History 

CBSE CBSE stands for Central Board of Secondary Education and was established on 3rd November 1962. CBSE serves over 12 million students across 12,504 schools within India and abroad, that includes approx 1000 Kendriya Vidyalayas, ~2000 Government Schools, ~9000 Independent Schools, over 550 Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas and 30 Central Tibetan Schools. CBSE also operates chain of central schools (called Kendriya Vidyalaya) with prime objectivve to help government employees with transferable jobs.
ICSE ICSE stands for Indian Certificate of Secondary Education and was founded on 3rd November 1958. ICSE serves close to 2000 schools in India and covers about 150000 students (this includes 232 schools outside India)
IGCSE IGCSE stands for International General Certificate of Secondary Education and was established in 1988
IB

IB stands for International Baccalaureate® and was established in 1968, there are 197 schools in India offering a Cambridge education while 99 others impart the Geneva-imported IB programme and Maharashtra, with 109 IB and IGCSE schools, leads the tally, followed by Karnataka coming a distant second, and Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

 

Curriculum & Course Content 

CBSE

More suitable as the course content helps in qualifying for various entrance examinations like IIT JEE (Joint Entrance Examinations for IITs), AIEEE (All India - Engineering Entrance Examination) , AIPMT (All India - Pre-Medical Test), including other various state level medical (PMT) and engineering (PET) tests. Most of the books and curriculum are made available by NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training).

Subjects in focus: Science and Maths with great attention to the application of knowledge

ICSE

ICSE is more detailed than CBSE, and it requires the student to memorize a lot.

Focus is given to detailed study of subjects and English literature and English language. ICSE is considred to be more balanced as it given equal focus to language, arts as well as science. It is more flexible in comparision to CBSE as it offers lot of options to choose from - e.g. computer science, environmental science and subjects like interior design etc.

IGCSE

There are over 70 subjects available at Cambridge IGCSE, including 30 languages, and schools can offer them in any combination. 

  • Group I: Languages
  • Group II: Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Group III: Sciences
  • Group IV: Mathematics
  • Group V: Creative, Technical and Vocational
  • Group VI: ICT

The six subject groups are:

  • Studies in language and literature
  • Language acquisition
  • Individuals and societies
  • Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • Arts
IB

IB Diploma Programme (IBDP) has divided subjects into 5 groups, and offers students option to choose one subject from each of the groups, ensuring good coverage across languages, social science, experimental science and mathematics. Students also have option to choose an arts subject from 6th group or a can opt for second subject from 5 primary groups.

IBDP focuses more on practical knowledge of subjects and application of same which distinguish it other programmes. Here are three key differentiators -

Extended Essay: An independent research work, allows students to engage in in-depth study of chosen subject (from any of the six groups). Emphasis is given on developing the analytical capability and knowledge of subject.

Theory of Knowledge: It aims on learning around critical thinking and students get to deepen their knowledge. Students make an oral presentation and write an essay which is assessed and graded.

Creativity, Action, Service: Also known as CAS, engages students in a wide range of activities from physical activity, arts, creative thinking etc. Each student must commit 150 hours

Exams & Exam Board 

CBSE Central Board of Secondary Education in India is the leading board of education in India; from junior/primary classes to All India Secondary School Examination (AISSE Class X/10th) and the All India Senior School Certificate Examination (AISSCE Class XII/12th).
ICSE ICSE was established by the University of Cambridge. It is governed by the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE). CISCE conducts an ICSE examination for tenth grade and an Indian School Certificate (ISC) examination for twelfth grade.
IGCSE IGCSE exams are conducted by two UK bodies named Edexcel (aka London Examinations) and Cambridge International Examinations (CIE). A student who has passed IGCSE is eligible for any +2 level qualification, like Class XII CBSE/ ICSE or any international pre-university programme, like the IB Diploma, Advanced Placement Diploma (US), and A/AS Level & AICE (UK). 
IB  The IB uses external and internal assessments, and students receive grades ranging from 1 to 7, with 7 being the highest. Students receive grade for each course attempted.

Assessments, Tests & Exam Criteria 

CBSE Regular candidates and candidates from non-affiliated schools to appear in the exams. written tests, course work, projects, assignments and laboratory works
ICSE 

internal assessments are vital and practical tests are aggregated with the overall scores

more emphasis on lab work 

candidates from ICSE affiliated school. Spread over Class 9 and 10, having final examinations offered every year in the months of May and November. Students who are aged between 14 – 17 years can enrol into schools that follow IGCSE syllabus
IGCSE  Assessment spans conventional written papers and they consist of a variety of tests. It is aimed at a wide ability range of students, with an eight-point grading scale, from A+ to G, with A+ being the highest.
IB  Assessment procedures measure student's advanced academic skills in fulfilling these DP course goals, here are some examples -
  • Analysing and presenting information
  • Evaluating and constructing arguments
  • Solving problems creatively

Other basic skills assessed are -

  • Retaining knowledge
  • Understanding key concepts
  • Applying standard methods

In addition to academic skills, assessment promotes international outlook and intercultural skills, student results are determined by performance against set standards, not by each student's position in the overall rank order.

Medium of Instruction 

CBSE Hindi and English both 
ICSE  Mostly English only, doesn't reccomend Hindi 
IGCSE  English only
IB  English only 

Recognition 

CBSE Recognized by Indian government and colleges/universities across India 
ICSE  Recognized by colleges/universities in India
IGCSE

Cambridge IGCSE is widely recognised by higher education institutions and employers around the world as evidence of academic achievement. Many universities require a combination of Cambridge International A Levels and Cambridge IGCSEs to meet their entry requirements.

IB  Widely recognised by higher education institutions and employers around the world as evidence of academic achievement. 

Availability 

CBSE Very high - all over India
ICSE  Low to medium - only in metro or metro satellite cities
IGCSE  Low - only in metro or metro satellite cities 
IB  Very Low - only in metro or metro satellite cities