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17 November 2007 23 Comments

This question comes up very often and parents have to decide on which curriculum they have to go with.

The topic has been discussed several times and several people have written about it as well.

We have collected articles and discussions on this topic:

Our opinion (my wife followed ICSE and myself CBSE) is that ICSE gives you a good overall development and focus on literature is good but CBSE is more maths and science driven and gives you a slight edge for all the engineering competitive exams.

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  • Vinay Dora said:

    I agree with you, though believe education in India is changing quite rapidly. I moved on to CBSE during my later schooling years just to score higher marks in Maths & Science.
    Talking about Maths & Science, there is site 24x7guru.com that assists students from both boards take self-assessment tests. This might help you in analysis.

  • Earnest said:


    1. The English syllabus of the CBSE is better manageable than that of ICSE/ISC. While a broad-based syllabus is generally percieved to be good (an issue that needs to be debated in the current scenario of focused approach), it increases the load on students, thus leading to stress. A student should be given the option of studying only the basics of the language if his/her interests lie elsewhere. This choice is given in CBSE, not in ICSE/ISC. English is not compulsory even at the Cambridge International Examinations.

    2. The CBSE syllabus is presented in a more scientific manner. The entire syllabus is divided into units and every unit is allotted the number of periods required to cover it in the year and also the weightage of marks it will carry in the examination. Thus, the teacher and student can plan the study of the various segments of the syllabus accordingly. Not so in ISC

    3. The examination pattern of entrance examinations (IIT-JEE & PMT) follows that of CBSE since CBSE conducts these examinations. ICSE has no role in this. This puts those ISC students who are interested in competitive examinations at a disadvantage as they need to reorient themselves to a different system.

    4. The ICSE syllabus (Class X) is very heavy compared to that of CBSE. ICSE has two papers in English, whereas CBSE has only one. ICSE has three papers in Science (Physics, Chemistry & Biology) whereas CBSE has only one. ICSE has two papers in Social Studies (History & Geography) whereas CBSE has only one. The school bag of an ICSE student is much heavier than that of a CBSE student.

    5. Environmental Education is compulsory at the ICSE & ISC examinations whereas this is not so at the CBSE examination. CISCE, in a panic reaction to Supreme Court ruling regarding EE, rushed into it while CBSE is content to wait a review of this ruling where the matter may be dropped/modified.

    6. From next year CBSE will give only grades in the examination results. This is seen as a progressive move. ICSE has not made such an announcement as yet; it is struggling to keep its head over the waters of internal (mis)management issues which may take quite some time to sort out.

    7. It is a myth that ICSE is well recognized all over the world and not CBSE. Now UCAS recognizes CBSE at par with ISC .

    8. CBSE has in recent years been very proactive in devising new courses that are academic with a vocational slant. It is more responsive to the needs of a dynamically changing pedagogical scenario. The NCERT connection makes it a very pro-active education board and not just an examining body.

    9. The concept of “Front Line Curriculum” has been put in place in CBSE that requires syllabi be done on an on-going basis and 10 per cent of irrelevant or outdated material is replaced with more pertinent matter. CISCE has no academically designed process or programme for syllabi revision/upgradation.

    10. CBSE has well-networked state-and national-level sports (both indoor and outdoor) activities. CISCE has a state and national level essay writing competition and debate.

    11. Examination schedule in CBSE is more student friendly than that in CISCE.

    12. The current leadership in CISCE does not inspire confidence, unlike CBSE and NCERT that has renowned educationists managing the affairs. CISCE’s unspoken but obvious policy of keeping out non-angloindians from key positions makes it an insular body with poor prospects for the future. For example, its decision making body, the Executive Committee, does not have a single non-angloindian on it; the Chairman and the Secretary are both anglo-indians with little or no credentials as educationists.


  • Vijay said:

    That was a good quick and concise comparison Earnest.

  • Amit said:


    for hearing-impaired chidren (with >80% disability), which education board or style would you suggest?

    I have heard people saying that IGCSE (Cambridge Univ, AUS) is good for them as it allows us to choose the subjects the kid is good at. I believe that all Indian education boards focus too much on Science stream subjects like Maths & Science and assume that every student’s goal in life would be to become a doctor or an engineer. Fortunately, not all of them end up like that otherwise we would not have anyone in positions of architects, painters, bankers, teachers, etc :-)


  • Amala said:

    Can anyone let me know what are the career options in India after XII ….. Presently my daughter is studying in class VIII in a good IGCSE school

  • Amit said:


    am also in the same dilemma and facing questions like

    1) What after A level?
    2) How many colleges/universities recognize the IGCSE degree.
    3) If say a student scores 70% in IGCSE, what is the equivalent percentage in CBSE and/or ICSE i.e what is the benchmark?
    4) Will kids passing out of IGCSE get a fair chance in college admission or parents will have to run from pillar to post?

    In my opinion, IGCSE hasnn’t arrived in a big way in India – at least not in the general schools. The IGCSE curriculum is available only through international schools. I may be wrong but I believe that IGCSE is good if your kids are going to pursue their graduation (and possibly their careers) abroad where its easy to compare an apple from India to an apple from France.

    In Indian universities, the concept of optional subjects and preferential learning hasn’t caught on yet barring a few maybe.

    Btw, in which school is your daughter studying. Do you find the syllabus easy to cope up with compared to ICSE/CBSE?

    An one very important question – Are there any children with special needs (like autism, hearing imparied, slow learners) that you know are studying in your daughter’s school in IGCSE? My son is hearing imparied and studying in a normal ICSE school. Difficult & tough for him naturally. Though he is hitting 75 to 80% regularly we are not sure how long he can cope up with the syllabus. I am evaluating IGCSE schools if they are worth switching to for him.

  • GANESH said:

    browsing i arrived and found that lot of info.
    i have a son who is hearing impaire ,.speech is normal but comprehension is difficult.
    I teach IGCSE french sincelast 1 year and find that IGCSE is good if your child is highly motivated .
    pls let me know

  • Brien said:

    In my Opinion IGCSE is a true waste of Indian rupee and resources, it is because of our education policy and ethics that india is not as severely hit by recession.

    Private companies are introducing IGCSE in india, which is a SCAM.

  • Kiran said:


    In case Math and Physics (and Chem) are not strong points can my son still go on to work in Environment related fields? Which subjects should he opt for to keep in line for Environment related work? He is going to take his ICSE now. We have to answer the school by tomorrow(!) if we will accept their seat of Commerce offered to him or not. Please advice

  • saurin said:

    Amit has not left answer for above question.

    I believe IGCSE —– A/ AS level —– higher education

  • deepa said:


    My daughter is 6 and she is hearing impaired . which school does your son go to . i would like to know ,How does he cope . She goes to a school i jp nagar but they don’t have any special resources .. am worried .

  • Amala said:

    Mr. Amit

    I think IGCSE is the best. i have consulted with highly educated people and everyone prefer IGCSE. Kids can persue further studies from India itself.

    My daughter is in Bangalore and studying in TREAMIS WORLD SCHOOL, Electronics city. I am very happy with the school also she. SHe is week day boarder. She is too happy with school and the Management. They are excellent and taking care of my 2 kids very well.

    About The IGCSE Education
    The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) is a globally recognised qualification, 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.
    IGCSE, formed in 1988, is a comprehensive two-year programme, spread over Class 9 and 10, and leads to the final examinations offered every year in May and November. IGCSE assessment is conducted by two UK assessment bodies: Edexcel (also known as London Examinations) and Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) (see below).
    A student who has passed IGCSE is eligible for any +2 level qualification, like Class 12 CBSE/ ICSE or any international pre-university programme, like the IB Diploma, Advanced Placement Diploma (US), and A/AS Level & AICE (UK).
    Comparison of IGCSE to other programmes like CBSE, ICSE or the Middle Years Programme of the IB
    • Like other modern programmes, IGCSE offers a wider range of subjects and encourages high academic standards through a practical approach to teaching and learning. Assessment is not limited to conventional written papers and they consist of a variety of tests e.g. oral and listening tests.
    • The assessment is aimed at a wide ability range of students, with an eight-point grading scale, from A+ to G, with A+ being the highest.
    • IGCSE is a balanced curriculum and a flexible course of study.
    • Most subjects offer a choice between core curriculum and extended curriculum.
    • This gives students of all ability levels the freedom to choose subjects that are right for them and, thereby, the opportunity to score good grades.
    • The core curriculum is an overview of the subject and is suitable for students who are expected to achieve grades C to G.
    • The extended curriculum is, sort of, a specialisation in that subject. It is more challenging and designed for students who are expected to achieve grades A+ to C.
    • While the syllabi and curricula of both IB MYP and IGCSE have an international outlook, IGCSE appears to be slightly better, in that it is tailored for a more multi-cultural and more multi-lingual audience.
    • Does the IGCSE start only in Class 9? What about the primary years? Can a student do IGCSE after completing his/ her earlier schooling through a different board?
    • Currently, IGCSE is a two-year programme starting at the Class 9 level. A student who has done his/ her early schooling from any other board can join the IGCSE programme at the Class 9 level.
    • CIE has declared the launch of its new Cambridge International Primary Programme in June this year.
    • The introduction of this programme means students will be able to study the IGCSE from age five through age18.
    Subjects in the IGCSE curriculum
    There are five Subject Groups in IGCSE with several subjects to choose from, in each group:

    • Group 1: Languages (First Language, Second Language, Foreign Language, etc)
    • Group 2: Humanities and Social Sciences (Geography, English Literature, History, etc)
    • Group 3: Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, etc)
    • Group 4: Mathematics (Mathematics, Additional Mathematics, etc)
    • Group 5: Creative, Technical & Vocational (Accounting, Business Studies, Computer Studies, Music, etc)
    For each subject, the certificate merely indicates the grades scored, and not pass or fail.
    Five scores of ‘C’ or higher indicates a students readiness to pursue +2 level qualifications, like the Class 12 CBSE, IB Diploma, Advanced Placement Diploma (US), etc.
    International Certificate of Education (ICE)
    The ICE is more prestigious than the standard IGCSE.
    Instead of the five papers needed to obtain the IGCSE, if a student attempts and passes seven or more papers, s/he is awarded the ICE.
    The seven subjects must be as follows:

    • Two subjects from the language group
    • One from each of the other four groups
    • One more from any of the five groups
    Resons to select IGCSE
    1. IGCSE is one of the most sought-after and recognised qualifications in the world. It develops and encourages vital educational skills, including oral skills, investigative skills, problem solving, team work, recall of knowledge, and initiative.
    2. The IGCSE programme has worldwide status and credibility. In India, the course is delivered in over 130 schools with the number expected to touch 600 by 2008. It is recognised by the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) as being at par with CBSE, ICSE, etc. Worldwide, it is delivered in schools in over 140 countries and is recognised by colleges and universities everywhere, more so in the UK and other Commonwealth countries.
    3. The IGCSE curriculum is balanced and lends an international perspective to studies. It also takes account of differing abilities of students.
    4. IGCSE students can take advantage of the Cambridge Checkpoint, a diagnostic service comprising of standardised tests, that pin-points a student’s strengths and weaknesses in key curriculum areas.
    Edexcel and CIE
    Edexcel is the UK’s largest academic qualifications awarding body.
    It was formed in 1996 by the merger of two well-respected bodies, BTEC (the Business & Technology Education Council), and ULEAC (the University of London Examinations and Assessment Council).
    In 2003, Edexcel merged with the education giant, Pearson PLC, to set up a new company called Edexcel Limited, which is 75% owned by Pearson and 25% by the Edexcel Foundation.
    CIE is the international division of University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES).
    UCLES is another UK-based academic qualifications awarding body, known for its professional, rigorous and high standard assessments.
    UCLES is a department of the University of Cambridge, which was formed in the year 1207, and is one of the oldest and most reputed universities in the world.
    What is a Cambridge International Centre? What is an Edexcel Centre or a London Examinations Centre?
    Schools that are accredited to Edexcel or CIE for the conduct of the IGCSE programme are known as Edexcel Centres or Cambridge International Centres.
    From parents’ or students’ perspective, there is little difference between the two.
    Some schools are accredited to Edexcel and some to CIE. For example, DPS International in Delhi is an Edexcel IGCSE centre, while the Pathways World School in Gurgaon is a CIE IGCSE centre.
    Then there are some like Calcutta International School in Kolkata and British School in Delhi, which are centres of both Edexcel and CIE.
    More than the assessment body, parents need to think about which school is better for their child.


  • SL Kannan said:

    I need an information on schools for hearing impaired in Bangalore for 8 years old girl child

  • Kavita said:

    My son is in class eight CBSE school in Bangalore .He has chosen to start with French as his SECOND LANGUAGE.
    I am facing challenges that there is no site or guidance provided as to which text book and work book doe she need to follow for CBSE class Eight Frence SECOND LANGUAGE.
    His school does not have a desgnated French teacher and the students are left to find their own tutuors ,however even with regards to which text book and work is to be followed ,there is no guidance available !!!!PLEASE HELP

  • Athiban Arumugasamy said:

    which is tough CBSE or ‘A’ levels?plz let me know.and which is better??this is very important plzzzzzzzzzzz

  • Indranil said:


    Can I ask u some questions, I am relocating to BLR and had a 4th grader in a CBSE school in Hyderabad.
    email: indranilsinha(at)hotmail.com


  • Jackie said:

    Hi, my son has just completed his O levels (Edexcel) in Colombo, Sri Lanka, but I am planning to transfer him to Bangalore where he will follow the AICE Diploma (Cambridge IGCSE). As he wants to resit a couple of his O level papers to improve his grades, I would like to know if he will have to resit from the same Edexcel centre (Colombo) or can he do that from Bangalore?

  • Basavaraj said:

    Earnest and Amala
    Pretty good information on CBSE, ICSE and IGCSE. Thank you very much for taking time and interest to provide this information. This definitely useful for lot’s of parents like me who are in a dilemma to choose which syllabus and school. Your contribution is greatly appreciated.

  • kapil said:

    is igcse better than cbse…..if yes than why?????my son got 70% in 8(studing cbse)is it benificial for him or not & what are the benefites of taking igcse…………………

  • Adithya said:

    will IGCSE students get the same importance in universities as the CBSE, ICSE students? i completed my IGCSE o level and am planning to opt for As/A level or IB, will i be able to score in the CET as the CBSE, ICSE Students? or should i switch to CBSE for the 11th and 12th as i am keen to score high in the CET exams. please reply as soon as possible.

  • ruchika sanghrajka said:

    my son is 12+,he is in class 8. he will have to decide on his subjects this yr. hes in an icse school. he wants to do zoology, buy i am confused as to which board woul be good for him, icse or igcse. pls guide.

  • fanith said:

    currently i have done IGCSE with 6papers and LCCI with 2papers in Bahrain,so i would like to know that with above qualification weather i can join BBM OR SUM AIRPORT MANGEMENT COURSE

  • Ollie@ CIE International Education said:

    Nice post, I think IGCSE courses are an excellent idea as you now need internationally recognised qualifications.

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