CBSE vs ICSE: Check the TOP 5 Differences

CBSE vs ICSE: The decision of choosing an education board is complex. Read this article to find out the TOP 5 differences between CBSE and ICSE board.


Parenting isn’t an easy task already. Add to it, the decision of choosing an education board and school that would serve your child’s future the best. When it comes to choices like this, where your little one can’t yet speak for themself, it becomes all the more important for you to make an informed decision. 

Apart from various state education boards, there are primarily 4 - 5 other prominent education boards in India like National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), International Baccalaureate (IB) and International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE). Among all these, CBSE and ICSE form the most popularly sought after education boards. 

Therefore, in this article, Jagran Josh would help you figure out whether ICSE or CBSE would be the right fit for your child and your requirements. 

Career Counseling

What is CBSE?

CBSE stands for Central Board of Secondary Education. The board is a Government of India Education Board, approved by National Council of Education and Research Training (NCERT). Founded in 1929 as the Board of High School and Intermediate Education, it started functioning as CBSE in 1962. It promotes both public and private schools and the schools affiliated with CBSE also include all the Kendriya Vidyalayas, Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas and private schools. At school level, CBSE conducts two sets of examinations – All India Secondary School Examination or AISSE for class 10 students and All India Senior School Certificate Examination or AISSCE for class 12 students.

What is ICSE?

ICSE stands for Indian Certificate of Secondary Education. ICSE is actually the exam conducted by the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations for class 10 students. Thus, Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations or CISCE is a non-governmental, private school education board established in 1958. At school level, the CISCE conducts three examinations annually, namely, the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education or ICSE - Class X; The Indian School Certificate or ISC - Class XII and the Certificate in Vocational Education CVE - Year 12. 

CBSE vs ICSE: TOP 5 Differences

1. Medium of Instruction

Medium of instruction forms an important aspect of consideration while choosing education boards.

CBSE approves and promotes both English and Hindi medium instruction. All its prescribed textbooks are available in both the languages in physical as well as digital forms. 

ICSE’s mode of education is strictly English only. 

2. Syllabus

If observed in detail, the differences in syllabus for the board is vast and easily evident.

CBSE has a compact structure in all its courses, especially upto class 10th. The topics covered aren’t immensely detailed. Alongside 44 Language (L) subjects and 12 Academic electives (A2), the 3 main subjects (A1) are Mathematics, Science and Social Science. 

Meanwhile, both ICSE and ISC have extensive syllabus with each topic covered in depth. Even upto class 10, students are offered more than 30 courses where English, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, History, Civics, Geography constitute the main subjects besides other Indian and foreign languages and other vocational and skill based electives. 

The quality of education imparted by ICSE in English Language and  Literature is highly appreciated nationwide because of the general notion that ICSE board focuses more on teaching English .

In fact, often a topic of comparison and jokes among teenagers and young adults are the differences in English syllabus and the overall  vast course content of ICSE against CBSE. 

3. Monetary prospects

If discussed in terms of scholarships availed in school itself - 

CBSE board, as the government’s educational board, offers several scholarships of various range, magnitude and timeline.

Meanwhile, ICSE (CISCE) board by itself does not offer any scholarships but the affiliated schools are free to offer scholarships schemes as and when they deem fit. 

4. Future prospects

If discussed in terms of entrance exams for colleges and universities  - 

CBSE course content is more in sync with common entrance exams for fresh school students in India like NEET-UG, JEE (main and advanced), CUET UG, CUET UG, etc. This can be attributed to the fact that the syllabus for these tests is of 10+2 level and more or less NCERT based.

ICSE course content, with more focus on quality English and detailed and analytical approach toward all subjects, forms the suitable educational board for students who plan to appear for IELTS, TOEFL, MCAT, GRE, GMAT, etc. 

Please note that this is by no means a strict bifurcation of the kind of education the students from CBSE and ICSE students can pursue. This is only an overall analysis. All students are capable of and free to pursue any stream they like and are qualified for.

If discussed in terms of higher education in India and abroad  - 

CBSE board is accepted and more common (and preferred) all across India owing to its course content which aligns with common Indian entrance tests. 

ICSE board is accepted in India but less common when compared to CBSE. Nevertheless, ICSE is preferred in foreign universities and its pedagogy supports students who pursue higher education outside India. 

5. Availability

According to the CBSE board, the number of schools affiliated to CBSE in India is more than 24000.

More than 200 schools affiliated to CBSE are present in 26 countries.

The number of schools affiliated to CISCE in India is more than 2000.

Schools affiliated to CISCE are present in India, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and UAE.

The CBSE vs ICSE debate is a long going one. The end to this debate does not seem any close either. While both the boards have their own distinctive features, which board fulfils your requirements can be decided only by you. The referee to the game of CBSE vs ICSE is only you. The pros and cons of the boards are totally subjective to your needs. So, depending upon your present and future plans, you can choose whether CBSE or ICSE is the better fit for you.


Which board is better for career ICSE or CBSE?

This depends on your preferences for your current and future plans and aspirations. If you want to study all topics in depth then you can prefer ICSE but if you want to study all course content in compact manner than CBSE should be your preference. There are many other differences in terms of mode of instruction, range of subjects, marking scheme, etc that you can find on Jagran Josh.

Is ICSE harder than CBSE?

Although it depends on your likes and preferences, it can be said that ICSE is harder than CBSE. This is because ICSE has more extensive course contents than CBSE.

Related Categories

    Jagran Play
    खेलें हर किस्म के रोमांच से भरपूर गेम्स सिर्फ़ जागरण प्ले पर
    Jagran PlayJagran PlayJagran PlayJagran Play