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Top 10 Easiest IGCSE Subjects

Top 10 Easiest IGCSE Subjects

10 min Read|February 20 2024
|Written by:

Charles Whitehouse

Contents

Embarking on the IGCSE journey can be daunting, with a myriad of subjects available to choose from. The quest for the easiest subjects is common among students aiming to secure high grades. While the term “easy” is subjective, some subjects are generally considered less demanding due to their straightforward content and assessment criteria. This article unveils the top 10 easiest IGCSE subjects, which include Art & Design, Business Studies, and Environmental Management, among others, offering insights to help students make informed decisions. It’s paramount to consider personal interests, academic strengths, and career aspirations alongside this list to ensure a fulfilling and balanced IGCSE experience.

Introduction to IGCSE Subjects

The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) is a globally recognised qualification, taken at the Class 10 level, as offered by Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) and several other boards. The IGCSE prepares students for further academic work, including progression to A Level, AS, Pre-U, and the IB Diploma Programme. The curriculum extends a large spectrum, ranging from Languages, Sciences, Humanities to Technical subjects, allowing students to pick according to their interests and career plans. According to Cambridge Assessment International Education, the IGCSE is recognised by leading universities and employers worldwide and is viewed as an international passport to progression and success. It combines a rigorous approach to testing students’ knowledge and understanding, enabling them to develop an insight into a variety of crucial subjects and fostering well-rounded individuals with a multifaceted outlook.

Students typically select a combination of subjects, balancing between their inclinations and academic strengths, to tailor their educational journey to suit their future aspirations. The course’s flexibility and diversity encourage a global perspective and cultivate international-mindedness and cultural awareness, crucial in today’s interconnected world. The focus is not just on memorising facts but also on applying knowledge and understanding to new as well as familiar situations, reflecting a comprehensive approach to teaching and learning.

Understanding the IGCSE Grading System

The IGCSE grading system is essential in evaluating a student's performance, comprising grades A* to G, with A* being the highest attainable grade. A noteworthy aspect is the “CIE IGCSE Grade Threshold,” a minimum mark required to attain a particular grade. The threshold varies each year, depending on the overall student performance. For instance, the June 2022 series had grade thresholds that ranged based on subjects and the cumulative performance of students in those subjects.. It is paramount that students familiarise themselves with this grading methodology to realistically gauge their capabilities and strategically select subjects, ensuring optimal performance.

It is crucial to consider the University of Cambridge's statistical data, which reveals patterns in grading and helps infer subject difficulties. Several universities and colleges, keen on student admission criteria, meticulously analyse IGCSE grades, deciphering a student’s academic prowess and subject comprehension, thus emphasising the critical role of grades in higher education admissions. Given the high stakes, understanding the grading nuances can empower students to make informed decisions about subject selection, aligning them with their academic goals and facilitating a smoother transition to advanced levels of education, such as A Levels and university degrees, where a profound understanding of grading intricacies continues to hold paramount significance.

Grading Overview

Grading Overview

The Criteria for “Easiest” Subjects

Determining the “easiest” IGCSE subjects involves analysing several variables including pass rates, grade thresholds, and student feedback. The pass rates indicate the proportion of students who have achieved grades A* to C, with higher pass rates often suggesting that a subject might be less challenging. Cambridge publishes the pass rates for all IGCSE subjects, offering insight into the relative difficulty of each. Additionally, subjects with lower grade thresholds are typically perceived as easier, as they require fewer marks to achieve a passing grade.

Furthermore, student feedback and forums such as The Student Room can provide invaluable insights into the perceived difficulty of subjects from the learners' perspective, outlining the amount of effort, understanding, and workload each subject demands. While quantitative data like pass rates and grade thresholds offer a numerical perspective, student experiences and opinions add a qualitative dimension to the analysis, allowing for a holistic understanding of the subject's difficulty level.

It is also recommended for students to consult professional IGCSE tutors for best academic performance. It is imperative that students consider both quantitative and qualitative data when selecting their IGCSE subjects to ensure they make informed decisions that align with their abilities, interests, and future aspirations. Balancing passion and pragmatism in subject selection can foster a conducive learning environment, potentially leading to higher grades and enhanced academic experiences.

1 - Art & Design

IGCSE Art & Design is often regarded as one of the easier subjects due to its creative nature and subjective assessment criteria. Students have the freedom to explore various art forms and design concepts, allowing them to express their ideas and perspectives uniquely. According to Cambridge International, the subject emphasises the development of practical and technical skills, enabling students to produce personal and meaningful artwork.

Art & Design has a high pass rate, with many students achieving A* to C grades, showcasing its accessibility and the feasibility of attaining high marks. Student forums suggest that students find the workload manageable and the subject enjoyable, highlighting the importance of passion and interest in subject selection.

However, success in Art & Design requires dedication, time management, and a genuine interest in the creative process. A strong portfolio, comprising diverse art forms and reflecting individual style, is crucial for excelling in this subject. While the subjectivity in assessment can be advantageous, it also necessitates clear communication of ideas and meticulous execution of artwork to meet the examiners' expectations. The seemingly lenient grading and high pass rates should not undermine the effort and commitment needed to secure top grades in IGCSE Art & Design.

IGCSE Art & Design Assessment Criteria by Lawrence McGrath - Issuu

IGCSE Art & Design Assessment Criteria by Lawrence McGrath - Issuu

2 - Business Studies

IGCSE Business Studies is another subject often perceived as manageable, focusing on the fundamental principles of business, such as management, marketing, and finance. The subject explores real-world business scenarios, offering students practical insights into the operational aspects of businesses. This subject has commendable pass rates, with students frequently attaining grades between A* and C.

Students generally find the content relatable and straightforward, attributing to its reputation as an ‘easier’ subject. The application of theoretical knowledge to real-world situations enhances understanding and retention of concepts, making it easier for students to relate to and remember.

Despite its accessibility, achieving excellence in Business Studies demands consistent effort, regular study, and application of theoretical knowledge. The examination questions often require analytical thinking and application of concepts to unfamiliar contexts, necessitating a deep and thorough understanding of the subject matter.

Moreover, students should cultivate skills in critical thinking and evaluation to analyse business situations effectively and make informed decisions, showcasing a comprehensive understanding of business operations and environments. Therefore, while IGCSE Business Studies is approachable, dedication and a strategic approach to learning are essential for optimal performance in this subject.

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3 - Environmental Management

IGCSE Environmental Management is a subject that delves into environmental issues, focusing on sustainable development, environmental impact, and conservation. This subject is deemed less challenging due to its emphasis on contemporary issues, allowing students to connect the curriculum to real-world scenarios, thereby fostering a deeper understanding. Students usually achieve high grades in this subject, owing to its engaging and relatable content.

Student feedback reflects that students find the subject matter intriguing and manageable, attributing to its broad yet comprehensive curriculum which delves into current environmental challenges and their potential solutions. The subject’s applicative nature facilitates learning, enabling students to easily link theoretical knowledge to practical environmental concerns and scenarios.

However, securing high grades in Environmental Management necessitates regular study and an in-depth understanding of environmental concepts and issues. Students are expected to analyse diverse environmental situations, evaluate potential impacts and propose sustainable solutions, requiring critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Furthermore, a strong grasp on current environmental developments and global issues is crucial to respond effectively to examination questions, which often incorporate recent events or advancements in environmental science. In essence, while IGCSE Environmental Management is captivating and more straightforward, consistent engagement with the subject matter and current developments is pivotal for achieving excellence.

4 - Travel & Tourism

IGCSE Travel & Tourism is often considered one of the less demanding subjects due to its practical approach and the student-friendly coursework it offers. The subject encompasses the fundamentals of the tourism industry, including services, management practices, and the impact of tourism on global and local economies.

Students often find the subject content straightforward and interesting, particularly those passionate about travel, cultures, and geography. The coursework enables students to explore various aspects of tourism management and development, making the learning experience more tangible and engaging.

This subject does not necessitate extensive memorisation of facts or intricate theoretical concepts, allowing students to focus on understanding and applying the learned material. Practical assignments and real-world case studies form a significant part of the assessment, enhancing the learning experience by linking theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios in the tourism industry.

Despite its perceived ease, success in IGCSE Travel & Tourism requires a genuine interest in the tourism sector and a commitment to understanding the multifaceted nature of the hospitality and catering industry. A proactive approach to learning, including staying abreast of the latest trends and developments in the tourism sector, is essential to excel in this subject, thereby enabling students to leverage their knowledge and skills in future career pursuits within the dynamic field of travel and tourism.

5 - Physical Education

IGCSE Physical Education is another subject renowned for its relatively straightforward content and engaging curriculum. This subject is particularly appealing to students with an interest in sports and physical activities. It provides an in-depth understanding of the science behind physical health, covering topics like anatomy, physiology, and the effects of exercise on the body.

The syllabus is largely application-based, and students can relate the theoretical knowledge to their everyday experiences of physical activity, making the subject more accessible and enjoyable. It’s reported by educational platforms such as BBC Bitesize that students often find the practical elements of this course, including sports performance assessment, particularly rewarding and manageable.

However, to succeed in IGCSE Physical Education, students must exhibit a blend of theoretical understanding and practical skill. The assessments are structured to evaluate students’ knowledge of the theoretical aspects and their ability to apply this knowledge in practical situations. This makes the subject suitable for those who are both academically inclined and physically adept.

While the practical approach and real-life application make IGCSE Physical Education seem less challenging, the subject demands consistent effort, dedication to physical fitness, and a thorough understanding of the scientific principles involved. Students willing to engage both physically and intellectually find this subject fulfilling, providing a balanced and comprehensive insight into the world of physical education and its importance in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

6 - Music

IGCSE Music offers a creative and exciting curriculum, providing students with an opportunity to explore various musical concepts, genres, and cultures. The subject is perceived as one of the easier IGCSEs due to its emphasis on practical skills and musical exploration. Students with a passion for music and a basic understanding of musical theory find the subject content both engaging and manageable.

The curriculum includes studying musical theory, composition, and performance, with each area contributing to the overall grade. This practical, hands-on approach to learning caters to different learning styles, allowing students to apply their knowledge and skills in real-world contexts.

Students can choose their musical focus, enabling them to play to their strengths, whether in performing, composing, or appraising. This flexibility, coupled with the opportunity to study a diverse range of music, from classical to world music, is often noted by educators as a key factor in making the subject enjoyable and accessible.

Success in IGCSE Music is achievable for those willing to commit to regular practice and study, combining both theoretical knowledge and practical application. Students’ appreciation for the multifaceted world of music is enhanced, and the skills acquired are transferable, laying a solid foundation for further study in music or merely enriching their cultural understanding and aesthetic appreciation.

7 - Drama

IGCSE Drama stands out as a dynamic and engaging subject that allows students to explore and experiment with various theatrical elements and principles. The subject focuses on developing students’ understanding of drama and theatre, fostering creativity, performance skills, and analytical abilities. A study from the National Theatre corroborates that students find drama to be an immersive and enjoyable experience due to its interactive and experiential nature.

The syllabus is primarily divided into three components: devising, interpreting and performing texts, and a written examination. This division allows students to gain a rounded understanding of the subject by combining practical work with theoretical study. The emphasis on practical assessments means that students can play to their strengths, making it accessible to those with varying abilities and experiences.

A noteworthy aspect of IGCSE Drama is the exploration of diverse theatrical forms, styles, and traditions, allowing students to appreciate theatre from different cultures and time periods. The understanding and appreciation of varying cultural perspectives are highlighted as significant advantages of taking this subject by many theatre educators.

IGCSE Drama not only nurtures artistic expression but also builds essential life skills such as teamwork, communication, and problem-solving. For students who have an interest in the performing arts, this subject offers a foundation that can be built upon in higher education and potentially lead to a myriad of career paths in the arts and beyond.

8 - Geography

IGCSE Geography is a subject that provides students with a comprehensive understanding of geographical concepts, patterns, and processes. It’s considered one of the easiest subjects due to its balanced mix of physical and human geography topics, allowing students to explore a range of geographical issues. A report from the Royal Geographical Society shows that students often find the subject matter relatable and the learning methodologies interactive, aiding in a clearer understanding.

The subject covers essential topics such as population dynamics, settlement, plate tectonics, and weather patterns. The syllabus combines theoretical knowledge with practical skills such as map reading, data interpretation, and fieldwork. The mix of coursework and examination assessments aids students in developing a diverse set of skills and offers multiple ways to excel in the subject.

IGCSE Geography serves as an excellent introduction to environmental awareness and global perspectives, allowing students to analyse and understand the world's complex interconnections and challenges. The subject's adaptability and wide range of topics make it engaging for students with different learning preferences.

Furthermore, students who study geography develop invaluable skills such as critical thinking, analytical abilities, and research skills, which are highly regarded in various career paths and academic pursuits. For students keen on understanding the world around them and those with a penchant for exploration and environmental studies, IGCSE Geography stands out as a subject that is both enriching and manageable.

9 - Computer Science

IGCSE Computer Science is perceived as one of the more approachable subjects as it introduces students to the fundamental principles of computer science, including algorithmic thinking, programming, and problem-solving. Students find the logical and structured nature of the subject to be conducive to learning, enabling them to develop a solid foundation in computational thinking.

The subject’s content is divided into theory and practical components, allowing students to apply theoretical concepts to real-world problems. The curriculum encompasses essential topics such as data representation, communication and Internet technologies, hardware, and software development, providing a comprehensive overview of the field.

Moreover, the progressive learning approach adopted in IGCSE Computer Science helps in breaking down complex concepts into manageable portions, facilitating easier understanding and retention. The practical component of the subject, focused on developing programming skills, is especially appreciated by students, as it allows them to experiment and learn by doing.

IGCSE Computer Science is not only instrumental in developing technical acumen but also enhances logical reasoning, analytical capabilities, and problem-solving skills. These skills are universally valued, providing students with a competitive edge in further education and varied career paths, especially in the growing fields of Information Technology and Computer Science. For students with an inclination towards technology and a methodical approach to problem-solving, this subject is a rewarding choice.

10 - First Language English

IGCSE English Language, a versatile subject, is often considered by students as one of the more attainable subjects. This subject aims to enable learners to communicate clearly, accurately, and effectively in both speech and writing, considered essential skills for most career paths and further education. The course focuses on strengthening reading, writing, and oral communication skills.

Learners delve into a variety of texts, fostering an understanding of various literary forms, themes, and styles, thus enhancing their interpretative and analytical capabilities. According to academic insights, the variety in content is found to be engaging, helping students develop a broader perspective on different cultures and global viewpoints, which is invaluable in today’s interconnected world.

Furthermore, the subject’s assessment structure, involving a combination of coursework and examination, allows students to showcase their skills in diverse ways, addressing various learning preferences. The emphasis on continuous assessment encourages consistent effort and learning throughout the course, which many educators believe is conducive to better performance and understanding.

The applicability of the skills acquired in this subject is immense, making it a practical choice for students. IGCSE First Language English not only enhances linguistic proficiency but also nurtures critical thinking, and the ability to analyse and synthesise information effectively, providing a solid foundation for myriad academic pursuits and professional endeavours in the future.

Benefits of Opting for Easier IGCSE Subjects

Choosing easier IGCSE subjects can provide numerous advantages, particularly for students looking to secure higher grades and broaden their learning experiences. One of the main benefits, as noted by educational experts, is the enhanced likelihood of achieving higher grades, which can be pivotal for further academic opportunities and college admissions. S tudents who choose subjects they find interesting or less challenging often have a better overall academic experience and higher achievement levels.

Opting for subjects considered ‘easier’ also allows students to manage their study time more efficiently. The reduced pressure and workload associated with such subjects can contribute to a more balanced and less stressful academic environment, leading to improved well-being and mental health. Education psychologists assert that a balanced academic load can significantly impact students’ motivation, engagement, and overall learning experience, fostering a positive attitude towards learning.

Furthermore, easier subjects often offer more engaging and diverse learning materials, catering to a range of learning preferences and promoting a more inclusive learning environment. This inclusivity ensures that all students, regardless of their learning styles or abilities, have an equal opportunity to succeed. Thus, the strategic selection of IGCSE subjects, based on individual strengths and preferences, can be instrumental in cultivating a fulfilling and successful academic journey.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, deciphering the matrix of IGCSE subjects to pinpoint the easiest ones can greatly impact a student’s academic journey, potentially paving the way for enhanced opportunities and achievements. It’s pivotal for students to align their subject choices with their interests, capabilities, and future aspirations to harness the maximum benefits. While subjects like Art & Design and Business Studies may seem less challenging to some, it’s crucial to remember that ‘easy’ is subjective and varies for each individual. The perceived ease of a subject should be balanced with genuine interest and a vision for future academic and career paths, ensuring a holistic and enriching learning experience that extends beyond mere grades. Choosing wisely can lead to a more enjoyable, balanced, and rewarding IGCSE experience, laying a solid foundation for further academic pursuits and life journeys.

FAQ

How do IGCSE subjects differ from GCSE subjects?

IGCSE subjects are designed by Cambridge Assessment International Education and have an international perspective, accommodating students worldwide, regardless of their first language. This international outlook is reflected in the syllabus and examination patterns. Conversely, GCSEs are more UK-centric, focusing primarily on the British curriculum and are generally taken by students in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Can I select multiple “easy” IGCSE subjects?

While you can choose subjects you find easier, it’s essential to balance them with subjects that challenge you and help you develop various skills. Universities and employers look for a range of abilities and a well-rounded profile. Consult your career counselor or teacher to ensure that your subject choices align with your future goals and aspirations.

How does IGCSE First Language English differ from English Literature?

IGCSE First Language English focuses on enhancing your English language proficiency, including reading, writing, and speaking skills. In contrast, English Literature emphasises literary analysis, cultivating an understanding and appreciation of literature, focusing on various genres, periods, and styles. Both subjects are valuable but cater to different interests and skills.

Are any subjects mandatory in IGCSE?

There are no universally mandatory IGCSE subjects. However, individual schools might have their own set of compulsory subjects, usually including English, Maths, and Sciences. It is crucial to be well-acquainted with your school’s specific requirements and to choose additional subjects that align with your interests and future career plans.

Can I take extra IGCSE subjects?

Yes, it’s possible to take additional subjects if you feel you can manage the workload and if your school accommodates it. Discussing this with your teachers or counselors is crucial to understand the implications and to ensure that it aligns well with your capabilities and future aspirations.

How is the difficulty of IGCSE subjects determined?

The perceived difficulty of an IGCSE subject can be highly individual, depending on a student’s strengths, interests, and preferences. Some may find sciences more challenging, while others might struggle with humanities. Past papers, syllabus breadth, and subject content are commonly used by educators and students to gauge a subject’s difficulty level.

Can I change my IGCSE subjects after starting them?

Subject changes are typically allowed in the initial weeks of the course, subject to your school’s policies. It’s advisable to discuss any desired changes with your counselor or teachers as soon as possible to ensure a smooth transition and to avoid falling behind in your new subject.

Do universities prefer certain IGCSE subjects?

Universities might have preferences or prerequisites depending on the course you’re applying for. A science course might require specific science subjects, and humanities courses might prefer subjects like history or literature. Researching university requirements thoroughly is fundamental when selecting your IGCSE subjects to avoid any future inconveniences.

How important are IGCSE grades for university admissions?

IGCSE grades are crucial as they are often the first academic qualifications that universities look at. They can significantly impact your university applications. However, universities also consider various other factors like entrance exams, personal statements, and interviews. Achieving high grades in relevant subjects can give you a competitive edge in the admission process.

Do all IGCSE subjects have practicals?

Not all IGCSE subjects include practical assessments. However, subjects like Sciences do have practical elements that contribute to the final grade. Practical assessments are conducted under controlled conditions, and the details about them are usually outlined in the subject syllabus, so it’s vital to be well-acquainted with it.

How are IGCSE practical assessments conducted?

Practical assessments in IGCSE subjects are typically conducted in a controlled environment within the school. The assessments are designed to test your understanding and application of subject knowledge in real-world scenarios. Your teachers evaluate your performance, and the examination board moderates the results to ensure fairness and consistency.

Can I retake IGCSE subjects to improve my grades?

Retaking IGCSE subjects is possible if you wish to improve your grades. It’s vital to consult your school regarding retake policies and to consider the implications on your workload and future plans. Discussing your decision with a career counselor or a teacher can also provide insights and help you make an informed choice.

How much study time is required for each IGCSE subject?

The study time required for IGCSE subjects varies depending on individual learning preferences and the perceived difficulty of the subject. On average, allocating 1-2 hours of focused study time per subject daily is recommended. However, some subjects might require more intensive study, and managing your time efficiently is crucial to covering the syllabus effectively.

What are the recommended textbooks for IGCSE subjects?

Each IGCSE subject has specific recommended textbooks, usually listed in the syllabus or suggested by teachers. These textbooks are curated to cover the entire syllabus comprehensively and are an invaluable resource for preparation. It’s essential to refer to these recommended textbooks to ensure that you are studying the right material and are well-prepared for the exams.

Is there a limit to the number of IGCSE subjects one can take?

There isn’t a strict limit, but students typically choose between 7 and 9 subjects to maintain a balanced workload. It’s crucial to consider your interests, capabilities, and future goals when deciding the number of subjects. It’s also essential to factor in the time and effort required for each subject to ensure you can manage the workload effectively without compromising on the quality of learning. Overloading can lead to stress and burnout, so discussing your options with your teachers or counselors is paramount to making informed and balanced decisions. Balancing a mix of subjects that cater to your interests, strengths, and career aspirations can help in maintaining motivation and achieving academic success. Keep in mind that while choosing a broad range of subjects provides a comprehensive skill set, it’s crucial that the chosen subjects align with your future career path and university prerequisites.

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Charlie

Charlie

Professional tutor and Cambridge University researcher

Charles Whitehouse

Written by: Charles Whitehouse

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Oxford University - Masters Biochemistry

Charles scored 45/45 on the International Baccalaureate and has six years' experience tutoring IB and IGCSE students and advising them with their university applications. He studied a double integrated Masters at Magdalen College Oxford and has worked as a research scientist and strategy consultant.

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