Explaining the different school systems

(Systems covered: CBSE, CISCE/ISCE/ICSE, IB, IGCSE)


With more than 15000 registered schools in India, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is the most popular schooling system in India. In this system, there is an emphasis on the application and study of subjects and concepts related to mathematics and science. There are CBSE schools present in about 25 countries in total. This gives it an advantage in that you can attend another school with the same curricula even if you move out of India.

Another positive on this system is that there is plenty of support in the form of textbooks, tutors, and teachers connected with this system. The CBSE board is also recognized by all colleges in India. There is also sufficient competition for children, that will encourage academic excellence.

However, CBSE schools give almost no focus to the arts and literature in secondary school. This stifles creativity in children. There are also examinations conducted at regular intervals, which could be very stressful for the children attending the school.

The primary examinations conducted in CBSE is the All India Senior School Certificate Examination (AISSCE) for Class 10 and 12.


The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE), more commonly known as the Indian Certificate Secondary Education (ICSE), is another widely-prevalent schooling system in India. Over a 1000 schools are affiliated with this board.

The advantage of the CISCE is that course curriculum is wide-ranging, and the focus is more on practical thinking. It also assigns importance to language and arts.

However, this syllabus can be very frustrating and difficult. Another disadvantage is that there are fewer seats reserved for CISCE students in colleges in India.

In the CISCE, there are 3 main examinations:

  • ICSE (Indian Certificate Secondary Education), conducted for class 10
  • ISC (Indian School Certificate), conducted for class 12, and
  • CVE (Certificate for Vocational Education), conducted for class 12


3. IB

The International Baccalaureate is a schooling system which has been adopted by more than 4500 schools worldwide. It provides a standard education across the world. There are over 130 IB schools in India. IB schools are also called international schools.

The benefits of going to an IB school include being recognized by most colleges of the world and having a curriculum based on experimentation and understanding. Also, the infrastructure and facilities in international schools are very advanced. International schools mostly take in expats, and so, they are very diverse. The IB gives equal focus to all subjects, including literature, arts and sports.

However, the fees in international schools are very high. They are also only found in large cities, and it is difficult for students to change their schooling system.

There are 3 educational programs offered in IB schools:

  • PYP (Primary Years Program) – Lower Kindergarten to 5th grade
  • MYP (Middle Years Program) – 6th grade to 10th grade
  • Dp (Diploma Program) – 11th and 12th grade




The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) is a board which is similar to the IB. However, IGCSE is more academically rigorous. It is also based internationally and has a limited number of schools in India.

Like the IB, IGCSE is recognized by almost all colleges and has a plethora of subjects to choose from. There is also an emphasis on technical subjects.

However, the fees in IGCSE schools are very high. They are also only found in large cities, and it is difficult for students to change their schooling system.

The programs offered in IGCSE are:

  • Cambridge Primary – for 5 to 11 year olds
  • Cambridge Secondary 1 – for 12 and 13 year olds
  • Cambridge Secondary 2 – for 14 to 16 year olds
  • Cambridge Advanced – for 17 and 18 year olds



Hi there! I'm Sachin and I run the Career Central Podcast! I started it off because I myself wasn't too sure about what I wanted to do. I realized a ton of my friends had the same problem, and so decided to broadcast interviews with eminent people. This way, students can learn from an insider's perspective and make informed decisions.

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