Here you are wondering if you should take your children out of the government school system and you have no clue what IGCSE is all about. How is IGCSE different from SPM?
In this article, I will break down what you need to know as a parent embarking on this route. The goal of this article is to make sure that you are as informed as possible before you make a decision.
1. Quality Of Education
Unlike many others, I am not going to take a piss at our national education system. It is a decent education system built around utilitarian ethos. The idea was to create a universal education system that brought the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people.
But does it prepare you for the real world? No.
So does IGCSE prepare you for the real world? The answer is a little complicated.
As a person who has taught both syllabi, I can assure you that IGCSE is definitely a more superior syllabus if what you are looking for is to build an individual that is great at applying knowledge in real-life situations, good at analyzing and synthesizing information. The syllabus and examination are set to go against rote learning of any sorts. This means you are highly unlikely to score in IGCSE if you are good at memorizing textbooks and past year answers.
However, SPM syllabus is definitely more in-depth. For example, if you did SPM biology, you would have probably learned so much stuff that you would be finding your first year in A levels or pre-med a breeze. The only catch is SPM is designed for rote learning champions.
So the question to ask here is, do you want your child to know more stuff (I really can’t understand why because there is Uncle Google for that) or do you want your child to be able to ask better questions, think more clearly and have an analytical mind?
IGCSE is an examination that is certified by Cambridge Assessment International Education. Cambridge IGCSE is the world’s most popular international qualification for 14 to 16-year-olds. It is taken in over 150 countries and in more than 4,800 schools around the world. It is internationally accepted and Malaysian students who took IGCSE can apply to private or oversea universities to further their studies.
Meanwhile, SPM is nationally certified. It can be used to apply for private and public universities in Malaysia for their next step in education. However, SPM is not your ticket to an overseas pre-university program. Candidates who target to further their studies outside of the country have to take another examination as required by the universities such as A-level, AUSMAT or do an American/Australian Degree Transfer Program (ADTP).
So the main question to ask here is what exactly are you looking at post IGCSE?
3. Option to speed things up
To me, this is the real reason why I love IGCSE. With IGCSE, you can choose to take your exams as early as 14 years old or as late as you wish. That simply means if you are smart there is no law that is holding you back.
SPM on the other hand is the total opposite. All SPM candidates should reach the age of 17 to take the examination except for those who are repeating the paper. This is because the curriculum is standardized where the ministry has decided on what age a child is obligatory to start and end school.
I always found it a little unfair to hold children back when they could easily move up the years at their own pace. This is exactly what Pasxcel aims to do for students who plans to take IGCSE. With Pasxcel’s Online IGCSE Homeschooling option, you can finish your highschool 2-3 times faster than going to a normal private or international school. This is because your child’s learning experience at Pasxcel is crafted and customized according to your child’s strength and weakness.
4. Frequency of assessment
Combined with the fact that you can break IGCSE into 2 sittings. You can take a few subjects in May/June and the rest in October/November.
This makes IGCSE a clear winner against SPM which can only be taken once a year in November.
Using this advantage offered by IGCSE, I usually recommend parents to break the subjects into two batches so students can study and concentrate on a few for the 1st sitting and the rest in the 2nd sitting. If you need more advice on how to strategize your IGCSE, you can grab a copy of my Ultimate IGCSE Parents Playbook.
5. Format of assessment
SPM is entirely exam based. Even for the subjects with coursework, the coursework carries very little weightage towards the final results.
The assessments used in IGCSE on the other hand are formative assessments where it covers both examination and coursework. Therefore, students have the choice to go down the 100% exam route or have a good mixture of coursework that will contribute to their final grades.
6. Minimum number of subjects
To qualify for SPM certification, you need to take six compulsory subjects (Bahasa Melayu, English, Islamic Studies or Moral Studies, History, Mathematics and Science) and three or four elective subjects. You are required to score a credit in Bahasa Melayu and a pass in History.
For IGCSE on the other hand, there are no minimum subjects!
I personally think this is fantastic news. Let’s say you want to study design, performing arts or culinary arts, the minimum requirement for all these programs is only 3 credits. You could end up saving a massive amount of time and money by completing your high school education in record time and moving on to more important things in life as soon as possible.
Not only that, you are not required to do any subject that you don’t like. That is exactly what playing to your strength looks like!
There you go.
It is quite obvious that IGCSE is the winner here. However, I completely understand that you may have some doubts or questions that might not have been addressed in this article so I’ve hosted a live session to organize parents questions on IGCSE. You can check that out here.
Accounting, Business Studies, Economics & Financial Literacy
BA(Hons) Finance, Accounting & Management, Sunway University
Chartered Accountant, ACCA.
Yuventhiran Nadarajan is a father, husband, speaker and entrepreneur. But he is best known among students and parents alike as an educator. Teacher Yuven believes that the current schooling system is outdated beyond measure and is the last piece of surviving antiquity in our fast-paced ever-changing world.