CBSE Vs ICSE syllabus – Which is better and why?

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.


Guest Author: CHIRANJEEVI30 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: amit24 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: sravanthi12 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 rajput14 Jun 2014

Thanks for your article it help me I am student of CBSE class 10th.

Guest Author: Vivek14 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: Hema04 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 Varghese10 Dec 2014

The article is informative and useful for parents and students. A request to the author - Please correct the last sentence.

Guest Author: NVV Prasad03 Apr 2015

Definitely, this article is a good guide for parents to plan syllabus for their children. The overall analysis reveals ICSE is good for child growth in all sectors, where as CBSE is a common now a days.

Further, the ICSE schools have better standards (of course fees structure also high) than CBSE even available now a days in smaller schools.

Guest Author: riyanyadhav05 Jun 2015

it is very useful for me to know the the exact difference between CBSE &ICSE

Guest Author: Biplab Keshari Malli08 Sep 2015

Everything mentioned above is very well. But one thing I would like add that why ICSE is not better, but preferred overan CBSE is: In ICSE board, 1) English fluency is better as both students and teachers are communicating in English, 2) The entire syllabus is a higher version than CBSE, 3) Project and Extra activities presentation is better, 4) Which syllabus contents books read in class-III, that is used in CBSE class-V.

Guest Author: pinky16 Sep 2015

I am confused now - which one is better either ICSE or CBSE? I mean, considering the competition outside which is better to opt for?

Guest Author: Mathew S. Mitra27 Nov 2015

I am in teaching for last 36 years. All through my career I have been in ICSE schools except 1 year in a CBSE school. I've been in the helm of some schools for last 25 years. I'm a teacher of English in the higher classes. I've also been an Examiner of English Language Paper. ICSE is strict in English and has a varied study in the English Literature including the study of Shakeseare's Dramas, English Poetry, Short stories in English. The Science syllabus is wider & deeper than CBSE. The Practical Work Books and Project Works gives an impact in detailed studies. The ICSE Ouestion Papers are found to be very scientific, practical and student-friendly. The Co-curricular activities help the student to develop his innate qualities and thus helps him to enhance his personality. It was always found - ICSE students are far better than CBSE ones in facing interviews. In practical life ICSE students are much ahead. The English syllabus of CBSE is not bad at all, its good. But the saddest thing is - the CBSE English teachers have high degrees but incompetent to teach the Basics. As a result the CBSE students remain unsuccessful in English. Both the Boards are good, but the ball is now in your court. Thank you.

Guest Author: ROOPASREE17 Dec 2015

I did my primary education under ICSE and higher education under SSC. The same is the case even to my brother. Now both of us are working for reputed companies. Till today the ICSE knowledge that we gained in primary education is helping us far better than State syllabus. To be honest studying under ICSE syllabus made us feel that we were advanced than others. We were getting updated with the new innovations in the world. Instead of setting back with the outdated theories & principles. Apart from studies we were equally good at extra curricular activities & 15 years back when I was in 3rd we had C programming. We had computer classes from 1st standard - tell me which other board had included this 15 years ago? Try making your child gain as much as knowledge & at the same time see that he is balanced in the other fields too. We used to have activities like singing, dance, swimming or any other activity compulsory in our academics along with subjects. So parents decide yourself whether you want your child to be only a book worm or an all rounder. You may not feel the difference at that instant, but when your child grows and comes to our position then you can see the change and growth.

Guest Author: Nadeem Ansari18 Jan 2016

I think ICSE is better than CBSE because it is easy to study and its courses are repeating every year. That is what I think.

Guest Author: jeevitha25 Apr 2016

I completed 10th CBSE just now. Which is the best option for my 11th class, CBSE or state board to become a doctor?
Sorry this is not a comment but just a request. Please clear my confusion.

Guest Author: 27 Apr 2016

Best article regarding education for the people who are in a state of confusion to choose between CBSE and ICSE. It has lot of valid points.

Guest Author: devarshi trivedi26 May 2016

My son completed his 10th standard from Cambridge board. Now he is planning to go for IIT/ Engineering. Please suggest which board is suitable for him.

Guest Author: Kavitha20 Sep 2016

CBSE, ICSE or SSC - each one of them is a learning tool to guide a child towards common entrance examination at the 10th grade and 12th grade. As a parent each one here is discussing which board for my child and looking like it is 'fix the switch' situation for a child. Really sad to know that even in today's generation people seem perturbed by the boards without actually understanding the fact that each learning pattern teaches pretty much the same thing for that class however it is just put across differently. What matters finally is the teacher and the school management. Post-school we all do pretty well for ourselves based on what we want to be in life. Children too can help you understand what they want to be in life by the time they are in their teens. Help them become better individuals and better adults and do not bother about the board. When your child gets to a successful position in life no one will ever care which board he completed his or her 10th from. What matters is how he or she can solve issues and handle situations.

I passed from SSC board in Mumbai and am a successful entrepreneur managing 2 businesses. What mattered was what I wanted to be and how I made myself capable enough for that. Even today with Mumbai being the financial capital of India, maximum schools follow SSC pattern. School is a common platform to learn and to make education reasonably fair for all to learn, certain parameters and ways of learning have been set down as acceptable procedures.

When you approach a school for your child don't ask which board it follows, ask the school a few situations and see if they answer you satisfactorily. Ask your child which school they prefer to be in. Especially if your child is 6 or 7 years old, the schools look and feel and the presentation of the people your child looks to interact with will make a bigger difference.
Please stop being scared or sarcastic about any board.

Guest Author: Ramachandra25 Dec 2016

Of my kids, presently one is 1st STD and other one is in UKG. I want to change their school next year. But I am in confusion as to which board I have to admit them, ICSE or CBSE? Please guide me.

Guest Author: Kiran13 Apr 2017

I read this article and to tell you the fact, it opened my eyes. Almost everyone suggested me to go for CBSE or State syllabus because ICSE is tough but I understood now that ICSE is good. Please suggest me to which school should I go for best coaching in ICSE syllabus.

Author: sundar raj24 Apr 2017 Member Level: Bronze   Points : 3

CBSE and ICSE are both good educational boards and students needs to choose the board as per their educational preference. I have seen that students who study in top ICSE schools in Bangalore like, Greenwood High, excel in English language. Also, the author has rightly mentioned that students of ICSE get an edge over other board students for competitive exams. I personally think that they get benefits for studying abroad and while applying to foreign universities.

Author: Ramakrishna Kambhampati27 May 2017 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 0

To get more information regarding this topic please go through the following resource: Can Parents Choose ICSE Boards Syllabus To Their Wards?

Guest Author: Celin Paulson06 Jun 2017

Well said. The article is giving a balanced detail of the education system. So parents, the ball is in front of you. Go ahead with your child's abilities and interest in studies.

Guest Author: Shashank Kumar Singh04 Jul 2017

Lots of hoax but some facts too,
For ICSE the point is very valid that basics are repeated but there are some advancements in the order of questions with the same basics.
I have studied in an ICSE school till my matriculation and after that I joined a CBSE school.
I am going to favour ICSE here because it makes you to think out of the box.
It emphasizes on your personality building and making you a unique person by giving you a lot of courage to make your own decisions in life.

Guest Author: umesh pilania22 Jul 2017

I am interested in setting up a CNG dispersal pump in Agra. What is the procedure to apply for the same? Please provide relevant details.

Author: Gaurav Singh20 Aug 2017 Member Level: Gold   Points : 3

I have been a CBSE student till 12th and had heard a lot about ICSE that their syllabus is more advance and flexible in comparison to CBSE syllabus. Thanks to the author. This article has cleared many of my doubts and myths. As a CBSE student I feel that it's syllabus is equally good and very balanced too. NCERT books are considered best by many scholars and education experts and CBSE follows this publication. So, students from CBSE are also getting quality education through comprehensive and reliable study materials which are the first choice of experts and teachers.

Guest Author: Abdus Samed02 May 2019

Thanks for the article on the syllabi of both CBSE and ICSE to compare and choose.

Guest Author: SandiptaPaul23 Aug 2020

I totally disagree with the above comment . ICSE syllabus is way huge and tougher than CBSE .An ICSE 10 th grader studies 10 vast subjects with 20-25 chapters per subject . CBSE is pretty easy as a 10 th grader studies 6 subjects with 10-13 chapters. ICSE students know more than CBSE and state boards and are always in good position in class 11 as compared to other boards

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