Mention some differences between Cambridge IGCSE & Cambridge O Levels

Parents and students tend to confuse Cambridge IGCSE and Cambridge O levels as they offer similar qualifications. These two curricula also have a similar syllabus and teaching pattern. However, they also have quite a few differences, which parents and students must know. Read the article to map these differences and select the right one for your child. 

Grading system

The two curricula have different grading systems. While the Cambridge IGCSE offers grades from A to G, the Cambridge O level offers only A* to E. In both cases, the first grade is the highest students can achieve. However, the Cambridge IGCSE board aims to assess students’ performances better. More grades show that students are marked with more attention. Thus, teachers and parents can focus on their strengths and weaknesses better. 


The Cambridge IGCSE system offers several teaching and testing methods. Teachers assess students through oral tests, class tests, and other engaging activities. Thus, such a system does not follow the standard exam method only. The system also aims at developing analytical and application skills amongst students and helping them grow out of textbook learning. 

In contrast, the Cambridge O-level system offers lesser options for teaching and testing students’ performances. The system has a few standard teaching and examination processes. 

Range of choice

Students enrolled in the Cambridge IGCSE curriculum can choose their preferred streams, textbooks, and topics within the prescribed syllabus. While some schools prefer following a specific text for a subject, other schools or students might choose something different. Thus, the system offers a wide range of subject and topic choices. 

In contrast, the Cambridge O-level system focuses on the local needs of students. Thus, students have limited choices. However, students can learn various regional languages and develop other skills specific to an area in this system. 

Practical knowledge

The Cambridge IGCSE model aims at developing practical skills in children. Thus, students are graded based on their application skills. Every school in Malaysia following this model offers various lab activities for students. 

On the other hand, practical testing options are limited in the Cambridge O-level model. However, such a system can be beneficial for local schools that have a limited number of facilities and resources. 


The Cambridge IGCSE course aims to prepare students for employment. Hence, they focus on helping students develop several skills relevant to the modern world and groom them for work. 

On the other hand, Cambridge’s O-level education aims to improve students’ academics. It focuses on reading and writing, helping them to develop in-depth knowledge about different courses and topics. 

Which is better? 

Once you know the differences between the two systems, you might wonder which can be the best model for your child. There is no direct answer to this. Thus, parents must check their child’s requirements and abilities before selecting the correct framework. For instance, does your child want to pursue academics, or do they want a job after college? If they want the first, the Cambridge O-level system might help. If they wish to go for the second, there’s no better option than the Cambridge IGCSE model. 

Checking your child’s abilities is also crucial. For instance, if your child needs to improve in studies, enrolling them in the Cambridge IGCSE system can help. Such a system lets you focus on your child’s performance and improve their weaker areas.

Parents must also note that their chosen model depends on their child’s interests. In general, all of the models are equal. Moreover, they offer the same qualification. Hence, the difference lies in the model’s content; it is vital to understand them before deciding. 


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