All About Cambridge IGCSE International Mathematics


IGCSE or the International General Certification of Secondary Education, as the name suggests is one component of the Cambridge Course way and covers

  • Cambridge Lower Secondary – targeting students between the ages of 11 and 14 years
  • Cambridge Higher Secondary – targeting students between the ages of 14 and 16 years

This can be compared to the IB MYP (International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program), the only difference being that IB provides just the framework allowing the teachers and schools to follow their own curriculum be creative, whereas the IGCSE follows a specific curriculum.

Thus, the IGCSE examinations are taken under the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE).

The students need to sit for the exams conducted by Pearson Edexcel International or CAIE (Cambridge Assessment International Education) to be able to opt for the “AS” or the “A” levels. IB Diploma Program can be considered as an option too. After completing the IGCSE examination in the 10th grade, a student gets either a CIE certification or an IGCSE certification, which entirely depends on the school he is attending.

IGCSE offers up to 70 subjects to its students, including more than 30 languages. Students can take them in any combination. The groups under which the subjects are ordered as follows:

  • Group 1 – Languages
  • Group 2 – Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Group 3 – Sciences
  • Group 4 – Mathematics and Business
  • Group 5 – Creative and Professional and Vocational


Cambridge IGCSE International Mathematics Syllabus

  1. Helps building the students’ ability, confidence, and the ease in using their use of techniques without the use of calculator, and thus increasing the mathematical understanding
  2. Encourages the students’ reasoning and analytical skills
  3. Emphasizes problem solving in mathematics and real-life contexts
  4. Enables better communication and reasoning mathematically
  5. Helps students of all abilities to achieve and progress in mathematical studies


Content Overview

All the students for this subject will study these following topics:

  • Number
  • Algebra
  • Functions
  • Co-ordinate Geometry
  • Geometry
  • Vectors and Transformations
  • Mensuration
  • Trigonometry
  • Sets
  • Probability
  • Statistics

The course is tiered to enable effective differentiation for students.

  • The Core content is for the students who are targeting grades G-C
  • The Extended content is for the students who are targeting grades D-A*

The entire Core content is covered in the Extended content.

Graphic Display Calculators are permitted for the examinations, but calculators with symbolic algebraic logic are not permitted. Using the graphic display calculators, the students should be able to:

  • Sketch a graph
  • For a given function, be able to generate a table of values
  • For a given function, find the zeroes, local maxima, and local minima
  • Find the intersection point for two graphs
  • Find mean, median and quartiles
  • Find the linear regression equation

Students should use the following problem-solving techniques to be able to solve a problem successfully.

  • Model a mathematical situation using the information and mathematics
  • Select the appropriate tools to use for the situation modeled
  • Analyze the situation using appropriate methods and techniques
  • Interpret and communicate the result of the analysis


Assessment for the Mathematics Syllabus

All students take three components for the assessment and are graded in the range A* – G. The following table provides the details of the components taken by the students.

Paper 1 Paper 2 Paper 3 Paper 4 Paper 5 Paper 6
Core/Extended Core Extended Core Extended Core Extended
Marks 40 40 96 120 36 60
Question Type Short answer Short answer Structured Structured One Investigative task One investigative task and one modeling task
Duration 45 minutes 45 minutes 1 hour 45 minutes 2 hours 15 minutes 1 hour 10 minutes 1 hour 40 minutes
Calculators Not permitted Not permitted Graphic Display Graphic Display Graphic Display Graphic Display
Assessment Externally assessed Externally assessed Externally assessed Externally assessed Externally assessed Externally assessed
Weightage 25% of the final marks 20% of the final marks 60% of the final marks 60% of the final marks 15% of the final marks 20% of the final marks


Assessment Objectives (AO)

The assessments objectives are differentiated into two components

AO1 – Demonstrate and Understand the Knowledge of Mathematical techniques
AO2 – Apply the Mathematical Techniques


AO1 component would require the students to

  • Interpreting, organizing, and processing the given information accurately in any mode – written, tabular or graphical or diagrammatic representation.
  • Using the mathematical notation appropriately.
  • Performing calculations and simplification using suitable methods, with or without the usage of a calculator.
  • Making use of the systems of measurements as in the daily context.
  • Rounding off and estimating to degrees of accuracy relative to the context and conversion into the equivalent numerical forms.
  • Using geometrical tools to measure and draw, keeping in mind the acceptable measure of accuracy.
  • Understanding and using appropriate spatial relationships in two or three dimensions.


AO2 component would require the students to

  • Make inferences or deductions and drawing conclusions from the given mathematical data.
  • Appreciate and recognize quantity, pattern and relationships and make generalizations.
  • Use a logical and structured way to present arguments and the following reasonings.
  • Recognize an appropriate mathematical procedure for a given situation.
  • Formulate problems into mathematical terms and choose and apply the right techniques.
  • Structure an unstructured problem so as to solve it using a series of processes.
  • Interpret results in the context of a given problem so as to evaluate the methods used and solutions obtained.


What Else you Need to Know!

It is recommended that for this course, the students should have studied a mathematics curriculum such as Cambridge Lower Secondary program or equivalent. The IGSCE syllabus is curated in a way that each subject has 130 guided learning hours. But it may vary as per the local practice and the previous experience of the subject.


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What is IGCSE International mathematics?

The Cambridge IGCSE International Mathematics program encourages students to improve their math skills as a crucial life skill, a solid foundation for further math study, or to boost abilities in other disciplines.

Why is IGCSE math so difficult?

In comparison to prior years, the curriculum is more extensive and loaded with topics that are rather complicated, demanding the use of more critical thinking and problem-solving techniques.

Does IGCSE affect your future?

There are various ways for students to get to the IGCSE, which serves as a launch pad for a bright future. An international program with a focus on critical thinking and inquiry-based learning is the International General Certificate of Secondary Education.

Is IGCSE maths harder than CBSE?

IGCSE is tougher. In general, CBSE is simpler to evaluate since it focuses on textual knowledge over critical thinking, problem-solving, and other abilities.

What are the hardest topics in IGCSE maths?

To mention a few, there are simultaneous equations, circle equations, and trigonometry. Before looking at the solutions, make sure to give each of them a try yourself, but don’t be concerned if you don’t get it right. Math proficiency can only be attained via repetition and plenty of errors.

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