candidates to enter themselves for. Students studying the Core Curriculum, with Grades C to G available, will be entered for Paper 2, whilst students studying the Extended Curriculum, with Grades A* to G available, will be entered for Paper 3. All students will also be required to take a practical paper, chosen either as Coursework (Paper 4) or Practical Test (Paper 5), or Alternative to Practical (Paper 6).

 

External Assessment

IGCSE Biology examination consists of mostly of external examinations. They come in the form of three papers:

 

Paper 1: Multiple-choice paper (30%). There will be forty questions of the four-choice type, to be completed within 45 minutes.

Paper 2 or 3: Theory paper (50%). Depending on whether the student is enrolled in the Core or Extended Curriculum, this paper consists of 80 marks of short-answer and structured questions. This paper is to be completed within 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Paper 5, or 6: Practical paper (20%). This paper assesses student’s ability to use appropriate skills in laboratory. This paper is to be completed within 1 hour and 15 minutes.

 

Course content

For CIE IGCSE Biology, there are 21 topics in total for students to cover:

1.      Characteristics of living organisms

2.      Classification and diversity of living organisms

3.      Simple keys

4.      Cell Structure and organisation

5.      Levels of organisation

6.      Size of specimens

7.      Movement in and out of cells

8.      Enzymes

9.      Nutrition

10.  Transportation

11.  Respiration

12.  Excretion in humans

13.  Corordination and response

14.  Reproduction

15.  Growth and Development

16.  Inheritance

17.  Energy flow

18.  Food chains and food webs

19.  Nutrient cycles

20.  Population size

21.  Human influences on ecosystem

What is (I)GCSE Mathematics?

The examination boards that offer (I)GCSE/GCSE Mathematics examination, including Edexcel, AQA, OCR and CIE. Students studying in the UK will sit for the GCSE examination while those that study outside UK will study (I)GCSE Mathematics (I = International.) Most students outside UK take Edexcel or CIE (I)GCSE Mathematics examination. Contents included in Edexcel and CIE (I)GCSE Mathematics are fairly similar.

For Edexcel (I)GCSE Mathematics, topics included are:

1. Number
2. Algebra
3. Geometry
4. Measures
5. Statistics
6. Probability

Two Edexcel (I)GCSE Mathematics examination tiers are made available: Higher and Foundation. Each tier consists of two equally weighted papers, each 1 hour and 45 minutes long. Paper One is non-calculator. Earned grades in Foundation tier can range from “C” to “G” while in Higher tier “A*” to “D”. Both tiers can be taken in March, June and November.

There are two curricula in (I)GCSE CIE International Mathematics: Core and Extended. Both curricula consist of 3 papers which are weighted unequally based on test length, question format and complexity. Topics included in both curricula are:
1.    Number
2.    Algebra
3.  Functions
4.  Geometry
5.    Transformations in two dimensions (vectors - included in extended curriculum)
6.    Mensuration
7.    Co-ordinate Geometry
8.    Trigonometry
9.    Sets
10.    Probability
11.    Statistics
Grades earned in Extended curriculum can range from A* to E while in Core curriculum C to G. Test Papers for both curricula are offered in June and November.

The (International) General Certificate of Secondary Education (I/GCSE) is an internationally recognised qualification held by students aged 14 to 16. Currently for (I)GCSE Physics, there are 5 examination boards offering (I)GCSE Physics: Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA), Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinstions (OCR), Edexcel, Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC), and the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE). Most students outside UK take Edexcel or CIE (I)GCSE Physics examination. Contents included in Edexcel and CIE (I)GCSE Physics are fairly similar.

 

For Edexcel board examination:

Course Structure

Students are required to take two external paper, paper 1 and paper 2. The difference of these two papers is the exanimated content. In the syllabus, the course content that are divided into two types one is without bolded and another one is bolded. The IGCSE qualification will be graded and certificated on an eight-grade scale from A* to G.

 

External Assessment

Paper 1(66.6% of the total IGCSE marks): Examination consists of 120 marks with multiple choices, short and long question. The assessed material will be the topic in the course syllabus without bold. Students are required to complete the paper within 2 hours.

 

Paper 2(33.3% of the total IGCSE marks): Examination consists of 60 marks with multiple choices, short and long question. The assessed material will be all of the topic in the course syllabus. (with or without bold) Students are required to complete the paper within 1 hours.

 

Course content

For Edexcel IGCSE physics, there are 7 topics in total for students to cover:

  1. Forces and motion
  2. Electricity
  3. Waves
  4. Energy resources and energy transfer
  5. Solids, liquids and gases
  6. Magnetism and electromagnetism
  7. Radioactivity and particles

 

Examination date

Both papers are available in January and June in each year.

 

For CIE board examination:

Course Structure

There will be three papers for all candidates to enter themselves for. Students studying the Core Curriculum, with Grades C to G available, will be entered for Paper 2, whilst students studying the Extended Curriculum, with Grades A* to G available, will be entered for Paper 3. All students will also be required to take paper 1 (multiple choice paper) and practical paper, where practical paper can be chosen either as Coursework (Paper 4) or Practical Test (Paper 5), or Alternative to Practical (Paper 6).

 

External Assessment

CIE IGCSE Physics examination consists of mostly of external examinations. They come in the form of three papers:

  • Paper 1: Multiple-choice paper (30%). There will be forty questions of the four-choice type, to be completed within 45 minutes.
  • Paper 2 or 3: Theory paper (50%). Depending on whether the student is enrolled in the Core or Extended Curriculum, this paper consists of 80 marks of short-answer and structured questions. This paper is to be completed within 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  • Paper 5, or 6: Practical paper (20%). This paper assesses student’s ability to use appropriate skills in laboratory. The time limit for paper 5 and paper 6 are 1 hour and 1 hour and 15 minutes respectively. 

 

Course content

For CIE IGCSE Physics, there are 5 topics in total for students to cover:

  1. General Physics
  2. Thermal Physics
  3. Properties of waves, including light and sound
  4. Electricity and magnetism
  5. Atomic physics

 

Examination date

All papers are available in Oct/Nov and May/June in each year.

 

What is (I)GCSE Chemistry


Introduction
The (International) General Certificate of Secondary Education (I/GCSE) is an internationally recognised qualification held by students aged 14 to 16. Currently for (I)GCSE Chemistry, there are 5 examination boards offering (I)GCSE Chemistry: Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA), Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinstions (OCR), Edexcel, Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC), and the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE).

Course structure
The majority of non-UK students will usually take the (I)GCSE CIE Chemistry examinations. There will be three Papers for all Candidates to enter themselves for. Students studying the Core Curriculum, with Grades C to G available, will be entered for Paper 2, whilst students studying the Extended Curriculum, with Grades A* to G available, will be entered for Paper 3. All students will also be required to take a practical paper, chosen either as Coursework (Paper 4) or Practical Test (Paper 5), or Alternative to Practical (Paper 6).

External Assessment
IGCSE Chemistry examination consists of mostly of external examinations. They come in the form of three papers:

Paper 1: Multiple-choice paper (30%). There will be forty questions of the four-choice type, to be completed within 45 minutes.
Paper 2 or 3: Theory paper (50%). Depending on whether the student is enrolled in the Core or Extended Curriculum, this paper consists of 80 marks of short-answer and structured questions. This paper is to be completed within 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Paper 5, or 6: Practical paper (20%). This paper assesses student’s ability to use appropriate skills in laboratory. This paper is to be completed within 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Course content
For CIE IGCSE Chemistry, there are 14 topics in total for students to cover:
1.    The particulate nature of matter
2.    Experimental techniques
3.    Atoms, elements and compounds
4.    Stoichiometry
5.    Electricity and chemistry
6.    Chemical changes
7.    Chemical reactions
8.    Acids, bases and salts
9.    The Periodic Table
10.    Metals
11.    Air and water
12.    Sulfur
13.    Carbonates
14.    Organic Chemistry