CBSE or ICSE: which is a better board – Like many such questions there is no single answer and the most accurate answer is ‘It Depends’. However, through multiple parameters we will try and make the decision making process easier for you.
There are many attempts made to answer this question on Quora and other websites which have been written either by students studying in a particular board, CBSE or ICSE or by teachers teaching one of the boards. As a result and as you would have already guessed, most of these answers tend to become (unintentionally) biased. Hence, we will try and keep our article as objective as possible and leave the decision to you.
- CBSE: Central Board of Secondary Education is a body set up for standardizing and improving the education standard in India. There are approximately 20,299 schools in India and 220 schools in 28 foreign countries affiliated to the CBSE (Source: Wikipedia)
- ICSE: Indian Certificate of Secondary Education is an alternative board for India (and unlike what many believe ICSE is not an International board) and was conceived as a replacement of the overseas Cambridge School Certificate Examination (Source: ICSE Website)
- CBSE’s unsaid, unwritten philosophy is to follow an ‘inclusive’ approach while taking any decision regarding the syllabus or any change. This is because there are several elite as well as basic public schools which follow CBSE syllabus. Implication: CBSE’s syllabus is not changed very frequently, however, the applications of its concepts keep evolving.
- ICSE on the other hand aims at a more broad education base exposing students to more topics at an early age. ICSE updates its syllabus more often and always attempts to keep it more linked to the real-world learning. However, the questions in its exams are relatively lesser on the application dimension
- Below are the topics of the 10th standard Maths syllabus for CBSE.
- Number Systems: ~06 marks
- Algebra: ~20 marks
- Coordinate Geometry: ~06 marks
- Geometry: ~15 marks
- Trigonometry: ~12 marks
- Mensuration: ~10 marks
- Statistics & Probability: ~11 marks
- Topics of 10th standard Maths for ICSE
- Commercial Maths (Banking, VAT, etc)
- Statistics & Probability
As you would see while largely the syllabus is the same, ICSE has a topic for Commercial Maths which links Mathematics to more real-life situations and problems.
- CBSE follows the NCERT textbook as the core syllabus outline. While all questions in the exams are based on this syllabus, about 20% of the questions are highly application based. CBSE does this to separate the good from the great and just following the textbook is not enough. There are many reference books available in the market with R.D. Sharma, R.S. Aggarwal, Lakhmir Singh are amongst the most famous one. We at Sunali’s Classes have over the years compiled our own practice sheets which take the best of these books, previously asked questions and our own questions.
- ICSE does not have any particular textbook and follows the guidelines given on its website. Books like ML Aggarwal, RD Sharma, Concise are popular for ICSE. Again, we at Sunali’s Classes have curated our own practice sheets and test papers to bring the best out of these books
- CBSE should be preferred if you intend to stay in India for graduation and seek admission through JEE/NEET since these entrance examinations are also based on the NCERT syllabus
- ICSE should be preferred if you intend to go abroad after schooling or pursue management or humanities, since ICSE is better rounded in its structure. Also ICSE students usually have an edge in English over CBSE students in exams like TOEFL and GRE.