Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE)

The Indian Certificate of Secondary Education examination is a Grade 10 school examination and the standard of the examination presupposes a school course of ten years from Classes I-X.  It is a slightly more rigorous program known for developing strong fundamentals of a subject by using the repetitive method and building the practical knowledge through practical assignments. It is also an internationally recognized and accepted qualification for entry into higher education.

ICSE equips students with knowledge that will enable them to gain life skills for their personal and professional development while being aware of their responsibilities towards society as well. The ICSE board offers its students strong concepts and encourages them to research. It focuses more on developing interdisciplinary understanding although its academic curriculum is rigorous compared to most of the others. Projects are an integral part of the curriculum, which helps develop analytical skills in a student. The ICSE board offers its students strong conceptual knowledge but prepares for management studies as well.

Program Overview

The syllabus followed by the ICSE board is very comprehensive and complete, encompassing all fields with equal importance.

  • The curriculum is made up of 3 categories or subject groups named as Group I, Group II and Group III.
  • 3 Subject Groups. Students have a vast range of subjects to choose from each of the three groups. A minimum of 7 subjects should be selected for qualifying in ICSE. The curriculum exposes the student to both depth and breadth of knowledge and understanding.
  • Group I; English, History & Civics, Geography, and Indian Language (for e.g. Hindi) are the compulsory subjects for ICSE. English has two papers: Paper I is language based while Paper II is literature based.
  • Group II; You can choose any two subjects out of the mathematics, science (comprised of Physics as Paper I, Chemistry as Paper II and Biology as Paper III), Environmental Science, Computer Science, Commercial Studies, Technical Drawing, Modern Foreign Language, Classical Language and Economics.
  • Group III; You can choose any one subject from the following electives available: Computer Applications, Economic Applications, Commercial Applications, Art, Performing Arts, Home Science, Cookery, Fashion Designing, Physical Education, Technical Drawing Applications, Yoga, and Environmental Applications.


The assessment criteria are a combination of both internal and external assessment. Internal assessments are vital in ICSE. All subjects have some component of internal assessment that are carried out by schools, on the basis of assignments/project work, practicals and coursework. There is 20% weightage for internal assessment in group I and II and 50% weightage for group III.

In subjects where there are more than one papers (e.g., Science), the marks obtained in the subject are calculated by taking the average of all the papers in the subject. Candidates appearing for the examination have to study six subjects, with one to three papers in each subject. For subject HC&G the paper 1 consists of History & Civics and paper 2 consists of Geography. Science consists of three papers each for Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. This makes for a total of eight to eleven papers, depending on the subjects. SSC results are taken from best five of six subjects (out of which English marks is compulsory).

Is It Right For You?

Deciding if the ICSE exam is right for you partly depends on how you learn and your future aspirations. The ICSE system is comprehensive but rigorous as it aims to provide practical knowledge and build analytical skills in students.  The curriculum places emphasis on all the subjects and also has selection built into the process.  Students who are interested in careers in management and humanities will find the curriculum to be better aligned.  Additionally, the ICSE certification is recognized globally and due to the emphasis placed on English, students can gain a slight advantage compared to other Indian boards.