Chooing the Right Education Board (SSC, ICSE, CBSE or IB?)

Chooing the Right Education Board: CBSC, ICSE, IB The great Indian education debate: Which education board is good – CBSE or ICSE or IB or…

If you have a child who’s around a couple of years, I’m sure you would already be anxious about getting admission for your child (even though its around a couple of years away), but more than that its choosing the right board which can cause stress to most parents.

The number of education boards in the country has risen to five in the past decade, resulting in more options, and at the same time even more confusion.

Which board to choose from SSC, ICSE, CBSE or IB ?

Choosing the board most suitable for your child can be a harrowing experience.Many parents are confused with which board to choose. There are namely four common boards like the CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education),ICSE (Indian Certificate is Secondary Education), IB (International Baccalaureate)and the SSC (State Boards).

A common misconception is that CBSE and ICSE are both education boards similar to SSC boards of state government. CBSE is an education board but ICSE is the certificate offered after completion of the course and it is not a board. Still ICSE board is commonly used to mention this course.

Secondary School Certificate, commonly known as SSC, is a public examination taken by students in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Goa in India, after successfully completing at least ten years of schooling. It is followed by Higher Secondary (School) Certificate (HSC). SSC is an equivalent to GCSE in the England.

State Boards are comparatively limited in the content and subjects as compared to other boards.The syllabus is easier and hence less stressful to the students.These schools being state centric are excellent for parents planning to stay in the same state for life. The State language is compulsory. As the concepts are generally lagging the kids have to be given external coaching, if planning for IIT, CAT and other competitive exams. These schools are great for kids who are focused on extracurricular activities like sports etc.

Here are some important features of these boards to help you understand them better.

  1. CBSE & ICSE are the two biggest education boards in India
  2. CBSE is an all-India education board and is a good bet in case you have to relocate.
  3. CBSE structure is more rigid and doesn’t give freedom to choose subjects
  4. ICSE allows you to choose subjects so that you can exploit your child’s potential.
  5. CBSE course content is more focused towards science and mathematics.
  6. ISCE course content is more balanced with equal focus on language, arts and science.


Central Board of Secondary Education: Know as the CBSE board. It prepares the syllabus for students up to Class 12. The curriculum is set by National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT). The board conducts India’s two nation-wide board examinations: the All India Secondary School Examination for Class 10 and the All India Senior School Certificate Examination for Class 12.

Many schools are affiliated to CBSE syllabus.All major cities have CBSE schools, hence easy to move around in the country. The curriculum is very good when it comes to general knowledge and general subjects. It allows the kids to experience subjects without going deep into them thus helping them to choose the focus after Xth. This board prepares kids for competitive exams like the IIT, CAT, IIM and all entrance exams which are held at national level and it gives better chances for appearing for Armed Forces Exams, NDA, IAS, IFS, IPS.etc. The schools also focus a lot on extracurricular activities Most of which are compulsory thus assuring an overall growth of the child. One disadvantage is the length of the syllabus. It has vast syllabus


The ICSE is short form of Indian Certificate for Secondary Education. It was established by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate. The council conducts an all India exam for Class 10 called ICSE(Indian Certificate for Secondary Education) and for class 12 called the Indian School Certificate (ISC).

The ICSE board follows the basics strengthening syllabus. all the introduction is repeated and then quadratic equations are handled. Even questions are based on the basics. This makes the basics of the topic very strong. This helps the student a lot of confidence when higher studies are involved. As his basics are very strong, half the job is done. There is lot of focus on language and literature. So good for kids wanting to make a career which involves writing, reading, talking, debating, arguing, surveying, historians, geologist etc. This curriculum is very good when it comes to general knowledge and general subjects . However it is unnecessarily vast.

This board is also good for competitive exams like IIT, IIM, CAT, All India entrance exams, but needs extra time and coaching. Even Armed forces exams can be appeared after this board. ICSE syllabus is particularly important for students who prefer higher education abroad. Exams like GRE, TOEFLand GMAT have a lot of verbal ability testing. Its also excellent for those who are migrating from abroad as the curriculum is close to international board. One important distinguishing feature in ICSE syllabus is the importance given to projects. Projects are very important and they form the basis of marking scheme in the performance of the student. This makes the student extremely active and it improves his thinking ability.

IB Board

This board is excellent for kids whose parents are globe trotters as it enables kids to get admission into any IB school across the world. There are very few students in each batch, hence ensures quality focus on each child. The syllabus is taught in most interesting and interactive way with the best of equipments. The overall atmosphere in the school is international, with kids taking teachers as their equals. However these schools can be extremely expensive!

Final Thoughts

Around a couple of decade back, most of the opportunities were in the science & technology sector, and those with engineering and business management qualifications used to get a a good job. And because CBSE’s core strength lies in those subjects, many considered CBSE to be a better board (apart from the fact that it offers a standard syllabus across cities). The CBSE curriculum is designed to meet the demands of universities and entrance examinations, and that is what makes it so attractive to most students/parents.

However, in the last decade, opportunities have increased manifold in India. Many students go on to make a career in advertising, photography (and many more start their own business ventures), and are doing quite well in their endeavors. And that is why most parents are willing to consider boards such as ICSE which gives an opportunity to students to explore their talents.

In recent times, boards such as IB are also becoming increasingly popular in India. These are more practical and application-based and have a broader spectrum of subjects that leads to all-round development of the students. Their course content is designed to test the student’s knowledge, and not just their memory and/or speed. However, they are more expensive and currently caters to expats and those who want to send their students abroad for higher education.

So, the debate between choosing one education board over another seems to be a never ending one, but then there are pros and cons of each education board, which you as parents need to consider.

What we have attempted here is to give an non biased analysis of each schools. However each board has its own merits and demerits. The choice is up to you to decide which syllabus is most suited for your child.

You are requested to forward this to all parents in your contact sphere who are going to take school admissions for children.

Originally posted 2015-10-01 17:19:20.

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