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What are IGCSEs?

As your children reach their mid-teenage years, both they and you as parents have incredibly important decisions to make. The qualifications they gain at this stage of their educational pathway will play a vital role in mapping out their journey through higher education.

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Among the potential pathways is the International General Certificate of Secondary Education, or IGCSE. From the curriculum it offers to the qualification’s benefits, this guide provides you with everything you need to know about IGCSEs.

An Introduction to the IGCSE

The International General Certificate of Secondary Education is a set of examinations and qualifications. In Year 10, students at Madinat Khalifa and Themaid, start studying for their IGCSEs. Students will tackle a range of subjects before sitting exams at the end of Year 11. The highest grade that can be attained is an A*, while the lowest is a G.

IGCSE Examination Boards

These exam boards that offer a version of the IGCSE qualification at our school:

Cambridge IGCSE

First taught in 1986 (in line with the introduction of GCSEs in the UK) the Cambridge IGCSE is developed by Cambridge Assessment International Education. Part of the University of Cambridge, the Cambridge IGCSE offers over 70 subjects.

Aside from core subjects such as Mathematics, Sciences and English, there are a variety of other subjects touching the humanities, business, and 30 languages.

Find out more here.

Edexcel IGCSE

Created by the University of London, Edexcel was formed as an educational body in 1996. An Edexcel IGCSE certification can be attained across 37 subjects. Their exams are also set across schools in the UK, closely aligning their IGCSE programme with students studying in the UK.

Find out more here.

The IGCSE Curriculum

The IGCSE exams are built on a number of core subjects.

The IGCSE exams are built on a number of Core Subjects, which are compulsory for students to take. These subjects include Mathematics, English, Islamic Studies (compulsory for Qatari students) and Coordinated Science (double award), which includes Biology, Chemistry and Physics. This ‘double award’ means that it counts as two IGCSE grades and students can then choose to specialise in any Science subject at International Baccelaureate (IB) level or A Level, which is particularly important for those who decide to study Medical Sciences or Engineering at university. Beyond this, students are offered a number of options for additional subjects. Find out more here.

Students receive support from school staff in choosing the subjects that are right for them, and that prepare them most effectively for their chosen career. We also hold an IGCSE Options Evening, an opportunity for students and parents to learn more and speak to the teaching team, as well as providing all students with an IGCSE Options Guide, with detailed information on each subject.

These exams provide a solid bridge to further study such as the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme at our Madinat Khalifa campus or A Levels at our Themaid campus.

As the Cambridge International GCSE curriculum states, IGCSEs also focus on broader intellectual pursuits such as:

  • Applying knowledge and understanding to new as well as unfamiliar situations
  • Intellectual inquiry
  • Flexibility and responsiveness to change
  • Working and communicating in English
  • Influencing outcomes
  • Cultural awareness

Benefits of the IGCSE

IGCSEs are a fantastic option for any child looking to prime themselves for the best academic future. Here are four benefits to the qualification.

1. Gain respected qualifications

With the IGCSE, your child can benefit from one of the most respected academic qualifications in the world. Thanks to the Lisbon Recognition Convention, IGCSEs are accepted as worthy qualifications in many countries around the world. The convention ensures that qualifications gained in one country are regarded as equal to the equivalent qualification in the member states, which allows a student to further their education in another country within the Lisbon Recognition Convention.  

This is a sign of the respect IGCSEs command and is signed by 45 of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe, alongside countries such as the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

2. Accessible for all levels of education

IGCSEs are not just aimed at children with the highest academic skill level. They are an opportunity for every child to gain meaningful qualifications that act as a launchpad for their educational future.

3. Lay the foundations for the International Baccalaureate Diploma and A-Levels

IGCSEs are an essential part of the academic process. Compass International School is your child’s pathway to the world’s best universities with both the IB Diploma and A Levels available at our school after IGCSEs.

World-renowned universities regard these as qualifications which produce well-rounded individuals who are prepared to embrace opportunities anywhere in the world.

4. Learn Valuable Life Skills

The IGCSE curriculum works hard to ensure that students aren’t merely memorising a list of facts to pass their exams. The intention is to develop an enthusiasm for intellectual inquiry – an indispensable skill required for further education.

Contact our Admissions Team today to find out more about IGCSEs at our Madinat Khalifa and Themaid Campuses:


Call: +974 4034 9821 (Madinat Khalifa), +974 4034 6801 (Themaid)

Complete an Enquiry Form Online

Contact Our Admissions Team Today

Admissions & Visit Enquiry

Themaid Campus

PO Box 22463
Building 16, Street 1457, Zone 51
Al ThemaidDohaQatar


Gharaffa Campus

PO Box 22463
Building: 55; 670 Al Abareeq Street; Zone: 51
Gharrafa DohaQatar


Madinat Khalifa Campus

PO Box 22463
Building: 34; 926 Al Baihaqi Street; Zone:32
Madinat KhalifaDohaQatar


Rayyan Campus

PO Box 22463
856 Wadi Al Ghusn Street; Building 14, Zone: 53

Gharaffa General Enquiries +974 4034 9666

Madinat Khalifa General Enquiries +974 4034 9888

Rayyan General Enquiries +974 4034 9777

Themaid General Enquiries +974 4034 6800

Madinat Khalifa Admissions +974 4034 9821

Gharaffa Admissions +974 4034 9601

Rayyan Admissions +974 4034 9702

Themaid Campus Admissions +974 4034 6801