What is the iGCSE?
Many IB schools in Hong Kong enrol their students in the iGCSE exams, such as South Island School, Island School, West Island School and KGV. iGCSE exam is essentially the GCSE exam for international students. Typically, the exams are done right before students start the IB at grade 11. Although universities don’t typically consider the iGCSE exam scores, the exam helps to consolidate students’ fundamental concepts. Thus, many parents are interested to enrol their child with a GCSE tutor.
The iGCSE is very popular globally and is divided into different subject areas. A qualification is received for each subject taken. Different schools often have different requirements about how many or what iGCSE subjects students should take. In most cases, schools require students to pick one first language, one second language, a math subject, a social sciences subject and a science subject.
The iGCSE is an exam-based course, meaning that students are graded based on their performance in the exam. Students can be graded from A* to U, with 9 grades in total, with “U” being ungraded.
Why is the iGCSE important?
As mentioned above, universities typically put more weigh on IB examination results, but this does not mean that they don't consider your iGCSE results at all. Ambitious students should still strive to perform very well in the iGCSE exams.
If a student performs poorly in the iGCSE, his or her confidence is likely to be affected. He or she may start to label themselves as an underperforming student, and this will definitely affect their confidence in IB. It is rare to see a student who does poorly in the iGCSE go on to do exceptionally well for the IB. After all, poor self esteem and low academic performance is very difficult to break out of. Thus, parents are rightfully concerned about the iGCSE.
So how can a tutor help?
Firstly it is important to understand that there are different exam boards to the iGCSE exams, such as Cambridge and Edexcel, which are two of the most common ones. An ideal GCSE tutor should provide tailor-made materials for the exam board the student is doing.
Secondly, the iGCSE is a public examination. This means that there is a systematic marking scheme for all subject and a well defined syllabus. In many ways, this is similar to the IB. Thus, an ideal tutor for the iGCSE should be able to teach exam techniques and skills to the student. Moreover, the tutor should be able to categorise iGCSE questions by type and teach it to students in a systematic way.
Thirdly, as mentioned above, many schools use the iGCSE as an introduction to the IB syllabus. This is because many foundational IB concepts are actually taught in the iGCSE. If your child is planning to go into IB after iGCSE, its ideal to have a tutor who is also familiar with the IB syllabus, who can more effectively guide your child’s learning progress.
Tips for the iGCSE
As mentioned above, many schools in Hong Kong have their students do iGCSE before the IB exams. We highly encourage students to pick their iGCSE based on what they are going to choose in the IB. For example, a student aiming to do math HL in IB should take further math in iGCSE in order to prepare himself. Or for example, if the student plans to do Economics in IB, doing economics in iGCSE will give a very obvious advantage. In other words, students should have a blueprint for their IB subject choices when choosing iGCSE subjects.
Another tip for iGCSE is to revise using past exam questions. This is very important because the iGCSE is an exam based courses. Each year, similar kinds of questions show up. Thus, past exam questions is the best way to revise.
Should you get a GCSE tutor?
Most iGCSE students in Hong Kong take more than 5 iGCSE subjects. We would advise students to use a GCSE tutor for subjects they are relatively weak in. A tutor can turn months into days and accelerate a student’s learning. Our tutors can help you break down complicated concepts, sort out relevant practice questions for you and teach you exam skills. All of these will help you dramatically with your academic results