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CBSE vs ICSE: The final verdict by comparing along 6 dimensions


Often parents are confused between CBSE and ICSE. Which board to choose? What are the differences between the CBSE and ICSE? Which board will be better for the development of the student? These and lot many questions are there to haunt us parents. You will find here the most comprehensive set of answers to these questions.

First of all, ICSE is not a board. Surprised! The CBSE equivalent here is the Council of Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE). In our previous article we wrote about salient features of 4 popular school boards in India. Here we will focus on comparison between CBSE and CISCE (ICSE) boards along 6 critical dimensions.  

comparison between CBSE and ICSE board along 6 dimensions


Spread or Prevalence: 

CBSE board is more popular of the two (CBSE vs ICSE (CISE)) by a huge margin. It is followed in 9000+ schools in India and abroad. Thereby making it easier to find schools when you move to a new place


Schools outside India: 

Well, here CBSE takes the cake over ICSE (CISCE). CBSE schools, titled CBSE videsh can be found in Middle east, South Africa and even in some European countries. So you can move countries without significant disruption of education for your kid.


Recognition by colleges in India:

Both the boards, i.e. CBSE and CISCE (ICSE) are recognized by most universities and colleges across India. So marks for class-12th will be recognized. Phew! That is one less thing to worry about. However, some colleges have started the process of “calibration” of marks. This means they put an adjustment factor for marks obtained in one board to make it comparable to the other. This “calibration” factor often varies from year to year and usually favours the board from which most number of applicants arrive, which in this case is the CBSE


Course content:

Both CBSE and ICSE (CISCE) have slightly different focus in terms of course content. CBSE content is very Science and Maths focused with lots of attention paid to application of knowledge. CISCE (ICSE) on the other hand is more balanced with equal focus on language, arts and science. This one is a personal preference. While I would want a more balanced curriculum for my child, it is up to you on what you prefer.


Teaching methodology:

Both CBSE and ICSE (CISCE) prescribe a certain teaching approach and both have underwent significant change over the past 10 year. Generally the focus has increased on learning through experience and experimentation rather than through one-way teaching. This is for the better! Ultimately the quality of instruction depends upon the school and less on the board. There is not much to choose here. 

As per us, the focus should be on effective learning which happens if the learning is ACTIVE and if it is ENJOYABLE for the student. ACTIVE learning i.e. learning by doing (vs passive listing or watching) helps a child retain up to 45 times more. Further, if they enjoy the learning process or outcome, then their interest and understanding increases manifold. Modern schools, at least CBSE and ICSE, have been making special efforts to include creative learning games, experiential projects and real life mathematical activities as a way to encourage learning. This is specially true for Maths, Science and English where a lot of attention and creative thinking has gone in to making learning interesting. Schools, teachers and you have to make special efforts to achieve these twin objectives. 


Freedom and flexibility:

CISCE (ICSE) takes the cake here over CBSE. There are a lot more subjects to choose from in class-12. Also, there is an option to take vocational course based on interest rather than pure academic courses for class-12. CBSE has been improving over the years in terms of combination of subjects etc offered but still ICSE has a lead. 


And the 7th bonus point - Competitions and Scholorship exams:

A lot of talent search examinations and scholarship exams such as SSTSE, NSEB, NSEC etc held at local and national level base their content on CBSE syllabus just because it is more prevelant. CBSE students will natuarally have an edge here. Though more and more exams are now trying to keep their content and exam papers board neutral.


If you have any queries about the choice of board, you can raise them here or ask your query to our experts. If you learnt something new today, then use the social media buttons on the side to help us spread the word. Next up is an article comparing CBSE with IB, the new and much hyped board in India. 



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