What makes IGCSE different from other academic programs?

The advent of the international curriculum in Indian schools more than a decade ago led to new avenues and a different set of decision-making challenges for students and parents. Now, it is not a matter of choosing the most suitable stream and subjects, but the curriculum that seems most befitting. 


Globalization, over the past few years, has boosted the need for communication skills and awareness of global cultures. International programs that offer subjects like Global Perspectives have thus gained the spotlight. 


The IGCSE program has a strong presence in India, being followed by over 500 schools. Let us understand the factors that make it different from the conventional boards of education.  


The difference in approach and curriculum


The Cambridge International website defines the curriculum followed for IGCSE as “flexible, challenging and inspiring, culturally sensitive yet international in approach.”


The curriculum is truly international in the sense that it gives enough scope for adaptation as per the particular needs of a country, and it is accepted by all leading universities across the world. The subject Global Perspective gives a unique understanding to IGCSE students and they learn to appreciate the cultural and ideological differences. Also, the curriculum follows a ‘spiral’ model and encourages students to develop their existing knowledge. 


The national boards like CBSE and ICSE have a fixed curriculum with well-defined textbooks. Though the New Education Policy seeks to bring some changes in the curriculum by introducing a multidisciplinary approach. With the IGCSE, students are required to refer to resources apart from their textbooks and drive their learning. Schools can choose different sets of books to teach the broader concepts. IGCSE follows a highly inquiry-based and learner-centred approach, which develops critical thinking and research skills. 


Cambridge Learner Attributes

Building a strong character is the most significant purpose that education serves. The Learner Attributes developed by the IGCSE program go a long way in shaping the holistic personality of students. Here are the five distinct attributes:



Students are confident of their knowledge and possess the risk-taking ability


They learn to be responsible for their actions. They are also RESPONSIVE and RESPECTFUL towards others


IGCSE learners are reflective and develop analytical thinking with problem solving skills


They learn to innovate and become adaptive, ready to face challenges


Students are mindful and engaged with their academic journey, as well as socially


Through these attributes, students learn the three most essential functions for university education: Analyse, Synthesize and Communicate.


Difference in Assessments


The IGCSE learners are not supposed to merely memorize information and reproduce it in the examinations. They have to understand it in-depth to apply the information in real-life situations. Hence, practical applicability and creative use of knowledge is the focus for IGCSE, instead of theoretical learning. Assessment is done based on such critical thinking of students. 

Moreover, the criteria for assessment can be modified by the Cambridge board, depending on the difficulty level of the examination. This is not applicable in the case of CBSE or ICSE. 


Acceptability in Indian institutes and competitive exams

When it comes acceptability of IGCSE by the Indian Universities and its suitability for the competitive exams, it is at par with any Indian board of education. All Indian colleges accept the Cambridge qualifications. Moreover, as it equips students with problem-solving skills, IGCSE education builds a strong foundation for various professional examinations. 



Apart from these differences, the IGCSE offers an immense range of subjects to choose from, not limiting themselves to a particular stream like science or humanities. The rise in the number of institutions that offer the IGCSE for students of Grades IX and X provides evidence about its increasing popularity and acceptability. 


Feb 14, 2022 by Shiv Nadar School

International curriculum,  Experiential Learning, Learner Attributes