Education Boards in India

Right from the time when a child starts his/her academics, the dilemma of choosing the board of education becomes a prime concern for parents. The choice of board makes a significant difference in the early development of the child and his/her exposure to the kind of education system that we have. In the Indian education system, two of the most recognised boards of education that one gets to opt for are CBSE and ICSE. The education system is split into primary, secondary and senior secondary levels. These levels play a significant role in building up one’s career goals and achievements. One has to note that the two boards are very diverse and hence cannot be clubbed together.

Central Board of Secondary Education

CBSE is responsible for preparing the syllabus for the secondary and senior secondary levels. It is one the most preferred boards in India. It follows the national curriculum along with additional subject matter. The board conducts two examinations — the All India Secondary School Examination, AISSE (Class X) and the All India Senior School Certificate Examination, AISSCE (Class XII). CBSE is recognized by the NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training) with the aim to operate a chain of central schools that could cater to the government employees who are in transferable jobs. A number of private schools have started to offer CBSE since a lot of private sector employees are also moving from place to place. The CBSE syllabus is very structured, highly predictable and controlled. All national entrance examinations are conducted as per this syllabus.


  • Opting for a CBSE school has its own share of pros, and the biggest advantage is that all major competitive examinations in India are based on the CBSE syllabus. These examinations include the Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE), the All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE) and the All India Pre Medical Test (AIPMT).
  • The CBSE syllabus is easier when compared to that of other boards, mainly due to fewer subjects and a more compact structure. Secondary subjects like Environmental Education are not compulsory under the CBSE syllabus. The subjects of Physics, Chemistry and Biology fall under the general umbrella of Science, and History, Geography and Civics fall under the spectrum of Social Sciences.
  • A certificate from the Central Board of Education is recognized throughout the country, in all colleges and academic centres. The syllabus is more application based under CBSE, as the board follows a concentric curriculum.


  • Not much focus is laid on inculcating practical knowledge in students. The CBSE syllabus also does not lay as much emphasis on core English knowledge as its counterpart does, choosing to lay more importance on the disciplines of mathematics and science.
  • The subjects in a CBSE syllabus are approached in a theoretical manner, and true emphasis is not laid on real-life concepts behind the science. Although the syllabus is application oriented, it does not provide room for effective understanding.

Indian Certificate of Secondary Education

ICSE on the other hand is conducted by yet another board, CISCE or the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination. It is similar to AISSE conducted by CBSE. An offshoot of the Cambridge IGCSE that existed during the British regime was taken over by the Anglo Indian Board and is now governed by the ‘Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations’. ICSE has taken in a lot of structures from the NCERT. However the syllabus followed by ICSE schools differs vastly from that followed in CBSE schools mainly in terms of content and volume. ICSE schools need not follow any particular text (though it may not be so in all subjects in all standards). The board conducts an ICSE examination towards the end of tenth grade and an Indian School Certificate (ISC) examination towards the end of twelfth grade. At Grade 10, it is as of now is the toughest board examination. ISC (Class XII) is equally difficult to crack owing to its extremely detailed syllabus.


  • The syllabus followed by the ICSE board is more comprehensive and complete, encompassing all fields with equal importance.
  • Students who are interested in careers in the lines of management and humanities will find the curriculum followed under ICSE to be more interesting and challenging, not to mention fruitful.
  • Certification under the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education board will be recognized around the world, particularly by foreign schools and universities when compared to the central board’s local margin.
  • Due to the emphasis laid on English in ICSE, students from this board may hold a slight edge over other students in exams like TOEFL.
  • Easier to relocate to some of the other countries in the middle of a school year(
    if the child may have to go abroad for under-grad education).


  • ICSE is heavy on languages.
  • Students may find the syllabus to be too extensive for their liking, as an average student practising under an ICSE board will face thirteen subjects/examinations during the sixth grade, when compared to the six subjects faced by the student’s counterpart in a CBSE affiliated school.
  • Although an ICSE syllabus can facilitate deeper understanding and better life skills and analytical skills, pursuing further education may prove to be a problem due to a lack of leniency in evaluating papers after an ISC examination.

Both these boards share an equal amount of pros and cons, and choosing the right board will entirely depend on the kind of future you envision for your children. The quality of education provided under both boards is excellent, so all you’ll need to do is assess your children’s strengths and gauge the right board for them.

However, you’ll need to keep in mind that more than the board of education involved; the quality of education that your children are receiving should be your primary concern. This is why it is more important to choose a very good school, regardless of the board of education it falls under.