Aashna Nasta Jagasia, Head of Undergraduate Services, OnCourse

Aashna completed the IB Diploma at Dhirubhai Ambani International School and then pursued her BBA at Singapore Management University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude, double majoring in Marketing and Corporate Communication. At OnCourse, Aashna is the Head of Undergraduate Services. She also co-founded OnCourse’s test prep division, UPrep, and headed the company’s business development in the Middle East. In her free time, she can be found reading fiction, writing poetry, experimenting with new recipes and traveling.


Before we delve into this topic, let me clarify one thing – there is no such thing as the ‘best board’ or the ‘ideal board’. What matters is which is the right board for YOU! This is based on a lot of factors – your learning style, your current board, subjects you like and your career plans.

Students often get swayed by what their friends are doing or what their parents hear from other parents. The first step to pick the right board is to gain knowledge about all the available boards. Here is a summary of the popular boards available in India:


Type: Indian Boards

Available Streams: Choose between Humanities, Commerce & Science

Subject Options:

Humanities Stream – English, Second Language, Economics, Political Science, Psychology, History, Sociology, Art

Commerce Stream – English, Second Language, Accounts, Organization of Commerce, Business Studies, Econ, Math and Secretarial Practice

Science Stream – English, Second Language, Physics, Chemistry, Math, Biology, Computer Science, Electronics

Points to Note:

  • In ISC, second language is not a requirement
  • All 3 boards allow you to pick Math with the 3 streams
  • ISC and CBSE boards are more flexible than HSC and allow you to take subjects across streams

Grading Scale: 0-100

International Baccalaureate

Type: European Board

Subject Groups: First Language, Foreign Language, Social Science, Science, Math, The Arts

Subject Options:

First Language: English Language & Literature, English Literature & Performance, English Literature

Foreign Language: Hindi, French, Spanish

Social Science: Economics, Business Management, History, Geography, Psychology, Global Politics

Science: Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Computer Science, Environmental Sciences

Math: Mathematics Analysis and Approaches, Mathematics Applications and Interpretations

The Arts: Visual Arts, Theatre, Music

How do you pick the subjects?

You pick a total of 6 subjects, one each from Groups 1 to 5 and 1 from Group 6 or another Science/Social Science. Of these 6 subjects, choose 3 subjects at a higher level and 3 subjects at a standard level.

Additional Requirements: In addition to these 6 subjects, you must complete an Extended Essay (in any subject), Theory of Knowledge and CAS (Creativity, Action and Service)

Grading Scale: 1-7

A Levels

Type: British Curriculum

Popular Subjects: English Language, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Mathematics, Accounting, Psychology, Economics, Accounting, Business, Geography, Computer Science, IT, Global Perspectives, History, Mathematics (Note: Subjects offered differ from school to school. This list only lists the popular subjects)

How do you pick the subjects?

A Levels don’t have streams or subject groups, you can choose 3-5 subjects of your choice based on your career interests. In India, most schools require you to take English + 3 additional subjects.

Grading Scale: A* -E

Advanced Placement (APs)

Type: American Curriculum

Popular Subjects: English, US History, Government, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Calculus, Statistics, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Human Geography, Psychology

Grading Scale: 1-5

Taking AP tests along with other boards:

Students studying the American curriculum take AP exams in place of traditional board exams, However, students pursuing other boards also have the option of taking AP subject tests in subjects of their choice to boost academic rigour. Students can take these tests between Grades 9 and 12.

Now that you’ve understood each of the boards, speak to your seniors from different boards and ask about their experiences.

Next, shortlist the boards and make your own pro and con list.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I leaning towards studying in India or going abroad post Grade 12?
  • Do I have multiple academic interests or am I focussed in a particular subject
  • Can I handle the rigours of the IB?
  • If I’m doing well in my current board, should I rock the boat and switch to another board?

To help you make the right choice, here are some myth-busters:

Myth: If you want to apply to the US for your undergraduate education, you must study the IB.

Fact: You can apply to the US for your undergraduate education with any educational board.

Myth: Take the A-Levels only if you want to pursue your undergraduate education in the UK

Fact: The A Levels are accepted by all countries across the world.

Myth: If you study IB or A Levels, you can’t pursue your undergraduate education in India

Fact: You can pursue your undergraduate education in India even after studying the IB/A-Level in grades 11 & 12.

Myth: You can only take Advanced Placement subjects if you’re studying in an American school.

Fact: Advanced Placements are open to all students through the College Board.

Essentially, make the right choice for YOU after weighing in all these factors!

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