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Choosing the Right Curriculum: IBDP vs. CIE vs. CBSE

Choosing the Right Curriculum: IBDP vs. CIE vs. CBSE

Sep, 19 2023

As the world is becoming more globalised, it is imperative that the future generation develop the necessary skills and knowledge. The consistent growth and development across different industries have demonstrated that today, education needs to be more holistic and advanced, unlike traditional learning.

There are a wide range of educational boards from which a parent can choose, such as the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Cambridge Assessment International Education (CIE), and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP). Every parent should understand the key differences between these boards and make an informed decision. To help the parents in their endeavours, we have come up with a guide to choose between IBDP, CIE, and CBSE!

IBDP vs. CIE vs. CBSE: A General Overview






IBDP is a globally recognised programme that provides an internationally accepted qualification for entry into higher education. 

CIE is a non-profit and non-teaching department of the University of Cambridge that provides international qualifications to meet the diverse needs of students around the world.

CBSE is an Indian national-level education board offered by private and public schools, across India and worldwide.

Origin and Affiliation

The IBDP was founded in 1968 in Switzerland and is an independent, non-profit educational foundation.

CIE is affiliated with the University of Cambridge, with roots dating back to 1858, and is known for its close ties to the British educational system.

CBSE was established in 1962 by the Government of India and functions under the Ministry of Education, Government of India.

Nature of Board

The IBDP is typically designed for students aged 16 to 19 years old. It is a two-year programme, usually offered in the final two years of high school, commonly referred to as the 11th and 12th grades.

CIE offers a range of qualifications suitable for various age groups. Its programmes include Cambridge Primary, Cambridge Lower Secondary, Cambridge Upper Secondary (IGCSE), and Cambridge Advanced (A Levels). These programmes cover students from primary school to post-secondary education.

CBSE primarily follows the Indian education system. It offers education from primary school through secondary (up to 10th grade) and higher secondary (11th and 12th grades). Students typically start CBSE-affiliated schools at the age of 3 or 4 and progress through various stages until they complete the 12th grade.


IBDP vs. CIE vs. CBSE: Curriculum

CIE and IBDP offer equal importance to all the fields, namely the humanities, sciences, mathematics, and languages. The comprehensive and wide approach focuses on the overall development of the students. These curricula also emphasise more practical learning that extends beyond the classroom.

On the other hand, the CBSE board is known for its traditional approach to education, wherein students have to emphasise more on the subjects of mathematics and sciences. The curriculum is intended to prepare the students for national entrance exams in the fields of engineering and medical science. The curriculum includes both academic and extracurricular exposure for the students and is inclined more towards rote learning and theoretical exposure.

IBDP vs. CIE vs. CBSE: Grading and Assessment

The CBSE curriculum employs two types of assessment methods to measure students’s academic progress throughout the school year. The first is formative assessment, which consists of activities such as quizzes, classwork, homework, projects, and presentations. These activities are conducted to monitor student development continuously and provide ongoing feedback. The second assessment format is a summative assessment, which comprises term-end examinations and the Class 10th and 12th board examinations. For the grading system, CBSE has a nine-point grading scale (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2, D, E1, and E2) to evaluate students’s performance, with grades determined by specific percentage ranges, where A1 represents the highest (91–100%) and E2 represents the lowest (20–32%).

The CIE board also conducts assessments in both formative and summative evaluations. The formative assessments consist of quizzes, classwork, homework, projects, and presentations. These assessments are conducted throughout the academic year to monitor students’s progress and provide continuous feedback for improvement. On the other hand, summative assessments consist of final examinations in each subject, conducted at the end of the academic year. The school conducts internal examinations, such as periodic tests and term-end examinations. The external examinations are conducted by the examination board, such as the Cambridge Assessment International Education, usually taking place in May, June, October or November. The CIE grading follows an eight-point scale ranging from A* (highest) to G (lowest).

The assessment and examination process in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) consists of both internal and external evaluations. For internal examinations, the school conducts assessments such as written assignments, oral exams, presentations, practical work, and other types of coursework. For the external assessment, the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) conducts the final exams at the end of the two-year diploma programme. Generally, the internal assessments contribute to a range of 20–30% of the final grade, while the remaining 70–80% is derived from external assessments. The IBDP grading system uses a seven-point scale, spanning from 7 (the highest) to 1 (the lowest). To get the final diploma, the students must attain a minimum cumulative score of 24 points across all six subject areas. Additionally, they must score satisfactory marks in the Extended Essay (EE), Theory of Knowledge (TOK), and Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS).

IBDP vs. CIE vs. CBSE: Final Thoughts

To summarise, each board has unique features that set it apart from the others. Although IBDP, CIE, and CBSE prepare students for a global education approach, there are minute differences that one must consider before making the final call. If students are interested in pursuing a career in the field of engineering and science in India, choosing CBSE as their mode of education is the best choice. On the other hand, if students want to pursue an education or career in the United Kingdom (UK), CIE will serve as the best gateway for them. Last but not least, an IBDP programme will help the students enter top universities in the United States (US) or the UK and even other global universities around the world. However, the parents must carefully assess their child’s strengths, skills, and aspirations before making the final decision.

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