Understanding IGCSE Grading and Marking Schemes

The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) is a globally recognized qualification taken by students in various countries. Understanding the grading and marking schemes of the IGCSE is crucial for students, educators, and parents to interpret and assess the results accurately. Here's a comprehensive overview of how IGCSE grading and marking work:

1. Grading System

The IGCSE grading system uses letter grades to represent a student's performance in a subject. The grades are assigned based on the student's overall score in the subject, which is calculated using raw marks. The grading scale typically consists of the following letter grades:

- A* (A-star): The highest grade, indicating exceptional performance.

- A: Excellent performance.

- B: Very good performance.

- C: Good performance.

- D: Satisfactory performance.

- E: Sufficient performance.

- U (Ungraded): Indicates that the student's performance did not meet the minimum requirements for a passing grade.

2. Marking Scheme

The raw marks for each IGCSE subject are converted into UMS (Uniform Mark Scale) scores. The UMS scores are then used to determine the final letter grade. Here's how the process generally works:

- Raw Marks: 

These are the marks awarded for each question or section in the exam.

- UMS Scores: 

The raw marks are converted into UMS scores on a scale set by the examination board, such as Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE). The UMS scale ensures that the difficulty of different exam papers and years is accounted for, allowing fair comparisons of student performance.

- Grade Thresholds: 

These are predetermined UMS score ranges that correspond to each letter grade. For example, the grade threshold for an A* might be 90-100 UMS, while an A might have a threshold of 80-89 UMS.

3. Component Grading

IGCSEs often consist of multiple components, such as written exams, coursework, or practical assessments. The final grade for the subject is calculated by combining the UMS scores from these various components. The weightage of each component is determined by the examination board and is specified in the syllabus.

4. Coursework and Practical Assessments

For subjects with coursework or practical components, such as science subjects or languages, teachers typically assess students' work. Coursework and practical assessments are graded according to specific criteria provided by the examination board. The final coursework or practical grade is then combined with the exam component to calculate the overall subject grade.

5. Minimum Pass Requirements

To earn an IGCSE qualification, students must meet the minimum pass requirements set by the examination board. This usually involves achieving a minimum passing grade (e.g., C) in a specific number of subjects, including core subjects like English and Mathematics.

6. Results Reporting

When IGCSE results are reported, they typically include the following information:

- Subject Name: 

The name of the subject for which the result is being reported.

- Component Marks: 

A breakdown of the raw marks or UMS scores achieved in different components of the subject, such as written exams and coursework.

- Final Grade: 

The overall letter grade awarded for the subject.

- Qualification: 

Confirmation that the student has earned the IGCSE qualification.

7. Retaking Exams

Students who are not satisfied with their IGCSE results may have the option to retake specific exams to improve their grades. The rules and procedures for retaking exams can vary by examination board and school.

8. Understanding Grade Boundaries

Grade boundaries represent the minimum UMS score required to achieve a particular grade. These boundaries can vary from one examination series to another, depending on factors like the difficulty of the paper and the performance of the student cohort. It's essential to check the specific grade boundaries for the exam series in which the student took the IGCSEs.

9. Transferability and Recognition

IGCSE qualifications are widely recognized and accepted by colleges, universities, and employers worldwide. However, it's essential to research the specific requirements and policies of the institutions or organizations to which you or your child plans to apply.


In summary, the IGCSE grading and marking scheme uses letter grades to assess a student's performance, with UMS scores serving as an intermediate step in the grading process. Understanding the grading system, grade boundaries, and component grading is crucial for interpreting IGCSE results accurately. These qualifications are valuable for students pursuing further education and careers globally.