Comparing IB and IGCSE

International Baccalaureate® (IB) and International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) are the two International school education programs. IGCSE is also an examination conducting body.  The IGCSE is controlled by a department of the University of Cambridge and IB is an education foundation with headquarters in Geneva.



International Baccalaureate® is an International education foundation which runs four educational programmes namely Primary Year Programme (PYP), Middle Year Programme (MYP), Diploma Programme (DP) and Career-Related Programme (CRP). IGCSE is administered by a separate department at the University of Cambridge, UK.

IB prescribes an educational framework whereas Cambridge provides a designed curriculum. IB does not conduct assessment exams but provides certifications to the grades acquired by students studying the curriculum in a school which reach a certain standard.

The IGCSE, also known as Cambridge board is basically a class X level certificate exam after which the students can opt for A and AS level exams, Cambridge Pre U exams which have class XII equivalency. IGCSE students can also make a transition to IB Diploma Programme for class XI and XII. The choice, therefore, is between Cambridge A, AS level or IB Diploma Programme.

IB programme has to be implemented by school administrators and teachers well oriented in the IB framework with excellent comprehension of demands of a curriculum centered on targeted skills in every subject.

Cambridge provides curricular guidelines whereas IB gives the schools running its programme the liberty to design and enforce a curriculum. The curriculum designed by the schools must be attuned to the criteria including scientific knowledge, communication, scientific inquiry, scientific attitudes etc. of assessment prescribed by the IB.

IGCSE has a diverse International curriculum, international in orientation but adapted to national context offering around 70 subjects to be followed by Cambridge International schools. IGCSE keeps assessment as a pivotal factor in its programme.

We have provided condensed information about the advantages and limitations of both the IGCSE and IB. These are based on the observations after the study of the programme structure as well as the school’s experience

IB's advantages

  • The teachers have a big role to play in establishing a curriculum and as they are closest to the students they can personalize the implementation of the curriculum according to the student’s socio-cultural context.
  • The absence of a strict curricular design can promote teacher’s imagination and translate into better learning outcomes.
  • The IB system allows space to several different curricular designs and can adopt the best of every proposed way within the framework.
  • The skill centered approach is more engaging than content-based approach and encourages the development of multiple intelligences.
  • IB offers a genuine and complimenting mix of national and international viewpoints in education.
  • Entrepreneurs globally have shown a preference for IB school students as skilled employees and this is a boost for IB school promoters.
  • IB education provides increased prospects of settling internationally

IB’s limitations

  • The teachers’ and administrators’ error in judgment or approach can affect the efficacy of curriculum in achieving the skill set required for qualification.
  • Teachers may feel overburdened by the work of providing inputs for curriculum.
  • IB expects the revision of curriculum quite frequently. This can prove challenging for school promoters.
  • IB schools need more resources to implement the IB Programme effectively. The fee also increases as a direct result.
  • IB requires teachers to attend a lot of workshops for skill enhancement and programme comprehension. This might come as a challenge for the school management.
  • Schools in India find it difficult to implement all IB programmes. Some schools have PYP, MYP, and DP. Some have only DP. This can result in a break of the continuum which is ideal for IB programme.
  • There are no Career Related Programmes running in India as on date.
  • Student’s level of knowledge in PYP and MYP may vary from school to school.
  • IB schools have to bear the responsibility of assessment and assistance provided by the IB school community may seem insufficient in this regard.


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IGCSE's advantages

  • IGCSE students get a fixed idea as to what their future course should be.
  • The curriculum is structured and global in perspective while being nationally relevant at the same time.
  • The assessment is credible and makes students more focused.
  • Teachers are not burdened with curriculum designing that is something teachers in India are not used to doing.
  • It does not require teachers to attend workshops as frequently as IB which reduces cost.
  • An examination provides fixed assessment criteria and grades attained by the students makes it possible to compare the results of schools internationally.
  • Parents prefer the arrangement of fixed external exams in India.
  • IGCSE precedes IB in India and teachers are more easily available than for IB schools which requires curriculum design.

IGCSE limitations

  • IGCSE restricts the engagement of teachers and their creativity is not employed so much.
  • IGCSE curriculum is international but the attitude of teachers towards imparting education remains traditional, totally focused on exams.
  • IGCSE encourages rote learning and is very fact-based.
  • Assessment of classwork and homework assignments is not incorporated in the final assessment in IGCSE.
  • The IGCSE culminates in class X and the Cambridge advanced is to be chosen which the students find difficult to cope with. The students can opt for IB diploma programme but are sometimes not capable enough to meet the challenge.
  • IGCSE syllabus remains fixed and is not revised according to the needs of the new batch of students, unlike IB.


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Both of the international educational programmes (IB and IGCSE) are especially beneficial for the emerging global needs and are capable of developing the skill set in students which are internationally comparable and equipped for higher studies and research work. They can complement the Indian education systems making it complete, given the human resources are available and school promoters turn out to be as progressive as both of these systems of pedagogy demand them to be.

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Vinod Kakumanu

Vinod Kakumanu

Founder & Consultant - School Serv

Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.

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