IGCSE or CBSE which is better for students?

Written By Ketan | Edited By Varsha & Adi | Updated on 24th Jan, 2024

Standing at the crossroads of education, you might be wondering which path to take. Whether you are considering CBSE or IGCSE curriculum, both of these curricula are really good, it is important to consider the pros and cons of each. These two curricula offer unique approaches to learning, and it’s crucial to find the right fit for your child’s needs. Both have a reputation for academic excellence and offer a comprehensive curriculum that emphasizes critical thinking and problem-solving. But IGCSE or CBSE, which is better? Let’s get into it.

Quick Summary

IGCSE or CBSE which is better?
  1. Understanding IGCSE Board
  2. Understanding CBSE Board Education
  3. Breaking It Down: IGCSE vs CBSE
  4. The Challenge in Shifting Boards
  5. Student POV on IGCSE and CBSE
  6. Varsha and Adi’s Take 
  7. FAQs on IGCSE and ICSE

1.  Understanding IGCSE Board

1. Understanding IGCSE Board

IGCSE is a program that covers a bunch of school subjects but does it in a way that’s super practical. It’s like learning things in a really useful way, not just from books. It’s known all around the world and helps you understand how what you learn can be used in real life, making it easier to get ready for college or jobs later on.

Curriculum Overview

IGCSE lets you pick what you want to study, from as few as five to as many as 14 subjects. You can choose the level that suits you best.. It’s cool because you get to focus on what you really like without having to do stuff you’re not into. And the best part? When you finish, everyone around the world knows how good you are!

Grading System

The grading system of IGCSE is based on a 9-point scale, where the highest grade is A* and the lowest is G. Here is a breakdown of the grading system –

  • A* and A are the top grades, showing you really get the subject.
  • B and C are considered good grades and indicate solid understanding and performance.
  • D and E are considered pass grades indicating a basic level of understanding and performance.
  • F and G are considered fail grades and indicate a lack of understanding or performance in the subject.

Pros of the IGCSE Curriculum

  1. International recognition – The IGCSE is recognized and accepted by universities and colleges worldwide, making it a valuable qualification for students seeking higher education abroad.
  2. Diverse curriculum – The curriculum has lots of different subjects. You can pick the ones you like best, depending on what you want to do in the future. It’s like a menu with lots of options!.
  3. Focus on practical learning – The curriculum emphasizes practical learning, allowing students to gain hands-on experience and apply their knowledge to real-world situations.
  4. Personalized learning – The IGCSE lets you make school fit you! You can choose what to learn based on what you like and what helps you the most. It’s like making your own school path!

Cons of the IGCSE Curriculum

  1. High cost – The IGCSE education journey may be expensive due to its international focus and comprehensive curriculum.
  2. Strict assessment – The assessment process in IGCSE can be tough, with multiple assessments throughout the year, which may be stressful for some students.
  3. Limited scope for experimentation – The curriculum may not allow for much experimentation in terms of subjects or teaching methods, which could be a drawback for students who are looking for more flexibility.

2. Understanding CBSE

2. Understanding CBSE

CBSE is like a major education boss in India, handling schools from high school to senior classes. It’s well-known because it has serious studies and also gives importance to sports and other fun things, not just schoolwork.

Curriculum Overview 

CBSE is like an all-in-one education hub. It prepares students for big challenges like competitive exams and higher studies. It covers a lot – languages, sciences, humanities – and focuses on building character and all-round growth.

So, students who are looking for careers in fields like medicine or engineering often go the CBSE route, as it prepares them for the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET).

But it’s not all just about academics. CBSE also encourages students to get involved in extracurricular activities like sports, music, and art. It’s all about creating well-rounded individuals who can take on the world with confidence and skill. So, if you’re looking for an education that goes beyond just academics, CBSE might be just what you’re looking for!

Grading System

Just like IGCSE, the CBSE grading system uses a 9-point scale to measure your performance in each subject. But instead of letters, CBSE uses a combination of letters and numbers to paint a clearer picture of your progress. Think of it as climbing a ladder toward academic excellence!

  • A1 (91-100%) – You’re the star student! This top-grade represents outstanding performance and excellent understanding of the subject. Imagine acing an exam with flying colors!
  • A2 (81-90%) – You’re well on your way to mastering the subject! This high grade shows consistent effort and really understanding the ideas.
  • B1 (71-80%) and B2 (61-70%) – These good grades indicate that you’re taking hold on the key concepts and performing above average. Keep up the good work!
  • C1 (51-60%) and C2 (41-50%) – These average grades tell you that you’re understanding the material but might need some extra effort to climb higher. Remember, practice makes perfect!
  • D1 (31-40%) and D2 (21-30%) – These below-average grades indicate that you might need to work on  your study methods or seek additional help. Don’t worry, with dedication, you can still climb back up!
  • E (Below 21%) – This grade shows there’s a lot to improve. It’s like a signal to figure out what went wrong and try much harder to get better at the subject.

Bonus Points

  • Each subject has its own individual grade, so your performance in Math might be different from your performance in Hindi.
  • Some subjects like Physical Education and Art might use words like “Excellent,” “Good,” or “Needs Improvement” instead of numerical grades.
  • CBSE focuses on Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) throughout the year. This means your grades are based on various assessments like tests, quizzes, projects, and assignments, not just final exams.

Pros of the CBSE Curriculum

  • Strong Learning Base: CBSE teaches important subjects like math, science, and English really well, getting students ready for tough exams and future jobs.
  • Same Quality Everywhere: All schools follow the same curriculum, so everyone gets the same quality education. This helps when applying for colleges or jobs.
  • Learning Beyond Books: CBSE isn’t just about books. It also cares about sports, activities, and life skills to make students well-rounded.
  • Checking How You’re Doing: There are tests and projects all year, so teachers know how students are doing and can help them learn better.
  • Lots of Subjects to Choose: Lots of different subjects are available, from languages to tech stuff. It’s made for everyone’s interests and jobs they want.

Cons of the CBSE Curriculum

  • Stress and Pressure: Exams and high expectations can stress students out, making them anxious.
  • Hard Learning: Teachers can’t change much in what they teach, so it might not suit everyone.
  • Just Memorizing: Trying too hard to do well in exams might make students just memorize, making it tricky to think and be creative.
  • Expensive Schools: Really good CBSE schools, especially private ones, can cost a lot and might not be possible for some kids to go to if they don’t have much money.

3. Breaking It Down: IGCSE vs CBSE

3. Breaking It Down: IGCSE vs CBSE

Choosing between IGCSE and CBSE can be confusing! Here’s a breakdown of their key differences to help you decide:

  1. Syllabus

IGCSE: Lots of different subjects (more than 70!), not just the usual ones. You can pick what you like and learn about the world. It’s also about using what you learn in real life.

CBSE: It’s all about the same subjects across the country like Science, Math, English, and Social Sciences. They really focus on making you understand these subjects well for college.

  1. Difficulty Level

IGCSE: Usually a bit easier than CBSE, especially in basic subjects, but some IGCSE subjects can be hard depending on what you choose.

CBSE: Tougher, especially in Math and Science. It focuses on memorizing but also understanding for tough exams.

  1. Grading

IGCSE – Uses a letter-based system (A*-G) with emphasis on clear understanding and performance across different assessment methods (projects, coursework, exams).

CBSE – Employs a 9-point scale (A1-E) with a focus on numerical score achievement in various assessments throughout the year.

4. The Challenge in Shifting Boards

IGCSE vs ICSE : Syllabus

IGCSE Subjects:

The IGCSE curriculum unfolds with a focus on foundational subjects like First Language, Second Language, Mathematics, and one or more Science subjects. These subjects find their homes in various groups—Languages, Humanities and Social Sciences, Sciences, Mathematics, and Creative, Technical, and Vocational. 

IGCSE to CBSE: Switching might be a bit easier because some subjects are similar. But be ready for CBSE’s harder core subjects.

CBSE to IGCSE: Changing might be tough because IGCSE has more and faster stuff to learn. You might need extra work in some subjects.

  1. Additional Considerations

University Recognition – Both the IGCSE and CBSE curriculums are liked by universities everywhere. They teach things well, getting students ready for good colleges all around the world. People who finish these programs have the skills colleges really like, making them wanted by lots of top universities.

School Availability – IGCSE is offered in fewer schools compared to CBSE in India.

Cost: IGCSE schools can be more expensive than traditional CBSE schools.

5. Student POV on IGCSE and CBSE


  • Many students find the curriculum to be more flexible and customized to their individual interests.
  • Some students may find the grading system to be less stressful, as it places less emphasis on rote learning and more on critical thinking and creativity.


  • Some students may find the curriculum to be too tough and stressful.
  • Some students may find the grading system to be more competitive, leading to increased pressure to achieve high grades.

6. Varsha and Adi’s Take 

Choosing the right curriculum for your child is key. We’ll share tips and our perspective to help you decide wisely. It’s about finding what suits your child best, making the learning journey enjoyable and impactful.

Tips for Choosing Between IGCSE and CBSE

Think about your goals

  • IGCSE: Want a wider choice of subjects, focus on independent thinking, and prepare for international study? IGCSE might be your jam!
  • CBSE: Prefer a standard curriculum with a strong focus on core subjects and preparing for Indian entrance exams? CBSE could be a good fit.

Consider your learning style

  • IGCSE: Like applying what you learn, solving problems creatively, and doing projects? IGCSE’s hands-on approach might work for you.
  • CBSE: Prefer rote learning and clear-cut explanations? CBSE’s traditional style might be a good match.

Think about your future plans

  • IGCSE: Planning to study abroad or want a globally recognized qualification? IGCSE opens doors worldwide.
  • CBSE: Aiming for Indian universities or entrance exams like JEE/NEET? CBSE is the way to go.

Talk to people

  • Chat with students from both boards, teachers, and even your parents! Their experiences can be super helpful.


  • Both boards offer good education, so it’s more about finding the best fit for YOU.
  • Don’t stress too much, choose based on your strengths and goals.

Our Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, choosing between CBSE and IGCSE comes down to you and your goals. So, take a moment to think about what’s important to you and what fits your style.

And don’t forget, this is a pretty big decision that can shape your future, so it’s worth taking some time to think about it carefully. But don’t stress too much – you’ve got this, and we’re here to help guide you along the way!


  1. How do CBSE and IGCSE assessments differ?

CBSE examinations generally test rote learning and theoretical knowledge with a fixed syllabus. IGCSE assessments focus on understanding and application through a wider range of subjects, coursework, and examinations that emphasize critical thinking and practical skills.

  1. Which curriculum is more suitable for higher education abroad?

Both CBSE and IGCSE are recognized globally, but IGCSE might offer an advantage due to its international recognition and alignment with various international educational systems. It might be preferred for students aiming for higher education abroad.

  1. Can a student switch between CBSE and IGCSE mid-academic year?

Switching during the school year could be tricky because the ways of teaching and what you learn are different. But it could work if you switch at certain times, like the start of a new year.

So, Which one is better?

Deciding between IGCSE and CBSE isn’t a simple choice. It depends on factors like how a student learns, what they like, and what they’re good at.

CBSE is known for its comprehensive approach, mix theory and practical aspects, which some find challenging.

On the other hand, IGCSE emphasizes critical thinking and practical application, which can pose a difficulty for students managing multiple subjects and assessments.

Choosing the right fit depends on the student’s strengths, learning style, and preferences. Consider these factors carefully to determine which curriculum aligns better with your child’s abilities. Best of luck with your decision!

Varsha & Adi

Hi, we are Varsha and Adi, and we’re on a mission to help parents make the right choice for their kids’ education. Picking a school is like a 10-year commitment, and we realized parents needed clear, no-nonsense info. That’s why we created Candid Schools, where you can get the real deal on schools without the fancy jargon. Our goal is simple: to give parents the info they need to make the best choice for their little ones.

Related Posts