Monday, September 10th, 2012

Posted in: College admissions, Tutors International news

Cambridge International Exam Board Backpedal Over True Value of IGCSE Results

Tutors International warn parents and students that although the internationally recognised exam, the IGCSE, is becoming increasingly popular, it is a harder exam but its grades are worth the same as a UK GCSE.

It has recently been reported that pupils in many UK state schools are electing to sit the IGCSE instead of regular GCSEs [1]. Since the formation of the IGCSEs it has been widely understood that the courses have remained challenging, unlike the GCSEs.

Educators and parents have long held the view that that the IGCSE is ‘worth’ more than a standard GCSE, due to the difficulty of the exam. In fact, until July 2011, the issuing body, the Cambridge International Exam (CIE) Board, reported in official literature on its website that grades obtained in the IGCSE should be considered equivalent to two grades higher than GCSE when used to assess their equivalence compared with the US system. [2]

However, after leading private tuition agency, Tutors International, contacted the CIE in July 2011 to ask why they had not made it clear to US accreditation organisations that IGCSE was worth more than GCSE, they promptly removed the information from their own website and a CIE spokesperson denied knowledge of the document, affirming that the IGCSE has always been equivalent to the GCSE.

The CIE spokesperson commented in her correspondence with Adam Caller, director of Tutors International, “The academic demands or ‘standards’ of IGCSE are equivalent to those of GCSE, [but that] significant differences exist in syllabus content and schemes of assessment,” and concluded with, “We have always made clear that it is equivalent to UK GCSE.”

Mr Caller commented, “While I’m delighted that students are electing to push themselves further and take the IGCSE, which is unquestionably a tougher exam, it is important to note that the CIE Board do not recognise any difference in the standard of results between the IGCSE and regular GCSE. And therefore, it should not be assumed that university entrance departments and overseas accreditation organisations appreciate the difference.”

“What I’m concerned about,” states Mr Caller, “is that pupils are choosing to sit a harder exam in the belief that this extra effort will be noted by the admissions departments at universities, and may not be aware that even the CIE Board do not rate its worth any higher than standard GCSEs.”

Mr Caller has long been an advocate of making UK exams tougher, and indeed, he is delighted that GCSEs seem to be getting harder again, and that a more challenging GCSE-level exam is available, which schools are offering as an option. He states, “Cambridge International Exam Board made a decision to offer a more difficult exam that would be recognised internationally. They should stick by that decision and be proud of the difference, not water down its value.”

Adam Caller is a member of the Independent Education Consultants Association, and would be happy to discuss any questions or concerns about the IGCSE.

[1], ‘More pupils taking international GCSEs’
[2] ‘Tutors International Uncovers Critical Discrepancy in Conversion of IGCSE Value to American GPA’

About Tutors International
Tutors International is a worldwide organization providing experienced private tutors to work with children of all ages and nationalities. Tutors are available for full-time tutoring positions, for major support and tutoring outside school hours, or for home-schooling.

Tutors International provide tutors in a wide variety of situations from helping students re-take critical exams, helping pupils with the transition of moving between international school systems, and supporting youngsters with AD/HD and dyslexia. They provide a bespoke service to find the right tutor that suits the child’s needs and aspirations, and if a live-in tutor is required, it is essential that the assigned tutor is the right match for the family and fits in the environment.

Tutors International was founded by Adam Caller who has tutored students of all ages. He has received specialist training in dyslexia and Attention Deficit Disorder and is very sensitive to children’s educational difficulties. He has now turned this expertise to recruiting, training and placing other tutors to help families.

Contact details
Phone: +44 (0) 1865 435 135
Tutors International, Clarendon House, 52 Cornmarket Street, Oxford, OX1 3HJ, UK

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