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CBSE or State Board: Which syllabus is the best?

Mon, Jun 06, 2016, 10:30 AM
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Which is the best syllabus for your child, CBSE or State Board? All parents struggle a lot to find out which mode of education is the best for their children.  Which syllabus has the best standards? In this article, we seek to give you all the relevant information so you can make up your mind.

Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE)

The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) is a government recognized organisation which approves the CBSE. The board was established for preparing syllabus to government and private schools and looking into related matters. Most schools in the country are now following the CBSE syllabus. The teaching from nursery to Intermediate comes under the board's purview. However, there are only English and Hindi media in these schools. Jawahar Navodaya Residential Schools, Kendriya Vidyalayas and Sarvodaya Vidyalayas come under the CBSE. 


Under the CBSE syllabus, the focus is laid on Mathematics and Science subjects. In most of the national-level competitive examinations, the questions are based on the CBSE syllabus only. So, the students have to concentrate on this syllabus for getting good results. The CBSE prepares its syllabus in such a way that the students will have social awareness. The entire syllabus is divided into units and one period is allotted for one unit. This way the entire syllabus can be completed in the prescribed period, ensuring enough scope for exam preparation.

After teaching a concept to students, the knowledge of a student is tested in different ways. This way the student will be in a position to tackle the subject in different situations. The CBSE syllabus is comparatively harder than the state syllabus. The students from 6th to 8th class have to study English along with Second and Third Languages, while 9th and 10th class students have to study Mathematics, Science, Social Science and Information Technology subjects.

Several universities abroad are recognizing our CBSE. These CBSE students can easily complete any course outside the country.The students, who want to opt for the CBSE syllabus, have to keep in mind some things like availability of tuition facilities for them. Only the schools in urban areas are offering their education in CBSE syllabus. The CBSE schools give preference for extra-curricular activities too. Top national level entrance examinations like JEE and NEET are based on the curriculum of CBSE only. So, the candidates, who completed their education in the CBSE syllabus, have a better chance of succeeding in these examinations. However, the CBSE schools charge much higher fees than other schools.

CBSE 10th class subjects

In tenth class, the students have to choose one additional subject along with Mathematics, Social, Science, English and one language subject.

Language subjects : Hindi, Sanskrit, French, German, Bengali,Gujarati, Kannada, Kashmiri, Marathi, Malayalam, Manipuri, Oriya, Punjabi, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Limbu, Bhutia, Arabic, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Nepali, Tibetan, Mizo, Bodo and Tangkhul.

Additional Subjects : Information Education, Home Science or Physical Education.

CBSE Inter subjects

Medical Group : English, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, one optional subject

Non-Medical Group : English, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and one optional subject

Commerce Group : English, Accountancy, Business Studies, Economics, Theory and Practice Management and one optional subject

Arts Group : English, Political Science/Psychology, History/Economics, Geography/Mathematics/Home Science/Sociology/Computer


Optional Subjects : Physical Education, Fine Arts, Music vocal or instrumental, classic or dance


As the syllabus of CBSE schools is same in the entire country, the students need not suffer with the transfers of their parents from one part of the country to other. Grading will be given for the students from 6th to 10th class on the basis of their performances in curricular and extra-curricular activities. Due to this, there will be no pressure on the students for getting good marks. All colleges in India do recognize CBSE courses. However, most of the colleges in various states are giving preference in admissions for state board students only. It should be remembered that the CBSE syllabus does not give much preference for arts and literature.

In Kerala, several CBSE students are opting for state syllabus in their Intermediate course. They think that If they opted for the state syllabus, they can get more marks in Intermediate and have more chances of admission to professional colleges in the state. However, the state board syllabus is useful for those who want to study in state-level universities only and take up jobs at state level.

Council for The Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE)

This is a private sector board. This is also called ICSE. This board conducts Indian Certificate Secondary Education (ICSE) examination for tenth class students and Indian School Certificate (ISC) examination for Inter students. This board looks after the issues of finalization of curriculum and syllabus and conducting the examinations from nursery to Intermediate. However, the syllabus and other things of CISCE are different from that of CBSE. The standards of CISCE syllabus is tougher than CBSE. Here, the education is such that the student will have a chance of developing in all fields and gain practical knowledge. Several universities around the world are recognizing the CISCE due to its valuable educational standards.

The curriculum of CISCE is similar to that of some foreign universities. So, those students who want to go abroad later can opt to study CISCE syllabus. Equal importance is given to science, arts, language, Mathematics and others. In Intermediate, one can choose the subjects they like. There is no chance to shift to other boards in the middle of a course and the fees is too high. 

The ICSE and ISC students have to study in new syllabus from 2018. The syllabus of history, civics, geography, mathematics and physics is going to be changed. The work load on 9th and 10th class students will be decreased. Now, there are 2,157 ICSE schools in India. The University of Cambridge constituted the board in 1958.

Details of subjects

10th class Compulsory subjects : English, History, Civics, Geography and any Indian language

Additional subjects : Any two of Mathematics,Science, Environmental Science, Computer Science, Agricultural Science, Commercial Studies, Technical Drawing, Foreign Language, Classical Language and Economics.

Third optional subject can be any one of Computer Applications, Economic Applications, Commercial Applications, Arts, Performing Arts, Home Science, Cookery, Fashion Designing, Physical Education, Technical Drawing Applications, Yoga and Environmental Applications.

Intermediate Subjects

Along with English, environmental education and Socially useful productive work are the compulsory subjects here.

Three to five subjects have to be chosen by any student out of the following: Indian language, Modern foreign language, classical language, English literature, history, political science, geography, sociology, psychology, economics, commerce, accounts, business studies, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, home science, fashion designing, electricity and electronics, engineering science, computer science, geometrical and mechanical drawing, geometrical and building drawing, arts, music, physical education, environmental science and biotechnology.

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Differences between CBSE and ICSE 

There are English and Hindi media in CBSE, while the medium of instruction is only English in ICSE.

For writing the CBSE examinations, the students need not study compulsorily in the schools recognized by it. But, for writing ICSE examinations, the students have to study in those schools which are recognized by it.

The CBSE has the approval of Government of India. But there is no approval for the ICSE. However, the certificates issued by both CBSE and ICSE have good recognition around the world. All Indian colleges and universities are recognizing the CBSE. Similalrly,CISCE is being recognized in several countries around the world.

Command over CBSE syllabus is helpful for good performance in engineering and medical entrance examinations along with some competitive examinations. CBSE syllabus is easier than ICSE. It focuses on science and mathematics, while ICSE gives equal importance to all the subjects.

As per the research findings of NCERT, the present school system in India is an examination- based one. The study says that most of the concentration is now on curricular activity and that too remembering the learnt aspects. The study made it clear that critical thinking, problem solving, creative ability are also needed for the  all round development of a student along with curricular activities. The experts feel that there is a place for skill improvement and creativity in ICSE.

State boards

There are boards in each state to prepare the syllabus, supervise the standards and for conducting examinations. All these boards are running under the respective state governments and have the approval of the Central and state governments. In Telugu states, there is an SSC Board for 10th class and Intermediate Board for Intermediate course. The schools teaching State syllabus charge lesser fees than CBSE schools. As state syllabus gives preference for local issues, it is convenient for those students who want to write state-level entrance examinations.

In state syllabus schools, preference is given for the medium of local language. Studying in state board syllabus is easier than that of other boards. Here, the students follow the process of by-hearting. Basic facilities are less and the chapters are not updated every year. This process of updating is generally too late. The syllabus is different from one state to another one. However, one of the main advantages of these students is that the availability of textbooks and teachers is high. Not only these boards, there are International Baccalaureate and IGCSE for students.

International Baccalaureate (IB)

IB is an international education foundation based in Geneva. The organisation is popular around the world. In this organisation, Primary Years Program is conducted for classes between KG to 5th classes, Middle Years Program is conducted for classes between 6th to 10th classes, while Diploma Years Program is conducted for 11th and 12th classes. Complete freedom is given to the students. The focus is on analytical skills, language, arts and humanities. In 11th and 12th classes, the students have to choose one subject from each group. In addition to these, the students have to choose one core subject. The parents can give the option to their children to study IB if they have an intention of joining any foreign university later. The cost of education is higher at IB than those at CBSE and ICSE. The students who have studied at other schools can't write IB examination. Tutors are rarely available for the students who want to go for private tuitions.

International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE)

As in the name, the syllabus here is filled with international topics. In CBSE, there is a national curriculum. In the IGCSE, one certification is given for every subject. In core curriculum, the subjects are first and second languages, Mathematics and one science subject. In addition to those, one optional subject is there. The knowledge of a candidate is tested on the basis of a written examination and interview. This syllabus here is convenient for those students who want to study abroad.


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