What are the academic options to pursue after IGCSE?

When you are standing on the threshold of senior school, you have to be very sure about the avenues that you can pursue after Grade X. The IGCSE provides a springboard to a bright future, and there are many routes that students can follow to reach there. The International General Certificate of Secondary Education is an international program with an emphasis on critical thinking and inquiry-based learning. It equips students to perform well at the senior school and college levels. Here are some of the most popular options that students in India pursue after the IGCSE exams.


A and AS level 


The Cambridge International Education curriculum offers AS and A levels after the IGCSE certification. The Advanced or A-level is a two-year program, segregated into two parts. The first stage is AS or Advanced Subsidiary and covers half the syllabus that is defined for the A-level. The AS level certification is a qualification on its own and can be completed in one year. 

The second part of the A level is called the A2 level. This takes the student to a higher level of specialization. Students have the flexibility to opt only for AS level, A level, or both in a phased manner. If students take up the AS levels only, they can appear for the exams at the end of Grade XI and complete the AS qualification. Students usually need to take four subjects for the AS levels. 

For A levels, assessments are done at the end of Grade XII. If a student wants, he can go for the AS level exams in XI and then opt for the A2 level course to attain the A level certification. The scores for the AS level exams are carried forward to the A level as per the rules of Cambridge International Education. 

The A levels are highly specialized and students have to take up only three subjects for in-depth study. The assessments for the A levels are based on independent research by students and gauge their capacity to solve real problems, with due application of knowledge gained in the subjects they study. The pattern of assessment combines internal assessment and written examination. 




Another extremely popular and rewarding pathway after the IGCSE is the IB Diploma Program. It is an international curriculum that is accepted across the world and matches the conceptual learning techniques of Cambridge pedagogy to a large extent. Being student-centric and research-based, IB-DP helps students apply their skills in the best possible way for independent learning development. 

For IB-DP, students need to take up 6 subjects, which translates to a wider scope for students for their college qualifications, as compared to the A levels, which cover 3 subjects. Within the IB-DP framework, three subjects are pursued as Core subjects that are focused on career choices, and the rest three are taken up at standard level. Most schools specify the grades that students need to attain for availing admission to the IB-DP program after IGCSE.  

Another advantage of opting for the IB-DP is its structure, which includes a long-form essay, called the Theory of Knowledge. The community service aspect of IB-DP is also a scoring point when applying to international universities. IGCSE prepares a student well for the IB-DP since the rigorous study pattern that goes beyond the classroom and stretches the boundaries of students is a core value for both the boards. 


CBSE or ISCE Board


Students can always opt to move back to the Indian boards of education. ICSE and CBSE are the national-level boards that offer standardized education across the country. There are bound to be some differences between the IGCSE and Indian boards.

The pattern of study as far as subjects are concerned is one aspect. Since in CBSE or ICSE students have to choose from the specified stream, there is a limit on the choice that they can exercise. Moreover, the pedagogy also focuses on theory rather than practical knowledge. The NCERT curriculum is followed in most schools and students can refer to the books that are covered by this syllabus. The assessment patterns also support the theory-based study approach. 

With the New Education Policy enabling a multidisciplinary curriculum, the options available with the CBSE board are expected to broaden, thus benefiting students. The national boards are also compatible with the patterns of entrance examinations for various Indian universities. Opting for the CBSE or ISCE will prove to be a wise decision if students are focused on preparing for certain competitive examinations, and are not able to devote time for extensive study.  


The pathway that one follows after completing IGCSE in Grade X depends on several factors like the fee structure of different programs, the location of good schools offering the chosen program, as well as the future aspirations of students. The performance of students in the Grade X exams will also have an impact on the program that they take up. Those who have set their eye on pursuing further studies from an international college will benefit by opting for either A levels or IB-DP. Keeping a focused approach and knowing how to learn consistently will lead students to success in any path that they choose to pursue after the IGCSE program. 


Feb 23, 2022 by Shiv Nadar School

IGCSE, Lifelong Learning