Other articles in this series:
・Introduction on Cambridge International-①
・Cambridge International and IB (Introduction on Cambridge International-③)
・University Applications (Introduction on Cambridge International-④)
The Cambridge International provides students a pathway that includes 4 stages: Cambridge Primary (5 to 11 years old), Cambridge Lower Secondary (11 to 14 years old), Cambridge Upper Secondary (14 to 16 years old) and Cambridge Advanced (16 to 19 years old). The Cambridge Pathway guides students from primary to pre-university years by equipping them with the knowledge and skills needed at school, university and beyond.
The Cambridge Primary is typically a 6-year programme for learners aged 5 to 11 years. The programme offers a series of subjects such as English as a first or second language, mathematics, Science, ICT, Global Perspectives and Arts. The curriculum is flexible and schools can offer subjects available in any combination. At the end of the programme, students can take the Cambridge Primary Checkpoint tests, an external international benchmark for learner performance that provides feedback on learners’ strengths and weaknesses before they progress to the next stage of education.
Cambridge Lower Secondary
The Cambridge Lower Secondary is typically 3 years and learners are generally aged 11 to 14 years. All Cambridge Primary subjects are carried onto the next level and learners have the chance to further their understanding on those areas. Schools can enter students for the Cambridge Lower Secondary Checkpoint tests at the end of the programme.
Cambridge Upper Secondary (IGCSE / O Level)
The Cambridge Upper Secondary offers two routes–Cambridge IGCSE and Cambridge O Level–for learners aged 14 to 16 years. IGCSE is the abbreviation of International General Certificate of Secondary Education. Both programmes are usually taken over a two-year period. Compared to O Level, IGCSE is tailored for a wider ability range of students with a broader grading system and offers more subject options for learners.
Generally speaking, IGCSE is more well-known than O Level around the world and is in fact the world’s most popular international qualification for 14 to 16 year olds. As of September 2019, Cambridge IGCSE was taken in over 150 countries and in more than 4800 schools around the world. Students typically study 5 to 8 subjects at IGCSE and the qualifications are internationally recognised.
Cambridge Advanced (AS & A Level)
The Cambridge Advanced is typically for learners aged 16 to 19 years. There are two routes for Cambridge Advanced–Cambridge International AS & A Level, and Cambridge Pre-U. In November 2019, Cambridge International announced the plan of withdrawing Cambridge Pre-U and the last examinations for all subjects will be June 2023.
Cambridge International AS Level is typically one year and A Level is typically two years. There are three ways to gain Cambridge International AS & A Level qualifications:
- Take the Cambridge International AS, which is also known as A1, Level only. The syllabus content is half a Cambridge International A Level.
- Take a staged assessment route by taking the Cambridge International AS (A1) Level in one examination series and complete the final Cambridge International A (A2) Level at a subsequent series, usually in a span of two years.
- Take all papers of the Cambridge International A Level course in the same examination session, usually at the end of the course.
There are no compulsory subjects for Cambridge International AS and A Level. Typically, students take four AS Level subjects and three to four A Level subjects. The standard admission requirement for universities in the UK is three A Levels and some universities may require a fourth subject at AS Level.