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CBSE vs. CISCE vs. State Board

India is the bedrock of multiple education boards, such as CBSE, CISCE, and various State Boards. This diverse range causes immense confusion among parents and students. The anxiety is compounded when school students seek admissions in top universities for their UG (undergraduate) education because the quota for different boards varies across states and universities. Through thorough research with regard to these three boards, a lot of clarity can be attained. There exist seven critical factors that are vital with regard to comparison of these three education boards:

  • Curriculum and Syllabus

  • World-wide recognition

  • Availability of Tuition Help

  • Extracurricular activities

  • Expertise of teachers

  • UG admissions

  • In the wider context


CBSECBSE is the abbreviation for Central Board of Secondary Education. This is arguably the best board in India because it carries out two of the most important national exams: JEE for engineering aspirants and NEET for those wishing a career in the medical field. These exams are the gateways to the prestigious institutions such as AIIMS, NITs, and IITs. Let us have a look at how CBSE fares across these seven critical areas.

1) Curriculum and Syllabus

Curriculum and SyllabusThe CBSE curriculum is inclined toward development of the problem-solving abilities and application skills of students. After a concept is taught and clarified, students face tests through several methodologies. This helps them learn application of concepts in diverse contexts. Moreover, because CBSE conducts examinations such as NEET and JEE, students will have a strong background that can help them crack these exams. The syllabus of CBSE board is quite tough. This means that students will need to put in that extra effort to score well. From class 1 to class 10, students need to study English, 2nd language, and 3rd language (from class 6 to class 8 only). Other subjects include Mathematics, Science, Social Sciences, and IT (Information Technology, only for classes 9 and 10). To conclude that CBSE board’s focus is on Science and Math rather than English and other languages would be completely wrong. Most CBSE students have excellent command over English. CBSE schools may give a slight preference for Science and Math because of the highly-competitive examinations conducted every year and the need to obtain exemplary results. The English syllabus is competent enough for the development of a robust understanding and excellent English communication skills in English.

2) World-wide Recognition

Because the syllabus of CBSE is quite challenging, students won’t have a problem when it comes to adjusting to the education system in international locations such as Singapore, UK, and USA.

3) Availability of Tuition Help

Availability of Tuition HelpExcellent tuition centers are extremely vital if students need further help in one or more subjects. In the state of Tamil Nadu, the education system is highly popular, whereas some small cities may lack competent tuition facilities for CBSE students because a majority of the schools here follow the curriculum of the State Board. Hence, it is crucial to reside in a city or town that offers par excellence tuition facilities for the schools affiliated to the CBSE board, where your kids are studying in.

4) Extracurricular Activities

This varies across CBSE schools. Many schools give supreme importance to such activities, whereas others focus strictly on studies. Some elite and niche schools could have better facilities and training opportunities for extracurricular activities.

5) Expertise of Teachers

Expertise of TeachersThe quality of instructors and teachers in India has taken a downward spiral because students prefer joining the IT industry, where the growth opportunities and salary are much better in comparison with the profession of teaching. Hence, finding excellent teachers for schools is a daunting task nowadays. Niche schools, which charge exorbitant fees, may have access to high-quality teachers; however, it is a matter of speculation and cannot be applied to all schools.

6) UG Admissions

UG AdmissionsTo get admission in an engineering college, students need to undergo several entrance examinations. The NEET and JEE examinations have their basis in the CBSE curriculum; however, this does not mean every CBSE student will crack these exams. Extra help may be needed in the form of tuitions. Class 12 board exam results are vital to gain admission to diverse courses, such as Science, Commerce, and the Humanities, and student quota for CBSE varies across states. Several universities utilize a process known as normalization for admitting students through a common platform; however, this has met with little success.

7) In the Wider Context

CBSE students perform well in their profession because they have good logical skills and excellent problem-solving abilities, which help them in all spheres of life.

CICSE is the abbreviation for Council for Indian Certificate of Secondary Education.

1) Curriculum and Syllabus

The CICSE curriculum is formulated in such a manner that students gain in-depth knowledge about several topics and concepts, both in terms of application and content. A lot of emphasis is laid on practical and laboratory work. This assists students in the development of superb analytical skills. CICSE students need to study many subjects through reading and collecting immense amount of information on topics learnt in class hours, analyzing the collected information, and learning from them. They have a better chance of developing strong visualization skills. What’s more, they can solve complex problems, and their communication skills are coherent. The CICSE syllabus is vast, comprehensive and difficult. Students need to spend lots of time reading and referring to books other than the prescribed ones. The CICSE Board offers immense variety and flexibility with regard to choice of subjects. From class 1 to class 5, students need to study English, a second language, geography, history, science, mathematics, third language, computer science, and a whole gamut of extracurricular and physical activities. In class 6 and class 7, students need to study English language and literature, second language, geography, history, environmental education, science, mathematics, third language, computers, and extracurricular activities such as music, dance, and arts, to name a few. The syllabus of class 8 is remarkably similar to class 6 and class 7, with the sole exception being that instead of science, you will need to study physics, chemistry, and biology. For students belonging to classes 9, 10, 11, and 12, a variety of subjects are offered, thus ensuring greater choices and flexibility. It should be noted that evaluation is extremely strict in CICSE, and the scores in the board exams are not as high as scores obtained in CBSE or State Board exams.

2) World-wide Recognition

CICSE-affiliated schools are located in Dubai, Sharjah, Singapore, and Indonesia. In addition, CICSE syllabus is much tougher in comparison with syllabi in schools located in UK and USA. Hence, CICSE students won’t have any difficulty while making adjustments to the curriculum in these countries.

3) Availability of Tuition Help

As a parent, before you arrive at a conclusion on the most suitable board for your child, it is extremely important to perform a quick check on the availability of local tuition. Lack of competent tuition teachers and centers will pose problems in the long run, especially if children need additional help with regard to any subject. Therefore, you should find accommodation in a city or town that offers excellent tuition centers and teachers.

4) Extracurricular activities

CICSE curriculum supports and promotes extracurricular activities. The board believes in imparting an all-round education. What’s more, students receive exposure to different types of activities that range from academically-oriented project works, competitions, and debates to several other activities such as music, arts, drama, and sports. Opt for a CICSE school if you want to give your child a well-balanced education.

5) Expertise of Teachers

Because a majority of CICSE schools charge hefty fees, you can expect well-trained and highly-qualified teachers to impart training.

6) UG Admissions

To obtain admission in top engineering colleges, students need to appear for several entrance exams. Some CICSE students shift to CBSE board or State Board to obtain better marks in class 12 or to have extra time to crack NEET or JEE exams because CICSE syllabi in classes 11 and 12 are far more demanding than State and CBSE boards. However, there are also instances where students completing their classes 11 and 12 in CICSE schools have cracked the JEE. Students should have the final say. When it comes to UG admissions, there is bound to be wide disparity because evaluations carried out by CICSE schools are very stringent, and students tend to score much less than their CBSE and State Board counterparts. For additional information, you have to check with prominent universities with regard to the quota system and available seats.

7) In the Wider Context

Most students passing out from CICSE schools grow to become intellectuals with well-rounded personalities. They are equally competent in academics as well as extracurricular activities. To conclude, CICSE is the best bet if you want your child a high-quality education; however, be prepared to cough up large amounts of money in terms of fees.

State Board

1) Curriculum and Syllabus

There are nearly 30 State Boards in India. The curriculum and syllabi vary across states. A common perception is that the curriculum of State Boards gives more importance to rote learning rather than critical thinking and application. However, this perception does not apply to all state boards in the country because some state boards are as rigorous as CBSE, with stringent evaluation.

2) Availability of Tuition Help

Availability of tuition help is equally important to students of State Boards as well as CBSE and CICSE boards because some students may find certain subjects hard to cope up with.

3) World-wide Recognition

Indian students passing out of State Boards do well in the US and UK because the curriculum in such countries is far less demanding.

4) Extracurricular Activities

These activities vary across schools. Some schools lay equal emphasis on academics and extracurricular activities, whereas others give minimal importance to extracurricular activities. To obtain more information, enquire around to learn more about schools in your region.

5) Expertise of Teachers

The profession of teaching has witnessed a major brain drain because a plethora of students have joined the IT industry, which pays more than a regular teaching job. Hence, most schools lack high-quality teachers.

6) UG Admissions

To pursue engineering, students have to appear for several entrance exams to obtain admission in the top universities across India. For courses in Arts, Commerce, and Science streams, there is no need for any entrance exams. The admission requirements and quota system varies across states.

7) In the Wider Context

Scores of students passing out from State Boards do extremely well in their chosen professions. Ultimately, your work ethics and abilities matter much more than the type of board you passed out from.
Final Judgment:

Schools need to nurture talents of their students and provide them with an ideal environment so that they can thrive in all segments, be it extracurricular activities or academics. Besides performing an evaluation of different boards, practical factors need to be considered such as the school’s distance from home, quality of faculty, friend circle, safety of your child, and healthy learning environment, to name a few. Irrespective of the competency of the board or the school, what matters most is your child’s happiness. Unhappy children will perform poor academically. For solely this reason, students need to gain admissions in schools that they love studying in, regardless of the type of board.

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