July 25, 2024



Comparison between CBSE vs. CISCE vs. IB vs. Cambridge Board

11 min read
Comparison between CBSE vs. CISCE vs. IB vs. Cambridge Board

In today’s increasingly interconnected world, it is essential to provide children with global skills and competencies to cultivate true ‘global citizens.’ Consequently, modern educational choices extend beyond selecting a school or academic track; they now also involve choosing an appropriate curriculum. This detailed comparison between CBSE vs. CISCE vs. IB vs. Cambridge board will help to select the right board for a child.
With the wide range of options to choose from- CBSE, CISCE, Cambridge, and IB; it has become a big marketplace out there, making the choice somewhat overwhelming. Don’t worry, we are here to help make the choice of CBSE vs. ICSE vs. IGCSE vs. IB easier.
Content List

What is the IB board?
What is the CBSE board?
What is the CISCE board?
What is the Cambridge Board?
Detailed Comparison: CBSE vs CISCE vs IB vs Cambridge
Choosing Between CBSE, ICSE, Cambridge Board and IB
Summing Up!

What is the IB board?
IB stands for International Baccalaureate. It is one of the well-known international boards of education in India. It offers top-quality education and practical learning experiences to its students. It is governed by an elected Board of Governors responsible for selecting the CEO, setting strategy, and policies, overseeing finances, and ensuring fair student assessments. Also, it emphasizes:

Student-centered learning, 
Providing continuous education for children aged 3 to 19 years. 
Fostering comprehensive student development, 
Experiencing diverse cultural backgrounds, to prepare for everyday challenges with an open and optimistic mindset.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, and it is a non-profit corporation deeply committed to its motto, “Truth and Knowledge.” IB provides four distinctive educational programmes tailored to children of various age groups: 
Recommended Read: The Front Runner in Holistic Learning: Know All About the International Baccalaureate
The IB Board provides four distinct programs:

Primary Years Programme (PYP)
Middle Years Programme (MYP)
Diploma Programme (DP) for students between 16 to 19 years
Career-related Programme (CP) for students between 16 to 19 years

Primary Years Programme (PYP)

This programme caters to children aged 3 to 12 years and marks the beginning of their educational journey. During this program, students enhance their active involvement in their learning process.
Besides, the IB curriculum is designed to foster conceptual understanding through a transdisciplinary and inquiry-based approach to learning beyond traditional academic subjects.
The programme comprises three main components:

The learner
Learning and Teaching
The learning community.

Recommended Read: Applicability of the IB Board: Can IB Board Students Apply to Indian Universities?

2. Middle Years Programme (MYP)
This IB program caters to students aged 11 to 16 years and helps students to draw an understanding between their academic studies and the real world through a rigorous structure.

This is a 5-year program 
After completion, students are well-prepared to take on the IB Diploma Programme (DP) or the IB Career-related Programme (CP).
At the end of MYP5(Grade 10) students can write the “IB MYP e-assessment “ which is conducted by the IB organization.

3. Diploma Programme (DP)
This program is designed for students aged 16 to 19 to have a deeper understanding and broader knowledge of subjects , develop intellectual curiosity and develop lifelong learning skills. This program encourages students by nurturing intellectual, emotional, physical, and ethical growth. IB Diploma program curriculum comprises six subject groups and the IB core of TOK(theory of knowledge), Extended Essay( a 4000 word research backed essay) and CAS (creativity, action and service). 
4. Career-related Programme (CP)
The IB Career-Related Programme (CP) is designed for students between 16 to 19 years old. It focuses on a career-oriented approach, empowering students to develop confidence, essential skills, and empathy towards others, while also preparing them for success in their professional lives.
Recommended Watch: How to select right board for your child 

What is the CBSE board?
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is a national board of education in India, established in 1929. It oversees both private and public schools, aiming to provide quality education and a stress-free learning environment for students to grow and succeed. 
CBSE follows a student-centered approach, constantly innovating to meet students’ psychological needs. It encourages teachers to act as guides and mentors, fostering a friendly atmosphere to monitor student progress. 
CBSE school follows the NCERT curriculum with the core mission of laying a firm educational foundation and empowering students to contribute to society. It regularly assesses and enhances academic activities, striving for excellence in education. The board aligns its standards with national education goals and conducts empowerment programs for educators to increase their professional competence. 
What is the CISCE board?
The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) is a non-governmental, private board responsible for school education in the country. The council constantly evolves its educational approaches, seeking innovative perspectives to deliver high-quality and effective teaching and learning techniques. 
CISCE is always ready to introduce new syllabi, curriculum frameworks, and assessment systems, making the education system more challenging and intriguing. 
The Council is divided into three main divisions, each catering to specific educational levels and goals:

ICSE (Class Xth): The Indian Certificate of Secondary Education examination is designed to assess General Education after a 10-year school education (classes I-X). Following the recommendations of the New Education Policy 1986, the examination is conducted in English. ICSE students appear for six-ten subjects and also engage in Socially Useful Productive Work (SUPW).

ISC (Class XIIth): The Indian School Certificate examination is pursued after completing a 2-year course beyond the ICSE examination or its equivalent. Set up by the New Education Policy 1986, the examination is conducted in English. ISC students are required to take English as a compulsory subject, along with 3 to 5 elective subjects, and must pass Socially Useful Productive Work and Community Service(SUPW)

CVE (Year 12): The Certificate of Vocational Education examination is tailor-made to prepare students for specific vocations. Created under the recommendations of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) through the Joint Council of Vocational Education (JCVE), the examination is conducted in English and students are eligible after a two-year course beyond 10th ICSE or equivalent. This division focuses on supporting and nurturing students’ vocational skills for future career paths.

What is the Cambridge Board?
The term “Cambridge board” refers to the curriculum designed by Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE), renowned worldwide for providing education to students aged 5 to 19 years. 
Recommended Read: Your One-And-Only Guide To The Cambridge Board Curriculum

Cambridge IGCSE and A Level: 
IGCSE – This the final certification exam at the end of  Grade 10. It paves the way for students to progress to A Level.
A Level – The Cambridge A Level, or Advanced Level, is the certification exam at the end of grade 12. It is an internationally recognized qualification that excellently prepares students for university education. The curriculum is carefully crafted to be universally relevant, avoiding cultural biases and ensuring its suitability for an international audience.
These are the most popular and most demanding boards in India. However, it is critical to understand the differences to make a decision on which board to choose.  Below you get the detailed comparison among these education board systems. 
Recommended Read: Changing Your Board in Class 11? 6 Questions to Help You Decide

Detailed Comparison: CBSE vs CISCE vs IB vs Cambridge
Here is a nifty infographic to give you a point-by-point overview of the comparison!
Need a more detailed analysis?
The following are the crucial points that distinguish the 4 main boards in India:
1. Number of Schools
CBSE academic is undoubtedly the most popular board in India, with 27000+ schools in 28 countries affiliated with it. For the CISCE board (ICSE/ISC), the number comes up to about over 2750 CISCE schools in India. 
On the other hand, the IB board schools in India are offered by 230+ schools with the IBDP offered by about 158  of them. The Cambridge board schools in India are more widespread than the IB , with more than 650 schools following the curriculum.
2. Focus and Approach
The CBSE syllabus is more traditional in its approach, giving more emphasis on the assimilation of knowledge, especially in the fields of Maths and Sciences. It’s curriculum aids in higher education in terms of Engineering, medical and other entrance examinations. 
On the other hand, the CISCE, IB and Cambridge curriculums are more expansive in their approach and give equal weightage to all the fields- Humanities, Sciences, Mathematics and Languages. Their approach is also broader, emphasizing the importance of all-around development, rather than just emphasizing knowledge-gathering and rote-learning.
3. Subjects
CBSE– It presents students with pre-set combinations of subjects, grouped according to different ‘streams’. The subject combinations are thus narrow and pertain to only a particular field, such as Science, Commerce or Humanities. The only flexibility is in the choice of the 5th subject. A change in this subject selection has been announced and changes are expected to be implemented in the 2025 academic year. 
CISCE– It follows the same pattern of streams as CBSE but adds more volume and intensity to the subjects. In addition, they have a subject called Socially Useful Productive Work (SUPW).
IB– IB board subjects offer in-depth knowledge and experience to the students. The students are provided with 6 different subject groups, where they are required to choose atleast one from Group 1 to 5 , thus providing a broad foundation across domains . Additionally, three compulsory subjects form the DP core: Creativity Action Service (CAS), Extended Essay (EE) and Theory Of Knowledge (TOK).
Cambridge A level– The students are offered a choice amongst 70 different subject options. There are no fixed groups or subject combinations, and students are free to choose any subjects of their liking. 
4. Criteria of Assessment
The CBSE academics evaluate students based on their ability to memorize and recall concepts and learning. Rote learning is given precedence over understanding and knowledge. On the other hand, the other three boards emphasize understanding, skill development, knowledge and application.
5. Complexity/Difficulty Level
CBSE– The degree of complexity of CBSE is relatively less as compared to the other three boards as it has a fewer number of subjects and is more scoring. The focus here is on application of knowledge.
CISCE– It is relatively more challenging than CBSE and teaches concepts at a higher level, especially English Core, which is considered to be much more advanced than CBSE. Additionally, scoring well in the CISCE exams can be challenging , as the curriculum is known for its depth and comprehensiveness.
IB– The IB curriculum is even more arduous and demanding than the other two Indian boards, as students are assessed all year round, on a variety of criteria. Quizzes, essays, portfolios and assignments are used to evaluate students, and there is a heavy focus on internal assessment, keeping them on their feet throughout the year.
Cambridge Advanced- It is also considered a very tough and demanding curriculum. It emphasizes the development of the knowledge base of students rather than their marks. Assessments are designed such as to evaluate students’ oral and problem-solving skills, in addition to the written examinations.


CBSE and CISCE offer a prescribed list of textbooks and syllabi that students are required to follow. On the other hand, IB doesn’t delineate any fixed textbooks and offers students more flexibility in this regard by offering recommended readings. Cambridge Advanced offers both prescribed textbooks and recommended readings.
Choosing Between CBSE, ICSE, Cambridge Board and IB
So which one should you go for? Here are a few tips!
CBSE- Students aiming at pursuing a career in Engineering or medicine should prefer this board, as the syllabi and pattern of Indian entrance examinations in these two domains are aligned with the CBSE curriculum. CBSE schools are also cheaper than the other three boards, thus for someone looking for a quality education that doesn’t break the bank, CBSE is the way to go.
CISCE– This board can be a perfect blend of the Indian curriculum and examination systems along with deeper understanding of subjects. CICSE also helps in the development of excellent language skills, so students looking at holistic development and in-depth subject understanding can choose this board over CBSE.
IB– This board aids in the development of analytical, logical reasoning, and language skills. It is also advantageous in profile building, as there is a strong emphasis on extracurricular activities and social action through the CAS requirement, thus giving an edge. One can also choose this board if one seeks global skill development, flexibility and an innovative approach to education.
Cambridge Advanced– This board holds wide international recognition, and those graduating with this diploma hold a good footing when applying to universities  overseas. It is also widely accepted across Indian universities and aligns with the local dates for entrance exams and admissions. Thus those wanting to study an international curriculum with wide acceptability can opt for it.
Here they are, the broad differences between the 4 leading curriculums in India: CBSE vs.CISCE vs. IB vs. Cambridge. We hope that you now have sufficient information to make an effective and informed decision for your child’s education. 
Summing Up!
Choosing the right educational board for your child is a critical decision that can significantly impact their academic journey and prospects. Each board – CBSE, CISCE, IB, and Cambridge – comes with its unique advantages and approach to education.
The decision should align with your child’s interests, goals, and learning style. Take into consideration the board’s assessment methods, the depth of subjects, and the flexibility it offers. Engage in conversations with educators, seek professional guidance, and involve your child in the decision-making process.
Remember, no single board is inherently superior; what matters most is finding the best fit for  holistic growth. We hope this comprehensive overview has provided valuable information and clarity. 
If you have any further doubts or queries, do not hesitate to reach out to us at hello@mindler.com. Our team of experts is here to support and guide you in making the right decision for your bright and successful future. Happy learning and exploring!

Are CBSE exams easy or tough?
The difficulty of CBSE exams depends on how well students prepare and understand their subjects. Some may find it challenging, while others may find it manageable. It’s subjective and varies from student to student.
What are CISCE full form and IB board full form?
CISCE full form is Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations and IB stands for the International Baccalaureate.
What is the difference between CBSE and ICSE?
CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) and ICSE (Indian Certificate of Secondary Education) are two different educational boards in India. 
The key differences lie in their syllabi, grading systems, and teaching methodologies. CBSE follows a more practical approach, emphasizes Science and Mathematics, and uses a percentage based grading system for evaluation. ICSE, on the other hand, focuses on a core understanding of subjects, includes more diverse subjects, and uses a percentage-based grading system. CBSE is recognized by the government of India, while ICSE is a private board. The choice between the two boards often depends on individual preferences and future educational plans.
Which is better: Cambridge board vs. CBSE?
Cambridge board, administered by Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE), and CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) are two distinct educational systems in India. 
Cambridge board offers an internationally benchmarked curriculum with a global outlook, provides flexibility to schools in designing their curriculum, and accommodates cultural diversity. 
On the other hand, CBSE follows a standardized national curriculum and is recognized by the Indian government. It emphasizes both practical learning and theoretical knowledge. The choice between Cambridge board and CBSE often depends on your eligibility and preferences.
Is ICSE accepted in the USA?
Yes, ICSE (Indian Certificate of Secondary Education) is widely accepted in the USA by universities  and colleges that recognize international qualifications.

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