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Here’s Why I Think ICSE Students Fare Better In College Than CBSE Students


By Pratyosh Gogoi

Demystifier: An ED Original where we take a complex topic but the content is written in such a way that it is knowledgeable and easy to comprehend at the same time.

It’s almost that time of the year again when students look up at the soaring cut-off lists in various colleges of the University of Delhi (read SRCC and St. Stephens) and cry foul- deservedly so. Being a college student myself (almost *wink*) I thought about the reasons why although most of us come to college with almost the same amount of academic merit, many are left behind. This, I thought could be rooted in the quality of education we have received so far- leaving aside the psyche of the student in concern.

Barring the state boards, we see students of two boards flocking universities all over India- the ones from Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and those from Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE).

I tried finding out how students from various boards fare in college. Leaving aside academic achievements, I observed that students from ICSE usually outshine their CBSE counterparts in a plethora of activities like debating, creative writing and much more especially with their impeccable usage of the languages. Moreover, most of the ECA societies in Delhi University are comprised of students from ICSE, who also happen to excel academically.

So I figured that although the students from CBSE are greater in number- by a margin- the ones from ICSE fare better in college as compared to their counterparts. And, here’s why:

  • It’s about private schools with only regular students against a pile of government schools with both regular and private students:

CBSE is affiliated to a large number of schools all over India. The board allows both regular candidates, who study in CBSE schools, as well as private candidates from non-affiliated schools to appear in the exams. Contrary to this, ICSE does not allow a candidate who has not been studying in an ICSE affiliated school to appear for the exams.

Moreover, ICSE schools are private- because it isn’t a board recognised by the MHRD- and they strive for excellence to attract more students.

  • Curriculum/Course Content:

Both CBSE and ICSE (CISCE) have slightly different focus in terms of course content. CBSE is extremely focused on science and maths with a lot of attention paid to the application of knowledge. CISCE (ICSE) on the other hand is more balanced with an equal focus on language, arts and science.

In ICSE, students don’t have to study from a set of textbooks. They can refer to any book but have to learn the topics prescribed by the Board. We also have a lot of combinations that we can opt for — such as computer science, environmental science and even interior design.

On the other hand, opting for a CBSE school has its own share of pros, and the biggest advantage is that all major competitive examinations in India are based on the CBSE syllabus. These examinations include the Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE), the All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE) and the All India Pre Medical Test (AIPMT).

The CBSE syllabus is easier when compared to that of other boards, mainly due to fewer subjects and a more compact structure. Secondary subjects like Environmental Education are not compulsory under the CBSE syllabus. Not much focus is laid on inculcating practical knowledge in students. The CBSE syllabus also does not lay as much emphasis on core English knowledge as its counterpart does, choosing to lay more importance on the disciplines of mathematics and science.

  • Assessments:

One more point of distinction between the two boards is the evaluation and assessment of students. In ICSE, internal assessments are vital and practical tests are aggregated with the overall scores. ICSE lays more emphasis on lab work. Also, a career in English Literature or Language arguably is best suited for ICSE students.

CBSE, on the other hand, is still evolving in terms of comprehensive evaluation of a student and with the beginning of CCE in 2009 seems to be taking tiny but right steps.

  • Method of Teaching:

With the changing times both the boards are aiming for active learning. However, ICSE seems to be the front runner here. The focus here is based on learning through experience and experimentation rather than through one-way teaching.

The syllabus followed by the ICSE board is more comprehensive and complete, encompassing all fields with equal importance. Students who are interested in careers in the lines of management and humanities will find the curriculum followed under ICSE to be more interesting and challenging, not to mention fruitful.

Due to the emphasis laid on English in ICSE, students from this board hold an edge over other students in various walks of life, let alone higher studies.

  • Tutors: The Good and the Bad

While tutors are easily available for CBSE students, it’s very difficult to find a suitable tutor for the students of the ICSE board. This can have two-way repercussions: the student might either choke under the burden of reading by oneself or come out a more learned individual. We believe that most of the students who make it to college belong to the latter lot and thus excel.

In the end, we can say that the syllabus prepared by CBSE is more suitable for qualifying in various entrance examinations, including the medical and engineering professional exams. The syllabus of ICSE is more detailed and requires the student to study a lot. Thus, they end up beating their counterparts in all departments of a college.


Image Credits: Google Images

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  1. Nice blog,

    You are screaming that ICSE is far better than CBSE syllabus. Either it may be or not, but myself this could be a partially invalid statement. CBSE is directly governed under HR Department of Indian Union. So dynamically people will support that board because that is directed by their elected government. ICSE is also an independent body but that is not as much of familiar to the people over CBSE has done. Thanks for your blog once again.

  2. Hello a brilliant blog.
    CBSE papers involve a lot of practical questions in general and very few direct ones.
    But in most ICSE papers questions are direct hence students dont know their application.

  3. Really a very helpful article thanks for sharing and keep on sharing!

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