What is the Difference Between ICSE and CBSE

We will discuss what is the difference between ICSE and CBSE as they are the most popular educational boards in India. All stakeholders must know the difference between these two boards to guide them in the decision-making process.

Both boards are internationally recognized. These two have different strong and weak aspects. Here are some of the reasons why it is important for stakeholders to know them in detail:

For educators, knowing what is the difference between ICSE and CBSE is mandatory. Teachers or other school administrators would serve as a guide in explaining the difference to students or their guardians.

For parents or guardians, knowing what is the difference between ICSE and CBSE would help them make an informed decision. Since schools in India are affiliated with either of these bodies, parents or guardians have the freedom to choose.

While students are also expected to know what is the difference between ICSE and CBSE to help them prepare. Since these boards generally follow a different curriculum, students will have different competencies by the end of it. Aside from their guardians, students should be able to make an informed decision regarding their educational journey.

So, in this article, we will define these two boards. Then we will talk about what is the difference between ICSE and CBSE.

ICSE or Indian Certificate of Secondary Education

The Indian Certificate of Secondary Education or ICSE is a grade 10 examination. It is hosted by the Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE). This council is a non-governmental or private board in India. This was founded in 1956 and adapted the University of Cambridge’s exam system to India.

The ICSE covers up to Class 10 then shifts to ISC or Indian School Certificate thereafter. Today, there are over 1,000 schools affiliated with CISCE and integrate the ICSE. These schools come from countries such as India, Indonesia, Singapore, and UAE.

CBSE or Central Board of Secondary Education

The Central Board of Secondary Education or CBSE was formed on November 3, 1962. This Board of Education covers both private and public schools. It is under the Union Government of India. Therefore, it is considered a government body.

CBSE is affiliated with all Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, all Kendriya Vidyalayas, private schools, and other educational institutions approved by the Indian government.

As of today, over 12,808 schools integrate the CBSE into their curriculum. These schools come from 25 countries including India, Dubai, and Malaysia.

What is the Difference Between ICSE and CBSE

In this section, we will further discuss what they are by talking about what is the difference between ICSE and CBSE.


For CBSE, the exam given is the All India Senior School Certificate Examination (AISSCE) for both classes 10 and 12. This is composed of two entrance exams namely IIT-JEE and NEET.

While ICSE hosts 3 examinations. The first one is the ICSE exam intended for class 10. The second is the Indian School Certificate exam for class 12. And lastly, the CVE or Certificate of Vocational Education exam for class 12.

When it comes to exam appearance, naturally, CBSE allows their regular candidates to take it. Regular candidates refer to the students that have been studying in schools affiliated with CBSE. However, this board also allows private candidates to take the exam. Private candidates are students who are studying in schools that are not affiliated with CBSE.

On the contrary, ICSE only allows students that are studying in ICSE-accredited institutions to take the exam.

Medium or Language Used

Since the CBSE is affiliated with the government, it promotes the usage of both Hindi and English as the medium of instruction. However, ICSE does not recommend Hindi as one.

Board Recognition

When we discuss what is the difference between ICSE and CBSE it is important to mention their recognition. That is important because most students or their guardians prefer to have an education that is widely recognized. A curriculum that is widely accepted in your country and foreign countries opens many opportunities.

Since the CBSE is under the Indian government, it is only natural for it to be recognized by the said government. A certificate from the Central Board of Education is accepted all throughout the country including all colleges and academic institutions.

While ICSE certification is issued by the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education board. This certificate is recognized around the world. In particular, foreign schools and education bodies accept ICSE certifications.


The integrated curriculum also puts an emphasis on what is the difference between ICSE and CBSE. On CBSE, the curriculum is more suitable when you want to qualify for various entrance examinations. This includes professional exams in the medical, accounting, and engineering fields. 

While the ICSE is said to have a more detailed curriculum. Its curriculum would require a student to remember a lot of information.

In overview, the CBSE is more focused on fields such as the sciences and maths. However, it does not give that much weight to English subjects.

ICSE gives importance to all courses and is more well-balanced. It gives equal focus on subjects such as language, arts, and sciences. It trains students to have better life skills and analytical skills. 

Advantages of ICSE and CBSE


With ICSE, one advantage is the range of coverage. Since it offers more topics, students can explore more. They can experience different things that can contribute to their growth and development.

Another advantage is that ICSE focuses on imparting knowledge that can be used for practical things. These kinds of skills are important for students to be prepared for the real world.

The ICSE also gives students the freedom to choose the courses they want to take. It offers flexibility so that students can follow a course path of their choice or liking.

Lastly, the CISCE Board gives equal importance to all fields of knowledge. It encourages all students under this system to choose their subjects from wide and diverse options.


With CBSE, the diversity percentage of students taking it is high. Since many schools are applying this, students are from different walks of life. Another advantage is that CBSE removes the marking system. It introduces a new grading standard that is based on curricular and extracurricular programs.

Lastly, CBSE offers scholarships such as SSTSE, NSEB, and NSEC. These are held at a local and national level as there are many students taking CBSE. 


Which board is easier?

There is no definite answer as to which board is easier because they incorporate different curriculums. CBSE is more focused in sciences such as the medical and engineering field. While ICSE encompasses all. So, the answer would depend on the the strengths of the student.

Which board is best for science?

As mentioned, the CBSE gives more weight on sciences. So, CBSE will be the better option.

Final Takeaways

The Indian Certificate of Secondary Education and Central Board of Secondary Education has their own pros and cons. The ICSE is a private organization while the CBSE is under the Indian government. 

If you are choosing which system best fits you, it is best to consider your long-term goals. CBSE is more focused on science such as engineering and the medical field. While the ICSE gives attention to all including language and arts. So, the right path to take depends on one which field you’re interested in.

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