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ICSE: Indian School Certificate Examination / Indian Certificate of Secondary Education

ICSE: Indian School Certificate Examination / Indian Certificate of Secondary Education

Education is the most crucial part of a child's life. This is the reason why guardians always want to be sure about any of the decisions regarding their child's education. The parents, that's why to depend upon the suggestions and advices from the counselor when it comes to picking up an education board for their children.

Introduction: ICSE

ICSE is basically referred to the board that is directed by the Council for the Indian School Certificate (CISCE). ICSE is only obtainable to a limited number of schools nationwide.

The students of the ICSE board are contemplated to be equivalent with the student of CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education), and due to this, lots of differentiation are made among these two boards.

ICSE: Early beginning

In the year 1952, a conference named All India Certificate Examinations Conference was held under the chairmanship of the education minister of India at that time, i.e., Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. The main motive of the All-India Certificate Examinations Conference was to discuss and consider an All-India Examination for the replacement of the overseas Cambridge School Certificate Examination. By this, it set the agenda for the establishment of the board council for the All-India Examination.

Later in the year 1956, a meeting was held (the meeting for the Anglo-Indian Education by the inter-state board), and in the meeting, a proposal was adopted for the establishment of an all-India council that will administer the Cambridge University and Local Examinations Syndicate's Examination in India as well as to advise the Syndicate. The board will advise the Syndicate for the best method by which it adapts its examination according to the needs of the country.

  • The inaugural meeting for the established Council was organized on the 3rd of November, 1958.
  • Later in the December of 1967, the Council was officially registered as an educational society under the Societies Registration Act of 1860.
  • In the year 1973, this Council was finally listed in the Delhi Public Education Act of 1973 as a body that can conduct public education examinations.

Mission of Council

Council of ICSE (Indian Certificate for Secondary Education) is always committed to serving the nation and the children of the nation that are the future of the nation. ICSE is serving the future of the nation by providing the following:

  • High-quality education endeavors,
  • Empowering them to contribute to the human cause,
  • promoting introspective learning,
  • A commitment towards excellence,
  • Just and pluralistic society and,
  • By creating exciting learning opportunities.

The Ethos of the ICSE Council

The ICSE council as a leader in the provisions for endeavors of worldwide education using its wisdom and vast experience to call upon on many forums such as:

  • COBSE (Council of Boards of School Education in India),
  • NCERT (National Council for Educational Research and Training),
  • CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education),
  • The Ministry for Human Resource Development
  • The Planning Commission and,
  • State Board Education.

Affirming the credibility and intrinsic integrity of the board and also the system that it possesses.

To maintain its value and leadership in worldwide education, as we have mentioned above, the ICSE board of Council follows a very high code of ethics that we will discuss in this section of the article.

Following are the ethos values that are followed by the ICSE board of Council:

  • It always looks to cater to the needs of the children
  • It always believes in fair play and trust
  • It believes that all schools should have an 'Indian ethos' code of conduct so that strong roots in the national psyche can be established and to behave a sensitive attitude towards the national aspirations.
  • Council believes in giving freedom of experimenting with new ideas and practices.
  • Council also believes in the minimum level of monitoring (only when required)
  • Council supports plurality and diversity, which is actually the basic strength for the evolution of ideas.
  • It also follows that schools should be allowed to evolve their own niche
  • Board believes that school should motivate its pupils towards the cultivation of the following:

1. Values (Both spiritual and cultural): Schools should cultivate values in their pupils as it is the bedrock of the educational experience.

2. Excellence: School should motivate its pupils for getting excellence both at Indian as well as global level.

National Competitions in ICSE

The ICSE Board conducts the following national level competitions in all its affiliated schools all over India:

  • The Albert Barrow Memorial All-India Inter-School Creative Writing competitions and,
  • The Frank Anthony Memorial All-India Inter-School Debate.

Board believes that conducting these national-level competitions will be underpinning the critical importance of the ability and creativity to articulate one's own thoughts into speech as well as in writing throughout the school education period.

Highlights of ICSE

In this section, we will go through all the highlighted points of ICSE, and through these highlighted points, we will get an overview of it. Following are the highlighted points of the ICSE board of Council that we should look at:

  • ICSE is very well known for its far-reaching curriculum and the wide variety of subjects it provides to the students.
  • The regional or national subjects are not much concentrated in the ICSE as compared to the other boards. The scholars are educated about the world all in all.
  • Only English language is used as the medium of education in ICSE and the subjected that includes language, art and science are primarily targeted to focus on.
  • About 20% of the total marks for each subject are given to the scholars for projects or laboratory tasks. This provides students a base to pragmatically put in all the things they learned in theory.
  • The marking strategy is slightly different from the rest of the boards. The scholars are allotted three groups of subjects and needed to attempt all these three subjects under Group A. The students can opt for two subjects and one subject from Group B and Group C particularly.

Benefits of ICSE

  • The features mentioned above are impressive at first, but before parents arrive at a conclusion, it is very much essential for them to get knowledge about the merits and demerits of studying in ICSE board.
  • The major focus on the English language helps the scholars to accomplish success easily in examinations like TOEFL and many other scholarship tests.
  • The 20% marks for lab work motivate them to put their theoretical knowledge to the test and to assess themselves where they are positioned.
  • It is more beneficial to the student who wants to pursue their further studies abroad as many of the universities accept an ICSE certificate.
  • ICSE provides a comprehensive list of courses such as fashion designing, agriculture, home science, and much more, which helps a scholar to pick the subject according to their interest. The ICSE considers that an all-inclusive format for education should be provided to the students to encourage their extracurricular performance in their chosen courses.
  • The syllabus of the ICSE board is extensive and thorough, along with multiple course books. This makes the student attain a more artistic and innovative approach in answering questions.
  • The marks are allotted according to the real performance of the scholars, which is helpful for them to assess themselves regarding their time management in particular subjects.
  • ICSE helps their scholars to create a powerful base for a carrier in management and humanities.

Affiliation to ICSE

In India, many schools are affiliated with the ICSE board as of now, and it has become one of the most popular boards in recent times. Therefore, many newly opened schools, as well as already well-established schools, want to be affiliated with the ICSE board for their class 10th board examination. But that doesn't mean every school or Institution which wants to be affiliated with the ICSE board will get its affiliation. ICSE has set up guidelines that have to fulfill any institute or school, or society that wants to affiliate with them, and we are going to discuss them in this section.

Following are the set of guidelines or criteria that has to be followed and met by an Institution or school that wants its affiliation with the ICSE:

  • First and foremost, the school or institute that wants affiliation from the ICSE board should obtain a NOC (No Objection Certificate) from the respective state government. For this, schools may contact respective authorities regarding this from the department of education for generating NOC to it. In the required NOC, it should be clearly mentioned that the respective state government (from where the school or institute belong) has no objection regarding ICSE is granting affiliation to the respective institute from Pre-School or Nursery to Class 10th (for ICSE) or to Class 12th (for ISC) as per the respective case.
  • The institute or school must have been running under the aegis of a registered society, or a trust or a company registered under section 24 (1) of the companies act of 1986.
  • One of the major principal purposes of the Institution or the school or the trust should be educational or related to education only.
  • The financial stability of the Institution of the school is one of the major requirements for getting affiliation from the ICSE board.
  • The medium of instruction for the respective school should be English only, and it should comply with the scheme of studies that is laid down by the CISCE education board for secondary and higher secondary education.
  • A high standard should be maintained to give special focus and importance to English (both aural and oral type of English).
  • The number of working hours, as well as days of school, must conform with the prescribed structure by the board from time to time.
  • The staff of the school or institute should be well-trained as well as well-qualified in accordance with the minimum standard of qualifications that are prescribed by the board. Also, with this, they should be paid salaries regularly with updated rates, including all the allowances that are paid in a state government-run school. One more important point is that the salary of schools affiliated with the CISCE board should not be lower than those in a state-run government school.
  • Schools or Institution want to be affiliated with the ICSE board should have a compulsory provident fund scheme.
  • The infrastructure of the respective school or Institution must be adequate for the accommodation of various numbers and gender of students, teachers as well as staff attending it.
  • The playing fields, as well as other facilities related to ECA (Extra Curricular activities) in the school or Institution, should be inadequate manner.
  • In the Institution or school, special attention should be given to art and music, physical education, though these subjects may not be the intention to be included in the examination.
  • Equipment present in the school or Institution should be an inadequate number so that it will enable or help the respective body to effectively teach all subjects to the students. The school or the institute should have to include apparatus for the practical work related to all the subjects.
  • Institute or the school should also have a well-equipped library on its premises which should be accessible to all the pupils and staff of it.
  • Institute or the school have to submit the Certificate of land in which it is built. Certificate of land is a mandatory document as it is one of the major requirements to get affiliation by the board. The school or the institute should submit the land certificate electronically in the prescribed format by ICSE.


In the above-given requirements for a school and institute related to getting affiliation from the ICSE board, the following points should also be noted down with respect to the above-given points:

  1. Related to apparatus for practical work: The school should have to get the approval of the board for the premises and apparatus whenever school have to use these for the practical work related to subjects offered in examination such as Science, Home Science or Technical subjects.
  2. Related to the prescribed format for land certificate of institute or school: If any school or institute want to get the prescribed format for submitting electronically land certificate, then they can get it by downloading it from the Science official website of CISCE or from this link: The prescribed format for the land certificate should be duly signed by the Tehsildar or Sub-registrar or Magistrate or any other registering authority of government.

ICSE Legal Validity Challenged

In the year 2015, the ministry of human resources development of the central government had asked the CISCE (Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations) to furnish evidence on the legal background. The ministry asked the CISCE to get the evidence to prove its validity as legally by which it is conducting board examinations of ISC and ICSE board. This was the first and the only time when the CISCE board faced any legal challenge by any government authority or ministry to prove its legal validity as an educational board.

Criticism faced by the board

In the year 2013, an Indian student (Debarghya Das), having age of 20, was studying in the USA, claimed in his blog that he had downloaded scores of more than 1 lakh students studying from the ICSE board by scrapping. He further wrote in the blog that his analysis of the result data of all the students showing some interesting patterns as per the marking system. According to his claim in his blog, it was suggesting that the marks of many students were rounded off as per the number of students who are getting marks less than 33 marks out of a maximum of 100 marks in the examination. He further quoted that the possible reason for this rounding off in the marks was reportedly attributed to moderation, a practice of rounding off marks that are also adopted and followed by CBSE (Central Board of School Education). He also mentioned that this practice involves tweaking the marks of candidates to account for the variance in papers.

Structure of ICSE

The ICSE has divided its subjects into three groups which are as follows:

Group 1

The subjects included in this group are compulsory.

Following are the subjects listed in group 1:

  • English
  • History, Civics, and Geography
  • Any of the Indian languages are opted by the student.

The school allows 20% of the total marks for internal assessment for the subjects in group 1.

Group 2

Students can pick any two subjects from the following mentioned options.

  • Science
  • Mathematics
  • Environmental science
  • Agriculture science
  • Computer science
  • Commercial studies
  • Technical drawing
  • Economics
  • Any modern foreign language
  • Any classical language

The school allots 20% of the total marks for internal assessment for the subjects in group 2.

Group 3

Students can pick any two subjects from the following mentioned options.

  • Computer Applications
  • Economic Applications
  • Commercial Applications
  • Home science
  • Art, Performing Arts
  • Cookery
  • Fashion Designing
  • Physical Education
  • Yoga
  • Technical Drawing Applications

The school allots 50% of the total marks for the internal assessment for the subjects in group 3.

Difference between CBSE and ICSE Board

Parents mostly pick two boards for their child's education the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE). Basically, both the boards provide nearly the same subjects; the variation is created in the syllabus covered, the knowledge provided to the scholars, and the learning targets attained. Opting for the correct board for your children determines their future and their holistic evolution.

Let's disclose some of the features and the difference between the CBSE and ICSE board:

1. Syllabus

  • There is a big variation in the syllabus of both boards. CBSE concentrates on Science and Mathematics, whereas ICSE focuses equally on other subjects counting art, language, science, mathematician, and humanities.
  • The ICSE provides the comprehensive and detailed structure of the syllabus while the CBSE board provides the precise and uncomplicated course of study, which gives subject material to The scholars in a trouble-free manner.
  • The teaching pattern clearly visualizes the difference between the ICSE and CBSE board. The teaching pattern of the ICSE board relies on the application of theory and is relevant to real-life by an appropriate perceiving of the subject material. CBSE provides a concise course of study with fewer subjects to study.
  • ICSE provides a wide variety of languages to study, counting Hindi, English, Kannada, Tamil, Telegu, and many more. Some ICSE schools also provide innovative subjects such as agriculture, home science, humanities, arts, and cooking. In conclusion, ICSE is the best choice in comparison with the CBSE board when it comes to the scope of the courses and curriculum.

2. Competitive- Advantage

  • The course of study provided by the CBSE is advantageous for the aspirants to sit for national levels entrance tests like IIT- JEE and NEET. From an exam perspective, the plentiful theoretical information helps scholars to gain knowledge.
  • Though, ICSE boards generate finer ability to analyze comprehensively over substantial and elaborated curriculum.

Medium of Instructions

  • ICSE boards focus more on the English language as their medium of instruction or teaching. This provides scholar the grip when he appears for TOEFL, IELTS, and any other standard exam that act as a standard mark for entering to foreign universities to grasp education overseas. Quite the opposite, the CBSE board does not go for any particular language.
  • ICSE board also draw attention on teaching literature and language intelligence which builds students personality. This is another feature of the ICSE that helps it to stand apart from any other education boards in India.

Acceptance and Acknowledgement

The acceptability of the ICSE board is preferred in comparison with any other board, especially abroad. Although, CBSE board students are also largely admitted. Scholars with an ICSE certification get a stronger position in foreign schools and colleges. If anyone wants to grasp education overseas, then it is important for them to consider these points.

Ease of transfer

  • CBSE is preferable for the students whose parents work in such a profession that demands too much traveling. CBSE is the most picked education board nationwide. Due to the high numbers of CBSE school across the country, it makes easier for the students to get admissions in the same education board devoid of any bothering.
  • The countless schools affiliated with the CBSE board assuredly give leverage to CBSE as compared to other boards.

Scoring System

CBSE provides an alphabetical grading system, whereas ICSE calculates its scholar in the form of a score.

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