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A Brief Comparison between ICSE and CBSE Boards of Education

As the child sets his/her foot in the academic threshold, the dilemma of selecting the right board strikes the parents. It is indeed a confusing aspect for the parents to decide on the right educational board for their child. This helps them to choose the right career path going ahead. Making the right choice of the board is essential.  A large part of the early progress of a child’s aptitude and knowledge depends on the decision of the board.

The kind of exposure a child gets from studies is primarily based on the educational board opted for. There are two most recognized boards in the Indian education system. They are,

  • ICSE (Indian Certificate of Secondary Education)
  • CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education)

The boards are diverse and have differences, as well. Here is a brief comparison between them to help you understand, which will be a better option for your child. The comparison has been drawn based on the abilities, functionalities, and the standards maintained by both the boards.

Exploring the Major Differences

The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) conducts the ICSE Board. It is an offshoot of the Cambridge IGCSE. The system existed during the British era. Later on, it was taken over by the Anglo Indian Board. Right now it is governed by the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations. The course curriculum is mainly taken from National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT). It has the most detailed syllabus. This is the reason why ICSE and ISC are the two toughest examinations to appear for in Grade X and Grade XII respectively.

CBSE, on the other hand, is the board recognized by NCERT. It was started as an initiative to operate a network of the middle schools or the Kendriya Vidyalayas network. This was mainly to cater to the requirements of the government employees having transferable jobs to provide quality education to their wards. The board conducts two examinations,

  • All India Senior School Certificate Examination, AISSCE (Class XII).
  • All India Secondary School Examination, AISSE (Class X)

It is still one of the most preferred educational modules availed across the country.

Regular and Private Candidates:

A large number of schools across India are affiliated to CBSE board.  It allows both regular and private students from other schools not affiliated to the board to appear for the examination. ICSE board never allows anyone to take the examination unless he/she belongs to a school affiliated to ICSE.

Medium of Instruction:

The CBSE course is available in both Hindi and English as a medium of the instruction. ICSE, on the other hand, only recommends English as the medium of instruction.

Recognition of Board

CBSE has a better recognition by the Government of India while ICSE has gathered worldwide fame recognition as equivalent to senior examination in various foreign educational systems.


ICSE comprises a much detailed syllabus. It also has a balanced focus on language, arts, and science. The CBSE curriculum, on the other hand, has a slightly different approach. Most of its focus is towards science and math and their applications. That’s why CBSE course is much useful to qualify in various entrance exams to be eligible for engineering and medical studies.

Evaluation or Assessments

If the differences are explored in terms of assessment or evaluation, then the ICSE exam emphasizes more on practical tests, lab work, and internal evaluations than CBSE mode of study.