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GCSEs or IGCSEs?

(18 Posts)
southernsoftie Tue 14-Jun-11 23:09:31

Currently looking at secondary schools and I've noticed that whilst a number of schools now offer IGCSEs for an increasing range of subjects, many don't. So I am wondering what if any advantages there are to the students taking IGCSEs or is this something done to promote the school's academic credentials (or some other reason altogether)?

DS is academic so would (I think) be able to cope if the IGCSEs are harder (rather than just different) but I am not sure what benefits there are to them. Any thoughts please teachers or parents with experience?

EndoplasmicReticulum Tue 14-Jun-11 23:19:08

Some independent schools have switched in science, see news reports like this one:

www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/gcse-science-dumbed-down-says-exam-watchdog-1655350.html

EndoplasmicReticulum Tue 14-Jun-11 23:21:10

That report is a couple of years old now, since then various things have changed - state schools are now also allowed to offer IGCSE, and the standard science GCSEs are about to change yet again, I think in an attempt to do whatever the opposite of "dumbing down" is.

southernsoftie Tue 14-Jun-11 23:27:29

Thanks ER and for the link. I understand the point that IGCSEs are meant to be more intellectually rigorous or some such, I am just not sure who benefits from that. It seems to me that many state students who go on to study sciences or maths at uni will have done GCSEs and I suppose I am wondering if they are disadvantaged. Maybe I am being lazy on behalf of DS here but if he can do the GCSE and get an A* then might that not be better than doing the IGCSE and getting (say) and A or a B?

EndoplasmicReticulum Wed 15-Jun-11 07:27:01

I think that the jump to A level is less from IGCSE than GCSE in science. I have no experience of other subjects.

Another link:

www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/7960643/Universities-use-GCSEs-to-filter-out-weak-pupils.html

thekidsmom Wed 15-Jun-11 08:38:11

My understadning is that it is about the jump to A level as ER says.

All of my DCs have done/are doing IGCSE maths (hence their schools get zero in the govt league tables) and have done for quite a while - its then an easier step to AS maths. But they are now doing IGCSE sciences specifically in Chemistry and Physics.

But it is true that in casual conversation it bugs DD1 that she has as an A instead of the A* for maths which I'm sure she would have got for straight GCSE! But there comes a point when that doesnt matter and the universities do know the difference.

amicissima Wed 15-Jun-11 11:31:01

I don't think there's coursework (or whatever it's called these days) for IGCSE.

I think the IGCSE is a bit more rigorous so pupils who do it concentrate a bit more on the subject, rather than learning to pass the Assessment Objectives (which is a knack in itself).

OTOH, as thekidsmon says, it could be easier to get a higher grade at standard GCSE, although I have heard that bright, 'thinky' pupils can get a bit tangled up over-thinking GCSE questions.

I wouldn't make it a dealbreaker - how the school would suit the DC would be more important than the exams offered.

There's also the A level v IB issue - it never ends!

IndigoBell Wed 15-Jun-11 13:28:06

And if your child is only in Y5 now, then by the time they are entered for GCSEs in Y10 absolutely everything could have changed....... including whether that school offers GCSEs or IGCSEs......

southernsoftie Wed 15-Jun-11 15:12:29

Think I may have been a bit misleading in my OP. DS is in Y7 but in a prep school so will finish there at the end of next year. We can leave him where he is as the school goes on to Y11 but it doesn't have a 6th form so the dilemma is whether to move him at the end of Y8 or wait until after GCSEs.

Thanks ER for the other link. tkm that is exactly what I think DS may end up saying! Plus we are in revision hell now for the end of year exams and I am already dreading what it will be like when we get to exams that actually matter...

amicissima - don't! Too many choices already! Actually I can see the IB suiting him if he overcomes his "just enough to get through" approach, but surely 11 years old is too soon for me to be worrying about that now?

southernsoftie Wed 15-Jun-11 15:13:48

Should also add, does anyone have experience of both exams, and how they impact on the ability to cope at A level? It seems mad that if IGCSE is the better preparation it is not recognised by the Govt.

Winetimeisfinetime Wed 15-Jun-11 15:31:24

My ds did IGCSEs.
He is now doing tha IB and there have been lots of students dropping out as they are finding it too difficult but he is apparently coping and doing very well as in some subjects he seems to have already covered a lot of this year's stuff ( yr 12 ). So I would certainly say it has been good preparation for the IB.

EndoplasmicReticulum Wed 15-Jun-11 16:28:43

amissicima - your comment about bright pupils overthinking GCSE questions is true.

IGCSE is now being recognised, as it is now offered in some state schools.

You may find that some schools offer a mixture - IGCSE seems a popular choice in maths and science. The lack of coursework is no loss, either.

Miggsie Wed 15-Jun-11 16:35:25

My daughter's school offers iGCSE particularly maths and science. I asked about it and the head said that very able pupils find GCSE fairly easy and can often be enough advanced to do them at age 13 so they do iGSCE so the able pupils are stretched and not getting bored. It is a pupil and parent choice, not compulsory, although the school recommends whether a pupil does the iGSCE as well as GCSE.

jgbmum Wed 15-Jun-11 17:00:59

No experience of the IGCSE, but would add that my DS did GCSEs (inc double science as the scjhool didnt offer triple science at that point) he has gone on to take maths, FM, physics and chemistry at A2 and has not found the leap particularly hard. The school teach the syllabus so they know what needs to be covered for the next level.

Also. there was no coursework for maths or science in his exams.

And at A2 I think that you should choose subjects that you really enjoy, so you don't mind if you need to spend a bit longer on them anyway.

RatherBeOnThePiste Wed 15-Jun-11 17:03:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BrigitBigKnickers Thu 16-Jun-11 21:14:46

My DD is doing iGCSE triple science and I think it's alot harder than GCSE.

For one thing there are no modules so you have to know your stuff. They are said to prepare you much more rigorously for A levels.

Not sure if it's true but I have heard that U niversities lokk favourably on them.

southernsoftie Thu 16-Jun-11 21:58:37

BBK - that is certainly something that would influence me, just wonder if it can be true given that few if any state schools offer them, so that would go against "received wisdom" that says private school students are disadvantaged in applying to university (disclaimer: this thread is not intended to address that particular can of worms/misinformation).

Won't most universities simply say "child A has x A*s, child B is one or two grades lower on each exam, therefore Child A gets the place" without looking at whether it is a GCSE or and IGCSE? Otherwise presumably there would be some anecdotal or statistical evidence saying students with IGCSEs generally need lower grades to achieve the same university offers?

I am old enough to have done O levels (proper tests of knowledge!) so this is not anti the IGCSE format, just wondering if the extra stretching is worth it.

Yellowstone Fri 17-Jun-11 14:47:32

southern : you're in 'revision hell' in Y7 ??

They don't do coursework for plenty of GCSE's now either.

Surely you just go for the school you like best and take its advice? And if your DS is academic then presumably a school with a Sixth Form is likely to suit him better than one which ends at Y11.

I wouldn't rely on all A*'s at GCSE either. I know a lot of people like to sneer at GCSE's but they can't be a complete waste of time or more than 2% of pupils would get 10+ A*'s. It's not a complete doddle you know.

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