About Cambridge Assessment

Established in 1858, Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) prepares school students for life, helping them develop an informed curiosity and a lasting passion for learning. CAIE is a not-for-profit organisation and a part of the University of Cambridge. More than 10,000 Cambridge schools in over 160 countries worldwide offer Cambridge courses. There are over 400 schools offering Cambridge programmes and qualifications in India.

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The University of Cambridge formed the 'Local Examinations Syndicate', over 150 years ago, with the aim to raise standards in education by administering exams for people, who were not members of the University and inspecting schools. Over the years, the syndicate has gone through several changes, finally adopted the brand name 'Cambridge Assessment' in 2005. Cambridge Assessment operates the University's three exam boards: Cambridge Assessment International Education, Cambridge Assessment English, and OCR.


CAIE's mission is to contribute to society by enabling teaching and learning at the highest international levels of excellence.

Important Notes:

  1. CAIE is the largest exam board in the world and one of the oldest.
  2. The Association of Indian Universities (AIU), the organisation that awards equivalence to foreign degrees in India, has granted equivalence to Cambridge International A Levels, Cambridge IGCSE and Cambridge O Levels. Independent AS Level may be equivalent to class 11, but not qualified as board.
  3. Equivalence criteria:
    • 5 Cambridge IGCSE/ Cambridge O Level subjects including English Language as equivalent to 10th board.
    • 2 or 3 Cambridge International A Levels as equivalent to 10+2 or 12th board
  4. If required, students can apply to the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) for equivalence certificate once they have the Statement of Results and Certificate in hand.
  5. Institutes for higher education may have specific requirements with respects to course and passing criteria. It is advisable to refer respective sites for details.
  6. Cambridge Assessments follow a linear (all exams at the end of the course) and staged (exams halfway through a two-year course) approach, rather than multiple modular assessments. It helps students develop a strong grasp of each subject as a whole.
  7. In UK's Education system,
    • Cambridge IGCSE is equivalent to GCSE, which is upper secondary qualification taken at the end of year 11. The examination board Edexcel also offer its own versions of International GCSEs.
    • Cambridge A & AS Level is equivalent to A Level (Advance Level) and Advance Subsidiary Level, which is called sixth form, taken at the end of year 13. AS Level is the half the syllabus of A Level and can be taken independently at the end of the year 12.
    • There are 5 examination boards or awarding organizations (AOs), who set examinations in UK. The examination boards operate under the supervision of Ofqual (The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation).

Programs offered by Cambridge Assessment

Cambridge Pathway is for students aged 5 to 19. The four stages lead seamlessly from primary to secondary and pre-university years. Each stage - Cambridge Primary, Cambridge Lower Secondary, Cambridge Upper Secondary and Cambridge Advanced - builds on the learners' development from the previous one, but can also be offered separately. Cambridge exams are conducted in the months of February, May and October, and the results are released in May, August and January respectively.

Five elements lie at the heart of a Cambridge education:

  • International curriculum
  • Teaching and learning
  • Assessment
  • International recognition
  • Global community.

Cambridge Primary & Lower Secondary

Cambridge Primary is typically for 5 to 11 year old learners and Lower Secondary is typically for learners aged 11 to 14 years. It provides a strong foundation for students at the beginning of their schooling before progressing through the Cambridge Pathway in an age-appropriate way.

Schools are given the flexibility to develop a curriculum that suits their students' needs and many schools offer Cambridge Primary alongside their national curriculum, or as part of a bilingual programme. The curriculum offers 10 subjects to choose from, including English, mathematics and science.

Courses offered in Primary and Lower Secondary


There are four types of assessments structures

  • Measure potential: Cambridge CEM,
  • Provide feedback: Classroom assessment,
  • Monitor progress: Cambridge Progression Tests,
  • Check achievement: Cambridge Checkpoint.

to measure student's potential and progress. Schools can apply them as per their requirements.

Cambridge Upper Secondary (equivalent to 10th Board)

Cambridge Upper Secondary is typically for learners aged 14 to 16 years. It offers learners two routes: Cambridge IGCSE and Cambridge O Level. Cambridge Upper Secondary builds on the foundations of Cambridge Lower Secondary, although learners do not need to complete that stage before this one.

Cambridge Upper Secondary programs develop learner knowledge, understanding and skills in:

  • Subject content
  • Applying knowledge and understanding to new as well as familiar situations
  • Intellectual enquiry
  • Flexibility and responsiveness to change
  • Working and communicating in English
  • Influencing outcomes
  • Cultural awareness.

Cambridge IGCSE curriculum

Cambridge IGCSE offers a flexible and stimulating curriculum, supported with excellent resources and training. There are over 70 subjects available at Cambridge IGCSE (extended), including 30 languages, and schools can offer them in any combination. Schools worldwide have been involved in the development of Cambridge IGCSE. The syllabuses are international in outlook, but retain a local relevance. Cambridge IGCSEs can be taken as individual subjects or as qualifications towards the International Certificate of Education (ICE), which is awarded for a minimum of seven IGCSE passes from different subject area.


Cambridge IGCSE assessment takes place at the end of the course and can include written, oral, coursework and practical assessment. Cambridge IGCSE uses a variety of assessment techniques to test oral and practical skills, initiative and problem-solving and application of skills, knowledge and understanding.

IGCSE Core vs. IGCSE Extended

To take into account differing abilities, there is a choice between Core and Extended curriculum papers in some subjects. The Core curriculum is within the ability range of a large majority of students. It provides a full overview of the subject and is targeted at students expected to achieve grades C to G.

The Extended curriculum, made up of the Core curriculum and the Supplement, has been designed for the more academically able and leads naturally into higher education or professional training. It is targeted at those expected to achieve grades A* to E. Students who fail to meet the minimum satisfactory standard for either the Core curriculum (Grade G) or the Extended curriculum (Grade E) will be ungraded.

Also read: Cambridge IGCSE vs. Cambridge ICE

Cambridge O Level curriculum

Cambridge O Level is designed for an international audience. It is sensitive to the needs of different countries and for learners whose first language may not be English. In some countries, schools use Cambridge O Level as an international alternative or addition to the local government's examination. The curriculum enables teaching to be placed in a localised context. Students can choose from more than 40 subjects in any combination.


Assessment takes place at the end of the course and includes written, oral and practical examinations. This gives learners a variety of ways to show their knowledge and skills, particularly when their first language is not English. Grades are benchmarked using six internationally recognised grades, from A* to E, which have clear guidelines to explain the standard of achievement.

Also Read: Cambridge IGCSE vs. Cambridge O Level

Courses offered in Cambridge Upper Secondary:

Cambridge Advanced (equivalent to 12th Board)

Cambridge Advanced is typically for learners aged 16 to 19 years who need advanced study to prepare for university and higher education. Earlier, it offers learners two routes: Cambridge International AS & A Level, and Cambridge Pre-U, however in November 2019, the withdrawal of Pre-U was announced. The last (Pre-U) examinations for all subjects will be in June 2023, with a resit available in June 2024.

Cambridge Advanced builds on the foundations of Cambridge Upper Secondary, although learners do not need to complete that stage before this one.

Cambridge International AS & A Levels

The curriculum  develops learners' knowledge, understanding and skills in:

  • In-depth subject content
  • Independent thinking
  • Applying knowledge and understanding to new as well as familiar situations
  • Handling and evaluating different types of information source
  • Thinking logically and presenting ordered and coherent arguments
  • Making judgements, recommendations and decisions
  • Presenting reasoned explanations, understanding implications and communicating them logically and clearly
  • Working and communicating in English.

A choice of 55 subjects are offered and schools can offer them in almost any combination. This flexibility means schools can build an individualised curriculum, and learners can choose to specialise in a particular subject area or study a range of subjects.

Cambridge International A Level is typically a two-year course, and Cambridge International AS Level is typically one year. Some subjects can be started as a Cambridge International AS Level and extended to a Cambridge International A Level.

Courses offered in A & AS Level


Each subject that a learner takes receives a separate grade. The Cambridge International A Level is reported on a grade scale from A* (highest) to E (minimum required performance). There is no A* grade for Cambridge International AS Levels, which run from grade A to E.

Important Links:

For more details, visit CAIE site

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