Which board IB, ISC, HSC, “A” Levels?

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Exams have ended and another anxiety has crossed paths for students and parents alike. Many families are struggling to make the right choice. With around 140 institutes in India offering IB education and 350 preparing for CIE exams- IGCSE and A/AS Levels, the real question is, “Is it beneficial spending lacs on these international boards?”

There is no doubt that the IB curriculum is more relevant and practical than the age-old HSC, CBSE or ISC. IB students study more challenging subjects and concepts and rote learning are not rewarded. Students who study the IB curriculum land up with better communication skills and turn out to be independent thinkers as compared to their counterparts.

If you study IB or A level for your 12th grade and then decide to study abroad, you will get college credit, especially at US institutes. For example, the well-known Massachusetts Institute of Technology will waive college level Calculus I or Physics for students who achieve a 6 or 7 in their IB Math or Physics subjects. Hence, if you do well in your IB subjects you may just be able to complete a 4 year US Bachelor’s degree in 3.5 years.

Does this mean one should not consider the local HSC, ISC or CBSE boards? No, of course it has its advantages, most importantly it is 1/10th of the price in comparison to any international board. Most institutes in UK and US admit students from local boards too. Yes the curriculum is rigid and less challenging but it gives the student ample time to do beyond the curriculum and prepare for entrances for abroad and Indian institutes. However some institutes like Oxford and Cambridge clearly state that they will not accept students from India who have done local boards but will instead prefer candidates who have A level or IB scores. Similarly, the London School of Economics will not even consider Indian undergraduate students unless they have an IB or A level exam grades.

There are many students who pursue their high school (11th and 12th grades) education through international boards and then opt to study in India itself. Almost all the Indian universities will recognize these qualifications and let you join them for the Bachelor’s degree. However, your choice of subjects will be very important because you cannot choose Geography and Economics and then try to join an Engineering college in India. Hence, play it safe and choose subjects, which will have value in India as well as abroad. Also, keep in mind that some of the exam dates of the IB or A levels will clash with the local national entrance exams and hence in some cases you may have to drop a year and then join institutes in India.

There are roughly 5000 students in India who opt for the international board exams each year. In comparison, there are hundreds of thousands of students who opt for local state boards. If there is a high chance that you will study abroad after your 12th grade, opt for international boards or else a well-known local institute will be a good option.