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.

32 Responses to CBSE vs ICSE – The Pros and Cons of each Educational Board

  1. George says:
    I can relate to this very much as I studied till 10th in ICSE board and 11th and 12th in CBSE board. From my observation, I feel that content of the ICSE syllabus is vast and tough for students. However, that will make you a hard working student at a very young age which will help you later in your life. ICSE could improve their syllabus in the areas of World History and Organic Chemistry (which I did not learn until 11th standard). Overall, i liked learning in ICSE board till 10th and switching to CBSE which helped me prepare for competitive examinations.
  2. Latha says:
    Mr.George did u take up any other courses in 11 th and 12 th like Base etc and do the oppourtunities of abroad studies dwindle if Cbse is chosen for 11 th and 12th?
  3. George says:
    @Latha - I'm not sure if I quite understood what a "Base" course is. But if you are asking about prep course for 11th and 12th, i did not take any. I had some challenges with Organic Chemistry in the beginning but I got over it soon. I did have to do some research myself to find more information for your second question. I hope the below link may help... Also, if you have to do undergrad/grad courses abroad (in the US), you have to give SAT/GRE. I don't think choosing CBSE or ISC will affect your chance for abroad studies. for eg., refer to this one: Disclaimer: I'm no expert in this field. This is my personal view and the info I gather from various sources. :)
  4. Debasish says:
    After passing ICSE Exam,which Board u suggest( 4 not hard-working students) ? Moreover if she wants 2 have (1)Section rather than science and (2) if she'll take science in Cl-XI. D.ROY
  5. Rakesh says:
    I am assuming you are looking for XI class after passing X exam in ICSE. If she has already done ICSE board so far, she could continue to be in the same board. Otherwise CBSE will work as well as it should have less pressure on her. More than the board, make sure you find a good school.
  6. Manav says:
    hey.......i am in 10th n i'll complete it in 2011 exams.i m in icse board..but in +1 and +2 i want to do non where should i cbse or icse..plz guys help me out..i m really confused!!!!!!!!! manav tiwana
  7. IoninnifF says:
  8. sruthi says:
    even if i written cce examination in class 10th...............can i change my syllabusssssssss and continue my education in another school
  9. Anand says:
    Agreed with most points in the post especially the point about readiness for competitive exams - CBSE is a big plus. A recent circular from the Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Vidya Mandir highlights the pros and cosn of both boards: ""
  10. Akash says:
    Which board u shoul prefer after pasing class 10th from icse board really i m in confusion make me out of this so that i can take admission nd start my studies Akash
  11. bstcbamfi says:
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  12. Ritu says:
    I am still confused for my children. My children are in CBSE school. But i am not liking the curriculum content.
  13. Ritu says:
    I am still confused for my children. My children are in CBSE school. But i am not liking the curriculum content.
  14. Fran says:
    Are 12th std certificates by state-board recognised abroad?
  15. sanjay verma says:
    Hi my child is 3.5years old i do not know his ability how he will do study in future so can you please suggest me that which Syllabuses will be more suitable for my child please suggest
  16. Maryann says:
    Good day very cool blog!! Guy .. Beautiful .. Superb .. I'll bookmark your blog and take the feeds also? I am satisfied to find a lot of useful info right here in the publish, we need develop more techniques in this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .
  17. pooja jain says:
    Hii...i m pooja child z 3 yrsold ...i do not no her ability how she wil studyin future..i m vry much confuse tat in which board i hav to put her...which wil b suitable for her...pls suggest
    • Anshita says:
      Hi pooja, I strongly feel that ICSE till class 10 is highly beneficial (though not the board exams, its simply a joke). The reason behind it is that in ICSE, till class 10, equal emphasis is paid to ALL subjects, which truly encourages the growth and maturity of a student. Your child will be able to study different subjects, before making the decision of what she wants to do in college. I feel that a sound knowledge and intellect in all fields is necessary for a truly rounded individual, so ICSE is a good option. Moreover, equal emphasis is paid to English as well as Hindi/2nd language, so you can ensure that your daughter will have a good vocabulary and will be able to truly nurture her communication skills in any language. Yes, syllabus content is more, but in the long run, it is always beneficial. And no parent knows the intellectual capacity of his/her child at the age of 4, but ICSE will give her room to learn a broader spectrum of subjects. Whether she would want to switch in +2 to CBSE can be decided on later. Moreover, choose a good school- a school that is not only focusing on creating toppers with aggregates of 95% but well-rounded individuals who will have the maturity and courage to face the true world after graduation. That truly makes all the difference. Also, go for schools that don't allow students to drop science in 9 or 10. It may sound tempting, but I've seen my cousins regretting the hasty decision to drop science. It is not as strenuous as it sounds, I have survived. I'm going off topic, but I've seen my brother's CBSE's curriculum, and i hate it. They teach them topics when they don't need to know them, and then till class 10, its all baby-topics. CBSE students face a HUUUGEEE jump in +2 due to the lag in the sciences in secondary and middle school. ICSE students are familiar and can deal with the pressure. Now the choice is yours, though I recommend ICSE, but in a GOOD school.
  18. Astha Sh says:
    I want to take up humanities after ICSE. Would it be beneficial if i do Archaeology afterwards.? Please suggest.
    Hi all, Just want to know if Tree House is a good ICSE school. I am at Virar Maharashtra. Also if Ryan International is a good CBSE school.
  20. K.NATARAJ says:
    Hi I am shortly getting transferred to SRILANKA - COLOMBO where there are no CBSC SCHOOLS. My daughter and son have just entered 11th and 7 the cbsc in India scoring 9.4/10 and A/B grades respectively I want to know what to do as they are very much attached to me and I can'nt leave them here. But I need to put them in only ISC and Icsc only there at SREELANKA. Can anybody please guide me in this as I feel ISC AND ICSC may be more tougher compared CBSC. Regards
  21. G. POOJA SITHRUBI says:
    sir/madam i have completed my 10th in ICSE. i came to know if i complete 12 th in ISC , to do higher studies in abroad, i need not write TOEFL. is it true?
  22. shreya verma says:
    hii...I just want to ask that if I. study 11th & 12th in ISC board then will it be very difficult for me to face the competitive exams......
  23. Dibyendu Das says:
    My daughter is studying at class - v in ICSCE school. Please let me know that whether i have to shift her in CBSE school in class - VI or in class - XI for preparing her medical or engineering entrances.
  24. Gemma says:
    This is a topic that is close to my heart... Best wishes! Where are your contact details though?
    • ThinkVidya Support says:
      Hello Gemma! You may write to us at (OR) you may speak to us on +91 9590014159 - Mon-Sat 9:30AM - 5:30PM
  25. ta...a says:
    which school will be best for ICSE board in saltlake?
  26. Aniket Mhatre says:
    Dear team, My child is 2 years old. Now, I am thinking about his school and the board. Could you refer me some good schools in Dombivli city, Maharashtra? I was analysing Omkar International School for ICSE board. Grateful if you could help me decide about good school and preferable board. Warm regards, Aniket Mhatre
    • pranav says:
      Hi aniket, even i want a review on omkar international school... please inform me if u get any feedback....on the same... thanks in advance.....
  27. Karun says:
    Thanks for article and I Feel ICSE is comparatively better than CBSE because its focus does not rely only on Maths and Science, but it has equal focus on language, arts and science . My nephews have been studying at Inventure Academy, bangalore since 3 years and we can see great progress in them. Their performance has not just improved academically but also in activities
  28. Palvinder Mahal says:
    Hello! I want to know that should I opt for ISC in XI after doing X from CBSE, will it be tough for me to cope up with ISC syllabus? Because I've heard that what they teach in IX and X in CBSE is already taught in V-VIII in ICSE... I thought of ISC because I want to complete my studies abroad and ISC could come handy in that case!

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