CBSE vs ICSE vs IB: A comparison between three major school boards

When it comes to enrolling a child in school, selecting the right board is the first thing parents need to do. Although there are not many education boards available in India but still there are few differences among them that must be considered before choosing the right board. Two major board providing education in India are the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE). Apart from this, another board that has been introduced recently in India is the International Baccalaureate (IB) board.

There are few similarities and few differences between these three education boards. Understanding a bit about them can help the parents (or the children as well) in deciding which board is best for them. Let us see how the schools affiliated to these boards differ from each other and what are the similarities between them.

Difference between CBSE schools, ICSE schools and IB schools

With the system of education changing in the modern word, mere choosing a good school is not enough. It is important that the students are enrolled in the right board as well. But how will you know which board is better and which is not. To ease this process for you, we have presented a comparison between the schools of these boards.

  1. Popularity

So far, the CBSE is the most popular board and this draws more parents to enroll their kids in a school affiliated to CBSE. More than 24000 schools are present in India that follows the CBSE curriculum. After this comes ICSE with over 2600 schools all over the country. IB is a newly introduced curriculum and is not very widely popular among the parents. Less than 200 schools are there that are affiliated to this board.

Talking about worldwide, the scenario is little different with more than 5000 IB affiliated schools in contrast to mere 220 CBSE schools. Only a handful of ICSE affiliated schools (less than 10) can be found outside the country.

  1. Focus subjects

In the schools affiliated to CBSE, main focus is given on Science and Mathematics. Other subjects are taught as well, but they are considered only less important when it comes to Science and Mathematics.However, this is not the case with the ICSE schools where focus is given to subjects other than Science and Mathematics- Commerce, Social Science or Humanities. ICSE schools are known to focus bit more on English learning- both as a subject and a medium of communication. IB Schools are the best in this case as they give equal focus to all the subjects taught believing that career can be made after studying Commerce and Humanities subjects as well.

  1. Academic approach

Most CBSE schools still have the same old traditional approach to teaching where the main purpose of teaching is to provide quality education to the children so that they can score good marks in every exam and get ahead in the future. Very less focus is given on the extracurricular development of the children. Unlike this, the curriculum of ICSE is designed in manner that not just imparts education but knowledge to the students so that they excel in other fields of life as well. Extracurricular activities are given importance under ICSE as well. IB curriculum is a bit more advanced that the curriculum designed by ICSE. Focus is given on all-round development of students. The curriculum includes a lot of extracurricular and co-curricular activities as well.

  1. Level of difficulty

By far, CBSE is considered the simplest board and it is easier for the CBSE students to score more marks in their exams. Also, there are comparably lesser subjects taught by the schools in CSBE schools and the approach is more theoretical than practical. The ICSE board is said to be somewhat more complex than the system of education followed by CBSE. Practical study is given more weightage than theory and many extracurricular and co-curricular activities are included in the course too. IB offers one of the most complex curricula globally and the students are assessed based on numerous parameters.Apart from the knowledge of the subjects taught, the students are also encouraged to perform well in other fields as well.

  1. Future scope

The CBSE board is considered a good option for the students whose main focus is to crack medical & engineering competitive exams such as JEE, NEET, etc. Teaching approach in CBSE schools are followed in a way that prepares the students best for such type of exams. ICSE board is more about development of skills and knowledge among the students. ICSE students can prepare for the JEE, NEET and other exams as well but it additionally prepares them for scholarship exams, English language exams, etc. Students who dream of pursuing higher studies in the future, IB board is considered the best for them. Since it follows a global curriculum, it becomes easier for the students to prepare for the exams for enrolment in foreign universities.

CBSE vs ICSE vs IB: Table of comparison

The table below provides a simple comparison between the schools of all the three boards to help the parents understand the similarities and differences between them. Have a look at the major difference between CBSE vs ICSE vs IB:

PopularityMost popular with over 24000 schools all over the countryComes next in popularity with over 2600 schoolsLeast popular with only around 180 schools in India
Focus subjectsFocuses mainly on Science & Mathematics subjectsAlthough less but focus is given to Commerce & Humanities subjects tooEqual weightage is given to all- Science Maths, Commerce & Humanities
Academic approachMost schools follow the traditional approach to study with focus on scoring more marksTends to provide not only good education but instill knowledge in studentsTotally modern approach is followed which focuses on all round development of kids
Level of difficultyIt is considered as less complex board of studyLevel is a bit advance and is considered more complex than CBSEMost complex curriculum is followed by IB board
Future scopeConsidered best for preparation of medical & engineering competitive examsICSE board is also considered great for preparation of various competitive exams, especially those related to commerce & managementCurriculum is mainly designed keeping in mid the children to want to go to foreign universities

Few important things that are not discussed above include the availability of schools and cost of education in these schools. CBSE schools are present in a large number and it is easier for the parents to find a good CBSE schools for their wards. IB schools on the other hand are very few and are costly as well which many times hold parents back in enrolling their wards to IB schools.

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