CBSE vs ICSE:The Right Choice for Your Child


Much like the socio-economic diversity in India, school education also offers a multifaceted model. Overall, the schooling in India is split in different levels – primary, secondary and senior secondary. The school age begins once the child is three years old and is normally completed at the age of sixteen. The secondary and senior secondary level, from grade VIII to XII is the most important, in terms of career goals and achievements.

There is often a wide debate on accrediting the best school and the best board governing the secondary and senior secondary education system. The question –What is better for the child, CBSE or ICSE, often becomes serious for the parents, as it is the children who have to decide. So far as CBSE or ICSE are concerned, one has to know about their structure and how they function, so as to arrive at any positive conclusion.

Technically speaking, CBSE and ICSE cannot be clubbed together, as the former refers to the board and the latter to an examination conducted by a different education board. Let us examine the two boards and see what do they offer.

CBSE vs ICSE education system


CBSE or Central Board of Secondary Education is one of the most popular school boards in India. The board is responsible for preparing the syllabus for class 9 to 12th, secondary and senior secondary level. Another important function of CBSE is to conduct examinations based on the prescribed syllabus. It is a recognized board and its syllabus incorporates the national curriculum as well as additional subject matter. The board conducts two examinations – All India Secondary School Examination, AISSE (Class X) and the All India Senior School Certificate Examination, AISSCE (Class XII).

ICSE on the other hand is one of the two examinations conducted by yet another board, CISCE or Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination. It is similar to AISSE conducted by the CBSE. Its (CISCE’s) equivalent for AISSCE is the Indian School Certificate or ISC.

The Medium of Instruction

The first and foremost dissimilarity between the two boards is the medium of instructions approved by the board. CBSE approves both English and Hindi language as the medium of instruction. While, on the other hand, CISCE or ICSE does not recommend Hindi.

Regular and Private Candidates

CBSE is affiliated to a large number of schools all over India. The board allows both regular candidates, who study in the schools affiliated to CBSE, as well as private candidates from non-affiliated schools to appear in the exams. Contrary to this, ICSE does not allow a candidate who has not been studying in the schools affiliated to the CISCE.


Both CBSE and CISCE are self-financing education institutions. However, CBSE is recognized by Indian Government and CICSE is not. Although the certificates provided by both of them are globally valid, yet CBSE has a better footing in the subcontinent than ICSE. The ISC by CISCE is recognized by many foreign education systems as equivalent to senior examination or high school. Therefore, students qualifying ISC are not required to go for bridge courses while seeking admission in colleges abroad.


The syllabus prepared by CBSE is more suitable for qualifying in various entrance examinations, including the medical and engineering professional exams. The syllabus of ICSE is more detailed and requires the student to remember a lot. CBSE is comparatively easier than ICSE.


One more point of distinction between the two boards is the evaluation and assessment of students. In ICSE, internal assessments are vital and practical tests are aggregated with the overall scores. ICSE lays more emphasis on lab work.

Environmental Education

The ICSE has made it compulsory to include environmental education as one of the subjects. CBSE does not ask for the same.

Other than examinations and syllabus, the two boards are engaged in a number of education related activities. Research and Development is the secondary initiative taken by CISCE. CBSE also has been engaged in similar exercises, including the research on creating better learning environments for the students.