Cambridge IGCSE Subject Briefs: Mathematics (Without Coursework)

Timothy Hoffmann

Cambridge IGCSE Subject Briefs: Mathematics (Without Coursework)

This subject brief focuses on Mathematics without coursework at both Core and Extended level.

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Mathematics is taught throughout a student’s school life, so when students face IGCSE, they are not surprised to see they have to continue taking the subject. However, there is an important aspect that students need to take into account. 

IGCSE Mathematics is offered at two different levels – Core and Extended. These two options follow two separate curriculums, but they are very similar. In short, the Extended curriculum covers everything in the Core curriculum, plus a few extra subtopics. There are also other differences, as you will see in this brief.

Topics covered:

Both the Core and Extended curricula follow the same nine topics, which are:

Each topic has a series of subtopics which you can see in detail in the Cambridge syllabus. The Core curriculum covers fewer subtopics compared to the Extended curriculum.

Assessment and Grading:

Like most IGCSEs, students are graded on a scale from A* to E. However, Core candidates cannot achieve a grade higher than C. Students intending to get a C or above at IGCSE level should aim to do Extended Mathematics.

Regardless of the curriculum you choose to follow, you will sit two exam papers. Core students will sit Papers 1 and 3, while Extended students will sit Papers 2 and 4. Core exams have a smaller percentage of algebra-based questions and a higher percentage of number questions than the Extended exams. Extended curriculum exams last longer and carry more marks than Core exams. You can see the structure of each exam below:

Core exams:

Extended exams:

Exams cover two types of Assessment Objectives (AOs). AO1 – Mathematical techniques, assesses a student’s mathematical skills. Meanwhile, AO2 – Applying mathematical techniques to solve problems, assesses a student’s ability to apply those skills in problem questions. Extended curriculum exams have a higher proportion of AO2 questions than Core exams.

Grade boundaries change every year, but in June 2017, students had to score 175 marks out of 200 (around 88%) to earn an A*, while a C was at around 50%.