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What is an IGCSE qualification?

Have you been looking to give your child access to an internationally recognised world-class education? We have just that! Here’s how it works:
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Understanding the IGCSE qualification

 Have you been looking to give your child access to an internationally recognised world-class education? We have just that! UCT Online High School is now offering the Cambridge International curriculum – offering Year 10 in January 2023. 

What is IGCSE? 

The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) makes up the most popular curriculum in the world for learners between 14–16 years, who get a Cambridge IGCSE qualification at the end. At UCT Online High School, our IGCSE programme runs for two years with external exams in October/November.

Who started the program and when? 

Cambridge IGCSE was introduced over 30 years ago by Cambridge University in the UK. 

Here’s how the IGCSE qualification works:

The Cambridge International curriculum is divided up into different categories: Lower Secondary, IGCSE and the AS and A-Levels. The IGCSE makes up part of the Cambridge Secondary 2 stage. It is also a necessary step in a Cambridge International learner’s path to university admission. The curriculum comes with clearly defined content and learning outcomes. It has international relevance while being flexible enough to adapt to the unique cultural contexts of Cambridge International learners, wherever they are.  

When do you start taking IGCSE subjects if you are in South Africa? 

The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) is the natural next step after Lower Secondary studies and it’s for learners aged between 14 and 16 years. In South Africa, the first year of IGCSE is equivalent to Grade 10. 

What are the required subjects for IGCSE? 

There are six required subjects at IGCSE. English First Language and Mathematics are compulsory for all learners. 

Learners then choose 3 additional subjects from: 

  • Afrikaans - Second Language (0548)
  • Biology (0610) 
  • Chemistry (0620)
  • Physics (0625) 
  • Information Communication Technology (ICT) (0417)
  • Business Studies (0450) 
  • Geography (0460)
  • History (0470)

* More subjects will be added in 2024 

The great thing about the Cambridge International curriculum is that it has a large variety of subjects to choose from and UCT Online High School will be expanding subject choices in 2024 and beyond to give our learners more options. 

*Please note that a second language is compulsory for South African learners who wish to obtain a matric exemption — which is a requirement for tertiary articulation into South African Public Universities.

How do the IGCSE exams work? 

Grading benchmarks range from A to G and exams are written in June and November, with results given in August and January. External Cambridge International examinations for IGCSE and AS or A-Levels are written at an accredited Cambridge examination centre or British Council. Learners will need to register at their nearest examination centre as private candidates.

You can prep with past Cambridge Curriculum papers here

Who marks the exams? What is the examination board? 

Cambridge Assessment International Education is the world’s largest provider of international education qualifications for 5 to 19-year-olds. Cambridge Assessment International Education prides itself on setting assessments that are fair and meet the high technical standards for which Cambridge International is renowned. External examinations are marked by Cambridge Assessment International Education according to their rigorous academic standards. 

You talk about Progression Requirements - What are these? 

Every year, under the Cambridge International offering, your child will need to meet Progression Requirements. Simply put, these are the grades that your child needs to achieve in order to move into the next year or qualification. 

Each year has a different set of Progression Requirements and we encourage you and your child to make sure you read through and understand them fully. 

For Lower Secondary these can be found on page 37 of the Lower Secondary Academic Handbook

For IGCSE these can be found on page 26 of the IGCSE Academic Handbook. 

What does doing the Cambridge International curriculum mean for your university acceptance? 

Learners who achieve their Cambridge International qualification at AS or A-Levels open themselves up to a world of opportunity. There are over 2000 universities around the globe that are always eager to accept Cambridge International learners which is renowned for successfully preparing learners for university studies due to the curriculum's focus on higher-order thinking skills.

South African learners only need an AS-Level qualification to be accepted into South African Universities while learners wanting to apply to universities in other parts of the world will need to complete their A-Level qualification to meet these entrance requirements. Please make sure that you reach out to the university you are interested in applying to find out more about their unique entrance requirements. 

Why choose the IGCSE curriculum? 

The world-class standard of the Cambridge International curriculum is renowned for giving learners the right skills to thrive at their university of choice.Cambridge International learners confidently go into their tertiary studies because they know that they’ve developed the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in university, their jobs and the world. 

What makes doing your IGCSE with UCT Online High school the right choice? 

UCT Online High School is the most affordable Cambridge International school in Africa! It is also one of only 16 official Cambridge International online schools. Cambridge Assessment International Education has entrusted UCT Online High School to set our learners up to meet the high standards set by their qualifications. Through our dynamic learning and support model, we are committed to ensuring our learners thrive!  

Read here to see how the Cambridge International curriculum is different from our CAPS offering.

What are the costs of the Cambridge International curriculum? 

The Cambridge International curriculum at UCT Online High School is the most affordable in Africa! Find out more about our fees in our Fees Handbook.

Hear from our Head of School and Cambridge International alumni 

Here’s what Tessa Venter, our Head of School and a Cambridge International alumni, who has gone on to carve an illustrious career, has to say about the Cambridge International curriculum.

“I completed Cambridge International IGCSEs and AS-Levels at a South African school. Using my Cambridge International qualifications I was accepted into both my university and degree of choice. Studying through Cambridge International meant I had a great academic foundation in the subjects I studied at university. I was also well prepared for tertiary studies and the level of independence that was required of me”

Cambridge International curriculum is the most popular, and truly international qualification that opens learners up to a world of opportunity. It gives them more options, more subjects to choose from, and more ways to learn, and succeed. 

For more info on the Cambridge International curriculum, please download our Info Pack, call our friendly Admission Team on +27 21 140 1792 or email and we’ll be all too happy to steer you in the right direction.

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