If your child wishes to appear for a competitive exam like NEET or JEE, the best boards are CBSE/ISCE or state level boards. NEET and JEE exams are based on syllabus and books prescribed by NCERT / CBSE. Most state boards follow more-or-less the same pattern as the CBSE. A child from IGCSE / A-level background may find it difficult for the following reasons:
1) CBSE syllabus is vast and in-depth. Please don’t make the mistake of assuming that CBSE students have to only cram – that’s not true at all. Ofcourse you have to cram some stuff in all subjects – definitions, equations. IGCSE/A level syllabi can never compare with the depth and breadth of CBSE syllabi. Don’t take my word – just have a look at a class XI or class XII book of physics from both boards, the range of topics covered, the depth of each topic.
2) CBSE syllabus for physics and chemistry has more calculations and derivations, math involved. There is understanding, ofcourse. But physics and chemistry are numerate subjects and there will be lot of mathematical applications in CBSE syllabi. IGCSE / A levels donot seem to be that in-depth, and the whole notion that CBSE students don’t know the concepts, is wrong. CBSE and state board students are very good at the concepts.
3) Whether CBSE or IGCSE, a student will require special coaching for competitive exams. But more so for IGCSE.
4) The myth is that CBSE is theory-based. What is theory-based mean? A student who is going to study engineering must know the theory also, she is after all studying for a degree. In-depth knowledge is needed. If practical knowledge is all that is needed, a 1-year certificate course will be enough, like how to use a tool. Those are skill-based courses, they are different.
5) Some students of CBSE or state boards may have difficulty with English language. So they find it difficult to write long passages – for them, English language is the difficulty, not physics/chemistry. So such students may not be able to make up their own answers because sentence formation and vocabulary are difficult. But CBSE / state board students more than make up for that by doing exceedingly well in numerical problems, derivations, and mathematical part. Mathematical derivations and numerical problems require logical thinking and its not just rote learning. Everyone knows that IIT JEE exams are application-based, not memory based. And CBSE/state board students do very well in these competitive exams. So you can’t attribute their success to memory power – it is brain power.
6) Students of state and CBSE boards have to perform as many as 20-25 practicals in each science subject (physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics) in class 11 and 12 and this includes all aspects of practicals – planning the experiment, apparatus usage, electrical circuit connections, error measurement, graphs, analysis from graphs, etc.
7) This is not at all meant to say that IGCSE board is not good. It just has a different purpose and it is not meant for JEE and NEET entrance exams. CBSE and state boards can implement some very good features of the IGCSE/A levels. The argument in favour of international boards is that these boards provide “holistic” education. What does “holistic” mean? “A holistic approach means to provide support that looks at the whole person, not just their mental health needs. The support should also consider their physical, emotional, social and spiritual wellbeing. … A holistic approach focusses on a person’s wellness and not just their illness or condition” 1. The responsibility of providing this holistic approach does not lie with school teacher alone – remember, the child is in school for 6-7 hours and the remaining 18 -17 hours the child is with parents, siblings, relatives, friends. They have a more important role to play than the teacher.
So if your child is aiming to give these two toughest competitive exams in India, please have a look at the CBSE syllabus, and early on – maybe by the time she is in class 8 or 9. All the best.