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Key Stage 4 & Beyond

In Key Stage 4 students prepare to take examinations for the IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education). Students in this key stage in Great Britain are usually between 14 and 16 years old. Students who transfer to The International Preparatory School without the adequate preparation to do IGCSEs will be prepared for these examinations before proceeding on to higher level examinations such as AS (Advanced Subsidiary level) or A-levels (Advanced levels).



What are IGCSEs?

Cambridge IGCSE is the world’s most popular international qualification for 14 to 16 year olds. It is recognised by leading universities and employers worldwide, and is an international passport to progression and success. Developed over 25 years ago, it is tried, tested and trusted by schools worldwide. Students are assessed at the end of a two year course (taken in Y10 and Y11) in a variety of different skills. Language courses contain speaking components, and science courses assess laboratory skills in addition to subject knowledge.

Further information can be found at

In English students learn to use language confidently, both in their academic studies and for the world beyond school. They use and analyse complex features of language. They are keen readers who can read many kinds of text and make articulate and perceptive comments about them.

In Speaking and listening emphasis is placed on speaking and listening confidently in a wide variety of contexts. Students learn to be flexible, adapting what they say and how they say it to different situations and people. When they speak formally or to people they do not know, they are articulate and fluent in their use of spoken standard English. They learn how to evaluate the contributions they, and others, have made to discussions and drama activities.

Reinforcement continues for students working with English as a second or other language.

Students may work at a foundation or higher level depending on their background knowledge and future plans.

In the foundation level students consolidate their understanding of basic mathematics, which will help them to tackle unfamiliar problems in the workplace and everyday life and develop the knowledge and skills they need in the future. They become more fluent in making connections between different areas of mathematics and its application in the world around them. They become increasingly proficient in calculating fractions, percentages and decimals and use proportional reasoning in simple contexts. Building on their understanding of numbers, they make generalisations using letters, manipulate simple algebraic expressions and apply basic algebraic techniques to solve problems. They extend their use of mathematical vocabulary to talk about numbers and geometrical objects. They begin to understand and follow a short proof and use geometrical properties to find missing angles and lengths, explaining their reasoning with increasing confidence. They collect data, learn statistical techniques to analyse data and use ICT to present and interpret the results.

At the higher level students take increasing responsibility for planning and executing their work. They refine their calculating skills to include powers, roots and numbers expressed in standard form. They learn the importance of precision and rigour in mathematics. They use proportional reasoning with fluency and develop skills of algebraic manipulation and simplification. They extend their knowledge of functions and related graphs and solve a range of equations, including those with noninteger coefficients. They use short chains of deductive reasoning, develop their own proofs, and begin to understand the importance of proof in mathematics. Pupils use definitions and formal reasoning to describe and understand geometrical figures and the logical relationships between them. They learn to handle data through practical activities, using a broader range of skills and techniques, including sampling. Pupils develop the confidence and flexibility to solve unfamiliar problems and to use ICT appropriately. By seeing the importance of mathematics as an analytical tool for solving problems, they learn to appreciate its unique power.

Science (Physics/Chemistry/Biology)
Students learn about a wider range of scientific ideas and consider them in greater depth, laying the foundations for further study. They explore how technological advances relate to the scientific ideas underpinning them. They consider the power and limitations of science in addressing industrial, ethical and environmental issues, and how keystage4-IMG_2257different groups have different views about the role of science. When they carry out investigations they use a range of approaches and select appropriate reference sources, working on their own and with others. They do more quantitative work and evaluate critically the evidence collected and conclusions drawn. They communicate their ideas clearly and precisely in a variety of ways. They see how scientists work together to develop new ideas, how new theories may, at first, give rise to controversy and how social and cultural contexts may affect the extent to which theories are accepted.


IGCSE Geography helps in the understanding of the events and processes taking place in the world and gives a broad-based skills and solid cross-curricular knowledge. There are three key themes in IGCSE Geography. They are Population and Settlement, the Natural Environment and Economic Development and the Use of Resources. The course content often compliments other subject areas e.g. Migration in History, Industry, Tourism and Agriculture in Business and Economics, Renewable Energy in Physics and Weathering in Chemistry, Ecosystem in Biology, and Map skills in Mathematics.

Year 10-11 embark on a two year course to sit three one- half-hour papers in IGCSE Geography. At this level, the students are expected to have a basic understanding of the processes which affect physical and human environments at local, regional and global scale. Further, the ability to use and understand geographical data and information is improved.

Students become more responsible for choosing and using ICT tools and information sources. They use a wide range of ICT applications confidently and effectively, and are able to work independently much of the time. They choose and design ICT systems to suit particular needs and may design and implement systems for other people to use. They work with others to carry out and evaluate their work.

Students tackle complex and demanding activities applying their knowledge of skills, techniques and effective performance. They decide whether to get involved in physical activity that is mainly focused on competing or performing, promoting health and well being, or developing personal fitness. The view they have of their skillfulness and physical competence gives them the confidence to get involved in exercise and activity out of school and in later life.


Students build on their previous knowledge and skills through performing, composing and listening. They develop their vocal and/or instrumental fluency, accuracy and expressiveness; and understand musical structures, styles, genres and traditions, identifying the expressive use of musical dimensions. They listen with increasing discrimination and awareness to inform their practice as musicians. They use technologies appropriately and appreciate and understand a wide range of musical contexts and styles.

Art and design

Key stage 4 Art is designed to engage, inspire and challenge pupils, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to experiment, invent and create their own works of art, crafts and design. As pupils progress, they should be able to think critically and develop a more rigorous understanding of art and design; so they can understand the proper use of visual culture technology such as internet, cellphones, cameras and social media in the virtual communities. They should also know how to connect their own art experiences with history and their contribution to the global cultures. Art is a way of inspiration, wellbeing and a creative way of learning through the praxis.


One support system that students have is the weekly class orientation, where students are instructed on various topics that support their social wellbeing. Students also use this time to initiate discussions, and learn how to resolve problems.

Students continue to develop their ability to understand, speak, read and write Spanish. They become familiar with the sounds, written form and grammar of the language, and use this knowledge with increasing confidence and competence to express themselves in role plays, conversations and writing. They improve their understanding of the language by listening to people talking about different subjects and by reading a range of texts. They also increase their cultural awareness by communicating with people who speak the language and by using materials from countries and communities where the language is spoken.


Students in IGCSE History study topics in international history, focusing on the period between 1919 to 2000. They further their understanding through independent, in depth studies of one of 7 specific periods/eras. Students develop their argumentation and explanatory skills through writing about these periods. There are discussions and debates about the merits of different large organizational systems.

Key Stage 5

Key Stage 5 is the highest level of education, where students choose their own courses to study AS and A levels. A full key stage 5 student will take 3 courses of their choosing from: Maths, English, Spanish, Geography, History, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. Students complete the AS portion in one year, and then can move forward to complete the A level components.  These courses are individualized, as students complete these subjects in small classes. Students require a score of C or higher in the prerequisite IGCSE classes. It may be possible to have a mixture of AS and IGCSE courses, on a case by case basis.


Students are enrolled in PE classes through every year at TIPS. This continues in key stage 5, as students can continue to develop skills and maintain their physical activity level.

Cambridge Recognition

Cambridge IGCSE is widely recognised by higher education institutions and employers around the world as evidence of academic achievement. Many universities require a combination of Cambridge International A Levels and Cambridge IGCSEs to meet their entry requirements.

UK NARIC, the national agency in the UK for the recognition and comparison of international qualifications and skills, has carried out an independent benchmarking study of Cambridge IGCSE and found it to be comparable to the standard of UK GCSE. This means students can be confident that their Cambridge IGCSE qualifications are accepted as equivalent to UK GCSEs by leading universities worldwide.

Leading US and Canadian universities require Cambridge International AS and A Levels, but some US and Canadian colleges and universities will accept learners with five Cambridge IGCSEs at grade C or above. Check the admissions policy of individual institutions for more information.

Learners use Cambridge International AS and A Levels to gain places at leading universities worldwide including the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Singapore, Egypt, Jordan, South Africa, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain.

UK NARIC, the national agency in the UK for the recognition and comparison of international qualifications and skills, has carried out an independent benchmarking study of Cambridge International AS & A Level and found it to be comparable to the standard of UK AS & A Level. This means students can be confident that their Cambridge International AS & A Level qualifications are accepted as equivalent, grade for grade, to UK AS & A Levels by leading universities worldwide.

Specific searches as to which institutions have provided written confirmation of acceptance of Cambridge qualifications can be performed at the following link: