Friday, 16 May 2014

Your questions answered: everything you wanted to know about IGCSEs

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What is an IGCSE and how does compare to a GCSE? Will an IGCSE prepare me for A levels? These are some of the questions we are asked on a regular basis by our learners, and in today’s blog, we‘ll try to answer them.

What does the ‘I’ stand for?

The ‘I’ in IGCSE stands for ‘international’. IGCSEs are qualifications equivalent to GCSEs, except that they will additionally be recognised outside of the UK. This makes them ideal for learners who may be studying from–or wishing to move–abroad. They are written from a more international perspective and their exams have been taken by students from over 120 countries all across the world.

It is also a common misconception that the ‘I’ in IGCSE stands for ‘interactive’, implying an online GCSE or ‘e-GCSE’ that can be studied electronically over the internet. While the IGCSE’s linear structure and emphasis on exams makes it especially suitable for distance learning, the qualification itself does not intend to place more emphasis on use of the internet or electronic devices over other forms of study.

How will IGCSEs be affected by the proposed government changes?

Simply, they won’t. The changes the government is proposing only affect GCSEs, and have no bearing on the international equivalent. The IGCSE also already happens to follow a structure which is quite similar to the proposed new GCSEs, with linear end-of-course exams and less coursework.

Why does NEC offer IGCSEs rather than GCSEs for most subjects?

In short, because the specifications are generally more suitable for distance learning. With a linear structure and a focus on exams, the distance learner is free to study flexibly at their own pace with only an exam to worry about at the end of it. GCSE-style coursework which may involve specialist equipment or laboratory access–something distance learners could find difficult or unaffordable to obtain–is less of an issue with the IGCSE, as it is largely absent altogether.

Are IGCSEs recognised in the UK?

Yes! Most universities and employers will recognise them as a direct equivalent to GCSEs and accept them in much the same way. The argument for more use of IGCSEs in schools within the UK is growing in popularity, and internationally the number of countries in which these qualifications are both offered and recognised is also increasing. All in all, the future looks bright for the IGCSE.

Will I be able to go on to A levels or other courses with an IGCSE?

Yes! As we mentioned earlier, most education or training providers will recognise IGCSEs as a direct equivalent to GCSEs, and many of our learners who studied their IGCSEs with us have gone on to do their A levels, successfully applied for university places, or got onto the childcare, midwifery or other essential course they needed to change careers.

If you have something or somewhere specific in mind and you are in any doubt as to whether an IGCSE will get you accepted, you can always give your future education or training provider a call and ask for clarification from them on how they see IGCSEs.

Are IGCSEs ‘better’ then GCSEs?

There isn’t really a direct answer to this question, as it largely depends. For the purposes of having a qualification on your CV it may not matter within the UK, though if you’re heading abroad an IGCSE will probably stand you in better stead. There are those who consider the IGCSE more similar to the old O level qualifications and thus believe them to be more rigorous, but equally the argument can be made that the more coursework-focused, modular GCSE makes for better preparation when it comes to introducing young learners taught in classrooms to the learning styles they will need if they go on to university, or once they move into the workplace (distance learners already gain their independent study skills simply by working through the course, due to the nature of the learning style). Both approaches can therefore be said to be necessary; it comes down to what is more suitable for the learner’s needs given their personal circumstances.

What qualification level is an IGCSE?

IGCSEs follow the same qualification levels as GCSEs. An IGCSE at Grade D to G is a Level 1 qualification, while an IGCSE at Grade A* to C is a Level 2 qualification.

A little something extra in honour of IGCSEs, GCSEs, literacy and numeracy

If you’re one of the many people looking for that essential Level 2 qualification of a Grade C or above in Maths or English, you’ll be pleased to know we have some good news: from now until 31st July we are offering 2 IGCSEs or GCSEs for £500 provided one of the two you choose is English or Maths! You can find out more by visiting our Special Offers page or getting in touch and speaking to our team, who will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Where can I find out more about IGCSEs?

You can visit our website to browse our full range of flexible distance learning IGCSE and GCSE courses, or you can contact us and speak to our team. You can also find out more by visiting the awarding body websites (specifications and awarding bodies are listed in the detailed course information pages on our website).

I have a question that hasn’t been answered

We would love to hear from you! If you have any further questions send them in to us, or contact our team, and we will be happy to help. You can also reach us on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

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