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The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (16 to 19)

The IB Diploma Programme (IBDP) is offered by around 65% of the bigger IB private schools around the World

Subjects are offered at Higher Level, Standard Level or both. To qualify for the Diploma a student must pass at least three subjects at Higher Level and a total of six from the following list:

  • Language and Literature A (generally the student’s native language)
  • Language and Literature B (schools will offer their own selection of languages – it should not be the student’s first language)
  • Individuals and Societies (Business, Economics, Geography, Global Politics, History, IT )
  • Experimental Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Design Technology, Environmental Systems, Sports and Health Science)
  • Mathematics Analysis and Approaches; Mathematics Applications and Interpretations
  • Arts and Electives (instead of Arts, students may take an additional subject from groups 2,3,4 or 5). Arts may include Dance, Film, Music, Theatre and Visual Arts.

A candidate can receive between 1 and 7 points in each category. He or she can also get up to 3 points for The Theory of Knowledge and The Extended Essay – thereby meaning a maximum score of 45 points which a small number of candidates actually achieve. In addition, students must complete a project on Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS).

A Diploma is awarded to those scoring 24 points or more. CAS does not contribute to the overall score, but must be completed to gain the full Diploma. Additionally to fail both the TOK and the EE also means to fail the Diploma.

The Theory of Knowledge is obligatory and similar to the subject of Philosophy covering:

  • Ways of Knowing
  • Routes of Knowledge
  • Value Judgement

For the Extended Essay, students must write 4000 words on an independent topic within the subjects being taught within the IB. This is intended to show the kind of independence, analysis and writing skills expected by universities. It is a valuable first experience of individual research.

You can see from the above that the DP requires a broader range of knowledge and skills than those demanded by three similar A- level subjects. The huge difference is that a linguist is challenged to learn a science and that a scientist must learn a foreign language. This keeps university options open longer, especially when no one can predict what professional life will demand in many years from now.

It is recommended that those students aiming for a medical or science degree should also take a second science in Section 6. Plainly it is best to check with the preferred universities before embarking upon study.

As a rough indication of difficulty, the HL subject version requires 240 hours of teaching time and SL 160 hours, BUT it varies by subject – so students need to choose carefully

The IB Bilingual Diploma is a version of the IBDP awarded to candidates demonstrating proficiency in two different languages where you have to score 3 or higher in both. This has the advantage of showing universities proficiency in the particular language of instruction and can also be an advantage in employment internationally.

There is also an Irregular Diploma when students pick three subjects from the same group – sometimes used for medical degrees in Sweden and India.

Parents and students should note that the choice of IB subjects at HL and SL is every bit as important as selecting a school – ask us for advice. Schools are not necessarily going to offer ALL of the IBO approved subjects.

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