Cambridge vs. Edexcel IGCSE | AS/A-LEVEL Exam Boards. What Are the Differences and Boards Selection Advice

The most common IGCSE and AS/A-LEVEL examination boards for international students are undoubtedly Cambridge and Edexcel. Students mostly ask which board is worth taking, because this decision can determine their academic journey. Though these boards are globally recognised, there are some differences you might need to take a careful look at.

5 Main Differences

  1. Availability
  2. Flexibility
  3. Difficulty
  4. Assessment
  5. Curriculum



Cambridge or CIE board has extensive accessibility due to their extensive network of authorised exam centres. Their curriculum is created to serve diverse international students, so many international schools and educational institutions across the globe offer CIE.

On the other hand, Edexcel is primarily available in the United Kingdom. They are commonly offered by schools, colleges, and educational institutions following the British curriculum.


CIE offers the flexibility of taking exams in two tiers instead of just one. These tiers are categorised as foundation and extended levels, granting students the choice to either start at the foundation or higher level. CIE course materials are easily accessible online, making the studying process less challenging.

In contrast, Edexcel tends to restrict access to coursework sheets and practice papers, often not providing online availability.


In fact, the difficulty of these two boards are equivalent. Both Cambridge and Edexcel are globally accepted by many universities worldwide, so you cannot clearly tell which one is harder than another. It depends on your personal perception towards each board as well.

Normally, CIE is perceived to be more difficult, because of their exam structure that is more complex. However, it is being widely said that the CIE English test is easier than Edexcel, while the CIE Maths test is more difficult than Edexcel.

Edexcel, nonetheless, is more focused on the UK education system, resulting in a difficulty level and exam structure that aligns with the UK standards. Therefore, it would be easier for British students than international students studying IGCSE and AS/A-LEVEL outside the UK.


CIE assessments are primarily exam-based, which typically carry a greater percentage in determining the final grade.

In opposition, the Edexcel assessment method combines both coursework and exams, which contribute to the final grade. For that difference, when it is time for selecting between the two boards, students should consider their personal preferences and strengths in terms of coursework and exam performance.


The main difference regarding the curriculum between these two boards is that CIE offers a standardised curriculum with pre-determined subject combinations. To clarify, the CIE exam board is more international in terms of university course preparation compared to the Edexcel.

Edexcel, in contrast, tends to offer a more modular approach, and it is more UK-focused. It allows students to choose individual subjects and accommodate their curriculum based on their preferences. Due to this distinction, students should consider their academic objectives and preferred learning method to determine which approach suits them best.

So which boards should you take? Here are 3 things to consider

  1. Personal preferences
    When making a decision on the IGCSE and AS/A-LEVEL board exam, students should carefully consider their individual learning styles, strengths, and interests. They should consider which approach aligns better with their academic and future career goals.
  2. Course availability
    Most subjects in both CIE and Edexcel are the same, so students should ensure that the subjects they want to study are offered by the exam board they choose.
  3. University requirements
    Though, both CIE and Edexcel boards are accepted in Thai international universities, but if students would like to study abroad, in some countries, their universities require a specific board. Therefore, students should research the requirements of the universities they would like to get into.

The Planner Education has served students not only the best tutoring session, but also an individual educational consult. Whether you choose CIE or Edexcel board, our experienced teachers and staff will help you accomplish your educational goal and bring you to the right path that you dream yourself to go on.

A bright future starts with the right education. Join us at The Planner and discover the courses that are best for you!: GED | IGCSE | A-LEVEL | SAT | IELTS | ACT | GSAT | BMAT | TOEFL-MUIC/MUIDS | CU-TEP | CU-AAT | CU-ATS | TU-GET | IB | AP | Academic Writing

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