Forming Minds Transforming Lives!

  • P.O.BOX AR 105Aburi, Ghana

  • 050 1454 327/ 0244 313699 Office

  • admin@beaconschool.edu.ghAdmin

Frequently Asked Questions

What can we help you with?

- Cambridge Checkpoint – end of Year 9/JHS2 (c. age 14) – English, Maths & Science only.

- Cambridge IGCSE – end of Year 11/SHS1 (c. age 16) – 8-10 subjects – some required, some optional

- Cambridge A levels (3 subjects) or International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma (6 subjects) – end of year 13/SHS3 (age 18)

- The 11+ was a testing system for children at the end of the UK primary school. In the 1960s this was a widespread testing system for entrance into secondary school. Since the 1990s this system is no longer used. However, it is still used by a handful of UK state grammar schools to test for entrance into the grammar school system.

The Cambridge Checkpoint exams are taken at the end of Year 9 (grade 8). Unlike the IGCSE and the A’levels, these exams are not required for university entry. They are primarily a diagnostic tool, to provide a detailed analysis of a student’s learning in English, Maths and Science. This enables the student, the school and parents to identify the strengths and weaknesses in a student’s learning before entering upper secondary.

- Cambridge qualifications are taken in over 160 countries worldwide and as such have received accreditation in tertiary institutions in those countries.
- In the USA alone Cambridge qualifications are recognized in over 500 universities including all the Ivy Leagues.

- In the UK the GCSE replaced ‘O’ levels in 1988. It is therefore a less up-to-date curriculum compared to the IGCSE. In Ghana, the O levels were replaced in 1987 by the BECE.
- O levels are still officially considered an equivalent qualification to the IGCSE and are still taught in some schools throughout the world, though less widely recognized than the IGCSE.
- Cambridge O Level offers fewer coursework options than Cambridge IGCSE.
- The focus of Cambridge O Level languages is on writing and reading skills rather than spoken language.
- There are more restricted practical test options in Cambridge O Level sciences.

What is the difference between the UK GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) and the Cambridge IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education)?


The IGCSE is the international equivalent of the GCSE. However, there are some differences:
- The subjects studied at IGCSE reflect a more international approach to learning, so that students can study topics relevant to their own country, particularly in subjects such as history, geography and literature.

- Some schools in the UK (over 2600) now teach the IGCSE rather than the GCSE as they believe it gives their students an extra edge when applying to universities and because of the broader scope of subjects and the possibilities for coursework. Some UK teachers also think that it has more scope for more able pupils at the higher level.