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Pros and cons of an IB program in high school, and is it worth it?


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http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Baccalaureate

 

International Baccalaureate. A structured, traditional curriculum that is certified by an international body. Student work (perhaps just major projects and tests?) is graded centrally. A school can be certified as an IB school only after a rigorous vetting process. We have a new (free!) IB school in our county and I am considering it for DS, now 7th grade. But they are just admitting their third class of freshmen (the first entering students are now juniors) and have not yet received their final certification - or graduated anyone. Fingers crossed it turns out well!

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Thanks. Off to read. Just found out that a school near us has been offering it since 1995. Makes me curious.

 

 

If you are considering it, I would read about the IB program at their website and also check out the info at the specific school. Where I live, the requirements for applying for the high school IB start in 7th grade. The middle schools might have information sessions too.

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There have been several discussion on the high school board, re the diploma (high school) program. I've spent some time looking at the diploma program requirements and we are currently using an IB course companion (textbook) for Theory of Knowledge, which is basically epistemology. Of course, you can't do IB at home, but I am looking at using more of their course companions for later classes. The course companions are not published by IB, but my Oxford, Cambridge, and Pearson.

 

I haven't looked into the middle years program at all, however. You can read more about them here. http://ibo.org/

 

One of high schools in our next town offers IB for juniors and seniors. One issue I see is where state graduation requirements run differently than IB diploma requirements. It forces some kids to cram some requirements into their 9th and 10th grade years.

 

I know some people here have remarked that IB candidates can have little free time due to the IB requirements.

 

I don't that my son would be a good candidate for that rigorous of a program, but I do like some of scope of the program. The teaching is not dumbed down and the layout of some of the courses expects a student with good reasoning and critical thinking skills.

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One thing to keep in mind is that you can generally only do the IB diploma OR take AP classes -- IB is a full program, and you can't generally "mix in" AP classes. I would also look at which classes this school offers at the IB HL (Higher Level) -- few high schools offer all of the possible HL classes, and you might want to start thinking about which ones you'd want to take before signing up for the program.

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My middle is graduating from an IB school in May. I am very happy with the education that he has received, and quite pleased with his college acceptances as well.

 

Universities have various policies regarding college credit for IB scores. What else would you like to know - maybe I can answer :)

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Thanks all. I guess what i want to know is-is it a viable option for high school if the other high school choices are poor? How would it compare to a homeschool high school program? I dont know how my older would do with that rigorous (in terms of sheer amount of time) a program, but when i look at the requirements and the notes available online, i dont see how i could provide him with that sort of breadth and depth.

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The biggest downside I know of is that if you don't complete the IB program it is looked down upon by colleges.

 

A friends daughter was a 4.0 student am missed the IB by one class because the school overlapped 2 classes. It was no fault of hers, but all the Ivy leauges rejected her and told her I was only because she didn't complete the IB program.

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Depending on your state's graduation requirements, it can be a bit tricky to line up credits. Science comes to mind. The IB student is only required to choose one science (e.g., Chemistry, Physics, Biology), and the IB candidate will take that science for two years. But the state might mandate three (or even four) different sciences - so you would have to work that out. Some kids take two sciences within the IB program, but even that could leave you with a gap to fill.

 

American Government is also usually a credit that has to be "found" outside of the IB program.

 

IB was set up so that kids could move around the world and get a seamless education, but the theory falls apart somewhat in execution. If you change IB schools, and the new school doesn't offer the same courses as the first IB school, then it gets tricky.

 

Unless the program is new, you should be able to find out the average scores of a particular school's IB graduates. And I would also ask about the % who acutally receive the IB diploma.

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Ask them for the list of colleges the graduates were accepted. My friend's school sent vast majority of its grads to Ivys (this was 10 years ago).

 

Also ask how the kids in the program score on the actual exams. A good school should have most of it's IB candidates passing the exams and earning the IB diploma.

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Depending on your state's graduation requirements, it can be a bit tricky to line up credits. Science comes to mind. The IB student is only required to choose one science (e.g., Chemistry, Physics, Biology), and the IB candidate will take that science for two years. But the state might mandate three (or even four) different sciences - so you would have to work that out. Some kids take two sciences within the IB program, but even that could leave you with a gap to fill.

 

American Government is also usually a credit that has to be "found" outside of the IB program.

 

IB was set up so that kids could move around the world and get a seamless education, but the theory falls apart somewhat in execution. If you change IB schools, and the new school doesn't offer the same courses as the first IB school, then it gets tricky.

 

Unless the program is new, you should be able to find out the average scores of a particular school's IB graduates. And I would also ask about the % who acutally receive the IB diploma.

 

I believe the average school score was a 31 in 2011. That's the most recent I can find. Is that good? 88% received the diploma, and 100% went to 4 year colleges (which ones, I do not know.) The program has been in place since 1995.

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my school district has a middle school and a high school IB program. my daughter met a girl who dropped out of IB after 9th grade because she was getting up at 6 am to study and staying up until midnight to study and had no social life at all. It wasnt worth it for her. My impression is its for kids who really like to work hard and have no issues to slow them down.

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I'd ask which universities the students went on to.

 

FWIW my boys' school has an average of 34 points on the diploma. That's a private school but it also has lots of foreign students; the latter bringing down the scores a bit. The worldwide average seems to be about 30.

 

Calvin is doing the IB. He did GCSEs (wide range of subjects) from age 14-16 - these exams are roughly equivalent to SAT subject tests. He is now half way through the IB programme and is loving it. You choose six subjects; his are English, History and Latin (at higher level) and biology, maths studies and French (at standard level). He finds the level stimulating and fun. There are some people in his year who find it really hard. Everyone in his school does the IB, although a few don't end up with the full diploma.

 

If you have any questions about the daily round, etc., I'm happy to answer.

 

Laura

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I was in an IB program when I was in High School. I think, personally, it depends greatly on what the student's goals are, where they want to go with their life, what kind of college they want to go to, etc... I'm sure they've changed quite a bit in the over 10 years since I was in it... but I dropped out of it right at the beginning of Junior Year and instead attended advanced and AP classes. Which was a MUCH better education for me. Partly b/c I was heavily involved in non-school activities, I worked, and because I was interested in a liberal arts future. What I didn't like (and still don't) about how it worked for me was that it really was either IB, or NOT IB. In other words, it was a really full commitment to a specific kind of education within a school that was very different from everything around it. PLUS - you couldn't take advantage of things like AP and early college credit which I think is great for anyone who wanted to. To be honest, in my school anyway, the kids in it weren't the most well-rounded. But SOME Of them were the most focused and I'm sure went on to lead Ivy-League successful lives...

 

I have a family member who is in it now and loves it. And I had friends who were in it, did great, and attended great colleges. Don't know if any of this helps. It's a great program... but I think worth seriously considering and really thinking through for both parents and student.

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I believe the average school score was a 31 in 2011. That's the most recent I can find. Is that good? 88% received the diploma, and 100% went to 4 year colleges (which ones, I do not know.) The program has been in place since 1995.

 

Those are above average for IB candidates overall according to this page. A passing score is only 24 points, so and average of 31 is an indication that students are doing more than meeting the minimum (Max is 45 but that is very rare). An 88% pass rate is very encouraging.

 

My thoughts on the program overall are below.

 

Pros: Academically rigorous, teaches beyond the typical American "memorize the information well enough to complete a multiple choice or short-answer test". Lots of writing and analyzing across the curriculum, strong lab component in the sciences. Attracts a group of highly committed students who take academics seriously. University level work in high school.

 

Cons: Relatively inflexible, limits options for what classes to take and does not leave a lot of time or room for exploring divers interests or participating in extracurricular activities. Student will be studying a limited number of subjects in depth for two years. This can be good or bad depending on the student's needs and interests. Probably not a good program for a student with test anxiety--the culminating exams are very intense.

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I'd ask which universities the students went on to.

 

FWIW my boys' school has an average of 34 points on the diploma. That's a private school but it also has lots of foreign students; the latter bringing down the scores a bit. The worldwide average seems to be about 30.

 

Calvin is doing the IB. He did GCSEs (wide range of subjects) from age 14-16 - these exams are roughly equivalent to SAT subject tests. He is now half way through the IB programme and is loving it. You choose six subjects; his are English, History and Latin (at higher level) and biology, maths studies and French (at standard level). He finds the level stimulating and fun. There are some people in his year who find it really hard. Everyone in his school does the IB, although a few don't end up with the full diploma.

 

If you have any questions about the daily round, etc., I'm happy to answer.

 

Laura

 

One thing that makes it difficult to compare IB programs at public schools in the US with European schools is that most European students are dependent on the test scores for college admissions. American students, by contrast, will mostly have their college admissions in hand well before they sit for IB exams. This means that European students have more pressure to perform well on the exams, and that schools are under more pressure to prepare them well for exams (especially since getting into top university programs requires scores well above the minimum for achieving the diploma). Students are held to an extremely rigorous level of performance in class because that is what will be required to achieve high test scores. In the United States the pressure is to get good class grades--meaning that teachers are more likely to give top marks for work that is still well below the level required for top marks on the exams. The actual level of coursework may depend somewhat on what outcome is aimed for.

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One thing that makes it difficult to compare IB programs at public schools in the US with European schools is that most European students are dependent on the test scores for college admissions. American students, by contrast, will mostly have their college admissions in hand well before they sit for IB exams. This means that European students have more pressure to perform well on the exams, and that schools are under more pressure to prepare them well for exams (especially since getting into top university programs requires scores well above the minimum for achieving the diploma). Students are held to an extremely rigorous level of performance in class because that is what will be required to achieve high test scores. In the United States the pressure is to get good class grades--meaning that teachers are more likely to give top marks for work that is still well below the level required for top marks on the exams. The actual level of coursework may depend somewhat on what outcome is aimed for.

 

 

Very interesting point. Yes, in the UK one is offered a place at a university conditional on getting a certain score in the IB exam, so the exams are very high stakes.

 

Laura

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It depends on the kid. A particular kind of kid with particular interests will do very well in an IB program, but it can be horrible for a kid who does not fit the IB "box" (or perhaps I should call it a "sphere" as IB is big on being well rounded).

 

A kid with excellent executive functioning and motivation to conform to an external standard in all aspects of waking life coupled with a strong interest in the humanities/social sciences is the type of student who is most likely to be successful in the IB Diploma Program.

 

If your child has anything less than excellent executive functioning run far, far away from the IB program. Here are the IB program requirements:

  • Six core academic subjects: English, math, history, science, foreign language, and something called Theory of Knowledge, which is essentially a philosophy course
  • Art, which is turned into an academic subject with a large writing requirement
  • Something called the Extended Essay, which is an extensive research project that culminates in a 4000 word essay
  • 150 hours per year over two years of "CAS," with means "creativity, action, and service." This means that any free time a kid might have after dealing with the homework from the other eight classes needs to be channeled into something that is "IB approved."

Juggling eight classes plus CAS is a lot to manage. The IB people claim that the IB Diploma Program is preparing students for college, but in most colleges, kids are taking half as many classes (or fewer) at one time and their free time isn't being eaten up by externally mandated activities.

 

In addition, if your child is a "STEM person," the IB program is probably not going to be a good fit. IB coursework is very heavily focused on the humanities and social sciences. Of the eight courses, six of them are what I would consider to be humanities/social science oriented and/or language heavy: English, history, foreign language, art, TOK, and EE.

 

There is a focus on original or creative thinking throughout the IB program, that is, in my view, misplaced in the natural sciences at the high school/undergraduate level. At that level, the focus should be on learning what is known. There is *a lot* to be learned in science before one can embark on any sort of original research that is not trivial in nature--generally people don't start doing original research until they get to graduate school. IB science courses spend a lot of time on student designed "experiments" that take time and energy away from learning what is known. In addition, if a kid wants to do an EE on something scientific, he must conduct original research, something that is generally not feasible for a high school student. In fact, even the name the IB people have given to the group of courses comprising the natural sciences indicates their bias towards experimentation; it called "experimental sciences" rather than "natural sciences."

 

The way the math is taught also reflects this original/creative thinking bias. They will teach some difficult concept and then in the problem sets immediately jump into problems that require conceptual leaps to solve. And once a kid figures out one problem, the next one will require different conceptual leaps. For a kid who needs a bit of scaffolding and repetition to understand and solidify math skills, this approach is not helpful.

 

I do think that the original/creative thinking thing works fairly well for English, history, art, TOK, and any EE that is not science or math oriented, though I do think that the focus of a high school education should be learning what is known or has been thought by others.

 

The last issue for STEM types is that you have to choose one science to take for two years. This is a problem for kids who want to apply to colleges that expect to see two advanced science courses.

 

Also, if your child has any learning disabilities at all, the IB program will not be a good fit. IB has a policy of granting time and *a quarter* for kids needing extended time. Standard is time and a half for College Board tests (including AP).

 

Our experience with IB was not positive. It was so bad, in fact, that we pulled my son out after his first semester. It was a huge decision because of how it is going to look to colleges. We decided in the end that if a college was going to reject someone because he decided that the IB program wasn't right for him and actually did something about it, then that college probably wouldn't be a good fit anyway. Since my son will be applying to STEM focused colleges, I am hoping that they will understand why he left the IB program for a STEM focused program at the CC.

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. This means that European students have more pressure to perform well on the exams, and that schools are under more pressure to prepare them well for exams (especially since getting into top university programs requires scores well above the minimum for achieving the diploma). Students are held to an extremely rigorous level of performance in class because that is what will be required to achieve high test scores.

 

:iagree: it is the same in Asia. The IB programmes are meant to get the "scholars" into the competitive universities.

 

It depends on the kid. A particular kind of kid with particular interests will do very well in an IB program, but it can be horrible for a kid who does not fit the IB "box" (or perhaps I should call it a "sphere" as IB is big on being well rounded).

........

In addition, if your child is a "STEM person," the IB program is probably not going to be a good fit. IB coursework is very heavily focused on the humanities and social sciences. Of the eight courses, six of them are what I would consider to be humanities/social science oriented and/or language heavy: English, history, foreign language, art, TOK, and EE.

 

The IB programs are very YMMV. My nephew back home was a STEM student on a IB scholarship. He is now in the university on a scholarship for Engineering. He had time to party sensibly thoughout the IB program. He wil graduate with nice savings in his bank and no debt :)

 

I do agree that the IB program would fit a niche kind of child. The kind that thrive on being thrown to the deep end to swim.

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My son has not found the workload to be crushing, and he has an active social life :) But the IB program is not right for every child any more than one homeschool curriculum is right for every family!

 

A few things:

 

 

The IB student has to complete a total of 150 CAS (Creativitiy, Action and Service) hours over two years - not 150 per year.

 

I know that several of his classmates are taking two sciences. From the IB website:

 

"It is a requirement of the programme that students choose one subject from each of the academic areas 1 – 5. Alongside these five courses, a student can choose to study a group 6 subject, or to study an additional subject from groups 1 – 5."

 

Group 6 is The Arts, so you can take a second science instead. Or computer science, I think. I just looked at the IB website, and they are calling computer science an elective that would not replace math.

 

Group 1: Language and Literature

Group 2: Language Acquisition

Group 3: Individuals and Societies (History, Econ, Business, Psych, etc.)

Group 4: Experimental Sciences

Group 5: Mathematics

 

You take a mixture of High Level (HL) and Standard Level (SL) subjects. You are required to have three High Levels, and you are only allowed to have four. A kid interested in STEM could take HL Math and two HL Sciences.

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The IB student has to complete a total of 150 CAS (Creativitiy, Action and Service) hours over two years - not 150 per year.

I just checked on this--at my son's former school they had until April of the senior year to complete 150 hours. They have the CAS requirements for all grades in a table and for every other grade it is on a per year basis. Sorry about the misinformation!

 

I know that several of his classmates are taking two sciences. From the IB website:

 

"It is a requirement of the programme that students choose one subject from each of the academic areas 1 – 5. Alongside these five courses, a student can choose to study a group 6 subject, or to study an additional subject from groups 1 – 5."

 

As for taking a second science--yes, it is theoretically possible, but realistically, especially in a smaller school, the scheduling may not work out. And you have to be willing to give up art to do it.

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As for taking a second science--yes, it is theoretically possible, but realistically, especially in a smaller school, the scheduling may not work out. And you have to be willing to give up art to do it.

 

 

Good point, and if your state requires a fine arts credit then that becomes another thing you have to make happen during 9th or 10th grade.

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As for taking a second science--yes, it is theoretically possible, but realistically, especially in a smaller school, the scheduling may not work out. And you have to be willing to give up art to do it.

 

 

One of Calvin's friends is doing higher physics, chemistry and maths, as well as standard economics, English and German. It's a question of how willing the school is to accommodate the schedule, rather than school size per se. The boys' school has only 500 pupils from age 4 -18, so the IB cohort is only about 60 in each year.

 

Another (slightly mad person) is doing higher French (as a first language, even though French is actually his third language), biology, chemistry and maths, as well as standard English and economics. This is highly unusual, as most people only do three subjects at higher level. Calvin describes him as a machine who gets little sleep and doesn't have much social life. He wants to be a doctor and is fitting in lots of health service volunteering too.

 

Under the UK system, the years from age 14-16 take in eight to ten subjects across a very wide range to roughly SAT II level, so a narrower field of more intensive study from 16-18 is considered valuable.

 

Laura

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One of Calvin's friends is doing higher physics, chemistry and maths, as well as standard economics, English and German. It's a question of how willing the school is to accommodate the schedule, rather than school size per se. The boys' school has only 500 pupils from age 4 -18, so the IB cohort is only about 60 in each year.

 

 

My son's former school is so small that they have to schedule everyone in a particular grade for each subject at the same time. Add to that that they're only offering IB biology--not great for a budding engineer--and you get a total mismatch.

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My son's former school is so small that they have to schedule everyone in a particular grade for each subject at the same time. Add to that that they're only offering IB biology--not great for a budding engineer--and you get a total mismatch.

 

 

That's definitely not suitable, you're right.

 

Laura

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IB and AP aren't either or. My friend in FL (Pensacola area) graduated with an IB diploma and 12 APs. She went on to better than Ivy (or same league) school. She says teachers make all the difference and not all IB programs are created equal.

 

I think this is very unusual -- all the IB schools I've heard of are either/or. And given that the IB classes often have different curricula than AP, I'm curious if this student took AP classes, or took the AP test after taking a corresponding IB class.

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I think this is very unusual -- all the IB schools I've heard of are either/or. And given that the IB classes often have different curricula than AP, I'm curious if this student took AP classes, or took the AP test after taking a corresponding IB class.

 

 

 

This is what I found out of curiousity. It is possible for someone on an IB diploma program to take AP exams and do well.

 

"It is possible to take an IB course in some subject areas and take (and do well on) the AP exam in the same subject area (IB teachers will help students decide if they should take the AP exam for a particular subject). However, students who have not taken an IB course may not take an IB exam" (Source)

 

"Any student may take an AP exam; specific courses are taught but are not a prerequisite for the exams; IB students may take AP exams. " (Source)

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Very interesting point. Yes, in the UK one is offered a place at a university conditional on getting a certain score in the IB exam, so the exams are very high stakes.

 

Laura

 

This is the case in Canada, as well.

 

I did the IB Diploma program in high school not (too!) long ago. It was the most rigorous academic work I have ever completed, and I attended an Ivy-equivalent university and graduate school. I did 4 HLs: English, French A (1st language), Social and Cultural Anthropology, and History (European history focus option). I did my two SLs, Biology and Maths, in one year (exams at the end of Grade 11) in order to have time for my 4 HLs. Prepping for those last 4 exams (which themselves were each actually comprised of multiple exams over the course of several days) was incredibly stressful - ALL my university acceptances hinged on them.

 

That said, the sense of accomplishment when they were done and passed was phenomenal. I got full credits for my first year of uni (so went directly into 2nd year, saving a year of tuition) and a scholarship. It was well, well worth it. I had wonderful, dedicated teachers - the program really attracted the best of the best PS teachers - many of whom I still have great mentoring relationships with to this day.

 

Is it for everyone? No. I wouldn't discount it for STEM students, though. It's definitely possible to design a course program with a HL STEM focus.

 

As for average scores, you do generally need well over the 24 minimum to get into a decent school, IME. I had a 40, FWIW. I think most in my class had around 36-40ish, and the majority went on to Ivy/Ivy equivalents, many with scholarships and a great deal of advanced standing credit.

 

Oh, and I did have a social life! :) I danced competitively until the end of Grade 11 as well.

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THe more I learn about IB, the more I think (at least when I look at who DS is NOW, which of course won't be who he is in 3 years) that it won't be a fit. DS needs downtime, needs extra curriculars and a life outside of school. Perhaps this will change as he matures, but I can't see him interested or capable of devoting this kind of time to academics.

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THe more I learn about IB, the more I think (at least when I look at who DS is NOW, which of course won't be who he is in 3 years) that it won't be a fit. DS needs downtime, needs extra curriculars and a life outside of school. Perhaps this will change as he matures, but I can't see him interested or capable of devoting this kind of time to academics.

 

FWIW, Calvin - reading this post - said, 'I do extracurriculars - quite a lot of them.' He sings in two choirs, learns the bass guitar, plays in a jazz band and plays the bass a fair bit at home. He also lounges around and plays on Facebook.

 

He's at school from 9-4, then does one to two hours of homework. At weekends he probably works for about eight hours over two days. Next year will probably be tougher.

 

Laura

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My ds graduated from an IB school and dd currently attends. IB classes do not start until junior year. Prior to that curriculum is "honors." Government is one course students have to complete before junior year to complete the full IB diploma. So at our school students take AP Government in 10th grade. That is the only official AP class offered at the school. However, you do not need to be in an AP class to take AP exams. Many students will take the AP exam in the subject of their chosen IB courses.

 

One thing I really like about IB is the heavy writing and communication requirements. AP courses can be taught without any emphasis on writing and communication. AP courses can be taught with an emphasis on simply memorizing and spitting back. IB courses are not set up like this. IB exams are two part, both long. One part is an oral exam that may be in a group setting and the other is an essay exam. In math classes students are not expected to simply memorize a formula and use it, they are expected to be able to explain why certain formula is the best way to solve a certain problem. This requires a greater depth of understanding the math.

 

My ds took Biology (honors), Chemistry (IB) and Physics (IB). Physics was his 2 year course. He also had time in his schedule to take a dual enrollment Geological Information Systems course. Plenty of STEM available.

 

I've done my own informal surveys of kids I've known from community activities (swim team, church, etc). I've noticed the kids who took AP heavy curriculum at a neighboring high school found the first year of college an adjustment, while the kids who do the IB curriculum found the first year of college pretty easy. It seems IB students were better able to write and analyze. This was true even if the student took IB courses, but did not finish the full diploma. That is just what I have observed, not a scientific based analysis.

 

Students in IB do extracurriculars. The girls basketball team is going to the state tournament tonight. I know students in multiple sports, band, drama, etc. However, they have to be organized and INTERNALLY driven.

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My ds graduated from an IB school and dd currently attends. IB classes do not start until junior year. Prior to that curriculum is "honors."

 

 

This is key. If the school is properly set up for a decent high school IB programme then a STEM student could take maths for four years, two sciences in the two first years of high school, then two concurrent sciences in the last two (IB) years.

 

Calvin is more interested in arts/humanities. He has nonetheless taken three sciences in 'high school' (chemistry and physics concurrently for two years, followed by biology for two years within the IB). Given his interests he has been able to take four years each of history, English, French and Latin, as well as two years of geography, the latter before starting the IB.

 

Laura

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I think this is very unusual -- all the IB schools I've heard of are either/or. And given that the IB classes often have different curricula than AP, I'm curious if this student took AP classes, or took the AP test after taking a corresponding IB class.

 

I asked my friend. According to her it all depends on the school. She did IB and AP classes as well as IB and AP exams (she did 12APs). After reading from others about IB I now understand why she got into very exclusive undergrad program she applied.

 

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I asked my friend. According to her it all depends on the school. She did IB and AP classes as well as IB and AP exams (she did 12APs). After reading from others about IB I now understand why she got into very exclusive undergrad program she applied.

 

Within the boys' school, it is unusual to take other exams during the IB years. The exception is taking A level maths instead of IB Higher Maths, because the latter is at a very high level, so people often take standard level IB maths and boost it with A level maths.

 

Laura

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I think this is very unusual -- all the IB schools I've heard of are either/or. And given that the IB classes often have different curricula than AP, I'm curious if this student took AP classes, or took the AP test after taking a corresponding IB class.

 

 

I went through the IB program in high school, I took the corresponding AP's for all of my IB classes and achieved 4's and 5's on the exams. I did use AP study guides for some of them, but most of my knowledge for the AP's came from the IB classes. The situation may be different now, but back then the AP was much better known at American universities and the credit granted was better--though I personally found the IB exams to be more difficult and comprehensive.

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I only know about the PS IB program here in our city. It is offered at a good high school, but only less than 20 kids per year get the diploma. The young man I know well who is in it is very driven, hard working, and focused. I suspect that is a requirement. The writing requirements are significant, and to prepare for the exams, they practice writing a long paper during class time. He tells me he can get down the equivalent of a 4 page paper, reasonably organized, in one 50 minute class period. That alone is impressive. The kids I know who've completed the IB diploma have generally gone to Ivies, (Brown, Harvard, Yale in the past 3 years) or Hopkins, as it offers free tuition to kids who graduate from a Baltimore city public high school and get in on their own merits.

 

IMO APs are generally in a lower league, because they require a lot of memorization, but little analysis. However, I do think some APs (chemistry and Calculus come to mind) require more understanding of the student.

 

Not many students will have the drive and organizational skills to thrive in an IB program. And it's definitely true that math\science types won't find what they need in IB.

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And it's definitely true that math\science types won't find what they need in IB.

 

I disagree with this. It just takes the school being organised around the IB, not doing it as an add-on. At my boys' school, between age 14 and 18 they typically do four years of maths, two years (ages 14-16) of two or three sciences, followed by (should they wish) two years of sciences from age 16-18, giving a total of four years of maths and 4-5 sciences.

 

Laura

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At my school, I did AP and IB (the AP exams were easy at the end of the year). The IB exams got me college credits that the APs didn't, and the APs got me credit that the IBs didn't. It was a lot of work, but it was intellectually stimulating. There was still enough time for us to pursue multiple extracurriculars, and the twenty-five people ended up in so many classes together that we made good friends (especially compared to the "general population" students we only saw in the halls and PE class.) The AP-only students were good students, but we found them to be intellectually lazy (ahem, dumb).

 

With a difficult courseload in all subjects, an amazing philosophy course called Theory of Knowledge, and a schedule of teachers trusted by the school to teach nearly- college level material, along with an Extended Essay and CAS requirements, there was no room for us to be intellectually lazy. One thing to remember is that your son doesn't have to dominate in the program, that the program is what it is and it challenges kids. Most kids thought about quitting at one point or another, but the ones who didn't survived not because they were smarter or needed less sleep, but because they were more persistant. It's a good skill to learn at 16.

 

In the city I live in now, the public school's IB program is superior to the expensive academic private schools. It costs far less (free), and it provides a better mix of kids (doctor's and lawyer's kids, sure, but also low-income smart kids who work 20 hours afterschool to provide for their own food/clothes)

 

A 31 is a really good average. That was my score, and I arrived at Ohio State with enough credits to technically be a junior through my IB classes and the AP test equivalents. If your kid is very science-y, there might be better options (dual enrollment?), as IB is very well-rounded in the humanities, but you could also just do IB and pursue extra science at community college in the summer. That's what several friends did to boost their high school GPA.

 

Most colleges know what IB is now. I know a college admissions officer for a well-known private college, and she doesn't know the particulars of the program but she gives a boost to any student who has it on their application. Also, in our state we get the school diploma and later on, our IB diploma. The exam scores come back in July, so the colleges don't know or care if you actually earn the diploma or only receive the IB participation "certificate". When we came back for our IB diploma ceremony as college freshmen, we were all in agreement that college was super easy compared to the long essay practice we had in high school. It smoothed the transition, guaranteed our success as freshmen, and allowed us more time to pursue our interests at college.

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I can't say for sure, but dh and I believe that IB will be right for our children when the time comes (they are young now). Dh was the IB coordinator at an international christian school (for anyone who cares: IB is highly secular; we used it with a Biblical worldview, but most schools do not). It is rigorous for certain, and I agree that some kids just won't do well in it.

 

The pp did a good job of explaining it ... I will just add that North America is now seeing the largest growth of the IB diploma (which starts in grade 11; the IB has programs for younger students, too). In addition, a score of 31 average to low average. Just for reference, the highest student score I have seen is 42. One last thing: the diploma rides on one series of tests. If your children do not test well, this probably isn't the best option for them.

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Not many students will have the drive and organizational skills to thrive in an IB program. And it's definitely true that math\science types won't find what they need in IB.

 

I'm with Laura on this one. I did Bio high level and Chem standard level (used to be called subsidiary level), went to college as a microbiology major (though I later switched and only did that as a minor). I had IB classmates doing two sciences and math at the high level--our school had a fabulous AP physics teacher whose students regularly got 7's on the Physics high exam. Some of those kids went on to MIT, Princeton, and top British universities.

 

FWIW, everyone I have talked to who graduated with the IB diploma has agreed that college was easy by comparison.

 

ETA: the students in the IB physics high class regularly pulled all-nighters to complete their lab reports. There are reasons I did not take that class--and reasons I do not jump to recommend IB for most students. Honestly if I could go back and counsel my young self choosing a high school path I might recommend not doing the IB--I've never been sure it was worth the stress. Then again, I learned a lot, especially about critical thinking, essay writing, etc.--and there was a huge sense of accomplishment and pride when those exam scores came back.

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