Choosing the appropriate education board is one of the most critical decisions for any parent. There are numerous educational boards in India, viz., national, international, and even state-level boards. Among all the alternatives available to Indian parents, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), and International Baccalaureate (IB) are three significant educational boards that are revolutionising the Indian education system.
CBSE is India’s national educational board, governed by the Central Government of India. IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) and A-levels are among the international education programmes offered by CIE. The University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom (UK) has a non-teaching department called Cambridge Assessment, which houses CIE. The International Baccalaureate (IB), an autonomous international organisation headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, administers the IBDP, an internationally renowned pre-university programme.
Each board aims to render quality education to its students; however, the boards differ in curriculum, examinations, evaluations, and other aspects. Therefore, to help the parents make an informed decision about their child’s future, we have come up with our blog to explore the differences in the assessment methods of CBSE, CIE, and IBDP. Read on.
CBSE: Assessment, Examination, and Grading Pattern
The CBSE curriculum is a combination of formative and summative assessments to measure student's academic progress during the year. Formative evaluations consist of quizzes, classwork, homework, projects, and presentations aimed at monitoring ongoing progress and providing continuous feedback to the parents. On the other hand, summative assessments consist of term-end examinations and Class 10th and 12th board examinations, which offer comprehensive evaluations at the conclusion of an academic year.
The weightage of assessments in final grades varies depending on the grade level of the student. For 9th and 10th grade students, a Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) system is followed, which combines periodic tests, notebook submissions, subject enrichment activities, and term-end examinations. In classes 11 and 12, the Class 12 board examinations primarily influence the final grade. The CBSE grading system uses a nine-point scale (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2, D, E1, and E2) to assess students' performance. Grades are assigned based on a range of percentages, with A1 representing the highest (91–100%) and E2 the lowest (20–32%).
CIE: Assessment, Examination, and Grading Pattern
As already mentioned above, the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) offers the IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) and A-levels (Advanced Level) as two separate educational credentials. While the IGCSE curriculum is designed for students aged between 14 and 16, A-levels cater to students aged between 16 and 18.
The assessment and examination pattern in IGCSE is a combination of both formative and summative evaluations. Formative assessments, such as quizzes, classwork, homework, projects, and presentations, are conducted throughout the academic year. On the other hand, Cambridge Assessment International Education conducts summative assessments in the months of May/June or October/November. The IGCSE grading system uses an eight-pointer scale, with A* being the highest and G being the lowest, while the ninth grade U (ungraded) is reserved for students who are unable to meet the minimum required standard.
The assessment style in A-levels is typically modular, with two main components: the Advanced Subsidiary (AS) level and the A2 level. Each level is usually studied over one academic year, and students can select a specific number of A-level subjects, typically 3 or 4, and include coursework such as assignments, projects, or practical assessments. A-level examinations are divided into two parts: AS and A2 levels. AS-level exams are typically taken at the end of the first academic year and can be used as a standalone qualification. A2 level exams are taken at the end of the second year and, when combined with AS level results, form the complete A-level qualification. A-levels use a grading system that ranges from A* (the highest) to E (the lowest).
IBDP: Assessment, Examination, and Grading Pattern
The assessment and examination format in an IBDP programme consists of internal and external evaluations. The internal assessments are administered by the school and comprise different evaluation methods, such as written assignments, oral examinations, presentations, practical experiments, and various other forms of coursework. On the other hand, external assessments consist of the final IBDP exams conducted by the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) at the end of the two-year diploma programme. The IBDP students take written exams in six subjects, including three at the higher level (HL) and three at the standard level (SL). These exams are typically conducted at the end of the two-year programme in May.
The weight assigned to each assessment format depends on the subject combination and IB guidelines. Typically, internal assessments contribute approximately 20–30% towards the final grade, while external assessments constitute the remaining 70–80%. Besides this, the IB grading pattern consists of a 7-point scaling system where 7 is the highest and 1 is the lowest. To attain the IB diploma, students must attain a minimum cumulative score of 24 points across all six subject areas. Additionally, they must successfully fulfil the core requirements in Extended Essay (EE), Theory of Knowledge (TOK), and Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS) components. The EE and TOK are graded on a scale of A (highest) to E (lowest), while students need to complete CAS requirements and adhere to ethical guidelines to receive the diploma.
In conclusion, selecting the right education board in India is a crucial decision for parents. The three important boards in India, i.e., CBSE, CIE, and IBDP, offer diverse educational approaches. CBSE, a national board, employs a blend of formative and summative assessments with a 9-point grading scale. CIE, part of Cambridge University, provides international programmes like IGCSE and A-levels, graded from A* to G. IBDP, administered by IBPO, emphasises internal and external assessments with a 7-point grading scale and other unique core components. Therefore, parents must carefully consider these differences to make an informed choice.