More than 200 state secondary schools have ditched the GCSE in favour of a more traditional O-level style examination.
Figures published today show a total of 550 schools are now offering the International GCSE, which bans coursework and relies on the end-of-year examination.
Interest in the IGCSE has doubled in the past year since the Education Secretary Michael Gove gave schools the green light to offer it to pupils. In the past, schools could not apply for funding to put their pupils in for it and results could not be included in exam league tables.
Today's figures also show a 50 per cent rise in the number of schools opting for the Cambridge Pre-U, a traditional alternative to A-levels. Ann Puntis, chief executive of University of Cambridge International Examinations, which offers the IGCSE, predicted the figures would rise again next year. "We are talking to more schools that want to start teaching cambridge Pre-U and Cambridge IGCSE in September," she said.
Heads say the IGCSE stretches pupils more than the GCSE, which some claim is not a good enough preparation for higher education.