Saturday, March 5, 2011

Why the IB Diploma is better for University Application

I've recently got this question from one of my followers on Twitter:
"On what point is the IB diploma program more valuable than just entering a university? In Japan, it seems like the IB program isn't well-known very much, so I'd like to know about it :)"
Well, thanks for asking... here goes (Huge post):
IB Diploma Program- What is it?
IBDP is a two-year curriculum designed for students between the ages of 16-19. It's a internaltionally accepted qualification for entering higher education and is recognized by universities world wide. It was developed in the early 1960's in Geneva. The main languages that is used to teach in classes are: English, Spanish or French.
To officially teach the IBDP, the school must be qualified by IB (International Baccalaureate) to teach the IBDP program. An example of a qualified school would be: Shatin College, the school that this writer currently studies in.
To receive an Diploma, a student must study six different subjects from six different subject groups (read below) and three core requirements. Each subject will be assessed using both internal and external assessments, and at the end of the course, students will take a series of examinations.
So what are the Subject groups and what are the three core requirements?
Here the subject groups:
Group 1: Language A1, taken at Higher Level (HL) and Standard Level (SL). This is the student's native language.
Group 2 Language A2, this is an additional language, and is provided in the following levels: Language A2 (SL and HL, basically almost mother tongue fluency needs to be achieved), Language B (SL and HL, Second Language fluency required), Language Ab initio (SL only, learning from scratch and required to get a fluency level of Language B students).
Group 3: Individual and Societies. This is basically the humanities group, offered in SL and HL. Examples of subjects in this group includes: Economics, Geography, History, Psychology etc
Group 4: Experimental Sciences, this is of course, as the titles says, experimental sciences, courses are offered in SL and HL. Examples include: Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Design Technology.
Group 5: Mathematics and Computer Science. This is all the maths stuff, courses are listed in order of increasing difficulty: Maths Studies SL, Standard Level Maths, Higher Level Maths and Further Mathematics SL. 2 other courses provided includes: Computer Science SL and HL
Group 6: Arts. This is the creative side of things, courses offered in SL and HL, including: Music, Theater (Drama), Visual Arts and Film. Some students opt to take another course from Group 1-4, or Further Mathematics (for HL Math students) or a Computer Science course.
Also, there are three requirements for IBDP:
Extended Essay: This is an 4000 word essay (hence the word Extended Essay), which is based off independent research done by the student. The subject chosen must be in a subject of approved EE subjects and cannot be about two subjects.
Theory of Knowledge: This course introduces some of the nature and limitations of knowledge and provides the basic of validating knowledge. This is considered the "Flagship element" of the Diploma program, but students find this the most boring thing in the IBDP and lessons are usually spent sleeping.
CAS (Creativity, Action, Service): CAS is designed to give students a balance between the amount of studying required with some extra-curricular activities, for example, learning a new instrument would count as a Creative major, participating in a sporting event may be counted as a Action minor and community work as a Service major.
Assessment Criteria
To get an IBDP is not a easy task, not just the fact that you have to complete three of the requirements, you also require to pass most of your examinations.
Points will be awarded according to your performance in class, assessments and examinations. Points are awarded between 1-7, and three extra for the EE. So a maximum theoretical of 45 marks can be awarded. To be awarded an Diploma, the student must receive 24 marks minimum, 12 marks minimum from HL subjects and 9 marks for SL subjects. Scoring more than 3 marks on three subjects is also a failing condition, and plagiarizing would be a immediate failing condition.
Personal opinion
Here is my three major reasons I think the IBDP is better than most of the secondary school leaving certificates, and why universities might chose you over an A-level/AP student:
  1. CAS
  2. Broader Subject choices
  3. Time Management skills
And of course, my justifications
  1. CAS basically shows that you're not going crazy over studies, and would actually go out and explore the world around you. As more and more universities make extra-curriculum an entry condition, IBDP students will be much more prepared about this than non-IBDP students.
  2. The subjects in IBDP is taught at a much more easy level, but a lot more range to cover, for example, in HL physics, I have to learn Schroedinger's theory while my companions taking the A-level doesn't need to take such topics, but their exam papers are at least twice as hard as what IB presents students with. With many universities now switching over to much more wider curriculum, it is not wonder they like IB students more.
  3. This is the most worrying part for most people, managing time properly, with A-Levels, time management isn't a problem, as A-levels require only students to study particular subjects, it's no wonder they have free time. However, in IB, a student is required to make a balance between CAS and studying, pushing their time management skills to the limit. This is generally the same in university and university staff generally appreciate this.
Well, that's about it. Sorry about the English though, my head is splitting after 10 hours worth of tutoring and sleep deprivation.


  1. 我同意你的观点,我觉得IB比其他课程更加适于作为大学的准备课程,而且我觉得IB提倡的全面发展的教育理念也很不错,这就是我为什么现阶段要花1年的时间读研学习这个课程的理由。

  2. It is interesting & valuable, that's great.. The blog seems to be interesting....
    IBDP Programme