The International Baccalaureate (IB) is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to the Higher School Certificate (HSC), the Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE) or the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) in Australia.
The need to provide and administer a global education that caters to students internationally, the IB program specialises in preparing students for a more global environment.
The IB Diploma course is offered at more than 5000 schools in 158 countries around the world.
The IB consists of four parts:
Primary Years Programme (PYP)
The IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) for children aged 3 - 12 nurtures and develops young students as caring, active participants in a lifelong journey of learning.
Middle Years Program (MYP)
The International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP) is for students aged 11-16. The MYP is a challenging framework that encourages students to make practical connections between their studies and the real world.
The MYP is a five-year programme, which can be implemented in a partnership between schools, or several abbreviated (two, three or four years) formats. Students who complete the MYP are well-prepared to undertake the IB Diploma Programme (DP) or Career-related Programme (CP).
Diploma Programme (DP)
The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) is for students aged 16-19. The programme aims to develop students who have excellent breadth and depth of knowledge – students who flourish physically, intellectually, emotionally and ethically.
Career-Related Program (CP)
The International Baccalaureate (IB) Career-related Programme (CP) is designed for students aged 16-19. The CP is a framework of international education that incorporates the values of the IB into a unique programme addressing the needs of students engaged in career-related education.
The programme leads to further/higher education, apprenticeships or employment.
While each of these qualifications forms a pathway into the next, they can also be studied independently of one another. Consequently, you may find that some schools offer all qualifications, while others only offer one or two.
There are currently 76 schools in Australia offering the IB Diploma and 3 schools in Australia offering the IB Career-related program. Most of these are independent schools, but some government schools now also offer the IB as an alternative program. Let’s take a look at the benefits of IB.
The IB is recognised by leading universities in Australia and around the world.
The IB Diploma Program is recognised by all leading universities, which instantly makes you globally competitive
Regardless of where you sit your IB exams, the exams and results are standardized and widely recognized by many top institutions
Unlike the IB program, country-specific programs don’t have the same global reach. Entering any local or foreign university will be much easier with the IB program
The IB Diploma is effectively a “university preparation program”, in that it teaches you skills and ways of learning that will set you up to do well at a tertiary education level.
After two years of practice, it’s fair to say that you will have mastered fundamental skills necessary to succeed in a university such as writing a university-style report or essay, source citing, and how to conduct independent research - the Extended Essay (EE) component of the IB program prepares you for this.
In the IB, you are not tested on your ability to memorise facts and theories (which could be said for other curriculums), but rather on your ability to understand how facts are presented and how theories are applied. You will have also learned how to think critically - the philosophy-based component of the course, Theory of Knowledge (TOK) trains you for this
This expanded thinking is necessary for university, where you’ll be exposed to many different concepts, opinions, and of course, people.
Many students start university on the backfoot and have a hard time getting accustomed to the huge leap in difficulty, but not IB students. IB subjects (particularly the higher-level ones) are on par with first-year university content, which will also make your transition easier.
The IB’s heavy workload forces you to get into good study habits and work on ways to better manage your time, and these are most certainly important skills for university, where you’ll be in charge of your learning.
All IB programmes encompass all aspects of personal learning and growth and emphasize the development of active relationships at all levels (between the subject domains, the individuals, the peer groups, the communities and the world around them)
Despite the benefits, the IB is not for everyone. The withdrawal rate during the two-year IB Diploma program tends to be higher than for the state-based programs.
Below are some of the reasons:
Length of study
The IB is no walk in the park. It is more of a marathon and not a sprint.
You need to be a “long-distance learner” to do well in the IB. It requires consistent work and solid performance over two years. While everyone else has to be “on” for one year, you have to be on for two.
Exams aren’t spread out, either, which means that at the end of your final year, you’ll be tested on two years’ worth of topics, and you’ll have to have a solid foundation and understanding of the material taught throughout the two years
In the IB, not only have you got all the coursework and assignments that come with the six mandatory subjects, but also the essays, presentations, and projects that you need to do for the three core components: EE, TOK, and CAS.
This makes it a much more demanding and content-heavy course, and it’s why being diligent and organised is more important than being smart. You need to be able to manage your time well to fit in all the activities as well as keep your grades up consistently with all the different assessments going on.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible without severely cutting into your sleep time or testing your sanity (or both).
Even with so many subject choices, there’s less flexibility in the IB due to the compulsory breadth of study it requires.
The IB Diploma is a rigid curriculum with a six subject allowance dispersed across six categories, or rather five if you forgo the arts category, which is about as flexible as it gets.
If you don’t take an arts subject, you can always opt to invest heavily in science This means you can take two sciences, instead of an arts course. Also, the subjects you choose will weigh heavily not just in your university admission but also in your admissions course
However, there are some students who find IB suits their needs.
Scholars who enjoy having rounded global education covering a range of subject areas typically find themselves more drawn towards an education of this nature. The two-year program provides an extended academic program for those who thrive on such a challenge.
Not to mention that the IB Diploma opens up many tertiary options for IB graduates as it is a widely recognised qualification for university entrance around the world
Before you consider the IB program, ask yourself these five questions
1) What is your learning style?
2) What kind of student are you?
3) How much self-discipline do you have?
4) How hard are you willing to push yourself?
5) Which university do you want to attend?