Cambridge Board: A Comprehensive Guide

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Cambridge Board

Cambridge board is an umbrella term used for the curriculum that is designed by the Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE). Recognized worldwide, the board curriculum provides education to the category of students from 5-19 years of age. The board provides the schools with a choice of designing their curriculum from a broad range of subjects, keeping in mind the country’s ethos, culture, and traditions. It aspires to provide the kind of education that generates curiosity in the students, develop a desire for learning, and provide them the chance to move in the direction where they discover new possibilities and develop varied skills. In this blog, we will shed light on various levels and the salient features of the Cambridge board. 

Cambridge Board: Levels of Education

The qualifications provided by the Cambridge board on different levels are recognized by universities, other educational institutions as well as employers around the world. The curriculum is divided into four levels which provide education to primary(5-11 years old), lower secondary(11-14 years old), upper secondary(14-16 years old), and pre-university(16-19 years old) students. The details of these stages have been mentioned below: 

Primary and Lower Secondary

The curriculum of the Cambridge board at this level imparts knowledge and develops skills in 10 subjects with a special focus on Mathematics, English, and Science. With most of the schools using the primary or lower secondary progression tests to assess the performance of students, there is also a Cambridge primary and lower secondary checkpoint assessment technique which is marked externally by examiners from Cambridge.

Upper Secondary

The upper secondary Cambridge board is divided into 2 parts, IGCSE and Cambridge O level. Let’s understand them in detail here:


The International General Certificate of Secondary Education or IGCSE is an international board that is opted by students from various nationalities. Generally, the students who want to study in England or are residents of England opt for this. The curriculum of the IGCSE board is designed to align the educational standards with GCSE in England so as to impart knowledge to students in the bracket of 14-16 years of age. The students are also offered a choice amongst a broad category of subjects

Key Features

  • This Cambridge board is aimed towards a broad category of students who have the option of either choosing core or extended curriculum papers for some specific subjects.
  • Their academic performance is graded between A* to G.
  • The students are expected to get grades ranging from C to G in the core curriculum. But those who opt for extended curriculums have to achieve grades between A* to E. 
  • The coursework is broad thus allowing the students, teachers as well as the school an array of choices. 
  • The assessment techniques involve oral treasures, written tests, and practical assessment that examines the problem-solving skills, application of the things learned in real life, and the knowledge and understanding of the subject matter of the students. 
  • Stress is laid on providing education that translates towards employment opportunities while also preparing the student for Cambridge International AS and A-Levels. 
  • The board also offers a school support hub and professional training courses for teachers. 

Cambridge O Level 

In this Cambridge board, the O Level qualifications are provided for relatively specific areas of study. This can be understood with the help of the points mentioned below: 

 Key Features: 

  • The Cambridge O is recognized internationally and is considered at par with IGCSE and UK GCSE.
  • The grades in O Level are awarded only from A to E. 
  • The options of the coursework in O Level is relatively smaller than the IGCSE board. 
  • Schools have the option to customize their own curriculum by choosing from a list of more than 40 subjects in any combination. 
  • The program is designed to cater to the needs of a specific audience like the minority languages and promotes learning through reading and writing.

Advanced Level

The advanced level of Cambridge board is divided into 2 main parts which are Cambridge International AS & A Level and Cambridge Pre-U. Look at the description given below to understand them better:

Cambridge International AS & A Level 

The AS Level courses offered by the Cambridge board are typical of one year while the A-Level courses can be completed in a period of almost 2 years. These exams are organized twice a year in the month of January and June and the results are announced in the months of August and January. While the performance of students of AS level is reported in the form of grades ranging from A to E, for students in A level, grading is done between A* to E which can be converted into the statistics acceptable worldwide. Having completed this course in your school, the students become well prepared for university education both in their parent country or if planning to study abroad. Pupils gain in-depth knowledge of the subject matter under consideration and are equipped with skills in areas like reasoning and comprehension.

Cambridge Pre-U 

The Pre-U of the Cambridge board provides educational qualifications to post-16 students to succeed in the path of the school to university education transition. Apart from the universities in the UK, the board is recognized by various countries like the US, Germany, Australia, and Hong Kong. But this initiative is on the verge of being withdrawn. The last set of examinations that would be held for students will be in the year 2023(June). And in 2022, the low entry subjects like Latin, Greek, Russian, Italian and Psychology would be withdrawn with resit available. 

Also Read: ICSE V/S CBSE 

Cambridge Board vs CBSE

Cambridge Board CBSE
The Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) is a part of a world-renowned University of Cambridge and is accepted by schools across the world. Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is an Indian national curriculum. The board is highly recognized and accepted in India.
Cambridge Board provides a global learning community and is more intellectual in nature in comparison to CBSE. The board has an international curriculum and is more suitable to the needs of people who are looking to relocate to abroad in the future. CBSE is designed to provide a vigorous and holistic form of education to students in order to help them build the future of India. The board also prepares the students for Indian competitive exams such as NEET, UPSC, IIT-JEE etc.
The Cambridge Board is often considered to focus more on practical approaches which eventually allows students to focus on creative thinking and problem solving. CBSE is actually much easier and focuses on building a strong foundation especially in Science and Maths.
The CAIE curriculum focuses on the core subjects of English, Mathematics and Science for the learners up to the age of 14. CBSE on the other hand offers the core subjects of English, Mathematics, Social Sciences, Science, English and second language up to tenth grade. After tenth, students can opt out for their chosen subjects from about 70 available options.

Cambridge Board vs ICSE

Cambridge Board ICSE
The Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) is an international level exam which is a part of a world-renowned University of Cambridge and is accepted by schools across the world. ICSE stands for Indian Certificate of Secondary Education and is a national level exam offered by the Council of the Indian School Certificate Examination which is a private board of school education in India.
CAIE curriculum allows private students to sit for the examinations. The ICSE curriculum doesn’t allow private students to sit for the examinations.
The Cambridge Board is often considered to focus more on practical approaches and provides the students with an opportunity to select their subjects for themselves. This broader spectrum of subjects leads to the overall development of the students. ICSE syllabus is considered to be more comprehensive in comparison to CAIE and gives equal importance to all the fields and eventually helps students get a slighter upper hand in their command over English.
CAIE believes in localized content i.e. modifying the teaching content according to the respective regions they are teaching in. ICSE focuses on a common goal of study with common contents thus teaches the same content in every area.

How can Cambridge Board Support Higher Education Abroad?

The Cambridge curriculum builds a strong foundation for students by focusing on rather practical approaches to teaching by putting emphasis on problem-solving education, enhanced presentation skills. Contrary to the common notion, Indian students opting for the Cambridge curriculum certainly get benefited from it in matters of higher education.

  • Cambridge board offers a more global and comprehensive approach to primary and secondary education, eventually helping students get admission in top universities.
  • Cambridge courses help in easy adaptation to the professional courses in the global universities.
  • Programs offered by Cambridge board helps students bridge the gap between senior secondary and university education.
  • Many UK universities consider grade C and above for AS Level English and thus you even need not appear for IELTS if you choose Cambridge board.
  • The Cambridge curriculum provides students with the right knowledge and skills which helps them to make an informed decision about their future.

Top Universities Accepting Cambridge Board Scores


Is Cambridge Board better than CBSE?

The first thing to understand is that there is no right answer to this question and that you should understand both of them and see what fits best for you:

1. Schools are available wildly under this curriculum
2. Syllabus in line with most college entrance exams
3. Have standardized textbooks

1. Offers a larger variety of subjects to choose from
2. Considered to be tougher than CBSE
3. Focuses on applied knowledge rather than rote learning
4. You need to understand all this and then decide what you think will be best for you.

What is Cambridge Syllabus?

The Cambridge board curriculum allows students to take a minimum of 5 subjects and a maximum of 14 subjects. The core curriculum consists of –

1. First language
2. Second language
3. Mathematics
4. Science
5. One or more subjects in the area of science

English, Mathematics and Science are the core subjects offered by the board. A student also have an option to choose from other subjects ranging from social sciences to arts to technology.

Is Cambridge Board Recognized in India?

Yes, the Cambridge board is widely accepted all over India by different national and state education boards as a qualification for entry to class XI as well as for other secondary education courses. The Cambridge board is accepted in Indian universities and is also a recognized class X qualification, as one of the prerequisites for admission in undergraduate programs in India. 

What is Cambridge O Level and A Level?

O Level- Cambridge O level stands for Ordinary level. It is the final certification for secondary school which is taken approximately at the age of 17 (or age group of 14-16). Completion of O level is a sign of completion of formal education. It is one of the two parts of general certification of education which is followed by A level, which students enter after completing O level only. 

A Level- A level stands for advanced level which the students can enter after completing O level. Cambridge A level is an internationally benchmarked qualification which is excellent in preparing students for university education. The content of this level has been devised in such a manner that it fits perfectly for the international audience without any cultural bias.

Hence, opting for Cambridge board can open doors to innumerable opportunities especially if you are considering overseas education in an English speaking nation. If you are planning to pursue higher education abroad but are not sure about how to get started with it then the counsellors at Leverage Edu will lend you a helping hand. From helping you select a career line through a psychometric test to choosing a university using our AI-enabled tool, the mentors will help you kick-start your career in the right direction.

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