IGCSE or IB | Which One’s Tougher for Students?

Written By Ketan | Edited By Varsha & Adi | Updated on 24th Jan, 2024

Choosing between IB and IGCSE curriculum can be challenging as both offer unique advantages and requirements. In this blog, we’ll examine the differences between the two programs and provide insights into which one may be more challenging for students. We’ll explore the curriculum structure, assessment methods, and pros and cons of each program to help you make an informed decision. So grab your thinking cap, and let’s get to it! Which is Harder IGCSE or IB?

Quick Summary

Which one is tougher IGCSE or IB?

  1. Overview of IGCSE
  2. Overview of IB
  3. Comparing IGCSE and IB
  4. Factors Influencing Difficulty
  5. Student Perspectives
  6. Tips for Parents
  7. FAQs

1.  Overview of IGCSE

1. Overview of IGCSE

IGCSE, or the International General Certificate of Secondary Education, is this cool worldwide thing for kids aged 14 to 16. It’s made by Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) and covers lots of different subjects. What’s neat about it is that you can pick what you wanna study from a bunch of options, so it’s pretty chill and lets you follow your interests and whatever you might wanna do later on in school.

Curriculum Overview

  • Subjects: Subjects in the IGCSE cover a bunch of areas like English, Maths, Science, Humanities, and Languages. You gotta pick at least five but can go up to 14 if you’re feeling ambitious.
  • Assessment: To check how you’re doing, they use exams, hands-on stuff, and sometimes projects for different subjects.
  • Recognition: The IGCSE is widely recognized and accepted by universities and employers around the world, making it a valuable qualification for further education and career opportunities.

Grading system

 In IGCSE, they use a 9-point scale for grading. It goes from A* (the best) to G (the lowest).

  • If you get A* or A, you’re doing really well! B and C mean you’re doing good, and D and E show you’re doing okay.
  • But F and G mean you might need some more help in that subject.

These grades help schools figure out how well you’re doing and can also be important for getting into college or finding a job later on.

Pros of the IGCSE Curriculum

Well, let me tell you, IGCSE has some pretty cool benefits!

  • Flexibility: It’s like a big menu where students pick what they like. You get to choose different subjects you are interested in.
  • Recognition: The IGCSE is a bit like having a golden ticket. Universities and employers all over the world give it a thumbs up, giving students a ticket to so many cool opportunities in education and work.
  • Practical Learning: This isn’t just about hitting the books, it’s about getting your hands dirty too! The IGCSE curriculum is all about diving in and actually doing stuff, making learning a hands-on adventure.
  • Critical Thinking: It’s not just about memorizing facts, it’s like unlocking a secret level of problem-solving. Choosing IGCSE is great because it teaches you to think creatively and prepares you for the real world’s unpredictability.
  • Global Perspective: Think of it as a window to the world. This curriculum is all about understanding different cultures and societies, making you a true citizen of the world.

Cons of the IGCSE Curriculum

Now, let me tell you some cons of IGCSE!

  • Pressure: The curriculum demands a lot of hard work and dedication, which might cause stress for some students.
  • Cost: IGCSE courses and exams can be pricey, making it tough for some students to afford them.
  • Exam-Focused: Some students feel it’s all about exams, which might lessen their creativity and overall learning experience.

2. Overview of IB

2. Overview of IB

The IB? It’s this global program for 16 to 19-year-olds, you know? It’s not just about books—it’s like a whole-life upgrade! They focus on your brain, heart, and everything in between. The cool part? It’s known worldwide for making you a thoughtful, open-minded human. So yeah, it’s pretty good!

Curriculum Overview

  • Subjects: Subjects in the IB cover six groups, each with lots of courses for students to pick from. It’s all about having choices!
  • Core Elements: In addition to the subject groups, students must complete the Theory of Knowledge course, the Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) program, and the Extended Essay.
  • Assessment: Students are assessed through written exams, internal assessments, and the Extended Essay.
  • Recognition: The IB is widely recognized by universities and employers around the world.
  • Overall Education: The IB curriculum is designed to challenge students academically while also promoting personal growth and development.

Grade System

In the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, students are graded on a scale from 1 to 7.

  • If you score a 7, that’s awesome – it means you’re doing fantastic in that subject! Getting a 6 is also really good.
  • A 5 means you’re doing well, and a 4 is okay. But if you get a 1, that’s an area where you might need more help.

These grades help show how you’re doing in different subjects and can be super important for getting into college or finding your way into different jobs later on.

Pros of IB Curriculum

  • Comprehensive Education: IB provides a well-rounded education that embraces overall learning, combining different subject areas and emphasizing critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Global Perspective: The curriculum emphasizes a global perspective, encouraging students to understand different cultures, societies, and ways of thinking, preparing them to be global citizens.
  • Recognition: IB diploma is respected worldwide, opening doors for university and career paths..
  • Personal Development: Unique courses like Theory of Knowledge and activities like CAS, it helps students grow personally and reflect on their experiences.
  • Well-Rounded Education: The IB curriculum offers a diverse range of subjects, promoting a balanced education that holds not only academic excellence but also personal development and character-building.

Cons of IB Curriculum

  • Pressure: The IB curriculum can be intense and demanding, which may lead to increased pressure and stress on students.
  • Time Management: Managing the demanding coursework and extracurricular activities can be challenging for some students, as the IB requires a high level of time management skills.
  • Cost: The cost of the IB curriculum can be a significant financial burden for some families.
  • Toughness: The IB curriculum has a strict structure that might not fit well for students with different ways of learning or interests

3. Comparing IGCSE vs IB

3. Comparing IGCSE vs IB

IGCSE vs IB : Syllabus

IGCSE Subjects:

IGCSE, they start with important stuff like language, math, and science. These fit into different groups like languages, social sciences, math, and creative or vocational subjects. But hey, it’s not just the basics! Students can also pick extra courses, like arts or more social sciences. It’s like a big canvas where you can choose lots of different things to study!

IB Subjects:

IB covers different subjects like languages, social sciences, sciences, math, and arts or vocational subjects. It’s a bit more structured, so there’s not as much freedom to add extra courses or pick based on your specific interests.

IGCSE vs IB : Difficulty Level


IGCSE gives you the chance to pick your subjects, which is pretty cool. But it’s still a tough ride. You’ll need to put in the work to tackle this curriculum.


Now, IB takes things up a notch. It’s all about thinking deeply and applying what you learn. The tests are pretty detailed, making IB an even bigger challenge.

4. Factors Influencing Difficulty

There are several factors that can influence the difficulty of IB and IGCSE:

  • Personal Strengths and Weaknesses: 

Students’ individual strengths and weaknesses in different subjects can impact their perception of difficulty.

  • Learning Style: Students with different learning styles may find one curriculum more challenging than the other.
  • Support System: The support system available to students, including teachers, family, and peers, can impact their ability to cope with the demands of the curriculum.
  • Cultural Differences: Students from different cultural backgrounds may find some aspects of the curriculum more challenging than others due to differences in educational systems and learning approaches.
  • Language Barrier: Students who are not native speakers of the language of instruction may find the curriculum more challenging due to language barriers.

5. Students Perspective

Now, let’s dive into the minds of students who have experienced the curriculum of IGCSE and IB. 

Student’s Take on IGCSE

Some students really like the IGCSE curriculum. They think it’s awesome because it helps them learn important skills like thinking hard about problems and understanding the world better. They feel like they’re getting ready to be part of the whole world. They also like that it’s not just about reading books, they get to learn about real things happening in the world. But for other students, it feels like there’s just too much to learn. They agree it’s good to learn about different cultures and real-life stuff, but sometimes, it’s a bit too much. Even though they can choose how they learn, it can still feel confusing.

So, one group of students loves it because it helps them learn skills and see the world differently. But for another group, it’s a bit overwhelming because there’s so much to learn, even though it’s interesting. Both groups have good points about what’s good and what’s hard about this way of learning.

Student’s Take on IB

Some students really like the IB curriculum. They think it’s like a tough adventure that challenges their brains in a good way. They learn to think deeply, be creative, and understand the world better. It’s not just about textbooks; it’s about solving problems and knowing a lot about the whole world.

But for other students, it feels like it’s just too hard sometimes. The amount of work they get can be too much, and there’s a lot of pressure to be great at everything. Even though it’s supposed to make them well-rounded, it feels exhausting. Plus, the tests and exams can feel never-ending.

So, for some, the IB is like this exciting journey that teaches them a lot, but for others, it’s tough because of the workload and pressure. Both sides have good points about what’s good and tough about the IB way of learning.

6. Varsh and Adi’s Takes

So, that was a lot of information right? Our goal is to simplify things for you. We’ll provide key tips on selecting the right curriculum for your child along with our insights, helping you make a Thoughtful decision.

Tip for Parents

When it comes to choosing a curriculum for their child, there are some things to keep in mind:

  • Child’s Needs and Interests: Parents should consider their child’s unique learning style, interests, and needs when choosing a curriculum.
  • Resources and Support: Parents should consider the resources and support available to their child in the curriculum, including teachers, tutors, and support staff.
  • Cost: It’s important to think about costs like tuition, exam fees, and related expenses for the curriculum.
  • Long-Term Goals: Parents should think about their child’s long-term goals and how the chosen curriculum can help them achieve their goals.
  • Future Opportunities: Parents should consider how the chosen curriculum can open up future opportunities for their child, such as higher education or career opportunities.


Q1. Can students transfer between IB and IGCSE programs?

Yes, Transferring between IB and IGCSE programs is possible, but it may require research and consultation with the school administration.

Q2. Are there extracurricular activities available in IB and IGCSE programs?

Sure thing! Both IB and IGCSE programs provide extracurricular activities. IB has the CAS program focusing on creativity, action, and service, while IGCSE programs offer sports, music, clubs, and community service options.

Q3. Are there any scholarships or financial aid available for IB or IGCSE programs?

Yes, financial aid for IB and IGCSE programs is available.

So, which is Harder?

It depends on you! If you’re a critical thinker who loves challenges, IB might be your Everest. If you prefer a broader base and a lighter load, IGCSE might be a better fit.

Ultimately, the best choice is the one that fits your learning style and goals. Choose the path that excites you and leads you to where you want to be!

I hope this helps! Remember, there’s no right or wrong answer. Just pick the program that feels like the best adventure for you.

What’s Next

We suggest asking yourselves, ‘What do you want for your kid in Bangalore?’ Make a list of the ‘must  haves’ and the ‘nice  to  haves.’

Also, don’t be shy, talk to everyone! Friends and neighbours in Bangalore may have some thoughts. Check online too, but remember, reviews are like opinions, everyone’s got one! Oh, school visits! Take a tour, meet the teachers, ask questions, and see if it clicks in Bangalore. Open houses are super helpful too, you’ll learn about what they teach and meet other parents.

And don’t forget the money talk school fees are just the tip of the iceberg in Bangalore. There are uniforms, field trips, and the occasional surprise costs. Stay on top of the applications, they may be followed by an interview. When it comes to interviews, just being yourself is the key, even for kids.

But really, you can’t go wrong with any of these Bangalore schools, as they are the best in Bangalore. Let us know which one you end up enrolling your kid in!

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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