Comparison between School Boards in India: CBSE vs ICSE vs IB?


Selecting Suitable School Board: CBSE or ICSE or IB?

In this advanced and fast era, parents have to mull over the education soon after having a baby. Today, the academics and career of the children is a big challenge in front of the Indian parents. Apart from the world-class private schools in India, there are different choices for the school boards as well. Different parents prefer different boards according to their experience and interest. Here, we will discuss all the leading school boards in India and compare them to get a fair idea about their features and benefits.
The primary school boards existing in India are – CBSE, ICSE, IB, Cambridge and SSC or State Board. In the recent years, thousands of State Board students have switched to the leading boards like CBSE and ICSE for better education. This means, SCC is not competent enough to firm its position in our top school board list. We will also ignore the Cambridge Board as a wide selection of Indian schools doesn’t have this board.

Basics of Each Board

CBSE: Basics

CBSE stands for Central Board of Secondary Education. This is the most popular board in Indian which covers secondary and senior secondary level syllabus. The two major examinations conducted by this board are AISSE for Class 10th and AISSCE for 10+2. The board follows NCERT syllabus. A wide selection of entrance examinations after 10+2 follows CBSE syllabus. The board has well-organized and structured syllabus that helps the students get comprehensive knowledge of various subjects.

ICSE: Basics

ICSE stands for Indian Certificate is Secondary Education. The board is more advanced and more difficult than CBSE and many Indian schools have this board. ICSE is basically a certificate and not a board but in India, it is considered as a board in followed in a plethora of private schools. The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations was established in 1958.

IB: Basics

Another leading board in India is IB, International Baccalaureate. It was founded in 1968 and it is a non-profit foundation for education. The board focuses more on modern education and innovative teaching style.

Comparison Between CBSE, ICSE and IB

Learning Methods

CBSE board has recently undergone and overhaul which made the contents relevant to the modern time and career opportunities. The learning method in CBSE board is pretty standardized and comprehensive. The two majorly focused subjects under this board are Mathematics and Science. The board emphasizes on technical learning. .
On the other hand, the ICSE board tends to make the students . creative and stand out. in every phase of their careers. Rather than focusing on Maths and Science, the board equally emphasizes on all the subjects to make a student all-rounder.
In the case of IB, students are prepared according to the modern scenario and the job opportunities in the metro cities. An overall development is the primary motive of this board. Be it the . communicative skills, personality development, fluency in English . or in depth knowledge of the core subjects – the board got the students covered in all the manners.

Syllabus and Exams

In CBSE, at present, the 10th Board exams are not compulsory. However, the notification related to mandatory class 10th board exam has knocked the doors and the rule is expected to be applicable from 2018. From class VI to X, the primary subjects are Mathematics, English, Science, Social Sciences and Physical Education or Fine Arts. After X, there is a choice to select the stream. The three major options are Science Stream, Commerce Stream and Arts Stream. The student taking Science stream mainly study PCM (Physics, Chemistry and Maths) or PCB (Physics, Chemistry and Biology). The 10+2 examinations are conducted on the basis of the chosen stream. Hindi, Physical Education and English remain the additional subjects.
In ICSE, there is a vast syllabus which is not limited to maths and science. The primary subjects in the board include English, Civics, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, Indian languages, and popular foreign languages like Chinese, Spanish, French, German and Tibetan. The other subjects are business studies, accounts, commerce, economics, sociology, political science, history, geography and home science. There are many other subjects divided in three groups – Group 1, Group 2 and Group 3. An ICSE board student gives an exam appearing in 6 subjects out of which 5 best subjects are considered during the results.
In IB board, there are four primary programs for the students of different age groups. For 3 to 12 years students, there is a program called IB Primary years programme. For 11 to 14 years students, the program is IB Middle Years Programme. For 15 to 18 years, IB Career-Related Programme and then IB Diploma Programme. Apart from the core subjects, the students are taught about skills, attitude, personality, languages, our planet, health, globalization, culture across the world and many other interesting topics.


CBSE schools can be found anywhere within the country. The main focus of the board is to cover the topics that help the students build a career within the national territory. However, many CBSE students go abroad for further studies after completing higher degrees. The CBSE school fees are very affordable. The school fees vary according to the school and location. The schools in metro cities usually charge higher fees than small town schools. The chains like Kendriya Vidyalaya have a fixed fees structure based on the classes from 1 to 12th.
The ICSE board is slightly costlier than CBSE board. Be it the school fees, extra co-curricular activity cost, books and other things are costlier than CBSE
The IB board is very rare and not many schools in India follow it. There are handful of IB schools in India, majorly in the bigger cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata. The board usually targets international career and hence offers a vivid syllabus and an innovative curriculum charging significant school fees. At present, it is the most expensive board in India.

Popular Schools

The popular CBSE Schools are

• Kendriya Vidyalaya
• Techno India Group Public School
• D.A.V Sr. Secondary School
• Rama Krishna Mission
• National Public School
• Delhi Public School
• VibgyorHigh

The popular ICSE Schools are

• Presidency School, Bangalore
• St. Mary’s School, Pune
• New Horizon Public School, Bangalore
• The Cathedral and John Connon School, Mumbai
• St. Paul’s, Bangalore

The popular IB Schools are

• Aditya Birla World Academy
• Bombay International School
• Amity Global School
• Akshar Árbol International School
• Ahmedabad International School
• Calorx Olive International School

When to Worry about Finalising a Board?

A school board is not a TV channel which can be switched any time. Till class IV, there are no major differences in the syllabus in different boards. After a certain age, children lose the ability to grasp the learning fast. It’s better to keep your child in similar educational environment after class IV as that decision is going to decide his future.

Pros and Cons

CBSE Board Pros

• Easily available in any part of the country
• Good for competitive examinations after 10+2
• Predictable and controlled
• Cost-effective

CBSE Board Cons

• Lacks innovation and creativity
• Remains limited to technical knowledge only, specially maths and science
• Compared to IB/ICSE, less suitable for abroad study or job preparation

ICSE Board Pros

• Strengthens communication skills
• Improves personality
• Equal focus on core and other subjects
• More comprehensive

ICSE Board Cons

• Not the best board for engineering and medical entrance exams
• Comparatively costlier
• Lesser number of schools

IB Board Pros

• Good for students aiming abroad study and jobs
• Creative and vast
• Good for MNC jobs in metro cities
• Complete personality development

IB Board Cons

• Not many schools in India
• Very expensive
• Less suitable for Engineering and Medical entrance exams in India


Which Board is better for Abroad Studies after 12th?

ICSE and IB, both the boards follow a creative pattern and suitable for abroad studies and jobs. The IB board is an international board and a student in any part of the world studying under this board has a huge probability of bagging the overseas opportunities.

Which Board is better for scoring higher marks in 10th and 12th

CBSE board is comparatively easier, more predictable and more standardized. A student can score more in 10th and 12th studying under this board.

Which Board follows Traditional Approach and which on Modern?

CBSE board follows traditional approach and ICSE and IB walk parallel with the modern academics. However, the recent changes in the CBSE syllabus have made the subjects and their contents more relevant to the modern world.

Which is the Best Board in India??

It’s very tough to be judgemental about the school boards. There are many communities residing in India with different economic and lifestyle status. Some people reside in big cities whereas some belong from small town and even villages.
The CBSE board is suitable for all the communities who aim to crack the engineering, medical, CA, Bank or civil services. Its not at all hard for higher education abroad for a CBSE student. It’s economical and easily available while the two other boards are for those who can spend more for quality education and dream a creative or non-conventional career for their kids. However, a CBSE board student can shine on in any field if he puts sufficient efforts on the core and other subjects. Hence, CBSE board is suitable for all and stands tall among the other existing boards in India.


About Author


An IT professional, a mom of two, Sapana had belly-only pregnancies in her life & has lost 15Kg weight twice. Along with fitness, Sapana is an expert in Indian names & has helped scores of Indian parents to shortlist suitable baby names by virtue of her years of expertise in Sanskrit origin names & logical approach towards cultures & trends during the name research. Drop a comment to get help from her.


  1. Avatar

    I passed out of a school affiliated to CBSE in 1983 and at that time the CBSE used to conduct two exams one for Delhi schools and one meant for schools all over India. I belong to the Delhi stream. I am not sure if that exists any more. You have not mentioned that in your post. I googled and found that there is still an exam called DSSCE conducted. I am not sure the Delhi exam has been moved over to a separate board now. My daughter is in CBSE and being in Kochi she is in the all India stream.

    • Sapana

      Hi Sitharaam,
      Thank you very much for your valuable comment.
      According to my study the syllabus is same all over India, inclusive of Delhi. About exams I dint find any information about different exams for Delhi and Rest of India on their website. I will update this thread in near future when clear about it.

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