CBSE, ICSE, IGCSE, IB, State Boards – A Comparison

CBSE, ICSE, IGCSE, IB, State Boards Comparison

Dear Students and Parents,

In this article, we have provided you with complete information on different educational boards like CBSE, ICSE, IGCSE, IB and State Boards. The information includes:

  1. What are CBSE, ICSE, IB, IGCSE and State Boards?
  2. Differences in education approach between the boards:
  3. Complexity/How difficult are these boards?
  4. What classes are these boards applicable to?
  5. Education Boards: What subjects are included in Class 10?
  6. Education Boards: What subjects are included in Class 12?

Education Boards:

What are CBSE, ICSE, IB, IGCSE and State Boards?

(A) CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education):

  1. It falls under the Union Government of India which is the education for public and private schools. It was formed in 1962. Being the most popular board in India 9000 schools and more follow it.
  2. Started by ‘NCERT’ to operate central schools like Kendriya Vidyalayas, it is recognized by all colleges in India. Quality of books is good and it is easy to find tutors for all classes.
  3. The board conducts final examinations every spring for ‘All India Senior School Certificate Examination’ (AISSCE) for Class 10 and 12.
  4. The board also annually conducts the AIEEE exam for admission to undergraduate courses in Engineering and Architecture in numerous colleges spread over India.
  5. It conducts AIPMT (All India Pre Medical Test) for admission to major medical colleges in India.

(B) CICSE (Council for Indian Certificate of Secondary Education):

  1. ICSE (Indian Certificate Secondary Education) exam for class 10 and ISC (Indian School Certificate) exam for class 12 are conducted.
  2. The exams are conducted by CISCE, non-governmental board of school education in India. It’s popular for its more comprehensive and complete pattern.
  3. Syllabus followed by ICSE schools differs vastly from CBSE schools in terms of content and volume. Students may find it more difficult than CBSE.
  4. It focuses on overall development of the students with emphasis on developing practical knowledge of the subjects they learn. Also beneficial for students who wish to go abroad for higher studies as it is recognized by many universities and countries across the globe.
  5. ICSE was first established by the ‘Local Examinations Syndicate’ of the University of Cambridge of British regime.

(C) IB (International Baccalaureate):

  1. Students get to learn more about additional languages, their personal self, ethics such as team work and leadership by doing various projects regularly.
  2. Students can apply to foreign universities wherein CBSE and ICSE board is not recognized. Suitable for children whose parents may relocate internationally.
  3. IB is an ‘International Educational Foundation’ headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It is more internationally accepted and follows a different teaching methodology. Tutors though are not easily available and shifting boards may also be difficult.
  4. It was founded in 1968 and works with more than 3,500 students in 146 countries.
  5. IB board provides an opportunity to engage in an in-depth study of a topic of interest within a chosen subject. Curriculum is based on application and experimentation.

(D) IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education):

  1. IGCSE has worldwide status and credibility. It has a balanced curriculum which starts in Class 9 and is excellent for multi language and multi-cultural grooming.
  2. Encourages high academic standards through a practical approach to teaching and learning. Assessment is not limited to conventional written papers but also consists of oral and listening tests with video programs.
  3. A student who has passed IGCSE is eligible for any +2 level qualifications, like Class 12 CBSE/ ICSE or any international pre-university programme.
  4. Suitable for children whose parents may relocate internationally so that they will be able to manage change effectively.

(E) State Board:

  1. State Boards are Boards undertaken by individual State Governments in the states of India. Each state follows its own syllabus and grading strategy.
  2. Study of the regional language and culture is encouraged and practiced. State board examinations are referred to as Madhayamik for Secondary State Certificate and Higher Secondary Certificate examinations.
  3. Easier than other boards, less focus on competency for entrance examinations of medical and engineering.
  4. Each state board has some variance from NCERT syllabus and focuses on local state education. Fee is relatively low and seats are reserved within the state recognized colleges.

Differences in education approach between the boards:


  1. It’s main aim is to prepare students for Engineering and Medical exams. More of theoretical approach. CBSE content focuses on science and math with attention on application of knowledge & they less focus on languages.
  2. Emphasis on good quality of education that promotes intellectual and social spirits in students, rather than practical education.


  1. ICSE has equal focus on science, arts and language, especially English. It encourages students to choose across diverse topics/subjects for Class-12 exam.
  2. Syllabus followed is more comprehensive and complete, which gives all the fields an equal importance like – science, math, language, arts, home science etc. A more balanced syllabus for child’s overall growth by providing students with more practical knowledge and better analytical skills.
  3. Prepares the students for studies abroad due to similarities of its course structure with many international curriculums.

(C) IB:

  1. It focuses on holistic learning, intercultural awareness and enhancement of communication skills. More importance is given to languages, arts and humanities.
  2. It has international curriculum where subjects are taught in an integrated way in order to avoid a fragmented approach. IB has a different approach with few textbooks. Students are free to explore the world.
  3. It’s main focus is on ‘how to learn’ rather than ‘what to learn’. Students under IB have slight advantage in exams like CAT, SAT and GRE because of their better analytical skills. The examinations test student’s knowledge and not their memory and speed.


  1. There are over 70 subjects including 30 languages available at Cambridge IGCSE and schools offer them in any combination.
  2. One is given a graded score for each subject with no mention of pass or fail.
  3. IGCSE curriculum is balanced which also takes account the different abilities of students.

(E) State:

  1. Every state board has its own educational approach which implies that the syllabus varies for every state in India. Emphasis is more on state level topics and content of local relevance.
  2. State boards are very much theoretical and due to their focus on local relevance, they help students in preparing for state level entrance exams.

Complexity/How difficult are these boards?

(A)CBSE Board Difficulty level: Relatively Easy

(B) ICSE Board Difficulty level: Tough – On an average, a person scoring 85% in ICSE is equivalent to a person scoring 90% in CBSE.

(C) IB Board Difficulty level: Tough- The IB curriculum is more challenging than educational boards like the CBSE and ICSE. There are regular quizes and assignments which keep the students busy throughout.

(D) IGCSE Board Difficulty level: Tough- In addition to written tests, student’s oral and problem solving skills are also tested.

(E) State Board Difficulty Level: Easy


What classes are these boards applicable to?


1. It is applicable from Nursery to class-XII (age 4-17) and conducts two board examinations for classes 10th and 12th.

2. It also covers the curriculum for pre-school (age 3-5 years).


1. Applicable from Nursery to class-XII (age 4-17). Just like CBSE, it also covers the curriculum for pre-school (age 3-5 years).

2. It conducts two special board examinations, Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) examination for class 10th and Indian School Certificate (ISC) examination for class 12th.

(C) IB:

1. All classes that fall under the age group of 3-19 are covered in this board.

2. They offer 3 programs. Primary Years Program(Age 3-11), Middle Years Program(Age 11-16) and Diploma Program(Age 16-19).


1. Taken at the Class 10 level, similar to the Class 10 examinations of the CBSE and ICSE or the middle years Programme of the IB.

2. A two-year programme, spread over Class 9 and 10 which leads to the final examination offered every year around May and November.

(E) State: It is also applicable from Nursery to class-XII (age 4-17). Some state boards, however take a special board exam in 8th grade apart from the usual 10th and 12th grades.

Education Boards: What subjects are included in Class 10?


1. Total compulsory subjects: 5

2. The compulsory subjects: Mathematics, Social Studies, Science, English and 1 other language.

3. Options for other language: Hindi, Sanskrit, French, Computer, German, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Kashmiri, Marathi, Malayalam, Manipuri, Oriya, Punjabi, Sindhi, Tamil, Telgu, Urdu, Limbhu, Bhutia, Arabic, Persian, Portugese, Russian, Spanish, Nepali, Tibetian, Mizo, Bodo and Tangkhul.

4. Additional subject: Any of languages mentioned up or Information Education, Home Science or Physical Education.


1. Compulsory subjects: 5

2. Compulsory subjects: English, History, Civics & Geography, and an Indian Language.

3. Choices for first two additional subjects: Mathematics, Science, Environmental Science, Computer Science, Agricultural Science, Commercial Studies, Technical Drawing, Foreign Language, Classical Language and Economics.

4. Choices for third additional subject: Computer Applications, Economic Applications, Commercial Applications, Art, Performing Arts, Home Science, Cookery, Fashion Designing, Physical Education, Technical Drawing Applications, Yoga and Environmental Applications.

(C) IB:

1. Number of subjects: 6.

2. Five compulsory subjects: 1st language, 2nd language, Arts, Physical Education and Technology.

3. Options for the 6th subject: Humanities (Geography and History), Science (Biology, Chemistry & Physics) and  Mathematics (Number, Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Statistics, Discrete Mathematics and Arithmetic).


1. Number of Subject Groups: 5.

2. Several subjects to choose from in each group: Languages (First/Second Language, Foreign Language, etc), Humanities and Social Sciences (Geography, English, History, etc), Sciences (Physics, Chemistry, Biology), Mathematics and Creative, Technical & Vocational (Accounting, Business Studies, Computer Studies, Music, etc)

(E) State: 

Every state board has different subjects. Example of Uttar Pradesh Board:

1. Number of subjects: 5, Hindi is compulsory.

2. Four other subjects are chosen from the following Choices: Instrumental music, Commerce, Science, Vocal music, Social Science, Computers, Gujarati, English, Urdu, Punjabi, Assamese, Bangla, Kannada, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Sanskrit, Arabic, Mathematics, Agriculture and Home Science.

Education Boards: What subjects are included in Class 12?


1. Compulsory: English

2. Students can choose different subjects which are grouped together.

3. Medical Group: English, Biology, Physics, Chemistry and one optional subject.

4. Non-Medical Group: English, Math, Physics, Chemistry and one optional subject.

5. Commerce Group: English, Accountancy, Business Studies, Economics, theory and Practice of Management and one optional subject.

6. Arts Group: English, Political Science/Psychology, History/Economics, Geography/Math/Home Science/Sociology/Computer App./Hindi/Sanskrit etc. in the offered combination by the school and one optional subject.

7. Optional subjects: Physical Education, Fine arts, Music Vocal/Instrumental/Classical/dance, Information Practices etc.


1. Compulsory subjects: English, Environmental Education and SUPW (Socially Useful Productive Work).

2. Students have to choose 3 to 5 subjects from a wide range of subjects.

3. These include: An Indian Language, 1 Modern Foreign Language, 1 Classical Language, Literature in English, History, Political Science, Geography, Sociology, Psychology, Economics, Commerce, Accounts, Business Studies, Mathematics Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Home Science, Fashion Designing, Electricity & Electronics, Engineering Science, Computer Science, Geometrical & Mechanical Drawing, Geometrical & Building Drawing, Art, Music (Indian or Western), Physical Education, Environmental Science and Biotechnology.  

(C) IB:

1. Compulsory subjects: First Language (English), Theory of Knowledge, Creativity, Action and Service, Extended Essay

2. A student has to choose one subject from each of the following groups:
a) Second Language (French, Hindi, Sanskrit etc.)
b) Individuals and Societies (History, Economics and Civics etc.)
c) Sciences (Botany, Zoology, Physics, Chemistry and Environmental Systems).
d) Mathematics and Computer Science.
e) Electives (it can be either Visual Arts or any subject from the above three options).

(D) State:

1. Students have choose subjects from the following options: English, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Assami, Bangla, Kannada, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Accountancy, Business and correspondence Economics, Physics, Chemistry, Math, Biology, Political Science, History, Economics, Geography, Vocal music, Instrumental music and dance, painting, stitching, Agriculture and Home science.

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I hope we were able to answer your queries regarding different boards. If you still have some question, feel free to post that in the comment section given below. We will answer it as soon as possible.

Good Luck

Suggested Reading:

IGCSE – Everything You Need to Know

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