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CBSE vs ICSE - The Pros and Cons of each Educational Board

There are two very different boards of education catering to the academic sector in India, and these are CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) and ICSE (Indian Certificate of Secondary Education). Although the subjects taught in both boards are the same, choosing the right board is essential because this can play a significant role in the student’s future. Indians lay a lot of importance on education and knowledge, and the age old debate on choosing the right board ofeducation is bound to crop up in every household sooner or later.

Each board of education has its own set of pros and cons, and parents will have to make a calculated move taking their children’s strengths into consideration, as their future can be shaped only based on their interests.

Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE)

The Central Board of Secondary Education in India is the main board of education in India for school level education. This board of education conducts the All India Senior School Certificate Examination every year for students who complete their twelfth grade, and this examination serves as the basis for them to pursue their higher education, once out of

The Central Board of Secondary Education is also responsible for conducting the AIEEE examination, which serves as an entrance exam for admission to the various undergraduate engineering courses.


  • Opting for a CBSE school has its own share of pros, and the biggest advantage is that all major competitive examinations in India are based on the CBSE syllabus. These examinations include the Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE), the All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE) and the All India Pre Medical Test (AIPMT).
  • The CBSE syllabus is easier when compared to that of other boards, mainly due to fewer subjects and a more compact structure. Secondary subjects like Environmental Education are not compulsory under the CBSE syllabus. The subjects of Physics, Chemistry and Biology fall under the general umbrella of Science, and History, Geography and Civics fall under the spectrum of Social Sciences.
  • A certificate from the Central Board of Education is recognized throughout the country, in all colleges and academic centres. The syllabus is more application based under CBSE, as the board follows a concentric curriculum.


  • Not much focus is laid on inculcating practical knowledge in students. The CBSE syllabus also does not lay as much emphasis on core English knowledge as its counterpart does, choosing to lay more importance on the disciplines of mathematics and science.
  • The subjects in a CBSE syllabus are approached in a theoretical manner, and true emphasis is not laid on real-life concepts behind the science. Although the syllabus is application oriented, it does not provide room for effective understanding.

Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE)

The Indian Certificate of Secondary Education was first established by the Local Examinations Syndicate of the University of Cambridge. The syllabus followed by ICSE schools differs vastly from that followed in CBSE schools mainly in terms of content and volume. The board conducts an ICSE examination towards the end of tenth grade and an Indian School Certificate (ISC) examination towards the end of twelfth grade.


  • The syllabus followed by the ICSE board is more comprehensive and complete, encompassing all fields with equal importance.
  • Students who are interested in careers in the lines of management and humanities will find the curriculum followed under ICSE to be more interesting and challenging, not to mention fruitful.
  • Certification under the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education board will be recognized around the world, particularly by foreign schools and universities when compared to the central board’s local margin.
  • Due to the emphasis laid on English in ICSE, students from this board may hold a slight edge over other students in exams like TOEFL.


  • Students may find the syllabus to be too extensive for their liking, as an average student practising under an ICSE board will face thirteen subjects/examinations during the sixth grade, when compared to the six subjects faced by the student’s counterpart in a CBSE affiliated school.
  • Although an ICSE syllabus can facilitate deeper understanding and better life skills and analytical skills, pursuing further education may prove to be a problem due to a lack of leniency in evaluating papers after an ISC examination.

Both these boards share an equal amount of pros and cons, and choosing the right board will entirely depend on the kind of future you envision for your children. The quality of education provided under both boards is excellent, so all you’ll need to do is assess your children’s strengths and gauge the right board for them.

However, you’ll need to keep in mind that more than the board of education involved; the quality of education that your children are receiving should be your primary concern. This is why it is more important to choose a very good school, regardless of the board of education it falls under.

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Manish | Within 2 months

my child is going in IX std ICSE and has opted for Eco Commerce & not Maths-Science, can she join a medical college after Xth

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Kavya | Within 5 months

Please tell me what is the opinion of world?

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Sudarshini | Within 5 months

At the CBSE is still displaying details of the AIPMT conducted in May 2014, instead of details of the May 2015 examinations for which entrance forms are to start in December 2014. This is CBSE!!

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Govinda | Within 5 months

CBSE may have a lenient methodology of study as compared to ICSE, but in some schools going for the All India Senior Secondary Examination in March 2015, as of date the course is yet to be completed especially in science where the students have to prepare for pre-board examinations. Most schools hold four such preparatory examinations, but Manipal School,...  more >>
CBSE may have a lenient methodology of study as compared to ICSE, but in some schools going for the All India Senior Secondary Examination in March 2015, as of date the course is yet to be completed especially in science where the students have to prepare for pre-board examinations. Most schools hold four such preparatory examinations, but Manipal School, Lucknow, cannot hold more than two because the course is incomplete. This school has a lackadaisical approach towards the education of senior students and is more concerned about its publicity school events like Akolona annual games, exhibitions, etc. Moreover, the Principal of the school encourages students to opt for humanities and commerce in that order rather than science though the schools has good labs. This is primarily because it is not able to retain experienced and skilled science teachers. In a hurry to show that the course for science has been completed, the teachers are issuing handwritten notes which are photocopied and distributed to the students to study on their own with minimum discussion of the same in the class. Who suffers? Us Students and our concerned parents who have to run around and incur further expenses for home tutions. This is the state of schools run by business houses. Manipal school is run by the RPG group. I would advise all students to join English medium Jesuit schools as these are far more dedicated to education regardless of whether they conduct ICSE or CBSE. << less

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Amit Shaha | Within 5 months

Hi all. I am from pune maharaja training.. My child age is 4.5 years. We r confused about cbse and icse boards. Pl guide. Probably we r thinking to make her courrier in medical sicnese like MD or MS after MBBS

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Sanyia | Within 2 months

you should let your child decide what she wants to become when she is older. It is not good to enforce a job on a child with her consent. I am part of the RCO (right to choose occupation) organization and urge you to allow your child to choose her job. (IB is the best)

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