Which Board is Better? CBSE | ICSE | State Board | IB/IGCSE??

Which Board is Better? CBSE | ICSE | State Board | IB/IGCSE??

A common question that plagues everyone’s mind today: Which Board is Better?

Today’s age offers us a choice in every aspect of life, including the education system.

Thus we have several education boards to choose from, which is instead a headache when it comes to choosing one for your child. This article is an endeavor to give you a synopsis of the basic facts about all the usual educational bodies that schools are affiliated to.

CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education)

CBSE Board

It is the most extensive exam conducting body in the world. Examinations include the All India Secondary School Examination (also known as AISSE), All India Senior School Certificate Examination (AISSCE), All India Pre Medical Test (AIPMT), AIEEE(Engineering entrance Exam) and the NET (National Eligibility Test).

The CBSE has undergone quite a few changes in its curriculum and syllabi over the 52 yrs of its operation.

The Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation or CCE system that was introduced from 2011 aims at reducing undue pressure on the students by breaking up the annual examinations to a series of tests, namely, four formatives and two summative assessments each carrying 40% and 60% weightage respectively.

At the end of each session, these are used to calculate the student’s CGPA (Cumulative Grade Point Average). This system has received mixed responses.

While some believe the continuous assessment through project and assignments in addition to the tests make all students work equally hard and give a higher number of students a chance to better their performance, others who were too used to the old system disagree saying that the CCE does not provide scope for actual learning as extracurricular work is hardly done by the student himself thanks to the internet.

ICSE (Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination)

ICSE Board

Unlike the CBSE which is a government body, the Council for Indian School Certificate Examination is a private non-government board of education that conducts examinations at the national level. The class 10 exams are called ICSE while the 12th standard exams are ISC.

The pattern of examination followed by them is annual, and marks are calculated by the best of four systems whereby the percentage of four subjects in which the student has scored best, including English is calculated. The ICSE syllabus is more comprehensive and detailed, giving your child complete knowledge of the subject.

For example, the social studies paper is divided into three parts i.e., history& civics, geography, and economics, examinations for which are held separately unlike CBSE.

Thus the student has to study broader content, will know more facts of examination that he has to appear in. The only drawback is that at times, the amount of studying becomes too much for the student to handle.

International Baccalaureate (I.B.)

This is an international board of education with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. This organization offers four programs for students aged 3-19 namely the Diploma Programme (D.P.) curriculum outline,Career-related Programme (C.P.) curriculum outline, Middle Years Programme (MYP) curriculum outline, Primary Years Programme (PYP) curriculum outline.

PYP is followed from KG-5, MYP from 6-10 while students of 11 & 12 undertake the D.P. Being a system based on international standards the syllabi of I.B. schools are application and experiment-based.

Moreover, students passing out from an I.B. institution will have a better chance of getting into global universities as compared to students of national boards partly because o the board’s international status and partly due to its course structure that is accepted worldwide.

However, the average Indian parent might not be able to afford such a school as the fees for these are considerably high, which in a way is required to maintain the world-class infrastructure in the schools.

Also, there are only 119 IB schools in India, making them a purely urban phenomenon thus having poor access to books and guidance from tutors.


IGCSE prepares students for I.B. and is a highly comprehensive system of study subdivided into the Cambridge Primary, Cambridge Secondary 1, Cambridge Secondary 2 and the Cambridge Advanced (for students aged 3-19). It offers an efficient and technical approach to studying though scarce availability of school teachers and resources is a persistent problem.

State Boards

All states have their own recognized board of education that holds two exams at the 10th and 12th level i.e., Secondary School Certificate(SSC) and the Higher School Certificate Examinations(HSSC). There is no general assessment for all the state boards as the quality of education for each state board varies depending on the government.

For example, U.P. Board attracts many fewer students as compared to say the Kerala or Tamil Nadu Board.

However if you are educated as a parent and know the board in your state to be active and the schools under it to be organized, enrolling your child in a school affiliated to a state board at least till the secondary level would not be a wrong choice.

Higher secondary students if brilliant, can avail seats in professional courses from the state Quota if they excel. The availability of teachers and resources in state boards is also generally higher.

Type National governmental educational organization National non-governmental educational organization International board of education State controlled educational bodies
Exams conducted Conducts the SSC (10th), HSSC(12th), AIEEE, AIPMT exams amongst others. Conducts only the ICSE,10th & ISC,12th exams Four exams include DP, CP, PYP and MYP  conducts the 10th and 12th level exams
Education policy Follows the Continuous & Comprehensive Evaluation system Annual Exams Periodic tests Depends on the state. Annual more common
Syllabi Compact and brief Detailed and comprehensive Application and experiment based Usually follows the National model
No. of Schools Over 16000 Over 700 119 Number variable
Resources CBSE books are most easily available Fair availability Books and teachers are very hard to find If the board is popular resources are not a big problem
Evaluation 60-40 structure where 40% weightage is given to assignments and projects. Scores given in the form of CGPA. Scores depend on the annual examination and the best of four system is followed. Grades Similar to the ICSE system.
Popularity Most popular Popular enough Not very popular Again, depends on the state
Cost effectiveness Government schools allow for free education. Some schools do offer free education but these are less in comparison to CBSE schools. Very expensive and not meant for the middle class population. Fairly effective cost wise.
Future opportunities National entrance exams follow a CBSE pattern so good for students aspiring for professional courses in India. Will give deep knowledge and is good for students to can get admissions via cutoff though even here CBSE scores more. If the student has the finance, IB will help expose him at a global level. If the board offers quality education, studying till 10th standard is not a bad option.

To integrate the entire article, it would be proper to say that all educational boards have their pros and cons and school selection at least till the secondary level should be based on the infrastructure, faculty and organizational skills of the school administration and not so much on the board.

Affordability should also be checked as higher education would require you to spend a lot more money for your child, and thus saved for the future are essential.

When it comes to the higher secondary level; however, the board is of much importance, for the average student must choose a board that will give him more opportunities thus a national board is a wise decision.

If your child has higher dreams; however, I.B. schools are the ones for him. And yet there is another group which hopes of grabbing the limited number of seats allotted to the state government in the best undergraduate institutes in the country, especially those like engineering and medical colleges.

Pratyasha Ghosh


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