Things you should know about the IB and IGCSE

November 24, 2016

There has been ongoing debates for years now on which is the more supreme curriculum, the IB (International Baccalaureate) or the IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education). SchoolAdvisor is going to make it a tad bit easier for you to decide for yourself. 

We have complied the thoughts of educators, policymakers, parents and students on the matter so Malaysian parents may have a better understanding of the two.

Image result for compare ib and igcse

First, some basic information… 

The IGCSE curriculum offers three programmes:

  • Cambridge Primary
  • Cambridge Secondary 1 (11-14 years)
  • Cambridge Secondary 2 (14-16 years)

It is a qualification based on individual subjects of study. At the end of the course, students will sit for a standardised examination to see how they fare compared to other students.

The IB programme offers four educational programmes:

  • Primary Years Programme (PYP, 3-12 years)
  • Middle Years Programme   (MYP, 11-16 years)
  • IB Diploma                             (16-19 years)
  • Career Related Programme (16-19 years)

Though there isn’t a formal examination, students at the end of Year 5 have the option to take an optional summative assessment that gives students the opportunity to demonstrate the interdisciplinary nature of the IB programme through the performance in the examination.

Positive things people have to say… 

The IB… 

is an education framework and not a curriculum thus this allows the framework to adapt to the local culture and allows the teacher more control over meeting the needs of the students. It is most flexible where they provide schools with a framework to work side-by-side with another curriculum.

offers a content which is far more skill based than content-based and as such, when seeking employment, bigger companies prefer to employ an IB graduate as the programme attracts the global talent that they seek.

is a preferred choice among students whose parents are continually moving around the world because of the nature of their profession.


is a functioning curriculum that provides a structured  examination at the end of a course that allows for international comparison of ability, an additional score to prove to universities and creates a goal for students to work towards.

is syllabus-driven and examination-centred, the IGCSE is more popular among Asian parents and teachers primarily because of the clear structure it provides.

offers a smooth, almost seamless, entry into the IBDP (IB Diploma Programme) courses.


The IB… 

requires more work for teachers in that every year the students’ abilities must be taken into consideration and the curriculum must be re-evaluated and updated.

programme is very demanding on students and teachers, and more often than not, complicated to implement.

lacks paper-based assessments and is unlikely to earn the trust of parents and students as easily as the Cambridge exam-based prescriptions.

requires more school hours than the IGCSE and so, students may feel burdened.


doesn’t requires teachers to work with anyone outside their department, allowing the teacher the freedom to make the lesson as creative and interesting as he/she wants

does not require coursework based assessments.

syllabus can be a little textbook orientated and thus students do not challenge themselves enough.

content is not really international and it is mostly UK focused, Asian students may find some of the subjects not suitable.

So what is your take on this, parents? If you would like to discover schools that offer the IB and IGCSE, click here

** Please be informed that these are the personal opinion of individuals and may not reflect the preference of SchoolAdvisor