CBSE vs ICSE vs IGCSE vs IB vs State Curriculum

Today, children have more choices in education in picking a curriculum. However it can be a little confusing as to which curriculum is right for your child, as there is no ‘one size fits all’. Picking a curriculum would depend on many factors :what aspirations you and your child have- If going abroad for college education is a goal; If you have a job that requires you to relocate constantly- locally or globally ; If your child has more varied interests like art and music, rather than simple basics; And of course the affordability factor. The following are some of the salient points of each curriculum.

1. CBSE (Central Board for Secondary Education)


Widely available schools under this curriculum
Standardized textbooks (NCERT textbooks)
The curriculum standard is in-line with most college entrance exams
Allows private candidates and those from non-affiliated schools to appear for the exams
Larger focus on maths and science and less on language
Favoured by those who constantly relocate within India and seek a standardized curriculum
Favoured by those who want to go into the traditional routes of Engineering/medical

Lesser number of subjects compared to ICSE
More theoretical approach
Focus is mainly on maths and science
You pick a stream, instead of individual subjects in 11th and 12th such as Science, Commerce, Arts etc
Click here for an in-depth understanding of CBSE

2. ICSE (Indian Certificate for Secondary Education)


Can follow any textbook of their choice
Does not permit candidates from a non-affiliated school to appear for the exam
Equal focus on Language, Art and Science
Offers a larger variety of subjects to choose from
Favoured by those who are interested in more applied knowledge rather than rote learning

Greater focus on practical learning than CBSE , but not as much as IB or IGCSE
Curriculum considered to be tougher and more vast than CBSE
More number of subjects compared to CBSE
3. IB (International Baccalaureate)


The international Baccalaureate curriculum is popular worldwide
It has 3 sections, the PYP (Primary years program- KG to 5th std), MYP (Middle years program –Std 6-10) and the DYP(Diploma years program, Std 11 and 12)
IB has no prescribed textbooks and a lot of freedom in learning
Focus of curriculum is on Analytical skills, language, arts and humanities
The focus is more on applied knowledge instead of rote learning
The DP core consists of Extended essay , creative/action/service project and theory of knowledge
At the DYP Level, students can pick a subject each from 6 groups and the DP core
Usually favoured by those who want to send their children abroad for undergraduation or students of parents who will be relocating globally

A new entrant in the Indian educational scene
Not aligned to local entrance exam content
More expensive than CBSE and ICSE schools
Difficult to find private tutors for extra coaching
Private students cannot take the exams
A good night’s sleep is absolutely essential for your kid to perform well in any curriculum and here are a few bedtime books that will ensure that.

4. IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education)


International curriculum for Class 9 and 10
It’s the precursor to the IB curriculum in many international schools for 11 and 12
Larger choice of subjects
Assessments include written and oral exams
Application oriented curriculum
There are core subjects which everyone has to pick and then 5 groups of subjects from which one has to be picked ( Maths group, Language group etc )
Ideal for students whose parents tend to relocate globally or students who plan to pursue undergraduation abroad.

Difficult to find private tutors who coach in this curriculum
More expensive than CBSE and ICSE schools


Unique to every state in India
Considered easier than all other boards
An inclusive curriculum that tries to accommodate all students of all capabilities
Easy to score high in the public exams
A student who has other interests like sports that take up a lot of time may choose this syllabus to keep the work load easy
Favoured by students who choose this curriculum for scoring high and simultaneously focusing on extra classes to appear for entrance exams like IIT JEE.

The syllabus might not be comprehensive enough when compared with other curriculum. This might prove a damper in entrance exams in the 12th standard.
Traditionally has been more of rote learning
State language is usually mandatory, though this varies from state to state
It has been said that the more choices humans have, the more unhappy they are ? The latest in the list of dilemmas that parents have , is the choice of curriculum and school and very few are 100% satisfied with their choice. But all we need to do is take a look at the success stories around us. Whom do we consider most successful? The one who went to the fanciest school and scored the highest marks? Or the one who has the best overall attitude towards life – Something for all of us to ponder

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