Difference Between CBSE and ICSE (With Table)


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 on providing holistic and cultural growth to students while ICSE Boards try to provide students with good quality education.

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

CBSE syllabuses are well structured and easily understandable while ICSE syllabuses are comparatively known to be tougher and have a special preference for the English language.

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


Comparison Table Between CBSE and ICSE (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonCBSEICSE
MeaningCentral Board of Secondary Education is an educational board that grants affiliation to the public as well as private schools across India as well as 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 the 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 easier.ICSE is heavy on languages and has a variety of subjects to choose from and hence is comparatively on the tougher side.
Acceptability of marksCBSE Board marks are usually accepted in all universities and institutions irrespective of the course and stream you are opting for.Though ICSE marks and grades are widely accepted, it is much preferred for 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 which affiliates public as well as private schools in India and other countries. It is controlled and managed by the Union Government of India.

Officially, the Central Board of Secondary Education was formed in 1962 and is a governmental Board of Education in India. The official medium of communication and teaching for CBSE affiliated schools are English and Hindi.

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 also. By 2019, India has almost 21,499 schools that are affiliated to the CBSE Board.

The Board has its headquarters in New Delhi, India, and is headed by the Chairperson, Mr. Manoj Ahuja, IAS. 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 conducting Class 10 and Class 12 examinations every year in the month of March. The results for these classes are usually announced by the end of May. CBSE also conducts the prestigious NEET (National Eligibility and Entrance Test), Central Teachers Eligibility Test, UGC’s National Eligibility Test, and the entrance test for Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas.

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, exclusive of the theory marks. For Class 12 students, they need to secure 33% overall in their theory as well as practical subjects.

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. CBSE had also announced that it was going to get rid of the practice a lot of times, but that never happened. Even today, the practice continues in the form of grace marks.

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

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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 and not a board of education, as it is commonly mistaken.

The CISCE is a non-governmental education board up to class 10 and then changes to ISC (Indian School Certificate) from ICSE. There are around 1000 schools that are affiliated to the CISCE Board in India and other parts of the globe.

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

ICSE normally has a greater focus 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 covers a plethora of subjects ranging from subjects like Fashion Designing, Agriculture to languages like Kannada, Tamil, and Telugu. Hence, it is very extensive and can turn out to be advantageous for some and not for others.

ICSE follows a grading as well as marking system, but usually, students are given their marks in numbers rather than alphabets, which makes 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 and hence it helps in the holistic development of a student, as he or she has a range of subjects to choose from, right from the school level, exposing them to many subjects and giving an idea of what it is like.


Main Differences Between CBSE and ICSE

  • 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.
  • CBSE Board is managed and controlled by the Union Government of India while ICSE is a private or non-governmental board of education.
  • The main difference between CBSE and ICSE Board is that the medium of examination in CBSE is both in English as well as Hindi while ICSE examinations are in the English language only.
  • CBSE syllabuses are considered to be easier and well structured as compared to ICSE syllabuses that offer an extensive range of subjects to study which can sometimes be tough.
  • CBSE usually declares the marks of the students in the form of alphabetical grades while ICSE displays two different mark sheets, one in the form of grades and other in marks.



Both CBSE and ICSE are considered to be amongst the best boards of education in India. It depends on the type of career, interests, and potential of the students, that they choose any of the two. Both of them have their pros as well as cons.

CBSE has a well structured and compact syllabus for the students to learn and focuses more on subjects like Maths and Science and hence helps students interested in competitive exams like NEET and JEE. While ICSE provides a wide range of subjects to choose from and students can select according to their interests and tastes.


Word Cloud for Difference Between CBSE and ICSE

The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on CBSE and ICSE. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.