How Are IB Courses Different?
The IB Program is truly unique. The goal of the IB Program is to prepare high school students for quality university life in a way no other educational program can. This program will offer one of the most enriching experiences possible. The IB Program is not a different version of already existing programs that are academically challenging; rather, it blends together key ingredients of many academically challenging programs into one comprehensive piece.
There are three key components to the IB Program:
Academic Rigor: Students learn how to learn, how to analyze, how to reach considered conclusions about humankind, its languages and literature, its ways in society, and the scientific forces of its environment. An IB diploma candidate is indeed functioning at a level of an introductory college student.
Comprehensiveness of the Program: Students encounter rigor throughout ALL disciplines. Students refine areas of strength and developmentally improve areas of weakness. Students also submit a significant portion of their course work for evaluation (e.g., essays, oral commentaries, lab books).
Internationalism: The IB Program encourages students to think globally and the IB curriculum is based on true international standards. An international grading team, composed of professionals from North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia, grades the coursework and exams.
Some individuals are more familiar with the Advanced Placement (AP) Program than the International Baccalaureate Program. Both IB and AP courses feature college level curriculum. IB uses international standards of excellence; AP uses national standards of excellence. IB is a diploma program; AP allows students to take one or more courses, which are not connected. IB Higher Level exams are recognized for college credit; AP exams are also recognized for college credit. IB has an oral component in most classes; AP has an oral component in foreign language only. IB students prepare for exams in all areas; AP students chose exams in their area of strength. IB typically provides study in much greater depth, expecting assimilation of information and especially an ability to apply and analyze that information. Both programs rely on externally generated and assessed exams; however, the AP exams place particular emphasis on multiple-choice questions. By comparison, IB courses place more emphasis on critical thinking and analysis. IB assessments involve more writing, investigation, oral work, projects and labs. Also, final marks in IB reflect combined assessment by the classroom teacher and international examiners.
Students enrolled in IB courses will be better prepared for university studies and will also have attained a higher level of critical thinking which is valuable in everyday life. Many universities offer significant credit for success in IB courses, as well as up to sophomore standing for the completion of the full IB Diploma. The extent to which colleges will give credit or placement varies among colleges. All colleges set their own criteria for accepting AP and IB courses for credit. Parents and students should check the website of the college(s) they are interested in attending.
Upon completion of an IB diploma, the student has had a first-class education, which is accepted as an entrance qualification for higher education in over sixty countries around the world. Universities are eager to attract IB diploma students because:
• They are recognized as being prepared to accept educational challenges;
• They have self-confidence with university-level material;
• They have developed the capacity for independent research and study;
• They have cultivated sound thinking and communication skills;
• They have engaged in extracurricular activities alongside academic studies;
• They have thought in global terms and have a cultural sensitivity and international orientation.
It is important to remember that the IB Program is not for everyone. Many students want the external benefits (e.g., weighted grades, advanced college standing), but the true benefit of earning the IB Diploma is intrinsic in nature. The change that occurs within a student academically and personally while pursuing the diploma produces great personal growth and satisfaction.