With the ever-expanding global purview of the current world, it has become all the more crucial to equip children with global skills and competencies, to create truly “global citizens.” As a result, educational decisions in the present day are not confined to picking out just a school or a stream, you need to decide on a board too. With the wide range of options to choose from- CBSE, CISCE, Cambridge, and IB; it has become a virtual 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.
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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 the Indian domain:
1. Number of Schools
CBSE is undoubtedly the most popular board in India, with over 16,000 schools from 25 countries affiliated to it. For the CISCE board (ICSE/ISC), the number comes up to about 2213 schools in India. On the other hand, the IB curriculums are offered by 141 schools in India, with the IBDP offered by about 118 of them. The Cambridge Advanced has been more widespread in India than the IB till yet, with more than 310 schools following the curriculum.
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2. Focus and Approach
The CBSE has been more traditional in its approach, giving more emphasis on the assimilation of knowledge, especially in the fields of Maths and Sciences. Its curriculum more or less focuses on preparing students for Engineering and Medical entrance examinations, resulting in a shift from the importance of Languages. There is also not a lot of focus on extra-curricular activities, and students are encouraged to concentrate on their studies and examinations.
On the other hand, the CISCE, IB and Cambridge Advanced curriculums are more expansive in their approach, and give equal weightage to all the fields- Humanities, Sciences, Mathematics and Languages. Their approach is also more broad, emphasizing the importance of all-round development, rather than just a focus on knowledge-gathering and examinations.
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CBSE- It presents the 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. For example, a student opting for the Commerce stream would have to study the following compulsory subjects: Economics, Accounts, Business Studies and English. However, he/she can choose amongst different options such as Physical Education, Mathematics, Informative Practices etc. for the 5th subject.
CISCE- It follows the same pattern of streams as CBSE, but adds more volume and intensity to the subjects. In addition, there are two additional subjects which are compulsory for all students- English and Socially Useful Productive Work (SUPW).
IB- It offers in-depth knowledge and experience in subjects of the students’ choosing. The students are provided with 6 different subject groups, where they are required to choose one from each, thus providing a lot of flexibility. Additionally, there are three compulsory subjects that form the DP core: Creativity Action Service (CAS), Extended Essay (EE) and Theory Of Knowledge (TOK).
Cambridge Advanced– 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. There are certain compulsory subjects such as Global Perspective, Research etc., and A-levels to be completed, depending on the type of diploma the student opts for.
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4. Criteria of Assessment
The CBSE evaluates students on the basis of their ability to memorize and recall concepts and learning. Rote learning is given precedence over understanding and knowledge. On the other hand, the rest of the three boards all emphasize understanding, skill development, knowledge and its 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 concepts are also taught less in-depth, with more focus on the 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, the scoring of answers is also more stringent, resulting in CISCE students scoring lower than CBSE students on average.
IB- The IB curriculum is even more arduous and demanding than the other two Indian boards, as the 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 the students on their feet throughout the year.
Cambridge Advanced- It is also considered a very tough and demanding curriculum, as it has been developed by the University of Cambridge. 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 too, in addition to the written examinations.
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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.
Weighing the Scales- 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 Medical should prefer this board, as the syllabi and pattern of Indian entrance examinations in these two domains are aligned to the CBSE curriculum. CBSE schools are also cheaper than the other three boards, thus someone looking for a quality education that doesn’t break the bank, CBSE is the way to go.
CISCE- This can be a board of choice for students aiming at pursuing careers in the fields of Humanities and Management, as the CISCE syllabus is more oriented toward these streams and helps in the development of excellent language skills. Students looking for overall grooming and development should also prefer this board over CBSE.
IB- This board aids in the development of analytical, logical reasoning, language skills which can offer a slight advantage to students for exams such as the SAT and the GRE. Moreover, it is also advantageous in profile building, as there is a strong emphasis on extra-curricular activities and social action, thus giving an edge to students for foreign universities. One can also go for 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 international universities. Thus, students aiming to go abroad for education can consider this board. It is also widely accepted across Indian universities, and aligns with the local dates for entrances and admissions, thus those wanting to study an international curriculum with wide acceptability can opt for it.
Here it is, the broad differences between the 4 leading curriculums in India: CBSE vs ICSE vs IB vs IGCSE. We hope that you now have sufficient information to make an effective and informed decision for your child’s education. If you still have any doubts about these boards, or are unsure about which one to choose, drop your query to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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