CBSE vs. Cambridge Board: A Broad Comparison

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is India’s national board, both for public and private schools.

Cambridge is in short used for the curriculum offered by Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE). As a department of the University of Cambridge, it provides education programmes and examinations in over 170 countries, which are recognised globally.

CBSE prescribes books published by The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), a resource organisation set up by the Government of India. The core subjects offered and tested up to grade X are English, Second language, Mathematics, Science and Social Sciences. The students of grades XI and XII can opt for subjects of their choice from about 70 available options. Board examinations are again conducted at the end of grade X and XII based on the books prescribed by the Board. Questions test the knowledge, understanding and application skills of the learners with only about 20% weightage for the latter.

The CAIE curriculum on the other hand focuses on the core subjects of English, Mathematics and Science for learners up to the age of 14. The curriculum is divided into 9 stages. The schools can introduce other subjects as per the local needs. At the end of every stage starting from stage 3, Cambridge provides progression tests along with marking schemes for teachers to test the learner’s proficiency. Students can take Primary Checkpoint examinations and Lower Secondary checkpoint examinations at the end of stages 6 and stage 9. There are detailed curriculum framework and Schemes of work available for teachers along with other support materials, which can be utilized for effective teaching in these subjects. There are books which are endorsed by Cambridge [and not prescribed] and the schools have the liberty to select books best suited for them.

For learners of age 14 to 16 years comparable to grades IX&X],  IGCSE or ICE is a 2 year program with a flexible course of study and choice of 70 subjects available from 5 groups. Most subjects offer a choice between core and extended curriculum, catering to the needs of students of different aptitude. For learners of 16 to 19[ equivalent to grades XI and XII] years of age, there are 55 subjects available from five groups for AS/A level Certificates. Board examinations are conducted at the end of IGCSE/ICE program, AS and A levels.

The Cambridge Assessments encourage practical approach to teaching and learning. Students need to be thorough with the concepts and rote learning is not required. The questions require students to apply the concepts to real life situations, strengthening analytical and critical thinking skills. Students of IGCSE/AS & A level can bypass the IELTS/TOEFL requirement for university admissions.

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