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ICSE Board Explained.

ICSE Explained


ICSE is an acronym for the Indian Certificate of Secondary Examination and is conducted by the CISCE,
or the Council of Indian School Certificate Examinations. The CISCE is a private board and was formed to
represent the Governments of the Indian Union, States, and Union Territories with affiliated schools, and
various associations for Anglo-Indian and Public School education as well as Universities in India.
Contrary to what many people think, ICSE is an examination and not a Board!  The exam is held after
students complete a 10-year general education course in English Medium, on the basis of the guidelines
set out in the New Education Policy of 1986. Prior to this, it came under the aegis of the French Board of
Examination. It is interesting to note that private candidates – students who are not enrolled in CISCE
affiliated schools – are not allowed to take this examination.
As of today there are over 1000 schools affiliated to the CISCE, and they are spread over India, Singapore,
Indonesia and the UAE; 64 subjects are offered, with 23 being Indian languages and 12 foreign languages.

Curriculum and Methodology

The curriculum has been designed intending to the holistic development of children – academic, cultural,
linguistic, artistic, and physical.  Though the core concepts remain same across syllabi, the academic syllabus
for ICSE students is quite extensive, much more flexible, and of a higher level than various State Board and
CBSE curriculum. It is more detailed, balanced, and structured. It aims at providing practical knowledge and
fostering analytical skills in pupils. Equal importance is accorded to all the subjects, as the CISCE gives due
consideration to the diverse skills and talents of individual students. In fact, students can choose specific
subjects based on their strengths and preferences.
In ICSE schools, great importance is placed on learning the English language well, and hence the level of
English taught is usually quite high. Overall, the syllabus is more in step with global education standards.
There is no standardised national level common text book prescribed for the ICSE schools; ergo, they are free
to choose any book that includes the topics that need to be studied for the examination.
The teaching method for CISCE affiliated schools is more interactive and several innovative methods like
audio-visual stimuli, etc. are used. Students of the ICSE syllabus are not expected to learn everything by rote,
or ‘to mug up’, and become bookworms. Hands-on learning and thinking out of the box are encouraged so
that students can put their knowledge to good use when they go out into the world.

Assessments and Examinations

The CISCE believes that internal assessments are critical for the proper academic growth of a student, and
therefore, high importance is accorded to internal evaluation. In addition to that, immense emphasis is placed
on lab work, and the results of the practical tests are aggregated with the overall scores.
In several subjects, the students have to answer multiple examinations; for example, in Science, there are
separate papers for Chemistry, Physics and Biology, and for Social Sciences, there are separate papers for
History & Civics and Geography. This means that the students have to learn each subject in much greater
detail. For such subjects, the average score of all the papers is considered.

Advantages of ICSE

Students who have successfully taken the ICSE are extremely proficient in English, and often find it much
easier to clear English language tests like the TOEFL or IELTS.
The high level of English, and the more exhaustive syllabus gives these students an edge for obtaining
admission in colleges and Universities in foreign countries. ICSE is accepted at all major educational
institutions abroad.
Students who wish to choose careers in English Literature or any similar field, need a high level of English,
Management streams and humanities will find the ICSE extremely helpful.
The ISCE syllabus helps the overall development of a student without labelling them. It enables the nurturing
of their unique strengths and talents, and teaches children to embrace their individuality.


As major entrance examinations for medicine and engineering are based on the NCERT syllabus followed by
the CBSE schools, ICSE students may be somewhere on the negative side.
The syllabus is very detailed and exhaustive, which makes it challenging for students to cope up with.

Notable alumni- Cyrus Poonawalla, Vinod Khanna, Sunit Bharti Mittal, Nargis Dutt.


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