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Which is easiest - GCSEs or IGCSEs?

(39 Posts)
Marmitelover55 Sun 01-Sep-13 15:17:52

Please could someone clarify this for me? One of our local independent schools' website claims they are harder, but I have also read that state schools are adopting them because they are easier? Which is true? Thanks.

PurpleGirly Sun 01-Sep-13 15:31:19

More simple in English. It is also easier to gain the higher grades. I have taught both and they require similar skills but igcse is more straightforward.

I believe Mr Gove wants to ban them from state schools.

olivevoir58 Sun 01-Sep-13 15:54:03

I (not school) double entered my dd in maths. I put her in for edexcel certificate in maths (IGCSE) and school entered her for the OCR modular (GCSE). She got C in IGCSE and D in GCSE. We did an awful lot of work for the IGCSE and it's a slightly different syllabus - the IGCSE was slightly harder material but more straightforward questions. I knew it would suit her better and I was right!

LIZS Sun 01-Sep-13 15:58:58

iGCSE is more traditional end-of-course exams. Mr Gove is tinkering with GCSEs again which is why some state schools are avoiding them.

Marmitelover55 Sun 01-Sep-13 17:22:36

That's interesting - thank you. Redmaids school say on their website re gcse results "they have also demonstrated their academic ability with 100% A* to C grades in the more challenging maths and English IGCSE syllabuses ".

Ilovegeorgeclooney Sun 01-Sep-13 19:28:27

Well I was on a course about them a couple of months ago and was reliably informed by a couple of people that the English IGCSE can be taught intensively in 6 days! Not sure if I believe it but it does seem very straightforward and is protected from Gove/Ofqual shenanigans.

BlackMogul Sun 01-Sep-13 20:49:03

The grade boundaries for maths igcse are broad hence easier to get a B or C. Wider syllabus suits brighter mathematicians and better prep for A level. All exams taken at the end of the course so teaching and revision ramps up at the end. Most selective schools will get all pupils A* to C grade in maths. This is not an outstanding statistic. If they get all withA* or A would be far more of note!

Anthracite Sun 01-Sep-13 20:50:55

There shouldn't be any difference in difficulty. Most subjects in IGCSE have no coursework or controlled assessment, but this just means that the particular assessment objective is tackled in the exam rather than a separate test.

For example, in science, there might be questions about a practical that are asked on the final exam paper. The student still needs to have actually done the practical. Similarly, in geography, they will have done the fieldwork but no write-up. They will have to describe their findings in the exam.

Schools like IGSCE because there is less intervention from government. They know that the course they start is the course they finish.

LadyMilfordHaven Sun 01-Sep-13 20:51:32

yup english igcse has been rumbled through in loads of schools

DalmationDots Sun 01-Sep-13 23:02:38

iGCSE is good for dyslexic students or students who struggle with long, wordy questions. It is designed for every country and language, and so uses very short and simple english to enable the questions to be easy to translate to other languages. With my DC they found iGCSE maths much easier than higher as there is less potential to read questions wrong and make silly errors. They both were at very academic independent schools.
School claimed iGCSE was better preparation for A level as well.

anniesw Sun 01-Sep-13 23:18:07

I know of one school (state) that was entering some lower ability kids for IGCSE to give them a better chance of passing

Spongingbobsunderpants Sun 01-Sep-13 23:25:52

I work at an 'Ofsted Outstanding' school which takes a significant proportion of students who do not have English as their first language and many have recently arrived from abroad. Most usually have good grades in the qualifications from their own country and are put in for the iGCSE. The pass rate is excellent, much better than students sitting the GCSE - we are considering ditching the ordinary GCSE as a result.

muminlondon Mon 02-Sep-13 11:19:44

There have been a few articles about how the iGCSE is seen as the easier option and more likely to produce top grades:

Interesting to see how independent schools are as inclined to game the system as any struggling state school. They are often ranked by A/A*s but this is easier for some subjects and exams than others.

muminlondon Mon 02-Sep-13 11:33:38

Or you could always set your own exams so you'll never need to be judged in the league tables again, like Bedales! Saves any embarrassment when the Ebacc results are tabled. Last year Bedales entered 68% for Ebacc subjects but only 53% got at least a C in them, so a good few would have failed. I think it should concentrate on getting all its students to pass existing exams before it makes new ones up. Is it non-selective?

meditrina Mon 02-Sep-13 13:12:49

"I believe Mr Gove wants to ban them from state schools."

I think you've got that the wrong way round. They were banned ruin the Labour administration, but are beginning to creep in now. The big difference was the emphasis on final exams - this is set to lessen. Which a pupil finds "easiest" depends on the pupil and what they are prepared for.

PurpleGirly Mon 02-Sep-13 21:19:21

State schools were not able to include the IGCSE grades in the results under labour, Gove changed this so schools moved towards it, now he is looking to stop them from being used (was in education supplement somewhere).

The new GCSEs are all about the final exam - not sure why you say it is about to lessen unless I am reading incorrectly.

Having taught both at English GCSE the IGCSE is much more straightforward and appears easier to get a higher grade. I have compared data from both as my school was looking at changing, what was an A* at IGCSE would have been an A at GCSE. The biggest difference is the marking of spelling and punctuation - but pupils at that level tend to be pretty good anyway!

HisMum4now Tue 03-Sep-13 00:43:34

The IGCSE science syllabus is broader than the GCSE syllabus. It is also more focused on the science while in GCSE 6 or 10 marks could be gained just by recycling ideas from humanities and RE, without knowing any science.

crazymum53 Tue 03-Sep-13 17:05:15

This probably used to be true when there were modular GCSEs i.e before the recent reforms in GCSE but may not be the case now.
iGCSEs are taken by international students for whom English is a second language, so the questions tend to be written in more straightforward English so that they are easier to understand. Some independent schools have a significant proportion of pupils who have moved to this country from overseas so this could be one reason for using iGCSE.
I have taught iGCSE Science and the syllabus has to be appropriate for pupils who do not live in the UK e.g. in Physics overseas pupils would not know what an Earth wire is in a 3 pin plug as many countries do not use this system. Whereas in GCSE there are some questions that relate Science topics to everyday life in the UK which does require appropriate General knowledge.

HisMum4now Tue 03-Sep-13 17:34:16

Crazymum, is it possible to walk directly into IGCSE science exam from a GCSE course?

crazymum53 Tue 03-Sep-13 18:58:18

Hismum will pm you.

balia Tue 03-Sep-13 19:05:04

It depends what kind of school is being discussed. If independent schools use them, they are challenging and indicative of the highest possible standards. If state schools do it, they are game playing by using easier exams to get better results.


HisMum4now Tue 03-Sep-13 19:17:14

Balia, I think you are spot on.

wordfactory Tue 03-Sep-13 19:32:28

I don't think there's that much to choose between the two, in respect of content.

However, they were considered more rigorous because they are linear, when the vast majority of GCSEs taken were modular.

Certainly it was more difficult to achieve well due to no possibility of resitting modules and of course no course work.

For this reason many private schools chose them. Especially boys schools, who are generally considered to thrive in the linear module.

Some schools also chose them as they felt it was easier to ski off piste and cover more material, thus giving better preperation for A level.

Now GCSEs are also going to be modular there may be absolutely nothing to choose between them!

PurpleGirly Tue 03-Sep-13 19:40:49

GCSE English and Literature are not modular. The IGCSE is more simple. word you (on both threads) seem to be very down on state schools - if you read here you will see many reasons why IGCSE is thought to be easier. The only difference is the controlled assessments. Balia has it spot on - the statistics and details are changed for the market!

DreadLock Tue 03-Sep-13 19:44:27

I would say when there was the coursework element to gcse's rather than the controlled assessment, the GCSE was harder. I remember DD doing coursework at home and re-correcting it. Ended up with an A* overall.

The IGCSE which DS did was complegtely different and it was all exam and IMO had to show a greater depth of knowledge.

Not sure about the difference with the controlled assessments, would presume they are more on par now?

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