ICSE v/s CBSE - a comparison

The article below gives a brief insight of the merits and demerits of ICSE and CBSE.

ICSE or CBSE - which syllabus is better?

Hello All, First let us go through what is the meaning of both the terms

ICSE- The Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) examination is an examination conducted by the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations, a private, non-governmental board of school education in India, for class 10.The medium English. Only the schools which have affliation to it are allowed to conduct examination.
Private candidates are not permitted to appear for this examination.

In all subjects other than Science and Computers, students must submit compulsory coursework assignments. In groups I and II they count for 20% of the student's performance in the subject; in group III the assignments count for 50%. In Science and Computers, students are tested on their laboratory work.

In subjects where there is more than one paper, the mark in the subject is calculated by taking the average of all papers in the subject. Candidates appearing for the examination have to study seven subjects, with anywhere from 1 to 3 papers in each subject. This makes for a total of 8-12 papers, depending on the subjects.

The COUNCIL was established in 1958 by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate to ensure that its examinations become adapted to the educational needs of the country and assign the ultimate control of the same on the COUNCIL. The COUNCIL was registered as a Society under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860 on 19 December, 1967.

CBSE - The Central Board of Secondary Education (abbreviated CBSE) is the Board of Education for school level in India of Central Government.

The board conducts final examinations every spring: the All India Secondary School Examination (AISSE) for class 10 and All India Senior School Certificate Examination (AISSCE) for class 12.

The board also annually conducts the AIEEE exam for admission to undergraduate courses in engineering and architecture in numerous colleges spread over India.
The board was formed on November 3, 1962 (1962-11-03) (47 years ago) and is recognized under the type - Governmental Board of School Education.
Its headquarters is located in New Delhi, India
The Official languages are Hindi & English
Now lets see the differences between the two boards.

CBSE And ICSE Differences

The syllabus of the CBSE is better manageable than that of other boards like ICSE/ISC.It is so because there are less of subjects in CBSE as compared to subjects in ICSE,e.g. For english there are two papers which are taught as two different subjects in school as English Literature and English Language (in ICSE) whereas in CBSE there is only one english subject either Functional English or Core English. Although a broad-based syllabus is generally perceived to be good, since it has a focused approach, it increases the load on students, thus leading to stress. A student should be given the option of studying only the basics of the language if his/her interests lie elsewhere. This choice is given in CBSE, not in ICSE/ISC.

1. Unlike in ISC, the CBSE syllabus is presented in a more scientific manner. The entire syllabus is divided into units and every unit is allotted the number of periods required to cover it in the year and also the weight age of marks it will carry in the examination. Thus, the teacher and student can plan the study of the various segments of the syllabus accordingly.

2. The examination pattern of entrance examinations (IIT-JEE & PMT) follows that of CBSE since CBSE conducts these examinations. This puts those ISC students who are interested in competitive examinations at a disadvantage as they need to reorient themselves to a different system. As ICSE also has no role to play in the above.

3. The ICSE syllabus especially for higher standards is very heavy compared to that of CBSE. ICSE has two papers in English, whereas CBSE has only one. ICSE has three papers in Science (Physics, Chemistry & Biology) whereas CBSE has only one. ICSE has two papers in Social Studies (History & Geography) whereas CBSE has only one.

4. Environmental Education is compulsory at the ICSE & ISC examinations whereas this is not so at the CBSE examination. CISCE, in a panic reaction to Supreme Court ruling regarding Environmental Education, rushed into it while CBSE is content to wait a review of this ruling where the matter may be either dropped or modified.

5. CBSE will give only grades in the examination results. This is seen as a progressive move. ICSE has not made such an announcement as yet. But ICSE gives two sheets of results one which has grades in it and the other has marks.

6. CISCE has no academically designed process or programme for syllabi revision/upgradation, unlike CBSE which has syllabus reviewed on an ongoing basis.

7. It is a myth that ICSE is well recognized all over the world and not CBSE. Now UCAS (Universities & Colleges Admissions Service- Central organisation through which applications are processed for entry to higher education) recognizes CBSE at par with ISC.

Also, it is observed that a student if a student has migrated from ICSE to CBSE (in class XI), he/she has performed better because the load of the subjects is less and also the content which is taught in higher classes (like XI and XII) part of which is already known to the student. So, they have an upper hand. But a student migrating from CBSE to ICSE will always face problems as the number of subjects increase and the students comes under pressure.


1. Which Board is difficult CBSE or ICSE
Ans. ICSE is difficult than CBSE

2.Why ICSE is difficult than CBSE
Ans. ICSE is little ahead of CBSE. The course covered by ICSE in 7th standard is done in 8th standard in CBSE.

3.Which Subjects in ICSE are difficult as compared to CBSE
Ans. In ICSE there is more emphasis on literature. The students who do not like literature and Social Sciences finds it difficult. Science and Maths are almost the same in ICSE and CBSE.

4.Which board is easy for scoring?
Ans. CBSE is more liberal and students can get better marks as compared to ICSE.

5.Which board should I choose for my kid?
Ans. This depends on the caliber of the child, and his area of interest.
* If the child is not so good at language and literature then, it is better to go for CBSE.
* If you want your child to take up management roles then, ICSE is far better then CBSE. ICSE gives a good command over language.
* If you want your child to score more percentage in boards, go for CBSE.
* If you want an overall better academic growth, go for ICSE because 2% or 5% more is boards does not matter a lot in the overall career. Even if the child becomes an engineer from the best institute, he might not rise in his career if he does not have an excellent command over his language.

6. Which board is better close to the engineering / Medical entrance exam?
Ans. Both boards cover complete syllabus that is needed for the entrance exams. CBSE being a little easier, the student gets more time to prepare for various entrance exams.

7.I am in CBSE board, can I switch to ICSE?
Ans. Technically anyone can shift from one board to the other but if you are in higher class, it is not good to change board. ICSE might be little difficult for you.

8.I want to do MBA which board should I choose?
Ans. If you are seriously planning to do an MBA from some good B- School, you should go for ICSE.

Finally to sum it up, there is a trend that most parents follow, they enroll their child in a ICSE early itself in class 1 itself and then let them complete their education in the ICSE school till class X. After that they get them enrolled in a CBSE school(for science). If a child wishes to pursue Commerce, then the student continues in ICSE only. There is no doubt that the syllabus of ICSE is more rigourous and difficult than CBSE. In the end it should be left on the child to decide which board to join either CBSE or ICSE.

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Guest Author: Sanjay Gupta19 Apr 2013

Very nice & descriptive article. I want to share one case and looking for advice / comments from experts.

My son has passed our 1 to 10 from ICSE board and till VIII class his performance was excellent above 95% marks but in IX it came down to 80% but again in X class he got good i.e. 91%. After X his school was shifted to CBSE school and in class XI he got only 60% marks. Now i am in dilemma and unable to understand this drastic decline in performance. Please comment.


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