How is IGCSE vs ICSE? How is IGCSE board for Indian kids? Is it harder than ICSE board?

Is IGCSE harder than ICSE board

As a mom to one kid in IGCSE board and another in ICSE, I often attract a lot of queries around IGCSE vs ICSE. Yeah, you hit a walking Quora, if you landed on this blog!

I am going to talk all about it from my own experience. How is IGCSE board for Indian kids? What is the main difference between IGCSE and ICSE boards? Is IGCSE board tougher than ICSE board? And my 2-bits on how to select the right school for your kid.

What is IGCSE board full form and is IGCSE same as IB board?

IGCSE stands for International General Certificate of Secondary Education which is offered by the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom. The IGCSE board is upto grade 10, post which kids opt for either

A levels

A continuation of University of Cambridge for 11-12th grades

IB board

International Baccalaureate, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland

Note: If the kid wants, they also have an option to board to Indian boards, ie ISC, CBSE, or HSC (Science/ Commerce/ Arts)

What’s A level vs IBDP?

A level is an in-depth study of chosen subjects. Kids can choose 3 or more subjects and English. With IBDP kids take exposure of higher number of subjects, upto 6 along with some core subjects.

So while A level provides a deeper exploration of subjects, IBDP provides a flexible choice of subjects to kids in their final year of schooling.

So how is IGCSE vs ICSE?

IGCSE or ICSE, which is better? That’s the very first question every single parent has when they meet me. I’ve thought over this for years at length and I’d say both have their own strengths and weaknesses.

Advantages of choosing IGCSE board

– In an IGCSE classroom, the overall learning is directed towards explorations.

– At many IGCSE schools like Aditya Birla World Academy, concept themes are integrated across subjects to provide a holistic picture. An example, when measurement units are taught in math, the concept runs through art, history, music lessons as well.

– Evaluation process follows a rubric. This gives a clear picture to us, as parents about kid’s progress on parameter like speaking skills, ability to grasp concepts, vocab/accuracy and so on.

Hence the kids retain what they learn. They look forward to the learning process and are able to easily apply their learning to real life scenarios.

Advantages of choosing ICSE board

– ICSE board builds a lot of rigor and resilience I feel. By constantly exposing kids to challenges, the kids learn to deal with success and as well as failures, which is an important life skill as well in my opinion.

– There are way many more options for good ICSE schools, some of them have been around for 50-150 years. There can be a lot of proven processes that come along with that size of experience.    

– ICSE schools prepares them well for NEET, JEE, Law, CA and other Indian universities.

Disadvantages of IGCSE in India

Probably the only disadvantages I see are higher fee structure and medium of teaching is only English.

Disadvantages of ICSE boards

Some of the ICSE schools may not have adapted with changing times. If rote learning remains main stream, then it becomes a cause of concern as the whole load of teaching falls upon parents.

How is IGCSE board for Indian kids?

I feel, anyone looking at a global perspective for their kids, IGCSE board is definitely an amazing fit. However, it’s a lesser known fact that IGCSE is also an equally good fit for kids aiming to pursue under-grad education in India.

Ashoka, Bennet are a good fit for kids who aim to pursue a mix of disciplines. They can opt for upcoming trends such as  data science and biology or phycology with math etc while still staying in India. The whole IGCSE setup, their steam of counselors and teaching methodology makes it possible for kids to excel and stand apart.

However, can IB kids get into NEET or JEE. In my opinion, exceptionally gifted kids may find it doable. Most other kids, will need to align with the testing mythology of NEET & JEEE.

IBDP & A level admission dates (2022) for international schools in Mumbai

Aditya Birla World Academy (ABWA) – 11th July 2022

B.D. Somani International School – 1st June 2022

Hill Spring International School – 15th July 2022

JBCN International School – August 2022

Dhirubhai Ambani International School – September 2022

Is IGCSE board harder than ICSE board?

Well, IGCSE provides a wide range of subjects that are relevant in today’s world, such as Global dimensions. Geography covers not only maps but also economic development of the region. History is a good balance again between Indian and International topics.  So the overall learning is very enriching and holistic. There is lesser need to write & learn answers so to say.

Also, IGCSE gives them an exposure to 11 subjects at 8th grades. This helps kids make an informed decision about their career path based on their strengths and natural liking for subjects. However, 11 subjects mean extra study when kids are in Grade 8.

Note: IGCSE scales down to 9 subjects in Grade 9/10

What is the main difference between IGCSE and ICSE boards?

Apart from the teaching methodology, as elaborated above, here are some more differences between IGCSE and ICSE boards

  • Kids can choose the subjects they like for Grade 9 and 10.
  • IGCSE gives an option to drop Chemistry, Physics, History, Geography in 9th Grade
  • Kids can opt for Math, as per their learning ability and interest. Eg: Advance math, additional math or basic math. Same goes for English.
  • At 11th grade, IGCSE kids can opt A levels (deep dive into in-depth learning) or IBDP

Both boards give an option to learn computer science and a foreign language now a days.

So how to select the right board – Final thoughts

Many ICSE schools are beginning to incorporate hands-on learning methodology. This provides a good middle ground if going for ICSE schools. I also suggest checking whether an international school conducts exams in primary years. Having to write exams in primary years at an international school may not align fully with the core principle of an IB schooling. Choose one that has ongoing assessments, where there is no stress of preparation for exams.

All boards have pros and cons. As a parent we need to decide upon a board depending upon the future goal and interest for the child.

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How is IGCSE vs ICSE board for Indian Kids
Is IGCSE is harder than ICSE? Disadvantages of IGCSE in India


  1. When we were kids, education wasn’t this complicated. it was either CBSE or ICSE. But now parents have to be really well informed not just about schooling but also the board they are picking for their child. So, do International schools follow IGCSE board? So far I have only heard schools which follow Cambridge and Singapore syllabus.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a great post. I know only about CBSE thing as I had studied with the same. here in USA, there is no variation like India. you have explained everything so well. will help parents and kids to make great decision for themselves.


  3. As you said, we need to be very particular before selecting the board of education, before we enrol our kids to any institution. I have always admired the ISCE syllabus. However, it is a complicated task for parents to choose nowadays.


  4. I know about icse but not about igcse in such detail. This is a helpful post for parents and students to make informed decision.


  5. With IGCSE, it is more concentrated towards focusing on single stream, right from 9th and that plays a huge plus if a student has aim in that subject then all falls good. I remember my father saying that they had to choose subjects in class 9, so the education system 50 years ago was more right than today’s in CBSE.


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