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Key Differences Between IGCSE and Cambridge O Levels

IGCSE and Cambridge O levels are similar in many respects, which is why there is always some confusion as to which is the better option for students.


  • The IGCSE syllabuses and teaching methods are designed to contribute to curriculum development and to support correct teaching practices.
  • The standard is recognized internationally and is taken as an equivalent to the British GCSE and GCE O levels.
  • Candidates may take individual subjects or multiple ones to qualify for the ICE (International Certificate of Education) which will be awarded to those candidates who pass in 7 different IGCSE subjects.
  • The IGCSE grading system is from A*, which is the highest grade to G, which is the lowest. Some subjects are divided into a core curriculum with grades from C to G and an extended curriculum with grades from A* to C.
  • IGCSE assessment techniques are aimed at evaluating knowledge and understanding, initiative and problems, and oral and practical abilities.
  • Students benefit from positive achievements with respect to knowledge, understanding, and ability to utilize what they have learned.
  • The coursework option available in some subjects provides a degree of flexibility and enables teachers to contribute to the assessment process.
  • IGCSE opens the door to further studies as well as employment.

Cambridge O Levels

  • There are fewer grading levels. Candidates are graded from A*, which is the highest grade to E, which is the lowest.
  • The course work options are fewer than what is available for IGCSE.
  • In some cases, the syllabuses have been changed or modified to meet local needs including regional languages.
  • The focus of the O level is more on evaluating candidates’ reading and writing abilities and skills.
  • For science subjects, the practical test options are fewer than for IGCSE.
Choosing IGCSE or Cambridge O level requires an understanding of the candidate’s objectives, the candidate’s abilities in various subjects, and the learning support (in terms of tuition and coaching) that is available. A tution organization that specializes in preparing students for success in these examinations will be able to provide the support the candidates need to make the right decision and be successful.
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