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CBSE Vs ICSE syllabus – Which is better and why?

Updated: Category: Education
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It is very important to choose from the two nationwide education syllabi - CBSE and ICSE. This article gives a brief insight of the merits and demerits of each of the syllabus. It will help you choose the appropriate course for your child.


The CBSE board is short form of Central Board of Secondary Education. It prepares the syllabus for students up to Class 12. The curriculum is set by National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT). The board conducts India's two nation-wide board examinations: the All India Secondary School Examination for Class 10 and the All India Senior School Certificate Examination for Class 12. Many schools are affiliated to CBSE syllabus.

The ICSE is short form of Indian Certificate for Secondary Education. It was established by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate. The council conducts an all India exam for Class 10 called ICSE(Indian Certificate for Secondary Education) and for class 12 called the Indian School Certificate (ISC).
A common misconception is that CBSE and ICSE are both education boards similar to SSC boards of state government. CBSE is an education board but ICSE is the certificate offered after completion of the course and it is not a board. Still ICSE board is commonly used to mention this course.


The CBSE syllabus is a cumulative syllabus. The syllabus is prepared so that the contents are in a flow and linked with each other. For example, in Algebra, there is introduction to numbers in one standard such as integers, whole numbers, real numbers and complex numbers. In the higher standard, there is detailed approach to quadratic numbers which is based purely on complex numbers introduction. Similarly, all the subjects have a cumulative syllabus which helps students not to forget the previous contents. Also, this makes remembering simple. One disadvantage is the length of the syllabus. It has vast syllabus. It includes numerous topics as compared to ICSE. Apart from basics, high end applications are involved which makes it difficult for the teachers to complete the syllabus.

The ICSE board follows the basics strengthening syllabus. Unlike in CBSE, as a student moves to higher standard, he once again has the previous standards basics in his new syllabus. For example, in CBSE, once complex numbers introduction is over, it is not repeated in higher standard. But, in ICSE all the introduction is repeated and then quadratic equations are handled. Even questions are based on the basics. This makes the basics of the topic very strong. This helps the student a lot of confidence when higher studies are involved. As his basics are very strong, half the job is done.


In the CBSE syllabus examinations, mostly objective type of questions is asked. The CBSE system deals with more one sentence answers. The marking scheme does not give priority to writing lengthy answers. It is mostly based on to the point answers and extremely relevant answers. But the syllabus in general is very vast. Thus it takes long time to study and prepare for the exams. The CBSE exams are considered very tough.
In the ICSE syllabus examinations, there is a balance between objective and subjective questions. Both have equal priority or weight. One important distinguishing feature in ICSE syllabus is the importance given to projects. Projects are very important and they form the basis of marking scheme in the performance of the student. This makes the student extremely active and it improves his thinking ability.
Overall, both syllabi have their advantages and disadvantages in terms of the examinations conducted.

Use in competitive examinations

Competitive entrance exams at the all-India level like IIT-JEE, AIEEE and AIPMT are completely based on the CBSE syllabus. If a child has completed his school with CBSE syllabus, it becomes very simple for him to adjust to the format of these exams as they are completely objective type. Also, UPSC exams conducted for civil services follow the same pattern.

ICSE syllabus is particularly important for students who prefer higher education abroad. Exams like GRE, TOEFL and GMAT have a lot of verbal ability testing. In ICSE syllabus, verbal abilty is highly improved. A lot of stress is given to teaching of grammar and increasing the vocabulary of the student. So, ICSE is preferred by students who like to go abroad for future education.


It is a myth that ICSE syllabus is more recognized abroad and it has more value than CBSE in terms of giving priority. It is rumored that ICSE has more international appeal and it is of higher standard than CBSE. All this is false. CBSE is equally well accepted all over the world. It has the same standard as ICSE if not more.
Many parents change the syllabus from CBSE to ICSE after 10th board examinations. If your child is studying in one syllabus, do not change his school to change the syllabus from ICSE to CBSE or vice versa. This will have a negative impact. Every syllabus has a different style and a different approach. It will be very unwise to change the syllabus in between.


CBSE syllabus and ICSE syllabus each have their own merits and demerits. Most of the schools follow the CBSE syllabus as it is very useful for most of the competitive examinations in India. ICSE syllabus is preferred for English improvement and it is a simpler syllabus compared to ICSE. The choice is up to you to decide which syllabus is most suited for your child.
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Responses to "CBSE Vs ICSE syllabus – Which is better and why?"
Guest Author: CHIRANJEEVI   30 Jan 2014
Everything is well said and true except project work. And information related to formative assessment should have been included though fact is many of the cbse schools failed to understand its importance.

Guest Author: amit   24 Feb 2014
Well said but I'm convense with result pettern.CBSE is known for the competative exams & ICSE for lots of project work its ok its about the education system but cbse announced their result in %age while icse anounced in %tile & most of the competative exams prefer %lie instead of %age & ofcourse IIT kanpur(JEE) too. So why we should go for cbse why not icse.What is use of competative syllabus of cbse.plz clear this topic.

Guest Author: sravanthi   12 Jun 2014
Hi your article is ok and thanks for your information. My name is bhanu and I am a normal parent. I am not more educated. my children was studying in Icse syllabus in 4&6 classes.what is the best option for after 10th standard. IIT, JEE or any other engineering courses.please give an idea for further studies for best future.they both are A+ students. What is the best option?

Guest Author: anamika rajput   14 Jun 2014
Thanks for your article it help me I am student of CBSE class 10th.

Guest Author: Vivek   14 Oct 2014
It's really help full. Thank you . I would like to join my kid in ICSE syllabus from 10th standard I will join him in a coaching centre for IIT. Is it good?

Guest Author: Hema   04 Nov 2014
I was thinking to put my child into CBSE syllabus. But after reading this article I really got confused and not sure where to place my kid. Can somebody suggest me which is best - CBSE or ICSE.

Guest Author: Josey Varghese   10 Dec 2014
The article is informative and useful for parents and students. A request to the author - Please correct the last sentence.


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