7 Reasons to Choose OxfordAQA & IGCSE Cambridge Syllabus for Your Children

Straits International School students and teachers

OxfordAQA and IGCSE are international exam boards – ones that put fairness first in everything they do. Examinations only focus on subject abilities, not language proficiency or cultural literacy.

This focus gives every student a chance to show what they learned in the classroom and get the result they deserve.

Here are seven reasons to choose OxfordAQA & IGCSE Cambridge syllabus for your children.


1. Standards and Grading Structure

Some International GCSEs are focused on the current reformed GCSEs taught in England, which are graded 9–1. However, several boards continue to offer International GCSEs focused on the old A*–G GCSEs that are being phased out in the UK.

International GCSEs are focused on the reformed GCSEs, ensuring they are consistent with the GCSEs that students in England are already taking. This updated standard features tests that place a stronger focus on critical thinking capabilities, new syllabus content, and new 9–1 grades.

The 9–1 rating system was created to assess student achievement against the new higher standard while still encouraging the new standard to be compared to the former.

As a result, a Grade 7 is equivalent to an A, and a Grade 4 is equivalent to a C. The reformed International GCSEs offer students the chance to show higher abilities, with a new ‘exceptional’ Grade 9, which is higher than the old A*.

As competition for positions for the most top-ranked schools heats up in both private primary school and private secondary levels, the ability to earn a Grade 9 allows candidates to stand out from the crowd.

This is especially significant now that A-levels in England have been rendered more ‘linear,’ and colleges are largely relying on GCSEs as proof of a student’s prior achievement.


2. A-levels: Modular or Linear

The format of A-levels in England has improved, but most International A-levels have not. International schools may also select whether to deliver the five UK exam boards’ newly reformed “linear” A-levels or continue with International A-levels’ “modular” approach.

Students may drop the subject after Year 1 and yet earn an AS qualification thanks to the modular method. This ensures that students can begin with four or five A-levels to complete the three they excel at while still earning an AS qualification for the ones they drop. Many schools and students favour the modular approach because of its flexibility.

The OxfordAQA International A-levels are divided into modules. Students are encouraged to retake single papers as often as they choose if they don’t get the desired grade rather than the whole exam.


3. Syllabus Content

While both international exam boards have identical qualifications syllabuses, there are several variations. The syllabuses of OxfordAQA are influenced by the latest curriculum changes in England, ensuring that the curriculum your child will learn and the curriculum adopted by students in the UK are in sync.

This alignment of the updated curriculum often results in a syllabus that is more current and applicable. The International GCSEs in Science, for example, provide brand-new units on Space Physics, Animal Behaviour, and Nanoparticles – subjects that will pique students’ interest. At the same time, they have a foundation in cutting-edge research concepts.

However, not all of the reformed revisions to UK GCSE content are suitable for international students, so adjustments are made where necessary.

Contextual problem solving, for example, is now a required component of all UK Mathematics GCSEs. Still, exam questions that assess success in this manner may disadvantage students who do not speak English as their first language. As a result, it is not part of the International GCSE.


4. Flexibility

Some qualifications enable schools to choose and select which testing units they want to use, such as coursework or exams. Coursework helps students delve further into a specific aspect of the topic, which is especially relevant in a subject like English.

As a result, schools will deliver coursework at both International GCSE and A-level for OxfordAQA’s First Language English qualifications. This is not the case with GCSEs and A-levels in the United Kingdom and several other foreign A-levels.

Students may select from various exam papers for International A-level Mathematics, enabling them to focus on a particular area.

The goal is to allow students to have a strong foundation of Pure Math and understand both Statistics and Mechanics before specializing in one of their preferred options, which is why the curriculum is designed in this way.


5. Cross-disciplinary Options

Cross-disciplinary opportunities are gradually being incorporated into school curricula. Alongside their International GCSEs or A-levels, your child will complete an accredited independent project with OxfordAQA to learn valuable transferable learning skills, including problem solving and research.

The Independent Project Qualification (IPQ) is a global variant of AQA’s common Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). The IPQ is worth half an A-level and should be added to your child’s three chosen A-levels.

It requires students to complete a project on a topic of their choosing and is supported by a syllabus of taught academic skills. Universities in the United Kingdom consider the certification to be outstanding training for further education.

Students perform a research-based piece of analytical work driven by a brief syllabus of academic skills equivalent to the IPQ. Along with their regular score, successful students receive a Pass, Merit, or Distinction support on their International GCSE certificate.

Both the IPQ and the International GCSE Plus prepare your kids for success at university, where they would be asked to learn individually, think critically, and connect ideas from various disciplines.


6. Exam Format

The syllabus and the assessment contain proof of what a pupil learns, understands, and can make up an exam board’s qualifications. Exam papers are developed after years of study to ensure the evaluation elements correctly and test students’ performance.

Exam paper design has evolved into a discipline in itself, and OxfordAQA is constantly innovating and integrating new best practices. The exam papers are based on AQA’s 100 years of assessment experience, too much so that every last detail of an exam paper is considered, from the wording of exam questions to the marking system used by examiners to assess performance.

When designing international exam papers, OxfordAQA builds on the experience and linguistic research of Oxford University Press.

Exam authors use the Oxford 3000 wordlist to guarantee that the vocabulary and references used in exam questions do not disadvantage students who have never resided in the United Kingdom or do not understand English fluently. Both of these exercises aid OxfordAQA in ensuring that all students receive a fair assessment.


7. Assessment Objectives

Assessment Objectives, or AOs, define the categories of qualities that would be evaluated in exams and, as a result, guide the teaching style. Subjects’ AO weightings typically differ. They may also differ for the same subjects through various exam boards.

In general, OxfordAQA credentials place the greatest focus in their AOs on higher-order reasoning skills like application, analysis, and assessment.

Universities and captains of industries are pushing students to develop their critical thinking abilities. Top colleges also ask students in mathematics, computing, and physics to take a university entrance exam like the STEP or MAT.

Students must solve difficult, unstructured mathematical problems on these exams. Students that have completed International GCSEs and A-levels that emphasize higher-order reasoning skills would undoubtedly profit.


In a Nutshell

Private secondary and International school administrators are mindful that tomorrow’s jobs may not need the same expertise as today’s jobs.

In an era where artificial intelligence is progressing at an unparalleled pace, the capacity to synthesize and test concepts is likely to become a more appealing capability to employers as technology steadily eliminates certain facets of conventional “knowledge”-based responsibilities.

Straits International School Penang offers both OxfordAQA and IGCSE Cambridge curriculums and syllabuses. For further information, please feel free to make an appointment for an online counselling session with our friendly and helpful counsellors.