What Is the ICSE Board?

The Council for Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) was established in 1958 to manage the examinations conducted in India by Cambridge University. This council administers the Indian School Certificate Examination (ICSE) for 10th grade and the Indian School Certificate (ISC) for 12th grade. It is a private national-level education board in India that advocates for English as the medium of instruction. Only the regular students from the affiliated colleges of ICSE are allowed to appear in this examination. Private students are not allowed for this examination.    

Key Highlights of ICSE Board

The Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) board is renowned for its rigorous academic standards and comprehensive curriculum. With a focus on holistic education and English as the medium of instruction, the ICSE board prepares students for a wide range of academic and professional pursuits.

Key Highlights Description
Full Form Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE)
Curriculum A comprehensive and well-structured curriculum

Emphasis on English language and literature

Subjects Offered Range of subjects including languages, sciences, and humanities

Focus on a broad and balanced education

Assessment System Continuous and comprehensive evaluation approach

Emphasis on application-based learning

Board Recognition Recognized by various education boards and institutions

Global acceptance of higher education

Holistic Education Integration of co-curricular and extracurricular activities

Encourages overall personality development

Affiliated Schools Network of schools across India and abroad

Varied educational institutions offering ICSE curriculum

Rigorous Examination Standards Standardized and rigorous examination processes

Maintain high academic standards

Focus on the English Language Strong emphasis on English language proficiency

Aids in enhancing communication skills

Balanced Education Approach Strives for a balanced and well-rounded education

Prepares students for diverse career paths

Established Year 1958
Governing Body Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE)


History and Establishment of ICSE

After India gained independence, there was a need to replace the Cambridge School Certificate Examination with an Indian equivalent. This led to the convening of the All India Certificate Examinations Conference in 1952, chaired by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, with the aim of addressing this issue. It was during this conference that the agenda for establishing a Council for the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education was formulated.

Subsequently, in October 1956, a proposal to establish an Indian Council to administer the Cambridge examination was approved during a meeting of the Inter-State Board for Anglo-Indian Education. This marked the birth of the Council, with its inaugural meeting taking place on November 3, 1958. In December 1967, the Council officially registered itself as a Society. Then, in 1973, the Council was included in a parliamentary act as a registered body responsible for conducting public exams in India.

ICSE Curriculum Details

The ICSE curriculum is structured into three groups that students must adhere to. 

  • Group 1 includes compulsory subjects such as languages, second language, history, civics, and geography. 
  • Group 2 encompasses mandatory subjects like mathematics, science, and environmental science. In
  • Group 3, students can choose one subject from options like computer application, art, physical education, or technical drawing application.

In class ten, ICSE students are required to select seven subjects from these three groups, with four being compulsory and three being of their choice. The CISCE administers an all-school-level ICSE Board exam for subjects including English, Math, and Social Studies. Furthermore, it is crucial for students to achieve a minimum of 33% in ICSE and 35% in ISC of the total marks to pass the CISCE exam. This passing criterion holds significant importance for every student.

Overview of ICSE Syllabus:

  • For Class 1 to Class 5: The ICSE syllabus for these classes focuses on building a strong foundation in subjects such as English, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and Languages. It aims to introduce students to fundamental concepts and develop their cognitive abilities.
  • For Class 6 to Class 8: In these classes, the ICSE syllabus expands to include more advanced topics in subjects like Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, and Languages. The curriculum aims to deepen students’ understanding of key concepts and prepare them for higher-level learning.
  • For Class 9 and Class 10: The ICSE syllabus for these classes becomes more specialized, with a focus on preparing students for the board examinations. It includes in-depth study of subjects such as Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History, Geography, and Languages, providing a strong academic foundation for future pursuits.

Advantages of ICSE Board

The ICSE board offers several distinct advantages that contribute to a well-rounded and comprehensive educational experience for students. From its emphasis on in-depth learning to its global recognition, the ICSE board provides numerous benefits that shape students into articulate, skilled, and well-prepared individuals.

Advantages of ICSE Board:

  • In-depth curriculum coverage ensures thorough understanding of concepts
  • Wide range of subject choices for students
  • Emphasis on developing English fluency and articulation
  • Focus on practical problem-solving skills alongside academic excellence
  • Global recognition by higher education institutions
  • Holistic approach to education, nurturing well-rounded individuals

What Is The Marking Scheme In ICSE Board?

In the ICSE board, the marks calculation follows a specific formula. For English, the average of English Language and English Literature marks is considered. Similarly, for Science, the average of Physics, Chemistry, and Biology marks is taken into account. The marks for Social Science are calculated as the average of History and Geography. Additionally, Math, an optional subject, and the second language are also factored in. Out of the six subjects, the best five are selected, and the subject with the lowest marks is excluded from the percentage calculation. The marks of the remaining five subjects are added together, divided by 5, and then multiplied by 100 to obtain the final percentage.

  • Group I consists of compulsory subjects, with English, a second language, and History, Civics, and Geography. These subjects are evaluated with 80% weightage for external examination and 20% weightage for internal examination. 
  • Group II includes Mathematics, Science (Physics, Chemistry, Biology), Economics, Commercial Studies, Modern Foreign Language, Classical Language, and Environmental Science. Students can choose any two or three of these subjects, each with 80% weightage for external examination and 20% weightage for internal examination. 
  • Group III comprises subjects such as Computer Applications, Economic Applications, Commercial Applications, Art, Performing Arts, Home Science, Cookery, Fashion Designing, Physical Education, Yoga, Technical Drawing Applications, and Environmental Applications. Each subject in Group III is evaluated with a 50% weightage for both external and internal examinations.

Difference Between ICSE and CBSE Board

The ICSE board offers a diverse curriculum with a wide range of languages and subjects, including creative fields like agriculture, home science, humanities, arts, and cooking. In contrast, the CBSE board focuses more on theoretical knowledge, particularly in the areas of Science and Mathematics. Additionally, the ICSE certificate is recognized globally, facilitating easier enrollment in foreign institutions for students wishing to pursue studies abroad. It’s important to note that while the ICSE board is an Indian national examination, the IGCSE is an international-based curriculum and recognized board. Choosing the ICSE education provides students with a strong foundation in English, giving them a competitive advantage. Therefore, the choice of board and school plays a crucial role in shaping a child’s future.

Difference Between ICSE and State Board

The ICSE, a national-level board, offers a standardized curriculum across India, emphasizing a wide range of subjects and a holistic educational experience. In contrast, State Boards operate at the regional level, tailoring their curriculum to the specific needs of each region, leading to variations in subjects, teaching methods, and academic focus. Additionally, the assessment methods and recognition of certifications can differ between the two systems. Ultimately, the choice between ICSE and State Board education depends on the student’s academic goals, career aspirations, and the unique offerings of each board.

Challenges of the ICSE Board

The challenges within the ICSE curriculum encompass its detailed syllabi, demanding academic rigor, time management requirements, and the need for a deep understanding of subjects. Students often face the task of balancing multiple subjects with varying complexities, requiring adept time management skills. The depth of the curriculum can pose a challenge in terms of covering extensive material while maintaining a thorough comprehension. Additionally, the rigorous assessment pattern, including coursework and exams, demands consistent dedication and adaptation to varied evaluation methods. Understanding these challenges is essential for students to strategize their study approach effectively within the ICSE framework.

Tips for Success in ICSE

Success within the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) curriculum involves strategic planning, dedicated effort, and a well-rounded approach to learning. Navigating the challenges of this comprehensive curriculum requires students to adopt effective study habits and techniques. Here are some key tips aimed at aiding students in their pursuit of success within the ICSE framework:

  • Understand the Syllabus: Familiarize yourself thoroughly with the ICSE syllabus, understanding the depth and breadth of each subject’s content.
  • Effective Time Management: Create a study schedule that allocates time for each subject, ensuring balanced attention to all areas while allowing for revisions and practice.
  • Resource Utilization: Utilize diverse study resources such as textbooks, reference materials, online resources, and previous years’ question papers to gain a comprehensive understanding.
  • Regular Revision: Consistent revision aids in solidifying concepts. Allocate time regularly to revise previously covered topics to maintain a strong grasp on the subjects.
  • Practice with Mock Tests: Regularly attempt mock tests or sample papers to familiarize yourself with the exam pattern, manage time effectively, and assess your preparation level.
  • Seek Clarifications: Don’t hesitate to seek clarification from teachers or peers whenever encountering doubts or difficulties. Understanding concepts thoroughly is key to success.

Is ICSE Harder Than CBSE

Comparing the difficulty levels between ICSE and CBSE is subjective and complex. ICSE is recognized for its comprehensive curriculum, detailed syllabi, and emphasis on in-depth learning. On the other hand, CBSE is known for its structured approach and application-based learning. The perceived difficulty often varies based on individual preferences, learning styles, and the ability to adapt to different assessment patterns. Both boards possess unique structures and evaluation methods, leading to perceptions regarding their difficulty levels. Exploring the nuances of each curriculum can shed light on their respective challenges and strengths.

Future Career Opportunities After ICSE Education

There are abundant prospects and significant potential for students who opt for an ICSE education. The ICSE curriculum is consistently updated and incorporates innovative teaching methodologies. ICSE schools and boards prioritize fostering students’ analytical thinking, providing them with a broad global exposure and a wealth of educational content. This robust foundation facilitates students’ pursuit of higher education abroad. Additionally, due to their strong English proficiency, students in ICSE boards have a distinct advantage in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) examinations.

ICSE Affiliation Process

The process for affiliating with the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) involves several structured steps that schools must follow to align with the board’s standards and guidelines.

  • The school must secure a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the state government for affiliation to the council.
  • It should be operated by a registered society, trust, or company under Section 25(1)(a) of the Companies Act, 1956, with education as one of its principal purposes.
  • Each school must have a duly constituted governing body and managing committee.
  • The society, trust, or company must be financially stable.
  • The medium of instruction should be English, and the curriculum must align with the council’s guidelines for secondary and higher secondary stages.
  • The staff must possess qualifications and training as prescribed by the council.
  • A compulsory provident fund scheme should be in place.
  • The school infrastructure should be sufficient to accommodate the number and gender of attending pupils.
  • Adequate playing fields and facilities for extra-curricular and co-curricular activities are required.
  • The school must have the necessary equipment for efficient teaching, including apparatus for practical work.
  • The number of working days and hours should adhere to the council’s regulations.
  • The Certificate of Land is a mandatory document to be submitted electronically in a prescribed format for provisional affiliation.

Frequently Asked Questions About CBSE

Understanding the nuances of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) often involves clarifying common misconceptions and queries that students and parents have about this educational board.

Q1. Is the ICSE an International Board?

No, the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) is a national board recognized in India. It’s known for its comprehensive curriculum but isn’t classified as an international board.

Q2. What is the Abbreviation of ICSE?

ICSE stands for the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education, a standardized board examination in India.

Q3. Which Subjects Are Compulsory in Best of Five ICSE?

In the ICSE’s ‘Best of Five’ system, English is compulsory. Students can choose four other subjects from specific groups, including languages, sciences, humanities, and vocational subjects.

Q4. Does ICSE Follow NCERT?

ICSE doesn’t strictly follow the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) curriculum. It has its own curriculum designed to offer a comprehensive and detailed education system.

Q5. What is the Meaning of ICSE?

The acronym ICSE stands for the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education, representing a standardized examination conducted by the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE).

Q6. Is the ICSE Board Exam Easy?

The difficulty level of the ICSE board exams is subjective and varies from student to student. Generally, the ICSE curriculum is detailed and comprehensive, requiring students to have a deep understanding of subjects, making it challenging for some.


The ICSE board offers a comprehensive and rigorous educational experience, preparing students for a wide array of academic and professional pursuits. From its in-depth syllabus to the numerous benefits it provides, including global recognition and a focus on holistic education, the ICSE board stands as a pillar of quality education in India. With a network of esteemed schools and a curriculum designed to foster analytical thinking and practical knowledge, the ICSE board continues to shape well-rounded individuals equipped for success in the modern world.