Education Boards in India: ICSE, CBSE, IB, NIOS, and State Boards

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Being a multicultural nation with 28 states, 7 union territories and 23 constitutional languages, India has its unique education system with a wide range of education boards at the national and state levels. Presently, the four primary education boards in India are the CISCE, IB, CBSE, and the State Board respectively. However, Educational boards in India are very modern and quite insightful when it comes to fulfilling quality education for students. Many innovative and modern education boards also have become popular in India during the last few years. In this blog, we will take you through the different Education Boards in India

Read Decoding the New Education Policy in India

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Top 10 Education Boards in India

The following are the types of boards used in schools:

Also Read: CBSE vs State Boards

State Boards

State Boards are unique to each State and follow separate syllabi and ranking criteria. Amongst the top Education Boards in India, each state board does have its educational strategy, that induces a variation in the curriculum from one state to the other in India. It emphasizes state-level subjects and material of local interest that lets students study for state-level engineering and medical entrance exams. The syllabus is generally constrained relative to several other boards. Regional languages and heritage have a key role in the curriculum. Some state boards recently directed all the schools to implement NCERT books exclusively, which are essential for students to study for pan-India exams. 

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Features of State Boards in India

  1. Tend to approach a regional-based program and syllabus. 
  2. Typically, they teach or use state language as a component and a medium of instruction. 
  3. State Boards conduct primary and mid-level examinations. Many board exams generally keep only secondary examinations, i.e. 10th and 12th grades. 

Favored By

  • This Education Board in India is preferred by Civil Service Examination Candidates 
  • Students who are drawn towards athletics or related extracurricular events because the workload is comparatively low. 
  • Parents who want their ward to continue to study at a university closer to home 
  • Parents who want their ward to be part of local culture and traditions 
  • Parents who want to pay reasonably affordable fees

Also Read: CBSE Single Girl Child Scholarship

Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE)

CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education is considered to be among the most prominent and perhaps most widely acknowledged Education Boards in India. CBSE has accomplished this since it applies to implementing conventional teaching structures for most schools in the nation. This is also the national level board followed by several private as well as public schools across the country. The Board administers exams for both private and regular students. Candidates seeking to follow distance learning can register for admissions and apply for assessments. After grade 10, CBSE provides its students with a range of subjects in the areas of science, commerce, and humanities. Upon graduating in class 12, students can apply to multiple universities for higher education.

Also Read:

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Features of the CBSE Board

  1. CBSE Board is typically perceived to be more difficult than State Boards or the other Education Boards in India  due to the grading system
  2. Primary students (grades 1–5) study vocabulary and social progress. 
  3. Grade 6–10 high school students pursue science, mathematics, English, and supplementary languages. 
  4. Art, dance as well and other activities are all part of the course. 
  5. Conducts two exams—the Grade 10 All India Secondary School Examination and the Grade 12 All India Senior School Certificate Examination. 
  6. Continuous Comprehensive Assessment (CCE) from Grades 6 to 10 also has commenced. The goal is to assess students during the entire year instead of a standard examination after each year. 

Favored By

  • Applicants for medical or engineering examinations, such as the JEE
  • Parents of students whose jobs need them to travel across India because it’s likely to change different schools 
  • Students who wish to study overseas in CBSE schools. Teaching methods can vary between countries. 
  • Parents who wish to have a common ground in terms of expenses between state boards and IB/ICSE

Also Read: Difference Between ICSE and CBSE

Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE)

ICSE or Indian Certificate for Secondary Education has a great program that reflects on the principles and fundamentals of theories. It is another one of the practical Education Boards in India. The Council for Indian School Certificate Examination is a private school board in India. The goal of this Board is to conduct a basic education analysis, in compliance with the suggestions of the New Education Policy 1986 (India), through the English medium. Applicants appearing for the exam must study six subjects, with one to three papers per subject. This makes up for a total of eight to eleven papers, based mostly on subjects. The tests of ICSE select the most suitable five out of six subjects. However, English markings are obligatory and are carried out comprehensively.

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Features of ICSE

  1. The ICSE Board focuses on the entire development of the student. 
  2. The ICSE curriculum provides equal emphasis to all subjects and also provides versatility in the selection of particular subjects. 
  3. ICSE also includes fair weighting for languages, arts, and humanities. This makes for a much more integrated, balanced, and comprehensive learning. 
  4. Its use of English as a means of teaching reflects the development of language proficiency.

Favored By

  • Parents of students whose jobs need them to travel across India because it’s likely to change different schools 
  • Parents who want their wards to study abroad and develop strong English communication skills.
  • Students take up this Education Board in India because they aspire to study STEM-related subjects in their higher education.

Also Read: Best ICSE Schools in India

Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE)

CISCE is a privately run national Education Board in India that governs the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) as well as the Indian School Certificate (ISC) for classes starting from 10 and 12 respectively. It was formed in 1958. Over 2,100 schools in India and abroad are associated with the CISCE. Each year, in February and March, the Council holds assessments for Classes 10 and 12. The Board administers exams for regular students exclusively. The key goal of ICSE is to offer high-quality education to students via a rational approach. This Education Board in India allows students to choose amongst different streams/subjects for Class 12 by placing equal emphasis on science, humanities, and language courses, particularly English. The above ICSE syllabus also comes under the CISCE board.

Features of CISCE

  1. CISCE places a huge emphasis on tasks instead of on text learning which is more practical and application-based than CBSE. 
  2. It relies more on language and the arts 
  3. The CISCE Board offers a wider range and a greater selection of subjects than CBSE. 

Favored By

  • Students who understand more in practical approach than in theory  and those who love the humanities and languages 
  • Parents whose jobs require them to travel around the country or abroad because it’s possible to adapt to different schools 
  • Parents who wish their children to study overseas as accredited by Cambridge International Exams (CIE) 
  • Parents want a more economical and foreign alternative compared to CIE.

National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS)

The goal of the National Open Schooling Institute (NIOS) is to make the educational system versatile and free for all students. It was one of India’s many student-friendly education Boards in India. It is child-centric and helps the student to make choices on what to learn, how to learn, and when to learn. The NIOS is a national board that holds secondary and post-secondary exams comparable to the CBSE as well as the CISCE. It also provides a college education after secondary school. NIOS currently enrolled nearly 3,50,000 students annually, making it one of the largest open school facilities in the nation. NIOS holds panel reviews twice per year in March/April and September/October.

Features of NIOS 

  1. Open Basic Education (OBE) refers to primary education which is equal to classes 3 to 8. This refers to fundamental mathematics, earth sciences, and computer knowledge 
  2. Throughout Grade 10, topics are drawn from two basic classes of at least five subjects and one language. 
  3. For grade 12, there are more opportunities available in trade, science, and humanities. They have been further split into five classes, with students selecting one or two out of each class. 
  4. The NOIS Board also conducts vocational (commerce) training.  
  5. The Board always conducts the OBE exams and also the two primary exams for the Secondary and Upper Secondary curriculum. 
  6. Students may take up to five years to finish their exams. 

Favored By  

  • Students in remote and rural areas
  • Students who intend to finish their studies later on in life 
  • Students who want to study in a self-improved atmosphere

Here is a detailed guide to Homeschooling in India!

International Baccalaureate (IB)

The International Baccalaureate is a non-profit academic corporation that is one of the top-tier Education Boards in India ensuring greater educational services for students aged 3 and 19 years of age. The schools of the IB are deemed prestigious and, at the same period costly. It is a privately run multinational academic organization with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. It has three major programs: the Primary Year KG to Class 5, the Middle Year Program for Class 6 to Class 10, and the Graduation Program for Class 11 and Class 12. 

This Education Board in India is accessible in 144 countries and around 3,500 schools and educational institutions globally. The IB Board provides an opportunity for students in academic institutions to apply to other universities without several additional examinations. The curriculum means teaching critical skills, vocabulary, arts, and humanities. Here, topics are taught in an interconnected manner to prevent a fractured approach. Usually, IB is favoured by parents of students who’ve been planning to travel internationally.


  1. PYP (until age 11) incorporates algebra, physics, natural sciences, and languages. 
  2. MYP (ages 11–16) has 8 content classes, namely languages, physics, mathematics, art, and architecture. Students have to have a minimum of 50 hours of instruction in each study cohort and a specific assignment. 
  3. DP (aged 16–19) consists of three main modules: a thesis article, a critical thought project called information theory) and the youth service. 
  4. PYP depends on a school-based internal evaluation. When it comes to MYP, each study category uses 4 indicators to identify the pupil’s performance in the topic. The grades of the 4 indicators are applied and updated to a grade of 7. DP is based on a point scale, with 45 being the highest point you can get. 

Favored By  

  • Students who wish to perform highly in critical analysis 
  • Students who can deal with challenging academic work 
  • Students hoping to explore and pursue their education overseas, perhaps with parents who have careers that will take them abroad. 
  • Parents who are prepared to pay high fees

Want to more about the Current Education System of India? Click here!

Cambridge International Examinations (CIE)

Formed in 1858, CIE offers international credentials to 10,000 school systems in 160 countries. Cambridge International Exams offers globally accredited certificates and examinations in more than 150 countries around the world. CIE credentials are accepted for entry by UK universities (including Oxford and Cambridge), the United States (All-Ivy League Universities), Canada, the European Union, the Middle East, West Asia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. It is also one of the highly preferred Education Boards in India.


  1. Instructional methods are incredibly useful for children to learn and develop in a particular way. 
  2. One major benefit of CIE is that it promotes creativity at a higher level, encouraging the student to understand outside classrooms. 
  3. Instructors are supplied with a lot of resources that support them, making studying especially fun for learners. Primary and secondary students can take the Main Stage exams at Cambridge. The key examinations, however, are the IGCSE, the AS level, and the A-level exams. 

Favored by 

  • Students who understand more in experience and practical approach than in theory 
  • Parents looking to travel overseas or to send their children abroad to study 
  • Parents are ready to pay increased expenses for foreign education. 

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In India, how many national-level educational bodies are there?

CBSE, CISCE, and NIOS are the three primary national-level educational boards.

Which is the most difficult board in India?

Each board has a distinct level of difficulty. Students just need to plan ahead of time to prepare for and do well on tests.

Is it simple for CBSE board students to pass competitive exams?

Students from all boards can pass competitive examinations provided they follow the approved syllabus and prepare systematically.

Thus, these are the most popular Education Boards in India. All these comparisons do not allow one to conclude which education board is better than the other. Planning to pursue higher studies abroad after school education? Our Leverage Edu experts will guide you through the process of shortlisting courses and university as well as throughout the admission process. Sign up for a free session with us today! Call us immediately at 1800 57 2000 for a free 30-minute counselling session.

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  1. My daughter passed 10th from SSC board now planing to send her abroad after 12th for further study, looking for A level study for 11th&12th.std. Pl suggest.

  2. The best of the best detailed analysis.
    Even a layman can understand the thin layer comparison between boards. God bless you for your good work. Keep growing.