Oswaal Books


Understanding Different Education Boards in India

20 Feb | Source: : Oswaal Books Editorial Board

If you are a parent seeking admission of your child in a school, one of the top questions weighing on your mind is likely to be ‘which education board should I choose’. Don’t worry; you are not the only one. The Indian education system is so complex that it leaves most parents baffled with the selection of the right board. The opinions and advice of fellow parents don’t help either!

This article will address your dilemma and help you understand the characteristics of popular educations boards in our country.

State Board

State Boards are affiliated with the local state governments and education department. Commonly known as Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC) boards, every state follows its own syllabus and curriculum. The state conducts the 10th and 12th board examinations. While the fee for State Board schools is low and academic pressure is less stressful, it has its drawbacks such as outdated curriculum, lack of quality teachers and moderate infrastructure. If you want to make your child appear for competitive (IIT, CAT, AIIMS, IAS, IPS, NDA) or off-shore studies, the standard of education may not meet your expectations.

CBSE Board

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) falls under the purview of the central government body Union Ministry of Human Resource Development. The Ministry has set up an autonomous organization called National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) which designs the CBSE curriculum up to 12th Class and is also responsible for the academic matters about both public and private schools affiliated to this board. It conducts 10th and 12th class board examinations. There is a major focus on science, maths, and other application-based subjects to give a solid foundation to students seating in national level competitive exams. There are also many co-curricular activities included in the syllabus for all-round development of students. CBSE Board is ideal for parents whose jobs are transferable as its curriculum remains same across all states and even a few countries. CBSE Board is recognized in more than 20 other countries, including India. However, the fee is considerably high, and the syllabus is quite extensive.


The Council of Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) is a private, non-governmental education board. It was primarily formed to replace the overseas Cambridge School Certificate Examination with an All India Examination. It conducts three examinations:

  • Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) for 10th Class.
  • Indian School Certificate (ISC) for 12th Class
  • Certificate in Vocational Education (CVE) for students who have chosen a specific vocation of study after ISCE or its equivalent examination.

The CISCE curriculum lays equal emphasis on science, maths, other application-based subjects as well as arts and literature. So, the students have more options to choose subjects of their liking. The syllabus is designed to make the fundamentals of every subject strong for students. It also encompasses practical projects and verbal ability tests and offers several Indian and foreign languages in its course. This board is suitable for students appearing in national level competitive exams or pursuing higher education abroad. So, students seating for GMAT, GRE and TOEFL exams can benefit immensely from CISCE Board. The fee for this board is high, and syllabus is very vast.

International Boards

The International Boards have caught quite a fancy of parents in the recent years. They boast of an international curriculum and can help children adapt to the education system of any country they may travel to in future. The student-teacher ratio is low, and there is an individual focus on every child. These boards are believed to produce global citizens IBO Boards and highly popular among NRIs, expats, and globe-trotters. They have a very different system of student evaluation which you may not be able to co-relate with mainstream boards such as SSC, CBSE, and CISCE. So, before you enrol your child in this board, it is advisable to understand its academic and examination pattern, and what if you need to shift the child to the other boards owing to some circumstances. Given that its syllabus and infrastructure caters to international standards, the fee is very high. The number of these schools is still very limited as compared to other boards in India, so it may pose a problem if you are moving to another city.

There are two main International Boards in India:

  • International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) Board:  With over 4000 schools across more than 140 countries, including 130 in India, this board is recognized by several Indian and foreign universities. It offers three programmes: Primary Years Program (PYP), Middle Years Program (MYP) and IB Diploma Program (IBDP).
  • Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) Board: This board is the world’s most reputed international qualification adopted by more than 160 countries. There are more than 10,000 CIE schools in the world, including over 300 in India. It offers four programmes: Cambridge Primary (Class 1 to 5), Cambridge Secondary 1 (Class 6 to 8), Cambridge Secondary 2 (Class 9 and 10, also known as IGCSE and O Level) and Advanced Supplementary and Advanced Level (Class 11 and 12).

We hope that you have more clarity on education boards in India and will find it easier to pick the right one for your child!

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