CBSE vs ICSE: Difference and Comparison

CBSE and ICSE are two commonly preferred national boards of education in the academic avenue, along with other state boards of each state. CBSE Boards target providing holistic and cultural growth to students, while ICSE Boards try to provide students with good quality education.

Key Takeaways

  1. CBSE is a national board in India, while ICSE is an internationally recognized board with more emphasis on individual learning.
  2. CBSE syllabus is more focused on science and math, while ICSE covers a wider range of subjects and offers more flexibility.
  3. ICSE has a practical and project-based approach to learning, while CBSE follows a structured and exam-oriented curriculum.


The difference between CBSE and ICSE Boards is that while CBSE is a board, ICSE is an exam that Council conducts for the Indian School Certificates Examination. Still, both of them are popular as different boards.


Education Quiz

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What is the most common type of post-secondary education in the United States?

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Which is the first country to have a public education system?

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What is the study of light and color called?

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In a class, there are children who usually get out of the social circle. How do you describe these children?

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What is the highest degree that can be earned in a university?

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Who invented the light bulb?

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What word, taken from German, names the traditional first formal year of U.S. schooling?

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What is the main difference between a public and a private university?

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CBSE syllabuses are more theoretical and hence are of great help for students to prepare for competitive exams like NEET and JEE. At the same time, ICSE Boards have the upper hand in providing practical knowledge to their students.


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonCBSEICSE
MeaningCentral Board of Secondary Education is an educational board that grants affiliation to public and private schools across India and other countries and conducts exams.Indian Certificate of Secondary Education is an examination conducted by the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) Board.
Medium of InstructionCBSE Boards provide instructions in English as well as Hindi language.ICSE conducts examinations and gives out instructions in the English language only.
SyllabusCBSE syllabus is well structured and compact and hence is comparatively more straightforward.ICSE is heavy on languages and has a variety of subjects to choose from and hence is comparatively on the stricter side.
Acceptability of marksCBSE Board marks are accepted in all universities and institutions irrespective of the course and stream you opt for.Though ICSE marks and grades are widely accepted, it is much preferred by foreign schools and universities.
Mode of markingCBSE Boards assess and mark students based on grades only.ICSE prefers marking students based on grades as well as marks.


What is CBSE?

CBSE, or Central Board of Education, is a board of education recognized at the national level and affiliates with public and private schools in India and other countries. It is controlled and managed by the Union Government of India.

CBSE affiliations are given to mostly all schools approved by the Central Government of India, all Kendriya Vidyalayas, all Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, and many private schools. By 2019, India had almost 21,499 schools affiliated with the CBSE Board.

The Board has its headquarters in New Delhi, India, and is headed by the Chairperson, Mr Manoj Ahuja, IAS. The Ministry of Human Resource Development acts as the parent organization for the CBSE Board. It has 10 regional offices in the country.

CBSE conducts various examinations at the national level. It includes working on Class 10 and Class 12 tests every year in March. The results for these classes are announced by the end of May.

For being promoted from Class 10 to Class 11 and 12, the minimum percentage a student needs to secure is about 33% in all subjects, excluding the theory marks. Class 12 students must secure 33% overall in their theory and practical issues.

Moderation is a practice that CBSE has been following for a very long time. This has led to the development of a lot of controversies.

One of the advantages of studying the CBSE syllabus is that most competitive exams are based on the CBSE portion. It also lays more importance on subjects like Mathematics and Science.


What is ICSE?

ICSE, or Indian Certificate of Secondary Education, is an exam conducted by the (CISCE) Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination, a private board. Hence, ICSE is an examination, not a board of education, as it is commonly mistaken.

ICSE follows the recommendations of the New Education Policy 1986, and its official medium of communication and instruction is English. According to popular notion, ICSE syllabuses are considered more challenging than other boards as they have a variety of subjects to choose from.

ICSE focuses more on the English language and this helps students perform better in Global English exams like TOEFL. ICSE certifications and marks are also preferred in foreign schools and universities.

ICSE follows a grading and marking system. Still, usually, students are given their marks in numbers rather than the alphabet, making it easier to understand how much the student has scored. ICSE also does not allow students from non-affiliated ICSE schools to attend exams privately.

ICSE pays equal attention to almost all subjects. Hence, it helps in the holistic development of a student, as they have a range of topics to choose from right from the school level, exposing them to many subjects and giving them an idea of what it is like.


Main Differences Between CBSE and ICSE

  1. CBSE is an educational Board that affiliates schools and colleges and conducts examinations, while ICSE is an examination conducted by the CISCE Board that affiliates schools and institutions.
  2. CBSE Board is managed and controlled by the Union Government of India, while ICSE is a private or non-governmental board of education.
  3. The main difference between CBSE and ICSE Board is that the medium of examination in CBSE is both in English and Hindi, while ICSE examinations are in English only.
  4. CBSE syllabuses are considered to be more accessible and well structured as compared to ICSE syllabuses which offer an extensive range of subjects to study, which can sometimes be challenging.
  5. CBSE declares the students’ marks in alphabetical grades, while ICSE displays two different mark sheets, one in grades and the other in marks.
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