School Guide

IGCSE in Malaysia: All the Basics You Need to Know

Published by SchoolAdvisor on Feb 25, 2021, 01:42 AM

One of the many concerns of parents is education, that is, making the best educational choice for their children based on the existing options available to them at every stage of their academic lives.

It is undeniable that Malaysian parents invest greatly on the education of their little ones to ensure a safe future of the latter.

The Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) is the main national examination that credits candidates with secondary school qualifications, provided they pass. The examination is taken in Form 5 after 11 years of schooling. SPM is one of the pathways to tertiary education for Malaysian students.

Many parents have been seeking alternative pathways towards tertiary education and have been leaning towards the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE).

This article provides you with a thorough insight on IGCSE.

What is IGCSE?

IGCSE is the abbreviation for International General Certificate of Secondary Education.

It is considered to be the most popular international certification for the end of secondary school and is the equivalent to the British O-Level, UK GCSE, fifth form or year 11.

The exam is taken before a student proceeds to Advanced Level (A-Level or sixth form or year 12 & 13) or pre-university studies in respective countries and schools.

The duration of the programme is 5 years, starting with Year 7 (the equivalent of Form 1) and ending with the Year 11 examinations which are set and marked by the Examination Board.


Many universities worldwide require a combination of Cambridge International A Levels and Cambridge IGCSEs to meet their entry requirements. Moreover, countries like the UK, US or Canadian colleges and universities allow admissions to students holding a successfully passed IGCSE Certificate. Furthermore, this program creates a pathway for the local students from Malaysia to study abroad. 

When students complete their education and move on to the next step, that is, joining the labour force, those holding an IGCSE certificate will greatly benefit from the programme as many of the leading companies worldwide accept and recognise this programme.

IGCSE is popular among homeschoolers and adult students. Though IGCSE is mostly undertaken by students typically in the age group 14-16 or 15-17 depending on primary 1 entry age, it also allows students from alternative education and adult students to sit for the exam and continue personal education advancement at any age.


IGCSE offers more than 70 subjects where students are required to take a minimum of 5 or maximum of 14 subjects.

The core subjects are English, Mathematics and Sciences. Nevertheless, students can also choose other subjects ranging from Social Sciences (commonly Accounting, Business Studies, Economics, Sociology) to Arts & Technology (commonly Computer Studies, Information & Communication Technology (ICT), Art & Design).

Students are awarded with one IGCSE certificate on each subject. If you take 5 subjects, you will be awarded 5 IGCSE certificates. The number of subjects that need to be taken is varied from school to school, and also depends upon individual preference.

In Malaysia, it is compulsory for all Malaysian students to sign up for their SPM Bahasa Malaysia when they are in Year 11 (the Form 5 Year).


Unlike the Malaysian Certificate of Education (or Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia, aka SPM) which offers examinations once a year, the IGCSE offers examinations twice a year, in June and November. The IGCSE issues the results in August and January every year.

Moreover, the IGCSE graduates can quickly apply for scholarships or be admitted into college and/or university earlier as compared to the SPM graduate.

Cambridge IGCSE Grading System

The IGCSE is graded from A* to G, with U stated as “Ungraded”. Students are required to obtain minimum grade C for the 5 core subjects in order to proceed to the next advanced level or further education.

The IGCSE grading system aims to maintain the standard of grading such that the same level of achievement will receive the same grade from one year to the next. This means that grades should reflect a consistent level of achievement between different syllabuses within the same qualification and in different years.

IGCSE grading overview is as below:

In whichever step parents take for their children on alternative secondary school qualifications, it is crucial to refer to various resources on the internet, speak to teachers, parents and students with some experience, visit and take trial classes (if possible) at the schools and learning centres and ensure that it is the right choice for the child and his future.

Choosing IGCSE is something to consider as it is a good and plausible choice that one can make if one can afford it!

Click here to find out what educators, parents and students think of IGCSE

Click here to check out schools that offer IGCSE in Malaysia

Click here to get access of the past IGCSE exam papers

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