IGCSE Maths: Core or Extended?

(Last Updated On: May 12, 2017)

Cambridge programmes and qualifications have a proven reputation for being an excellent foundation for students aspiring for global success. Many international schools in Singapore follow Cambridge IGSCE curriculum in Grade 9 and 10. Our teachers at Eduinfinite have experience guiding students following IGCSE curriculum. If your child is enrolled in IGCSE, it would be important to know what it means and how it would play out in your child’s future.

What are the benefits of opting for IGCSE Maths?

  • Curriculum: IGCSE curriculum is much more flexible, with choice of Core and Extended Syllabus. Parents/ Students have a choice to select between the two, depending on the ability and interests of the student.

  • Mode of delivery and assessment: IGCSE has more practical and application-based approach to learning and teaching. The assessments also consist of variety of tests, not limited to written exams.

  • IGCSE has more international acceptance and is recognized by leading universities and employers worldwide.

  • IGCSE recognizes ability of range of students and has an eight-point grading scale, from A* to G.

  • Offers a balanced curriculum and flexibility in studies.

  • It develops problem solving and investigative skills rather than rote learning skills.

  • Students get a feel of numbers and can talk about the subject in a variety of ways. They also develop skills to apply mathematics in other subjects, particularly science and technology.

What is the difference between IGCSE Core and Extended Curriculum?

Core and extended curriculums have been designed by Cambridge to recognize different learning abilities of different students. Preparing for all topics at the same level as academically brilliant child can become an anguish for kids who find a subject difficult.

IGCSE Core Maths is aimed at students who want to grasp basic concepts in Maths and pass the subject with a maximum of C grade. The IGCSE extended syllabus comprises of Core as well as extended topics which covers every topic in much more depth.

One of the major differences between the 2 syllabus is the grading. A student opting for IGCSE Core Maths can achieve a maximum of C grade (options being C, D, E, F and G). C is the only grade recognized as “Pass”. IGCSE Extended curriculum offers grades A*, A, B, C, D and E; A* being the highest.

The overlap of three grades (C, D and E) is designed to accommodate students who perform either better or worse than their teachers expect. 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.

To give a tabular representation of the difference between the 2 syllabus:

IGCSE Core Maths IGCSE Extended Maths

Level of Difficulty

Provides overview of the subject and covers basics of a topic.

Provides indepth knowledge of the topics. It is a sort of specialization

Expected ability of student

Covers majority of students

Designed for academically talented students.

Available grades

C, D, E, F, G

A*, A, B, C, D, E

Accepted for higher education in Maths



Coping with maths at University level

May find it difficult

Naturally leads to higher education


Student needs to write 2 exams: Paper 1 and Paper 3.

Student needs to write 2 exams: Paper 2 and Paper 4.

How should one decide whether to opt for Core or Extended syllabus?

IGCSE Maths syllabus is available for Grade 9 and 10. By the time student reaches grade 8, you will have a fair idea of the ability and interest of the student. If the student clearly shows academic excellence in Maths, extended paper should be your choice. If the student finds Maths extremely challenging, they should be enrolled in Core Maths. As a parent, it is important for you to recognize child’s abilities and be happy there is an option for them to write Core instead of being burdened by advanced topics.

However, most of the students fall somewhere in between where they may be able to excel in Maths given the right direction and mentorship. If you want options related to Maths open for them in future and they do not find Maths too difficult, you should enroll them in IGCSE Extended Maths.

If a student enrolled in Extended syllabus finds it difficult to cope, he/she can always change to Core syllabus.

Students who opt for Core Mathematics have to appear for 2 examinations : Paper 1 and Paper 3.

Paper 1: IGCSE Core Mathematics paper 1 consists of short answer questions. Student is allowed an hour to attempt these questions which can fetch a total of 56 marks. Weightage of this paper is 35%.

Paper 3: IGCSE paper 3 consists of structured questions which require the student to apply mathematical techniques to solve problems. Student can score up to 104 marks in this 2 hrs paper. Weightage given to this paper is 65%.

Students who opt for Extended Mathematics have to appear for 2 examinations : Paper 2 and Paper 4.

Paper 2: It is a 1 hr 30 min paper which has short answer questions. Students can score maximum of 70 marks and the weightage given to this paper is 35%.

Paper 4: It is a 2 hr 30 min paper which has structured questions. Students can score maximum of 130 marks and the weightage given to this paper is 65%.

If you are finding it difficult to decide which syllabus to opt for, call us on (+65) 8498 2405 and get an appointment with our founder Shrabanti for a counselling session.

Syllabus for IGCSE Core Maths 2017:

Broad Topic

Detailed topics


  1. Squares and cubes
  2. Directed numbers
  3. Fractions
  4. Decimals and percentages
  5. Ordering
  6. Indices
  7. ‘Four rules’
  8. Estimates
  9. Bounds ratio
  10. Proportion
  11. Rate
  12. Percentage
  13. Time
  14. Money and finance

Algebra and graphs

  1. Basic algebra
  2. Algebraic manipulation
  3. Equations
  4. Sequences
  5. Proportion
  6. Graphs of functions


  1. Language
  2. Constructions
  3. Symmetry
  4. Angle properties
  5. Loci


  1. Measures
  2. Mensuration

Co-ordinate geometry

Straight-line graphs


  1. Bearings
  2. Trigonometry

Matrices and transformations

  1. Vectors
  2. Transformations



The weightage of the main topic areas of Mathematics are shown in the table below:



Space and shape

Statistics and probability

Core (Papers 1 and 3)





Extended (Papers 2 and 4)





 Contact us today to know more about Core and Extended Syllabus. Also, book an appointment with our founder Shrabanti and understand how we can help your child gain an edge in Maths.

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