What High School Students Should Know About IB Courses

As a high school student, you are presented with a plethora of choices regarding classes, and the process of selecting your courses can be very overwhelming. After all, there are dual credit programs, AP classes, and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses from which to choose. If you are unsure of the difference between the two this may help clarify some things for you - Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate. There are also internships and electives. If you are college-bound, your choices are of particular importance.

So how do you know which classes are right for you? In order to make the best possible choices for your academic career, you must first be aware of all your options. And while many students are familiar with AP classes, IB courses are a bit more mysterious.

What is the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme?

IB classes serve to challenge students and to give them an edge when they apply to college. The curriculum, which is designed by the International Baccalaureate Organization, involves exams, papers, and projects, some of which are scored by external assessors. These professionals assign scores between 1 and 7. Students can take individual courses, or they can enroll in the Diploma Programme, which lasts two years.

Students who choose to pursue the diploma option must complete a pre-established set of classes, as well as a Theory of Knowledge course, a 4,000-word essay, and a number of creativity, action, and service hours. Students may elect to take either standard level or higher level classes. However, students are required to take at least three higher level courses. Every class ends with an IB exam.

The courses operate on a points system, so students must score well on their exams to receive points. After acquiring 24 points, students receive their diplomas.

IB advantages

The IB Diploma Programme does require dedication, but it has several advantages. First, students master time management skills. Second, while students are expected to perform at a high caliber, IB classes are highly respected by many colleges and universities.

It is worth noting that while colleges are becoming increasingly familiar with the IB curriculum, they tend to know more about AP coursework. However, both systems are equally valued. If a school accepts AP scores, it likely accepts IB scores too. As always, you should speak with a college’s admissions office to learn more about its credit policies.

What you need to know

If you are interested in taking IB classes, plan ahead. While IB courses cannot be taken until your junior and senior years of high school, they may require prerequisites.  

If you are deciding between AP classes and IB courses, you should know that AP classes typically allow for more flexibility. You can sit for an AP exam without first taking the AP course, but IB exams may only be taken upon completion of an IB class. 

Emphasis on writing

IB courses place a high emphasis on writing. In fact, most exams are administered as essays. As such, tests are not graded by machines, but instead by humans. These essay tests allow students to develop advanced writing skills that can benefit them in their collegiate studies. IB students are also required to conduct research, which is an invaluable experience in higher education. You may want to consider a writing tutor to help you reach your full potential.

Exposure to service

Students who enroll in the IB Diploma Programme learn the value of service and leadership through projects they complete during their course of study. Colleges often view service admirably, as it can enhance your resume and build organizational and communication skills. 

Challenging curriculum

By taking classes that challenge you, you can develop your ability to think critically and to study effectively. This is a great guide to the study guide. These skills can mold you into a better student.

IB courses offer a great opportunity for students who are up to the challenge. Like AP classes, they will be an asset as you begin your college and scholarship applications. If you think IB classes might be appropriate for you, visit the IB website or speak to your school for more information.