The change from a A*-G grading system to a 9-1 grading system has led to 9-1 grade International General Certificate of Secondary Education being made available.
Before this qualication was graded on an 8-point scale from A* to G with a 9th grade "U" signifying "Ungraded".
At one time the "A*" grade in the GCSE did not exist but was later added to recognize the very top end of achievement.
In the case of Further Mathematics, an extra A^ grade was added for students that can "demonstrate sustained performance in higher-level maths skills such as reasoning, proof and problem-solving.". It also allows further vocational education and is often considered the baseline for employment.
Therefore they offer an alternative to GCSE for many home-schooling educators and in adult education.
In the UK there has been controversy over the fairness of private school students taking the exam as an alternative to GCSE.Students in Hong Kong can take the Cambridge exam board as well as the Edexcel exam board, either at their school or registering through the Hong Kong Education Bureau as individual candidates. The official status of IGCSEs has changed several times in the UK.In 2013 the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) allowed more use of IGCSE subjects in state-funded schools.Ofqual allowed the use of Cambridge IGCSE exams under the name of "Cambridge International Certificates".Initially 16 of Cambridge IGCSE syllabuses received UK government accreditation.In addition, to award top candidates with the uppermost achievement, Cambridge awards "Outstanding Achievement Awards" in the categories of "top in country", and "top in world" for each subject.Edexcel International GCSE exams are conducted in the months of June and January.The exams are set by Edexcel which also sets GCSE exams in the UK.Oxford AQA International GCSE exams are conducted in the May/June and November.The examination board Edexcel and Oxford AQA also offer its own versions of International GCSEs.Most Students begin learning the syllabus at the beginning of Year 10 (Grade 9) and take the test at the end of Year 11 (Grade 10).