Education and Learning

ICSE, CBSE or IB? How to Choose the Right School Board for Child?

Ankita A Talwar
7 to 11 years

Created by Ankita A Talwar
Updated on Sep 24, 2020

ICSE CBSE or IB How to Choose the Right School Board for Child
Reviewed by Expert panel

How does one go about choosing the right board, perhaps even before looking at various schools for one’s child? The first time, this dawned on me was when my daughter turned 30 months. I realized that, when it comes to choosing a school for your child, perhaps, one crucial aspect to be considered is, choosing the right board for your child—ICSE, CBSE, IB, or SSC? I then met friends and experts, and of course have now got an interesting summary of my understanding from all my research on various boards. We bring to you a lowdown on each of these boards, with their pros and cons. Read here and I hope this shall help you in making the right choice.

What Are School Boards in India?

Here are recognized school boards from which you choose for your child. Read pros & cons & more here.

SSC-

SSC board is primarily syllabus focused and the entire curriculum is driven to complete the syllabus. It has its own limitations such as limited infrastructure, low on technology resources and physical infrastructure but this also makes it a reasonable choice from the point-of-view of fees. On the flip side, it lacks flexibility in cases of change of location/state/city. Also, in competitive exams, SSC becomes a bit of adjustment upwards.

HSC-

This is also referred to as the State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education. Each state has their board examination which is run in private as well as state-run institutions. The curriculum is based on the ideology to incorporate the entire syllabus through rote learning and often lacks the idea of experiential learning. They bring the freshness of regional language which gives your child the required mileage if they aspire to appear in civil services examination conducted by PSC (State run service commission) and UPSC (Union Public Service Commission).

CBSE-

This is the largest education board in India and is has been flaked in the past to have been highly focused on syllabus coverage. But, offlate CBSE has got a new assessment called CCE-wherein they are trying to change and become project-oriented and continuous and ongoing in their assessment of the child in both- scholastics as well as coscholastics. It also has now tweaked its curriculum to incorporate a balance between scholastics and co-scholastics. While the intent is great, it has been meeting its own challenges in reaching an ideal state. A big advantage with CBSE is that it has maximum number of schools and hence the standardised syllabus enables easy movement for a child between cities and schools within India.

ICSE-

ICSE is a board focussed on project-based learning and understanding concepts right from the beginning. It is not much biased towards syllabus completion, but at the same time is competitive enough. The assessment framework of ICSE has been focused on academic as well as extra-currics. It also has a good balance between science subjects and arts, in fact at times has been blamed to be biased towards an excessive focus on language learning. ICSE is about electives and therefore gives a child the freedom of choice to nurture his/her interests. But on the other side, it is a smaller community of schools compared to CBSE and is clustered in prominent places within the town area of India in Southern and Northern States like Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Kolkata, Karnataka, Delhi, Chandigarh, UP, MP, AP and Telangana. The availability of ICSE-run schools has grown multi-fold in urban India over the past few years.

Also READ: Explore experts advice on selecting board or school for your child

IB— International Boards

This is a concept that is gathering a lot of steam recently. The schools that choose to go in for IB board have to follow stringent rules for correct infrastructure, extra-curricular activities, teacher training, staff and even curriculum. These criteria have been set by international universities. IB gives children a very good edge when it comes to preparing for an education abroad as the model is loosely based on international education structure. Students are required to give dissertations, more MCQ and concept-based exams and are judged heavily on projects. It is very hands on too that helps strengthen the foundation of concepts. With the introduction of smart board education, most of the IB Board schools are offering tablet as the basic hardware for the Middle Years Programme (Class 6-10) and the Diploma Programme (Class 10-12) On the flipside, it is an expensive affair and most schools that go in for IB have very high fees. Also, if you want your child to take on Indian competitive exams it might not be a very wise choice.

Indian Board Curriculum Comparision

Here's an extensive breakdown of the ICSE, CBSE, SSC and IB board and answers to all your important questions. Read more. 

Academics Metrics ICSE CBSE SSC IB
Academics/syllabus focus Moderate, project based Moderate, Moving to project based high Moderate, practical learning, smartboard based
Extra-curricular moderate Low low high
Exam-focused yes Used to be high, now changed to low in primary and middle school Yes Dissertations, Exam focus in higher classes
Grading marks Grading marks credits
Infrastructure prerequisites Moderate enforcement Moderate enforcement Low enforcement Very stringent
Geographical movement Not easy; lesser cities with ICSE schools Very easy, largest education board by schools in India Not easy Not easy when moving within India to Tier 2, 3 towns. Very easy when moving globally
Teacher Training Average training, Moderate enforcement Below average training, Moderate enforcement Below average training, Low enforcement Exhaustive & regular training, Strict enforcement
Fees moderate Low to moderate Low High
Preparation focus for competitive exams high high high Low for Indian competition, High for entry into global universties
Flexibility for the learners to choose subjects as per interests Moderate, you could choose a mix of art & science too Moderate Moderate High
Teacher:children ratio 1:30-35 1:35-45 1:45-60 1:12-25

 

Beware of Some Fake Indian Boards Operating in Delhi

While you explore the aforementioned boards to pick the right one from, for your child, it is imperative that you are aware of some fraudulent boards running in smaller institutions in the national capital, Delhi.

In one of the recent reports published in TOI. There are 12 boards which have been declared as fake by DoE (Directorate of Education, Govt. of Delhi). Here goes the list.

  1. Urdu Education Board
  2. Gramin Mukth Vidhalyai Shiksha Sansthan,
  3. Delhi Board of Secondary Education
  4. The Central Board of Higher Secondary Education
  5. National Open School
  6. Board of Secondary Open Education
  7. Higher Secondary Education Board of Delhi
  8. State Council of Secondary Open Education
  9. Delhi Board of Senior Secondary Education
  10. Board of Higher Secondary Education of Delhi
  11. Council of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education, Delhi
  12. The Central Board of Higher Education Delhi

 

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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| Sep 12, 2014

this blog is really helpful... it gives a view to these boards in such a simple manner.

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| Sep 12, 2014

good for parents get lot information at one place

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| Sep 12, 2014

good info.. based on my understanding and research I have planned to put my kid into IB till 5th standard and then into a CBSE school..

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| Sep 12, 2014

Will help a lot in choosing school for my little one.. thanx

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| Sep 12, 2014

Mamta Kalra - interesting approach mamta, would love to know so as to how have you arrived at this

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| Sep 13, 2014

hey Ankita thanks a lot for the info... it has made my concepts clear about the board in a very simple way...

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| Sep 13, 2014

Good perspective. .. could hav been bttr.

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| Sep 13, 2014

very good compilation

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| Sep 15, 2014

Mamta Kalra - await to hear from you. :)

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| Sep 15, 2014

very informative

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| Sep 16, 2014

very useful blog

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| Sep 18, 2014

Thank you so much for the information. I happened to read this at just about the right time. ?

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| Sep 18, 2014

Hi Nitin, IB curriculum focuses on overall development of the kid, hence in initial years it is good.. but later on the burden of study multiplies hence better to shift to a CBSE school.. these days CBSE schools are not less than any other board..

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| Sep 19, 2014

Is IB is same as IGCSE.

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| Sep 19, 2014

Nice information Thnks for sharing

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| Sep 19, 2014

Very useful for proparents

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| Sep 19, 2014

great comparison! very useful information

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| Sep 19, 2014

Thank you so much for the information... Right blog at Right time.. :-)

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| Nov 09, 2014

Thank you!

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| Dec 05, 2014

I want to know the basis of this topic. How much data was collected to derive to a conclusion? I stay in a city where most of the IITians are from SSC board, as their MATHS, SCIENCE is strongest. The teachers are trained to take a separate class to bring the CBSE, ICSE students to the SSC level MATHS, SCIENCE. It's not the board, but how you decide the curriculum is important. Most of the schools now are mixed curriculum where they take the best syllabus from each boards ( CBSE, SSC, ICSE,) to teach the children but exams will be from respective boards. This way it is ensured the child learns the best. Coming to practical education comparison, all the boards have smart classes now, so all boards are equally inclined to practical education. Moreover it's not the board, but your child's capability to learn decides their foundation.

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| Dec 16, 2014

very useful blog.

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| Dec 19, 2014

Thanks for sharing the information. Really very usefl

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| Jan 14, 2015

Hi Ankita ..thanks for writing & sharing the info with us its really helpful. I would like to request you to also help parents like myself in deciding which board to take in class 11th & 12th .My daughter appears for her class 10th this year but i'm completely lost as to where to put her as she also has L. D. (Learning Disability) and wants to take up Arts in 10+2 so what would you suggest please... thanks

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| Jan 15, 2015

hi PRATIMA CHOPRA - we would work on your suggestion, and work on a focused blog on the area soon. Meanwhile, we would also try and help you address the current dilema. Would need more details though, could you email us in detail on helpdesk@parentune. com and we shall do our best to help.

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| Jan 20, 2015

Even I feel that till 5th kids can do IB and 6th onwards depending on my experience will shift to a CBSE school..

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| Jan 27, 2015

That was good piece of info... I would also like to know the differences between Indian curriculum (cbse/ices) and British curriculum (o level and a level)

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| Jan 28, 2015

@salma! we shall definitely curate a detailed blog on this. Thank You for your suggestion

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| Feb 02, 2015

Usefull blog.. Thanks..

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| Feb 02, 2015

Can u tell me abt dilexia

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| Feb 06, 2015

omg u solved so many queries that i had.. thanks a lot.

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| Feb 14, 2015

Very precise compilation. ... useful .....Thanks.

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| Feb 15, 2015

That was a great info... wish you added more about the Cambridge board too... the Cambridge board is a great way of learning as it starts from primary where it is Cipp and then a child gives checkpoint at class 8 and then 10... after cambridge I would suggest The Ib DP board at the 11 and 12th... most of the schools say it is an IB board but for parents it is very important to ask the school whether it is a full IB programme. The whole IB program is Pyp(kg- gr 5th) MYP ( 6th -10th) and then DP(11th-12th).. most of the schools in India are not complete IB they only follow the DP. So parents pls ask schools about this information too.

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| Feb 15, 2015

Thank you. Cleared more doubts.

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| Feb 16, 2015

Really useful....

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| Feb 16, 2015

Gud1

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| Feb 16, 2015

Very basic information..

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| Feb 16, 2015

Hey its a nice blog with very useful information in very simple way and with good comparison. I have put my kid in CBSE-I curriculum. Can you please provide me pros and cons for this as well.

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| Feb 17, 2015

Really a very nice blog.... but just now i want to know is it good to shift from ICSE to IGCSE

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| Feb 17, 2015

It is said that IGCSE is like IB...... is it so?as per ur blog IB curriculum dont focus much on Indian competition...... then what about IGCSE?

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| Feb 26, 2015

Ah.... I was in dilemma .... my daughter was facing problem's in her current school tht is cbse so I decided to shift her school not only school even board .... igcse I hve opted don't know whether its wise decision or not

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| Feb 27, 2015

Thank so much

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| Feb 27, 2015

Very useful information. Thanks for sharing... I can now make a wise decision about my son's schooling And can provide him a good platform where he learns and progresses.

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| Feb 27, 2015

I m sorry but the ratio mentioned here should be 1:55 for icse

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| Feb 27, 2015

Very useful info. Thanks

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| Feb 27, 2015

What about recognition for Indian college professional courses? Is ib red recognized in premier Indian Institute

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| Feb 27, 2015

Any inputs about IGCSE (CIE) ?

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| Feb 28, 2015

My Son studying in icse is unable to cope with the studies in the syllabus. any suggestions if i shift him to SSC board will help.

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| Feb 28, 2015

Hey parents, Despite being a teacher i also am confused which syllabus wud gv an overall dvlpment for my child. We live in saudi arabia where i hav a choice between cbse, igcse and american curriculum. Planning to put my son in the american school n send him for higher studies to US or UK. What are your suggestions regarding this. Please help. Incase if he has to settle in india inbetween will it be easier for him to adapt to indian curriculum? Any experiences pls share.

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| Feb 28, 2015

What about cbse i

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| Mar 01, 2015

Thank u for ur information right blog at right time

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| Mar 01, 2015

Thanks for the imformation but i really wanna know that in a city like mumbai which board is better as all the above boards r easily available .imean which board gives more scope for future .my son is in Icse board .have a made the right decision ???

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| Mar 01, 2015

Please tell me which board caters more to IIT syllabus

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| Mar 01, 2015

my son is studying in grade 8 in IGSCE board. I wld like to know whether he wld be able to persue Chattered accontany or MBBS in India. Being frm IGCSE board wld it be possible for him to appear for any professional course after 12 in India. As we dont intend to send him abroad for studies. I choosed IGCSE board bcoz i liked the concept of teaching as compared to our Indian boards. As this board is based on how to learn method n application method rather than parrroting method of indian boards. So pls suggest

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| Mar 01, 2015

Is CBSE syllabus very difficult compared to SSC syllabus?

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| Mar 01, 2015

Hello, My child is in ICSE board std 6th right now. If I have to send him aboard for further studies post 10th. What exams will he have to give and when

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| Mar 02, 2015

CBSE is the best in every aspect bcoz I've been a student of it from my childhood days. The focus is on the overall development of the child. Others are below par...

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| Mar 02, 2015

Thanks for sharing information.

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| Mar 02, 2015

My daughter is in icse board in her boarding school but from 11 onwards she is coming back home which board she should opt then as mostly schools are with cbse board also my son is going in IB board ... Really confused as u mentioned it will be difficult for an ib student to get through Indian universities like IIT .. Shall we shift him to cbse after 5 grade ... So pls suggest...

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| Mar 02, 2015

Thanks for such a good n precise info... can u pls help in getting info for icse schools in Gurgaon

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| Mar 03, 2015

Hi carol, my daughter is giving her class 9 final exams right now n will go to class 10 soon in a CBSE board. She is very good in drawing n drama n not so academically inclined. I researched that the best is IB for art n drama as CBSE is not so good? My query is will she able to cope with an IB board and since u would like her to go abroad, is IB a better choice than CBSE ?

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| Mar 03, 2015

Hi my daughter is in class 8 in cbse school in delhi.. Planning to shift her in icse school .. Will she be able to cope up .. Is it wise decision to shift at this age... Pls suggest

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| Mar 20, 2015

Hi ankita, my daughter is appearing for her class 10 th exams thru icse board. I am lil confused whether to continue with the same or change it to cbse as everyone around is insisting that icse has a vast syllabus which is irrelevant for her entrance examinations for engineering, pls help....

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| Mar 31, 2015

Sonal - hi! It's not true that ICSE syllabus is not relevant for competitive exams Sonal. Also, this would be an important time for your daughter to excel in her chosen electives, so I would not advocate a change of board unless you are missing something very important at your child's current school.

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| Mar 31, 2015

Deepa marwah - I agree with Carol . ICSE in grade VIII is not going to be as difficult as perhaps grade X, but then, you need to introspect whether the reason to shift is more out of shifting the school or is it really about shifting the board.

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| Apr 20, 2015

Heyy i stay in ahmedabad my child is 1 yr old.... whch will b the be the best board for him in future years ... i m a little more inclined towards IB or ICSE ..... as he would b gnig for bachelors outside india... i dnt want him to get into the typical result n board percentage oriented syllabus.... instead it shld b focused on learning ... from base to output... plz help

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| Apr 20, 2015

I would suggest go for IB only if you are 100% sure that you want the child to pursue higher education abroad. In the preschool phase, it is very child friendly though. Their results are declared late and are not compatible with Indian systems. ICSE is very English literature centric, Shakespeare oriented etc. Though they assign bombastic projects, only the top 5-10% in the class learn. They are impractical projects which parents need to do. CBSE curriculum gets updated with the need of the hour, once in 2-3 years. Very compatible with national level competitive exams in all fields. Now their assessment methods are also changing, increasingly more concept oriented and projects that the child can do her own.

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| Apr 20, 2015

Nice blog

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| Apr 20, 2015

Nice blog

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| Apr 20, 2015

What about IGCSE board????

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| Apr 20, 2015

Good info

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| Apr 21, 2015

That's a good piece of information at least to basically help and decide .....however I have recently shifted to Mumbai and have got my son admitted to an ICSE sch... promoting to 4th std.... before the sch starts I got him books of 3rd std to have an idea... as this is a change from CBSE to ICSE.... the idea has worked well and he is finding it comfortable now... and will be ready to atleast face the change ....

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| Apr 21, 2015

Hi My daughter is in Grade 8 IGCSE board .....and she wants to pursue Arts as in try for FIT , NID, NIFT etc..... and otherwise if she goes for normal college ..I would want her to go for liberal art colleges in India ......so shld I shift her to CBSE in 9th... will it be difficult to cope up ...or shld I change in 11 the ..where she gets to choose 5 subjects only and won't have to study SST and science ....very confused

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| Apr 21, 2015

Very informative piece of information by Carol.. was very helpful. . I would just like to know a little more about igcse boards..

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