Comparing IB and IGCSE: Finding the Right Fit

Written By Sangeeta | Edited By Varsha & Adi | Updated on 01st Feb, 2024

Choosing the right school is like solving a puzzle for your child. The education board you pick adds more pieces to the picture. IB is like a big adventure with lots to explore, while IGCSE takes it one step at a time. No worries! Our blog is here to help you figure out the details about IB and IGCSE. We’ll talk about the basics, subjects, what these boards offer, and even share all the info on the top options. Let’s jump into this journey of finding what’s best for your kiddo.

Quick Summary

Comparing IB and IGCSE: Finding the Right Fit

  1. Overview of the IB Board
  2. Overview of the IGCSE Board
  3. How to get admission in IB and IGCSE schools?
  4. Understanding the difference: IB vs IGCSE
  5. Subjects offered in IB and IGCSE
  6. Exam formats of IB and IGCSE
  7. How are IB and IGCSE graded?
  8. Cost Comparison: IB vs IGCSE
  9. Which one is right for you: IB or IGCSE
  10. Why is IB considered harder than IGCSE
  11. Pros and Cons of IB and IGCSE
  12. Do Universities in India recognise IB and IGCSE?
  13. What does IB Teach Students?
  14. What does IGCSE Teach students?
  15. Best IB and IGCSE schools in India
  16. People’s Perspective
  17. FAQs about IB and IGCSE 
  18. Conclusion

1.  What is IB Board?

The IB board stands for the International Baccalaureate. It’s not just a regular school board – think of it like a global superstar of education! The IB offers a special kind of program for students worldwide, helping them learn all sorts of cool things and become super-smart thinkers. It’s like a passport to a top-notch education that opens doors everywhere! IB offers several programs. Here are the main programs provided by the IB:

  1. IB Primary Years Programme (PYP):
  • For kids aged 3 to 12.
  • It helps kids learn by asking questions and exploring things around them.
  1. IB Middle Years Programme (MYP):
  • For teens aged 11 to 16.
  • It gives teens interesting and challenging school work that connects to the real world.
  1. IB Diploma Programme (DP):
  • For older teens aged 16 to 19.
  • It’s a tough but well-rounded school program with exams. It makes you think a lot and understand different cultures.
  1. IB Career-related Programme (CP):
  • Also for older teens aged 16 to 19.
  • It mixes regular school with learning about a job or career you’re interested in. You also do a special project.
  1. IB Continuing Education (IBCE):
  • For teachers and school staff.
  • It helps teachers learn more so they can teach IB programs better.

Overall, these programs are like special school plans to help kids and teens learn in different ways, understand the world, and be ready for their future jobs and studies.

2. What is IGCSE Board?

2. What is IGCSE Board?

The IGCSE board stands for the International General Certificate of Secondary Education. It’s like a big treasure box of learning! This program offers a bunch of subjects for students around the world. It’s not just about books, it’s more like an exciting map guiding students through different subjects and skills. So, IGCSE is like a cool guide for a great education adventure.

3. How to get admission in IB and IGCSE schools?

Getting admission to IB (International Baccalaureate) and IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) schools typically involves a structured process. Here are general steps and criteria that may be applicable:

Research and Choose a School:

  • Research IB and IGCSE schools in your area or the desired location.
  • Consider factors like school reputation, facilities, and available programs.

Check Admission Criteria:

  • Review the admission criteria specified by the school.
  • Criteria may include academic performance, language proficiency, and sometimes an entrance exam or interview.

Application Process:

  • Obtain the school’s application form.
  • Complete the application form with accurate information.
  • Prepare required documents such as academic transcripts, recommendation letters, and a personal statement.

Entrance Exam or Interview:

  • Some schools may conduct an entrance exam or interview to assess the student’s abilities and suitability for the program.

Meeting Deadlines:

  • Make sure to meet application deadlines and submit all required documents on time.

Financial Considerations:

  • Check for any financial requirements or fees associated with the admission process.

Notification of Acceptance:

  • Wait for the school to notify you about the admission decision.

Remember that the specific admission process can vary between schools, so it’s crucial to carefully read and follow the guidelines provided by each individual institution. Additionally, it’s beneficial to contact the school’s admissions office directly if you have specific questions or concerns.

4. Understanding the difference: IB vs IGCSE

  1. What are the subjects offered in IB and IGCSE?
  • IB: Detailed Syllabus

The IB (International Baccalaureate) program has a detailed syllabus with various subjects. Let’s simplify it:

  1. Language and Literature:

Read cool books and learn to write awesome essays.

  1. Language Acquisition (e.g., Spanish, French):

Have fun learning a new language—talking, listening, and writing!

  1. Individuals and Societies (e.g., History, Geography):

Explore the past and the world around us. Study cool stories and maps.

  1. Sciences (e.g., Physics, Chemistry, Biology):

Dive into science experiments. Learn how things work, from tiny cells to the stars.

  1. Mathematics:

Solve interesting maths problems. It’s like a puzzle adventure!

  1. The Arts (e.g., Visual Arts, Music):

Get creative! Draw, paint, play music, and express yourself.

  1. Physical and Health Education:

Stay active and healthy. Learn about sports, nutrition, and taking care of yourself.

  1. Design and Technology:

Use your imagination to create things—like designing cool gadgets.

  1. Global Perspectives:

Explore world issues. Discuss how people can make the world better.

  1. Theory of Knowledge (TOK):

Think deeply about how we know things. It’s like a superpower for critical thinking.

  1. Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS):

Do cool projects, sports, and help your community. It’s about being active and making a difference.

Remember, the IB program is like an exciting journey where you learn about the world, try new things, and become a well-rounded and thoughtful person.

  • IGCSE: Detailed Syllabus

Let’s break down the IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) syllabus in simple language:

  1. English Language:

Read cool stories and learn to write better. It’s about becoming a language ninja!

  1. Mathematics:

Solve interesting maths problems. It’s like a puzzle adventure with numbers.

  1. Science (Physics, Chemistry, Biology):

Explore the world of science. Learn about forces, chemicals, and living things.

  1. History:

Travel back in time. Discover exciting stories about people and events.

  1. Geography:

Explore the Earth. Learn about countries, landscapes, and cool natural features.

  1. Foreign Languages (e.g., Spanish, French):

Have fun learning a new language. It’s like unlocking a secret code!

  1. Art and Design:

Get creative! Draw, paint, and make cool art projects.

  1. Music:

Dive into the world of music. Learn to play instruments or appreciate different styles.

  1. Physical Education:

Stay active and healthy. Play sports and understand how to keep your body in top shape.

  1. Computer Science:

Understand the magic behind computers. Learn to code and create cool programs.

  1. Business Studies:

Discover how businesses work. It’s like learning the secrets of successful companies.

  1. Drama:

Act out stories and express yourself on stage. It’s about having fun with drama!

  1. ICT (Information and Communication Technology):

Explore the digital world. Learn about computers, the internet, and cool tech stuff.

IGCSE is like an exciting journey of learning, where you can check out lots of cool stuff in different subjects. It’s like having a blast while becoming a clever and creative thinker.

  1. Difference in exam formats of IB and IGCSE

The exam formats for IB and IGCSEs have some notable differences. Let’s make the differences easier to understand.

  • IB Exams:
  1. Comprehensive Assessment:

IB exams assess a wide range of knowledge and skills in each subject.

  1. Internal and External Assessment:

In addition to external exams, there are internal assessments done by teachers throughout the course.

  1. Extended Essays and Projects:

Students often have to complete extended essays, projects, or presentations, contributing to the final grade.

  1. Theory of Knowledge (TOK) and Extended Essay:

IB includes unique components like the Theory of Knowledge essay and the Extended Essay.

  • IGCSE Exams:
  1. Subject-Specific Exams:

IGCSE exams focus on specific subjects, with separate exams for each.

  1. Modular Structure:

Some IGCSEs have a modular structure, meaning exams are taken in chunks throughout the course.

  1. Coursework and Practical Assessments:

Coursework and practical assessments may be part of the overall grade, depending on the subject.

  1. Varied Question Types:

Exam questions can include multiple-choice, short answer, and essay-style questions.

  • Shared Characteristics:
  1. External Assessment:

Both IB and IGCSEs include external exams assessed by an independent organisation.

  1. Toughness and Academic Challenge:

Both are known for their academic toughness and challenging assessments.

  1. International Recognition:

Both qualifications are internationally recognized, facilitating entry to universities worldwide.

IB exams cover lots of subjects and special essays. IGCSE is more focused, testing one thing at a time with hands-on stuff. Both are awesome and well-respected.

  1. How are IB and IGCSE graded?
  • IB grading system

The IB (International Baccalaureate) uses a 1 to 7 grading scale, where:

  • 7 is the highest score, representing excellent performance.
  • 4 is the passing grade, indicating a basic level of understanding.
  • 1 is the lowest score, showing minimal achievement.

Students receive a score for each subject, and additional points can be earned through the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge components. The maximum total points a student can achieve is 45. Higher scores are often seen as strong indicators of academic achievement and readiness for university-level studies.

And here’s the thing, to pass and get a diploma, you need at least 24 points. 

IB grading is cool because it doesn’t just test what you know, it looks at your creativity, activities, and helping others. It’s not just about acing tests, it’s about being awesome in many ways. 

  • IGCSE grading system

Okay, so when it comes to grading in IGCSE exams, they use this eight-point system. Check it out:

  • A*: You rock if you get 90-100%
  • A: Still awesome at 80-89%
  • B: Pretty good with 70-79%
  • C: Okay, you’re doing fine with 60-69%
  • D: 50-59% means you’re holding your own
  • E: Getting there, 40-49%
  • F: Keep pushing, 30-39%
  • G: Below 30%, let’s give it another shot

Oh, and here’s the deal – you need to score above 40% in all subjects to pass. They add up all your marks to figure out your final result.

  1. Cost comparison: IB vs IGCSE

Comparing the costs of IB and IGCSE programs involves several factors, and it can vary based on the specific school and location. Let’s simplify the comparison:

  • IB Costs:
  1. Materials and Exam Fees:

IB might have higher costs for study materials and exam fees because it includes additional components like Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge.

  1. Teacher Training:

Schools offering IB may need specialised training for teachers, which could impact overall costs.

  • IGCSE Costs:
  1. Exam Fees:

IGCSE exam fees might be comparatively lower since it’s a subject-focused examination.

  1. Materials:

Study materials may be less expensive since the program is subject-specific without additional components like Extended Essay.

  • Shared Considerations:
  1. Tuition:

Tuition fees for both IB and IGCSE programs can vary widely based on the school.

  1. Additional Costs:

Consider additional costs such as uniforms, extracurricular activities, and field trips, which can be similar for both programs.

  • Summary:

So, the costs for both IB and IGCSE can be a bit like shopping at different stores. It really depends on the school you pick, where it is, and what’s included in the program.

Now, IB can be a bit fancier on the wallet because it has this bigger plan with unique parts. It’s like going to a restaurant with extra courses on the menu.

On the other hand, IGCSE might be a bit kinder to your budget. It’s more like picking and paying for just the dishes you want to eat. Simple, right?

But here’s the secret: when you’re looking at costs, don’t forget to chat with the schools. They’re like your financial advisors for education. Ask about all the fees and think about how the program can help you in the long run. It’s not just about the money, it’s about the value you’re getting for your education.

  1. Which one is right for you: IB or IGCSE?

Choosing between IB and IGCSE depends on your preferences, goals, and learning style. Let’s break it down:

Consider IB If:

  • Enjoy exploring lots of subjects.
  • Like thinking deeply and doing big projects.
  • Want an internationally recognized qualification.

Consider IGCSE If:

  • Prefer focusing on specific subjects.
  • Like exams in chunks, not all at once.
  • Want flexibility in choosing subjects.

Shared Considerations:

  • Think about your budget.
  • Check which program is offered by schools nearby.
  • Consider your future academic and career goals.

Final Tip:

Visit schools and talk to students who’ve experienced these programs. The best choice is the one that fits you best.

  1. Why is IB considered harder than IGCSE?

Imagine IB is like a big puzzle with lots of pieces to figure out—many subjects, big projects, and deep thinking. It’s like a tricky puzzle adventure.

Now, think of IGCSE as learning one thing really well at a time. You focus on specific subjects and take exams in smaller bits.

So, why is IB thought to be tougher? It’s like comparing a big buffet to a simple meal. IB has more variety and complexity. But hey, it doesn’t mean IGCSE is a walk in the park—it’s just a different kind of challenge.

5. Pros and Cons of taking IB and IGCSE

  • Pros of taking IB:
  1. Learn Lots: IB covers many subjects, so you get to explore a bunch of cool things.
  2. Think Big: It makes you think deeply, not just about facts but big ideas too.
  3. Special Projects: You do unique projects, like the Extended Essay, which is like a big research paper.
  4. Worldwide Recognition: People all around the globe know and respect IB, so it’s like having a passport for education.
  5. Get Ready for Uni: It sets you up well for university studies. It’s like a super smart warm-up.
  • Cons of taking IB:
  1. Lots of Work: IB can feel like a mountain of assignments and projects.
  2. Stressful Exams: The exams are a bit intense, and they cover a ton of stuff.
  3. Time-Consuming: It takes up a big chunk of your time, leaving less for other things.
  4. Not for Everyone: It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, some find it too challenging.
  5. Can be Pricey: It might be pricier than other programs.

But hey, every challenge is like a stepping stone to becoming a smarter, more capable you!

  • Pros of taking IGCSE:

1.    Global Recognition: The IGCSE curriculum boasts global recognition and is widely accepted by universities and employers worldwide, opening doors for students on an international scale.

2.    Broader Curriculum: With a more extensive and comprehensive syllabus, the IGCSE curriculum ensures that students gain a well-rounded knowledge base, preparing them for a diverse range of academic and professional challenges.

3.    Easier Grading System: The grading system in IGCSE is more lenient, providing students with the opportunity to achieve higher grades, reflecting their efforts and understanding of the subjects.

4.    Promotes unity: IGCSE brings people together. You learn about the world, and it helps break down those walls between different cultures. It’s like being part of a big, friendly global family.

5.    Ready for Anywhere: Because IGCSE is the same all over the world, if you ever decide to study or work in another country, you’re all set. No surprises, just the same great education no matter where you go!

It’s like tailoring your education to suit your interests and pace!

  • Cons of taking IGCSE:

1.    Hefty Price Tag: Let’s be real, IGCSE schools can cost a pretty penny. The fees are on the higher side because of all those fancy facilities and well-qualified teachers. Your wallet might feel the weight.

2.    Curriculum Stress: The IGCSE curriculum is like a heavyweight champion – extensive and demanding. It can be stressful for students to keep up. Finding reference books and tuition? Not as easy as ordering pizza.

3.    Limited School Options: IGCSE schools are like rare gems. You won’t find them on every street corner. So, if you’re dreaming of attending one, you might have limited options. 

4.    Rigid Curriculum Structure: The IGCSE course maintains a consistent structure, similar to a fixed framework. Once established, it remains unchanged. For those seeking a curriculum with adaptability to diverse student needs, this may not align with those expectations.

6. Do universities in India recognise IB and IGCSE?

Yep, Indian universities totally get what IB and IGCSE are all about. It’s like having a special ticket that they totally recognize. So, if you’re into IB or IGCSE, you’re all set for the university journey in India.

7. What Does the IB Teach Students?

IB is like a fun teacher that teaches lots of cool stuff, not just regular subjects. It makes your brain work hard, gives you special projects, and makes you a citizen of the world. It’s like a warm-up for university. So, you become a super smart student.

8. What Does the IGCSE Teach Students?

IGCSE is like your friendly teacher that helps you focus on what you love. You pick subjects you’re into, take exams in smaller bits, and even do practical stuff. It’s like building your own learning adventure.

9. Top IB schools in India

1. The International School Bangalore (TISB)

  • This school truly shines in its commitment to academic excellence, emphasising not only exam success but also fostering creativity and critical thinking. 
  • With experienced and passionate educators, it stands out as the best IB school, dedicated to nurturing well-rounded and high-achieving students.
  • The school is located in NAFL Valley Whitefield – Sarjapur Road, near Dommasandra, Bengaluru.
  • The annual fee for day scholars is around Rs. 5,50,000, and for the hostellers, it is around Rs. 6,50,500. However, this may vary depending on your child’s grade. 

2. The Doon School, Dehradun

  • It’s an independent all-boys boarding school in Dehradun, exclusively for boys aged 12-18,  with a term fee of Rs.2,80,000.
  • This school is amazing – top-notch teaching, students acing the tough IB program, and teachers with global vibes, leading to top university admissions!
  • They’re all about making well-rounded folks – not just books but drama, debates, and more.
  • The Doon School rocks with top-notch facilities – a killer library, cool labs, and awesome sports spots!

3. Ecole Mondiale World School, Mumbai

  • It’s a school in Juhu, Mumbai, welcoming boys and girls aged 3-18,  with a term fee of Rs. 3,00,000.
  • This school’s got the cool stuff – sci-fi labs, artsy studios, and sports facilities for Badminton, Soccer, Basketball and Cricket.

10. Top IGCSE Schools in India

1. Trio World Academy, Bangalore

  • The school’s Special Education Needs (SEN) Department, staffed with special educators and counsellors, addresses the unique academic and emotional requirements of each child. This dedicated team ensures that every student receives the support and assistance they need to thrive in their educational journey.
  • There are computer labs for all students and Apple iPads for middle schoolers. Plus, they offer the BARCA Academy for after-school football training.
  • Get the Application Form at the Admission Office for ₹2000. Tuition fees vary from ₹300,000 to ₹700,000 yearly, depending on if you’re a day scholar or a boarder and your grade level. 

2. The British School, New Delhi

  • The British School in New Delhi offers a globally recognized education with IGCSE and IB curriculum. It prioritises holistic development, fostering leadership and social responsibility in students through diverse extracurricular activities.
  • The school charges a monthly fee of Rs.59,251. We understand the fees may seem high, but there are various concessions and scholarships available that you can avail.

3. Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Mumbai

  • Dhirubhai Ambani International School, is a prestigious institution known for its commitment to providing high-quality education. 
  • School focuses on academic excellence, holistic development, and fostering a global perspective, preparing students for future challenges.
  • School is known for its excellent education, modern facilities, and challenging curriculum, making it a top educational choice in India.
  • The school is located in Mumbai’s Bandra-Kurla Complex and the school charges a term fee of Rs.2,90,000.

11.  People’s perspective on IB and IGCSE

Okay, check this out: Some people view IB as this big adventure with tons of subjects and cool projects. On the flip side, IGCSE is more like mastering one subject at a time, with exams in smaller bits. It’s similar to choosing between a grand feast with lots of options and a simpler meal—it’s all about what kind of learning vibe you prefer.

12. FAQs about IB and IGCSE

1. Is IGCSE more expensive?

When comparing IGCSE and ICSE, it’s notable that IGCSE schools tend to have higher fees. This is because IGCSE schools, with their global perspective, require more resources to provide a high-quality education. 

2. Are IB and IGCSE the same? 

No, they’re not the same. IB is like a big adventure with lots of subjects and cool projects, while IGCSE is more about focusing on specific subjects with exams in smaller parts. They each have their own style of teaching and learning

3. Is shifting from IGCSE to IB possible?

Yes, it’s possible to shift from IGCSE to IB. People do it to try a different learning style and explore new subjects.

4. Where can I find IB past papers?

You can find IB past papers on the official IB Website.

5. Does Harward accept IB?

Yes, Harvard University accepts the International Baccalaureate (IB) as part of its admissions criteria.


Choosing the right school board can be a bit tricky, but we hope we have made this journey easier for you. Start by figuring out what you want – your goals, budget, and the kind of education you want for your child. Once you’ve got that sorted, you’ll be in a better position to pick the perfect fit. And hey, don’t forget to reach out to the schools directly, maybe even visit them. Personalised insights can make all the difference!

Varsha & Adi

Hi, we are Varsha and Adi, and we’re on a mission to help parents make the right choice for their kids’ education. Picking a school is like a 10-year commitment, and we realized parents needed clear, no-nonsense info. That’s why we created Candid Schools, where you can get the real deal on schools without the fancy jargon. Our goal is simple: to give parents the info they need to make the best choice for their little ones.

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