In view of the coronavirus pandemic, we are making LIVE CLASSES and VIDEO CLASSES completely FREE to prevent interruption in studies

We all know the importance of Higher Secondary Education(HSC) in the Indian education system. Whether it’s building a solid foundation, appearing for an entrance test, pursuing a professional degree/ course after school or choosing a lucrative career, the success of it all hinges on one’s higher secondary education and its results. Today, in this article, we’re discussing Higher Secondary Education and everything you need to know about it. So, read on.

Secondary education in India begins after eight years of elementary education and is divided into two years of secondary education (classes IX and X) and two years of senior secondary education (classes XI and XII). At the end of the secondary phase (class X), students take a set of externally administered examinations from either a state or national (All-India) examination board. Students who pass the secondary examinations earn a certificate usually called the Secondary School Certificate or SSC. These students are eligible for senior secondary school. After SSC, the next big exam to come up is that of the HSC.

HSC- A brief background

The formation of the HSC structure in India can be attributed to the 1953 report of the Secondary Education Commission. After observing the curriculum and teaching methodologies, the low interaction between the teachers and students, undue importance to the learning of the English language, indiscipline, etc. the commission recommended a turnaround of the secondary education system to introduce diversity into the educational system at the secondary level.

The commission prescribed five years for primary education, then three years of lower-secondary education, thereafter four years of higher secondary, and then a dedicated three years for a first-degree course. Based on the commission’s recommendations, the Government converted the then existing schools to higher secondary multipurpose schools and in the first plan, 250 multipurpose schools were established.

What’s HSC?

Since 1989, all States in India have converted to a 12-year (Standard) elementary/secondary cycle. After two years of senior secondary school, students are again examined by their school’s affiliated board and, if successful, awarded the Higher Secondary (School) Certificate (HSC / HSSC). There are also examinations administered internally by individual secondary schools at the end of class XI.

There are a total of 47 state examination boards and three national boards. The curriculum for the Higher Secondary Certificate Examination (HSC) is also determined by these 47 state boards and 3 National Boards.

Here’s the list of National Boards

Here’s the list of State Boards

  1. Andhra Pradesh Board of Secondary Education
  2. Andhra Pradesh Open School Society
  3. Assam Board of Secondary Education
  4. Assam Higher Secondary Education Council
  5. Grameen Mukt Vidhylayi Shiksha Sansthan (GMVSS)
  6. Assam State Open School
  7. Bihar School Examination Board
  8. Bihar Board of Open Schooling & Examinations
  9. Uttar Pradesh Board of High School & Intermediate Education, Allahabad
  10. Madhya Pradesh  Board of Secondary Education (Gwalior)
  11. Madhya Pradesh  Board of Secondary Education
  12. Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education
  13. Rajasthan State Open School
  14. Chhattisgarh Board of Education
  15. Goa Board of Secondary & Higher Secondary Education
  16. Gujarat Secondary Education Board
  17. Gujarat State Open School
  18. Haryana Board of School Education
  19. Haryana State Open School
  20. Himachal Pradesh Board of School Education
  21. Himachal Pradesh State Open School
  22. Jharkhand Academic Council
  23. Jharkhand State Open School, Ranchi
  24. Jammu and Kashmir State Board of School Education
  25. Jammu and Kashmir State Open School
  26. Karnataka Secondary Education Examination Board
  27. Karnataka State Open School
  28. Kerala Higher Secondary Examination Board
  29. Kerala State Open School
  30. Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education
  31. Meghalaya Board of School Education
  32. Mizoram Board of School Education
  33. Nagaland Board of School Education
  34. Orissa Board of Secondary Education
  35. Orissa Council of Higher Secondary Education
  36. Punjab School Education Board
  37. Tamil Nadu Board of Secondary Education
  38. Tripura Board of Secondary Education
  39. Telangana Board of Intermediate Education
  40. Telangana Board of Secondary Education
  41. Uttarakhand Board of School Education
  42. West Bengal Board of Primary Education
  43. West Bengal Board of Secondary Education
  44. West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education
  45. West Bengal Council of Rabindra Open Schooling
  46. West Bengal Board of Madrasah Education
  47. West Bengal State Council of Vocational Education and Training

The overall number of students taking the Standard XII (HSC) Examination in 2014 – 15 was almost 11.42 million. Over 88 % of those students took state boards with just 11.93 % taking either the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) and NIOS exams. According to media reports, a staggering 1.43 crore students registered for the Class XII board examinations with the various boards of education in 2017.

Students who pass the HSC examinations are eligible for university admissions.

Higher Secondary Certificates may also be known as:

  • Higher / Senior School Certificate / Examination (most state boards)
  • Pre-University Certificate (some state boards)
  • Intermediate Exam (some state boards)
  • All India Senior School Certificate (CBSE)
  • Indian School Certificate (CISCE)
  • Certificate of Vocational Education (CISCE)
  • Senior Secondary Examination (All-India) (NIOS).

Understanding the Structure

State examinations vary considerably and generally require students to be examined in four or five subjects.

CBSE requires students to take five subjects, which are externally assessed in Year XII, plus some internally assessed subjects (general studies, work experience and physical and health education). Students must pass each subject to gain their full qualification.

CISCE award a pass certificate to candidates who pass four (or five) subjects (which must include English) at the same examination sitting and pass the internally assessed socially useful and productive work (SUPW) / work experience and community service. Students must pass each subject to gain their full qualification.

The Grading System

The most common grading scale used by most state secondary boards is percentile based:

Grading scale Percentage
First division 60+%
Second division 45 – 59%
Third / pass 33 – 44%
Fail 0 – 32%
Minimum pass mark 30 – 40%

Special awards, such as distinction, honors or merit certificates, are given for grades higher than 70% or 75%, depending on the board. First division with distinction is particularly common.

Some state boards may use a relative scale to assess candidate performance rather than a fixed scale.


In Year XI, subjects are assessed internally.

In Year XII, subjects are assessed by external examinations and the paper is set by either state or national awarding organizations.

Some subjects also include practical externally set assessments which are mandatory.

Scope after HSC

Students who pass the HSC are eligible for university admissions, although some selective colleges or universities require separate admissions examinations. A score of at least 80% in the HSC from state boards of education may satisfy entry requirements, provided an appropriate standard of English has been attained.

Students with high scores (75%) from the CBSE and CISCE boards may satisfy entry requirements, provided an appropriate standard of English has been attained.

Admission to professional programs (engineering, architecture, medicine etc) is through competitive state – or national-level entrance examinations. These include the Joint Entrance Examination (Indian Institutes of Technology), the All-India Pre-Medical / Pre-Dental Examination, and the All-India Engineering Entrance Examination.

Some universities in India are changing their three-year programs to four-year degrees (replicating the US model), which may lead to an adjustment of entry criteria, e.g. University of Delhi.

That’s all for today, folks. Hope you found the information you were looking for. If you want us to add something to this article, please let us know your suggestions in the comments box below.

You May Also Like:

Which board to choose after Class 10?

The Education Culture in India

Nil Battey Sannata: Movie Review & a  Take on the Indian Education System

Discuss your doubts and queries with our experts.

Late night doubts in a question or concept?

Ask questions, get instant answers over chat 24 x 7 just like Whatsapp!

No thanks.

Request a Free 60 minute counselling session at your home

Please enter a valid phone number
  • Happy Students


    Happy Students
  • Questions Attempted


    Questions Attempted
  • Tests


    Tests Taken
  • Doubts Answered


    Doubts Answered