Berlin International School ∙ Lentzeallee 8/14 ∙ 14195 Berlin ∙ +49 30 / 82 00 77 90 ∙


International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE)

The IGCSE is an internationally recognized qualification for school students, typically in the 14-16 age groups. The IGCSE prepares students for further academic work including progression to the IB Diploma Programme. It is recognised by academic institutions and employers around the world. IGCSE encourages learner-centered and inquiry-based approaches to learning. It develops learners' skills in creative thinking, inquiry and problem solving, giving learners excellent preparation for the next stage in their education.

Assessment for Cambridge IGCSE takes place at the end of the two-year course and includes written and oral examinations. It has been operating world-wide for almost 30 years and is in place in almost 1500 schools in around 120 countries around the world.  The IGCSE was developed by University of Cambridge International Examinations in 1988.

A student’s performance in subjects at the end of Year 10 is a valuable indication of the student’s suitability for courses in higher and further education. IGCSEs provide a good foundation for the International Baccalaureate programme in Years 11 and 12. There are many similarities between the two programmes and IGCSEs are a good guide for students, helping them make realistic decisions about further study and their choice of subjects and levels for IB.

International schools such as ours cater for a mobile student body. Following a curriculum that is international and administered in many schools worldwide eases the transfer of students between schools and countries.

The IGCSE programme is designed for almost the whole ability range. It is assessed on a nine-point scale of grades:

A* • A • B • C • D • E • F • G • U

In some subjects, there is a choice between Core and Extended curriculum papers, allowing teachers and students to decide on the most appropriate level of instruction and testing for the candidate.

The Core curriculum in each subject is within the ability range of the large majority of students. It provides a full overview of the subject and is targeted at students expected to achieve between grades C – G.

The Extended curriculum comprises the Core curriculum plus additional material. This has been designed for the more academically able student, who is expected to achieve between grades A*– C

Students need not enter the same level of curriculum in all subjects – you can enter Extended in the subjects you are good at! At the Berlin International School, grades A*– C are regarded as ‘pass’ grades.

B.I.S. students normally study between 7 and 10 IGCSE subjects. The following subjects are compulsory for all students:

English Language & Literature • Mathematics •Science: Biology - Chemistry -  Physics • German (as a First or Foreign Language) • History • Geography

In addition, students must choose two of the following options:

Business Studies • Music • Art • Drama • French • Spanish • Information Technology

These subjects are offered in ‘Subject Groups’ to students at the end of Year 8. Their preferences are taken into account when compiling the ‘groups’, and individual counselling is available in order to guide the students to making the optimum choices for them.


The MSA (mittlerer Schulabschluss) is a nationally recognised German exam, initiated in 2006, designed for all students in Berlin to make sure that those students who leave school after Grade 10 have a recognised certificate and, to show that those students who continue on to higher education have the necessary skills required.

B.I.S. offers our students a unique possibility in providing them with various and varying pathways to educational and vocational achievement. It recognises the importance of awarding our national and international students with a certificate that opens up many pathways for success within our host country of Germany.

Each student, who has lived in Germany for at least 2 years or is German will have three written examinations: German, Mathematics and English (a written paper and a short oral examination). A fourth subject has to be chosen for a presentation, which can be done in English or German, depending on the student’s preference and subject choice. This part of the examination will take place just prior to the work experience session in June and is organised as a group presentation.

The MSA is awarded using the results of the written exams and presentation along with a student’s grade point average at the end of Grade 10.

Further information concerning the exam will be available during an information session for students before the October break and for parents at the Parent Teacher Conference day in November.

For more information regarding the MSA please see this German website