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A Simple Guide To Know the Difference Between ICSE and IGCSE

By Srija MahalanobishOctober 21, 2022
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Needless to say that quality education plays a vital role in the overall development of an individual. As the trend of internationally-affiliated schools in India is at its peak, many parents are facing a dilemma about which board is better for their child’s education and career goals.

Whether they should go for ICSE or IGCSE board, what is the difference between ICSE and IGCSE? In India, both education boards are recognised by the Government of India, the Higher Education Department, and the Ministry of Human Resource Development. Both of them offer different curriculum and assessment modes as well as have their own merits in terms of their academic reputation and standards. 

Most people trust anything which is supported or has been endorsed by the government or any other relevant body. As such, deciding what to opt for becomes a tedious task for the parents. This article will help you get a complete understanding of the difference between ICSE and IGCSE. To start, let’s look at:

Also Read: This is What You Need to Know about ICSE Class 12 Exams 2023

IGCSE vs ICSE: Overview

Full Form of ICSE and IGCSE:

The full form of ICSE is the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education, whereas IGCSE stands for International General Certificate of Secondary Education.

Overview of ICSE

The ICSE (Indian Certificate of Secondary Education) is a general board that conducts the examination under CISCE (Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations). It is a private board for the students studying in Class 10th. 

The board is designed to test students in a course of general education following all the suggestions made by the New Education Policy, 1986 with English. The Board focuses on students’ overall growth.

Overview of IGCSE

The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) is an international student body that follows the British Curriculum. It is an English-based examination that was developed by the University of Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) and is widely recognised by institutions around the world. This board is considered an international alternative to many national curricula. 

There are two boards that facilitate the IGCSE board - the Cambridge Assessment International Education and the Pearson Edexcel. This board focuses on the core subjects along with their practical applications. IGCSE is a two-year program with a comprehensive and flexible program. Students can select their subjects from 6 separate subject groups. They must pick a minimum of 5 subjects from several areas but they can also take up to a maximum of 14 subjects.

Keep reading to know the major differences between ICSE and IGCSE educational boards and decide “Is ICSE better or IGCSE”.

Difference Between ICSE and IGCSE

The two boards of education ICSE and IGCSE offer a variety of advantages and differ in terms of assessment, curriculum, and in many other factors. Let’s understand them in detail:

1. IGCSE vs ICSE: Subjects 

ICSE Subjects

Students studying with the ICSE board are required to opt for a combination of 6 subjects with the English language mandatory. These subjects are divided into three groups: 1, 2 and 3. Group 1 comprises compulsory subjects while in Group 2, any 2 subjects out of 4 can be chosen. Group 3 students are required to choose 1 subject out of 11. The ICSE subjects are divided as below:

Group 1: (Compulsory Subjects)

  • English

  • Second language

  • History/Civics and Geography

  • S.U.P.W

Group 2

  • Maths

  • Science

  • Economics

  • Commercial Studies

Group 3

  • Technical drawing

  • Computer applications

  • Art

  • Dance

  • Carnatic music

  • Drama

  • Yoga

  • Economic applications

  • Instrumental music

  • Mass media and communication.

  • Modern foreign language.

IGCSE Subjects

In IGCSE Board, students are allowed to opt for a minimum of 5 subjects with a maximum of 14.

The core subjects under the IGCSE are:

  • First Language

  • Second Language

  • Mathematics

  • One or more Sciences subjects.

Subjects are divided into these groups:

  • Languages

  • Humanities and Social Sciences.

  • Sciences

  • Mathematics

  • Creative, Technical, and Vocational.

2. IGCSE vs ICSE : Syllabus

The main difference between IGCSE and ICSE curriculum is that the ICSE curriculum is broad and complete and has an equal span of attention on different subjects including Mathematics, Arts, Home Science, and many more. Contrarily, the IGCSE syllabus is more practical and application-based.

ICSE Syllabus 

The syllabus followed by the ICSE board includes a range of additional subjects such as Science, Maths, Language, Arts, Home Science, Agriculture, Fashion Design, Cookery, etc. with a focus on the English language. 

IGCSE Syllabus

While, on the other hand, IGCSE allows students to choose subjects and courses based on their interests including the subjects of Science, Humanities, Languages, and Mathematics. In other words, students can get a combination of these subjects with the subjects of their interest like Fine Arts, Visual Arts, Technical Drawing, Music, Film-Making, Community Service, etc. 

This way, the IGCSE syllabus helps students improve their analytical, and critical thinking with communication skills. Now you may have an idea which is tougher: ICSE or IGCSE?

The difference between CBSE, ICSE and IGCSE Syllabus is that in the CBSE board, the students are presented with preset combinations of subjects, grouped according to their streams. Therefore, the subject combinations are narrow and consist of a particular field such as Science, Commerce or Humanities.

3. Private Students

Another difference between ICSE and IGCSE is that the ICSE curriculum doesn’t accept private students to take the exam while IGCSE has no such rule.

4. Localised Content

The curriculum of IGCSE supports localised content to be taught in the respective regions whereas ICSE only focuses on the study with common contents.

5. Level

The ICSE is a national-level exam conducted in India while IGCSE is an international-level examination.

6. Grading

IGCSE evaluates students based on a three-tier grading system which includes: Distinction, Merit, and Pass, while ICSE is based on a marks-basis. The students are awarded from Grades A1 to E2 covering from 100 – 0 marks, respectively.

7. Course Duration

The ICSE course duration is of 2 years which includes classes 9th and 10th, while Cambridge IGCSE has a course duration of 2 years.

8. Existence

The ICSE board was founded in 1986 while the IGCSE board was formed in 1988.

Are ICSE and IGCSE the Same?

To state it quite simply, ICSE is an Indian national examination while IGCSE is an international-based curriculum and recognised board. ICSE is a good choice in terms of quality education in India, while IGCSE gives you more freedom to choose subjects and provides a higher international standard of studies. Both of these boards also have some similarities in terms of prioritising the English language. 

Final Verdict!!

Is ICSE better or IGCSE? Both of these boards have their pros and cons but analysing and evaluating them deeply will help parents make an informed decision about their child’s future. Additionally, you need to remember that only considering a broad isn’t enough. You, as parents, should pay equal attention to fee structure and availability of seats. Run thorough research and pick the most suitable one.

FAQs on A Simple Guide To Know the Difference Between ICSE and IGCSE

1. Is ICSE similar to IGCSE?

The ICSE Board has been designed to test students in the course of general education in accordance with the New Education Policy 1986. IGCSE on the other hand, is the International General Certificate of Secondary Education.

2. What's the difference between ICSE and IGCSE?

The ICSE is an examination conducted by the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations(CISCE) while the IGCSE is an English Language-based examination established by the University of Cambridge Assessment International Education(CAIE).

3. Is the IGCSE board better than ICSE?

The ICSE board allows students to opt for a combination of 6 subjects with the English language mandatory while the IGCSE Board allows students to opt for a minimum of 5 subjects with a maximum of 14 as per their interests.