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6 questions and answers about the IGCSEs
O Castro British International School

The IGCSE, short for International General Certificate of Secondary Education, are the official international examinations taken at the end of secondary education in the British education system, Year 11 (4th year of ESO in the Spanish system). Students who take the IGCSE also obtain, via homologation, the title of "Educación Secundaria Obligatoria" (Compulsory Secondary Education).

 Why are the IGCSE so recognised?

María Guyre, Technical Director of O Castro British International School, explains that "IGCSEs are considered to be one of the most highly valued qualifications in the world.  They are recognised by the world's leading universities and companies, and are an international passport to personal development and success. They are regarded as one of the world's most recognised qualifications, accredited by the Universities of Cambridge and Pearson Edexcel and approved by the General Council of British Universities".

What are IGCSEs for?

As well as being a gateway to the world, IGCSEs prepare students for life, fostering their natural curiosity and passion for learning now and in the future. The curricula are designed in collaboration with specialists from universities, always with the maxim of stimulating students' development and their desire to learn.

The educational approach helps students to develop important values and attitudes towards life and learning: self-confidence in valuing information and ideas, both their own and those of others, responsibility for their own actions, responsiveness and respect for others, the ability to reflect and develop the skills needed to learn, the capacity to innovate and preparation for current and future challenges and finally intellectual and social engagement that helps to make a difference.

How many pathways and subjects does the IGCSE offer?

The IGCSE offers several pathways to suit students of all backgrounds. This curriculum for pupils aged 14-16 is essentially the same as that of schools in England. All pupils study up to 9 subjects in preparation for the IGCSE examinations. The core subjects - English language, mathematics and science - are compulsory. In addition to the core subjects, pupils are free to choose two subjects, depending on their interests, personality and university and career goals.

The IGCSE subjects provide students with a different approach to the teaching, learning and assessment of subjects.

How does the school prepare for these exams?

María Guyre, the school's technical director explains that "although the exams are taken in Year 11, they are prepared for in two years, between Year 10 and Year 11, that is, between the ages of 14 and 16. O Castro British International School has a wide range of teaching materials to plan and deliver the IGCSE programme. Our resources are adapted to the different learning styles of our pupils. In these final years of Secondary Education, our teachers help their pupils to prepare for the exams, exposing them to the typical questions they will encounter at the end of Year 11 and carrying out numerous exercises based on previous exam papers, the so-called "Mock exams".

The school's aim is "to prepare our students to pass all the exams with high marks, with the support and guidance of all the teaching staff, who will gradually provide them with the tools they need to approach the exams with confidence and assurance".

How are IGCSEs assessed?

Assessment takes place at the end of the second year, and can include written, oral and practical projects and exercises. This allows students to show their skills and what they have learned in different ways. Grades range from A* to G (or numerical equivalent) and students are awarded an IGCSE diploma with a grade for each subject in which they are examined.

When do IGCSE examinations take place?

IGCSE examinations are held twice a year, in June and November. Results are published in August and January. All students taking an IGCSE subject, regardless of the country in which they take it, are subject to the same curriculum requirements, content, assessment tests, etc.

Achievement of the British qualification demonstrates that the student has the necessary thinking skills, aptitudes, knowledge of the English language and awareness of their own learning.