• Written By Ravikant_Yadav
  • Last Modified 15-03-2023

ICSE Vs CBSE: Know the Best Board and Why?


ICSE vs CBSE: The Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) are two of the major educational boards of India administering Secondary and Higher Secondary Education. Whenever it comes to choosing the best board for a student’s education, it becomes a difficult choice. Well, both the Boards have their own pros and cons to serve.

In the article below, we have provided a distinction between ICSE and CBSE depending on various factors. What Board the students choose for their exam preparation completely depends on their preference. Both boards have two different methods of educational practice, learning outcomes and more. Even the syllabus for both the boards is different. Before enrolling the child in any of the boards, read this article to know the differences and make a choice as per your preference.

ICSE vs CBSE: Overview

According to the experts at Embibe, parents must do proper research before admitting their children to any Board. Below are some pointers about CBSE and ICSE Board that will help the parents choose the appropriate Board for their children.

  • Syllabus – If you consider the syllabus, you will find that the CBSE Board syllabus is most helpful if you are preparing for competitive exams like JEE, NEET etc. CBSE syllabus is much better in theoretical knowledge, but the ICSE syllabus has the upper hand when it comes to practical knowledge.
  • Level of Ease – CBSE Syllabus is much easier, well structured, and compact than ICSE Syllabus. While ICSE follows a higher English language level than the other Boards, CBSE does not have a particular English language preference. A higher level of English language in ICSE assists students in performing better in exams like TOEFL.
  • Acceptability – CBSE Board marks are widely accepted in nearly all universities, irrespective of the course you are opting for. For foreign schools and universities, ICSE Certification is preferred.
  • Level of Explanation – ICSE syllabus is considered more extensive, an advantage for some but a disadvantage for others. CBSE syllabus is found to be more precise and to the point.
  • Difficulty Level – The ICSE syllabus is considered to be more difficult than CBSE. The ICSE syllabus has more internal assessments and concepts that can be applied on a practical level. For better preparation, candidates can take mock tests for each subject and prepare for the exams. The mock tests are available for free on Embibe.
  • Transferability – For those whose parents get transfers frequently, it is better to choose CBSE because you won’t find more ICSE schools in the country.
  • Range of Subjects – The range of the subjects that ICSE covers is huge. ICSE offers a variety of languages like English, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and others. ICSE even has Fashion Design, Agriculture, Home Science and Cookery for creative minds. ICSE syllabus can be your best option if you aspire to become an athlete, visual artist, or scientist. 
  • Grading System – The Grading System for CBSE is grade-based. For ICSE, the marks are shown in numbers, which gives students a clear idea of how much they have scored.
  • Regular and Private Candidates – Non-regular candidates can appear for CBSE exams. But the same is not valid for ICSE. Students have to be from ICSE-affiliated schools to appear for ICSE exams.
  • Medium of Instructions – CBSE gives instructions in English and Hindi, but ICSE follows only English.

CBSE Board: A Glimpse

  • The CBSE curriculum is based on the NCERT Curriculum.
  • CBSE holds Board examinations for Classes 10 and 12, mostly every March.
  • CBSE provides textbooks and other English, Hindi, and Urdu study materials on its website.
  • CBSE is in charge of many major competitive exams, including JEE, AIPMT, NEET, etc.
  • There are 24000 CBSE-affiliated schools in the country.
  • CBSE affirms a student-centred approach by providing interactive study material.

ICSE Board: A Glimpse

  • The ICSE provides schooling from Classes 1 to 10.
  • There are around 2300 CISCE-affiliated schools in India.
  • ICSE requires students to take exams in six subjects and socially useful, productive work.
  • The ICSE curriculum is extensive, and the teaching methodology is application-based.
  • Subjects have been divided into three groups, with the first list containing mandatory subjects and the second and third lists allowing you to select subjects of your choice.

Difference Between CBSE and ICSE

Teaching Style – Both CBSE and ICSE Boards understand the importance of learning actively. CBSE and ICSE follow their respective approaches to teaching the next generation so that they can be professionally successful individuals. Over the past few years, both Boards have revamped their teaching style. Instead of following rote learning, they are trying to implement a teaching methodology where students learn through experience and experimentation. So in view of this, which Board is best in India?

Many parents feel that the CBSE standard of education is not up to what ICSE offers in India. CBSE Board needs to improve its teaching technique compared to the ICSE Board. ICSE prefers detailed study and focuses more on English Literature and English Language. ICSE Board is considered to be more flexible. However, both Boards are recognised by most colleges and universities. Still, the CBSE curriculum has failed to provide students with the academic freedom they need. Knowing the ICSE and CBSE differences can be helpful in making a decision on which board to choose for their children.

Which is Better: CBSE or ICSE?

Understanding both CBSE and ICSE Board helps parents and students decide which Board they should choose. Below, we have given the pros and cons of both Boards to help the readers.

Pros and Cons of CBSE


  • Most of the competitive exams like JEE Main and NEET are based on the syllabus of the CBSE Board.
  • The syllabus of the CBSE Board is much easier when compared to ICSE. CBSE syllabus has a more compact structure and fewer subjects. Secondary subjects are not mandatory. Subjects like Physics, Chemistry, and Biology are categorized under Science and History, Geography and Civics under Social Science.
  • CBSE schools are more in the country. So if your parents have to transfer from one city to another, CBSE is the right choice.
  • CBSE syllabus lays more importance on subjects like science and mathematics.


  • Even though there are practical subjects, the focus is not solely on practical knowledge. Core English Language has not been the primary focus of the CBSE Board compared to other Boards.
  • In CBSE, all the subjects are handled only in a theory-based manner, and there is less importance on real-life concepts. Though the application of concepts plays a significant role in the CBSE syllabus, it pays less emphasis on in-depth understanding.

Pros and Cons of ICSE


  • A more comprehensive and complete syllabus is followed by ICSE Board, covering all subjects with equal importance.
  • Those students who would like to pursue a career in management and humanities will find ICSE more exciting and worthwhile.
  • ICSE certificates are recognized and followed across the globe, especially by foreign schools and universities, compared to CBSE certificates.
  • Since more importance is given to English, students who studied on the ICSE board will have the upper hand in exams like TOEFL.
  • Students get more flexibility when it comes to selecting specific subjects.


  • Students might feel that the subjects are more extensive and burdensome.
  • Although the syllabus is extensive, which can be helpful for future education, when it comes to ISC Exam, the checking is more strict, affecting the marks.

History of CBSE and ICSE Board

Now that you know the pros and cons of the CBSE and ICSE Board, let’s look into the history of the respective Boards.

CBSE Board: The Central Board of Secondary Education was established in 1952. The Government of India controls and manages the Central Body of Secondary Education (CBSE), which is a national-level Board of education in India for both public and private schools.

In secondary education, the newly-formed CBSE Board proved to be a milestone in integrating all states of India in terms of education and cooperation from the day of its inception. About 26,054 schools in India and 240 institutions in 28 other countries are associated with CBSE. The NCERT curriculum is used in all CBSE-affiliated schools. Nidhi Chibber IAS is the current Chairperson of CBSE.

ICSE Board: An All India Certificate Examinations Conference was conducted in 1952 under the chairmanship of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the then Minister of Education. The primary goal of the conference was to investigate whether an All India Examination should replace the overseas Cambridge School Certificate Examination.

At a meeting of the Inter-State Board for Anglo-Indian Education in October 1956, a proposal was adopted to establish an Indian Council to administer the University of Cambridge, Local Examinations Syndicate’s Examination in India and to advise the Syndicate on the best way to adapt the examination to the country’s needs. The Council’s first meeting was conducted on November 3, 1958. The Council was incorporated as a society in December 1967 under the Societies Registration Act of 1860. Thus, the ICSE board was established.


Some of the frequently asked questions on ICSE and CBSE are as follows:

Q: What is the history of CBSE and ICSE Boards? 

Ans: Students can get complete details about the history of CBSE and ICSE from the article above.

Q: Is the CBSE board tough? 

Ans: The CBSE Board Exams are not challenging. However, students should conceptualise the syllabus and concepts to score well in the board exams. 

Q: How do I prepare for the ICSE Class 10 exams? 

Ans: You can take the ICSE Class 10 mock tests from Embibe to prepare for the exams

Q: Which board is best for the future? 

Ans: A comparison between CBSE and ICSE is given in the article above. Based on that the students can make a decision on which one is better for them.

Q: Which board is the toughest in India? 

Ans: ICSE is one of the toughest boards managed by CISCE (Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination). It is similar to AISSE conducted by CBSE. ICSE has taken in a lot of structures from NCERT. 

We hope that the article above on CBSE and ICSE helps you in making the right choice. Well, it is more of a personal preference so that you can prepare for the exam. Subscribe to Embibe for more such information.

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