The ICSE Board vs. The CBSE Board: What is the difference?

In India, students have a variety of educational boards to choose from for their academic careers. Two of the most popular boards are the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). This blog illustrates in detail the difference between the ICSE board and the CBSE board, like the curriculum, assessment pattern, and teaching methodologies that could help students to choose the right board as it can significantly impact their future education and career prospects.

The ICSE Board

The ICSE board was established in 1958 by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate. It is a private board regulated by the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination. It follows a more globalised syllabus primarily focused on English Language and Literature. Wisdom World School (WWS) is an ICSE school in Pune, with branches in Wakad and Hadapsar, that offers a holistic education, strongly emphasising developing students’ creativity, problem-solving skills, and critical thinking abilities.

Advantages of the ICSE Board

The ICSE board has several advantages, including:

  1. Comprehensive Curriculum: It follows a comprehensive syllabus that covers a wide range of subjects and extracurricular activities, which provides students with a well-rounded education.
  2. Wide Range of Educational Opportunities: The board offers a diverse range of subjects, including language, science, mathematics, social sciences, and vocational courses, among others, enabling students to choose subjects that align with their interests and career aspirations.
  3. Focus on Critical Thinking: It emphasises critical thinking and problem-solving skills among students. WWS’s school ethos encourages children to be independent, imaginative and resourceful.
  4. Recognition: It is recognised by universities across India and accepted for higher education in the country and abroad. WWS has been awarded the QS I-GAUGE Platinum ranking, which places it among the top ICSE schools in the country!

Disadvantages of the ICSE Board

However, the ICSE board also has some disadvantages, including:

  1. Higher Difficulty Level: It is known to have a greater difficulty level than other boards in India, which may be challenging for some students.
  2. Limited Availability: It is less widely available than the CBSE board, which may limit students’ options.

The CBSE Board

The CBSE board was established in 1962, and the Union Government of India controls it. It is a national board of education in India and follows a nationalised syllabus primarily designed to cater to students interested in science and mathematics. CBSE emphasises a practical approach to learning and offers students a wide range of subjects, including language courses, social science, mathematics, science, and commerce.

Advantages of the CBSE Board

The CBSE board has several advantages, including:

  1. Standardised Curriculum: It follows a nationalised syllabus, which ensures that students receive a standardised education across the country.
  2. Emphasis on Practical Learning: It focuses on developing students’ practical knowledge and emphasises a problem-solving approach to learning.
  3. Recognition: CBSE is a well-recognized board that is accepted by most universities in India.
  4. Accessibility: CBSE board schools are more widely available, making it easier for students to choose a school that follows the board.

Disadvantages of the CBSE Board

However, the CBSE board also has some disadvantages, including:

  1. Limited Focus: It is primarily focused on science and mathematics, which may limit students’ options for pursuing other subjects.
  2. Rote Learning: The board’s assessment pattern may encourage rote learning, harming students’ long-term learning and development.

ICSE vs. CBSE: A Glimpse

To make it easy for parents and students to make their choice, here is the difference between the ICSE board and the CBSE board at a glance –

Differentiator ICSE Board CBSE Board
Acronym ICSE board full form is Indian Certificate for Secondary Education CBSE board full form is Central Board of Secondary Education
Medium of Instruction Only English  No language preference
Syllabus It has a broader range of subjects, including literature, history, and social sciences, including foreign languages, in contrast to the CBSE syllabus. The syllabus focuses on science, mathematics, and technology, with less emphasis on humanities and social sciences to prepare students for competitive exams.
Assessment Technique Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) Formative and Summative assessments
Examination Pattern Includes written tests, oral presentations, practical exams, and project work along with Class 10 and 12 exams Board exams at the end of Classes 10 and 12
Teaching Methodologies Experiential and inquiry-based learning – encourages teachers to use innovative teaching methods, such as group work, project-based learning, and case studies, to enhance students’ learning experiences Rote learning and textbook-based teaching – the teaching methodologies are more traditional and textbook-oriented
  • Comprehensive Curriculum
  • Focuses on Critical Thinking
  • Innovative teaching methodologies
  • Globally certified
  • Streamlined Curriculum
  • Easier than ICSE
  • Well-recognised
  • Widely accessible
  • Higher Difficulty Level
  • Limited Availability
  • Strict grading system
  • Lack of practical knowledge
  • Rote Learning
  • Theory-based subjects
Top 3 Schools in Pune
  1. Wisdom World Schools
  2. The Bishop’s Schools
  3. St. Mary’s School
  1. Orchids International School
  2. VIBGYOR High
  3. City International School


In Conclusion

The choice between the CBSE board and ICSE board depends on the student’s academic goals, learning style, and career aspirations. For example, while CBSE schools prepare students for competitive exams, ICSE schools offer a more comprehensive and diverse curriculum. On another note, CBSE emphasises rote learning, and ICSE emphasises critical thinking and problem-solving skills. 

Students and parents should carefully evaluate these factors before choosing a board and make an informed decision best suited to the student’s needs and aspirations. 

Enrol your child with Wisdom World Schools, Wakad and Hadapsar for a firm foundation in academics and holistic development. 


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