Which one to choose IB or IGCSE?

By Madhurie Singh, February 12, 2020

This article will help parents get a quick understanding of which board of education in India to select. IB or IGCSE which is better board? This question is constantly asked by parents when they start to explore various schools for admission in Pune or any city in India. Comparison of IB with Cambridge is important as both boards may seem International yet they both have different pedagogy and methodologies. 


The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and the International General Certificate of Education (IGCE) examinations are the world’s most popular international qualifications conducted after Class 10 level.  The IGCSE prepares students for further academic study, including progression to A/AS Level, Cambridge Pre-U, BTEC Level 3, IB Diploma Programme and other equivalents.

Cambridge IGCSEs are studied in more than 70 subjects by students in over 120 countries worldwide with more than 200 Indian schools also affiliated to the program.

IGCSE Examination Pattern is typically divided into Cambridge Primary (for 5 to 11 years), Cambridge Secondary 1 (for 12-13 years), Cambridge Secondary 2, (for 14 to 16 years).

IGCSE assessment is conducted by two UK assessment bodies: Edexcel (also known as London Examinations) and Cambridge International Examinations (CIE)


International Baccalaureate (IB), formerly the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), is an international educational foundation headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland and founded in 1968. IB is a non-profit educational foundation offering four highly respected programs of international education. IB has a total of 4375 schools affiliated all over the world with 122 Indian schools as its affiliate. Its present in a total of 147 countries. 

It offers 3 educational programs, namely Primary year program for KG to Class-5(PYP), Middle year program (MYP) for Class-6 to Class-10 and Diploma program for Class-11 and Class-12


Both IGCSE and IB are popular programs. However they are not competing certifications.

IGCSE is granted at class 10 level while IB is granted at Class 12 level. Therefore students with IGCSE have the option of going for IB certification after Class 10 level. Apart from IB, students Post IGCSE can also opt for other equivalent certification like CIE A/AS Level, Cambridge Pre-U, BTEC Level 3 etc.

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IGCSE therefore is comparable to the MYP of IB. The key difference between the two is that the IB MYP is a framework while IGCSE is a set of curriculum statements.

  • So under IB MYP, schools are free to develop their curriculum. For example, IB MYP Science uses six criterions for assessment. (Criterion A: One World, Criterion B: Communication, Criterion C: Scientific Knowledge and Understanding, Criterion D: Scientific Inquiry, Criterion E: Data Analysis, and Criterion F : Scientific Attitudes).
  • IGCSE prescribes a series of curriculum statements a school must cover. For example, IGCSE Sciences are a series of curriculum statements a school must cover. IGCSE Sciences is assessed using a paper based exam for ~75% of the grade and a practical exam for the rest.

Therefore, the IB programme is much more demanding on the teacher’s ability to design the programme. That’s also the reason that many schools while they offer Class XII IB certification may not offer MYP and PYP.

IB for Class 12 level is considered to be very challenging academically as IB requires

  1. Extended essay in 4000 words,
  2. Theory of knowledge
  3. 150 hrs of CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service)
  4. The comprehensive tests
  5. A project work
  6. 1500 – 2500 word research report, fieldwork report, paper presentation for all the subjects.

Unless one is motivated and focused, it will be very difficult to complete IB.

Parents need to decide whether to move to IB or CIE A level  based on their child’s ability and also the school’s experience in providing these programmes. 

Most parents who came to me earlier searching for IB or IGCSE schools were those who were globe trotting or had any plans of moving abroad or had the ability to send their children abroad for higher studies. But over last few years the trend has changed. Many parents are interested to select IB and IGCSE over ICSE, CBSE, State boards in India due to vast choices, broader horizon and acceptability.


In my opinion IB and IGCSE are great boards which cater to very different needs of students. Parents whose children are born aboard especially USA and Singapore may opt for IB board as they will easily get admissions in schools in these countries. Those who want to pursue higher secondary and under graduation abroad may select IB or IGCSE. Those children who want to pursue non technical fields and also pursue their under graduation in India, may select these two boards. But if their child will be pursuing Science streams for medical, engineering, architecture should avoid these two boards as they do not prepare the students for the stress, competitive attitude needed for these entrance exams in India.

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