The International Baccalaureate, or IB, is a challenging and well-rounded programme of education for 16-19-year-old students. It's an Internationally recognised course, followed by students around the world. Until recently in the UK it was only taught in a minority of independent schools, but is now an option in some state schools too. It's currently on offer at around 200 schools across the UK.
The IB course leads to a qualification called the IB Diploma, which is very well-respected by universities and is also an advantage if you are hoping to study overseas.
The IB has a reputation for being demanding but very rewarding. It offers a broader programme of study than A levels, and encourages students to think independently, and to explore their creativity.
The IB will aim to teach you to:
Explore what it is to learn
Ask challenging and thoughtful questions
Develop a sense of identity and culture
Develop the ability to communicate with people from different countries and cultures
WHAT SUBJECTS ARE STUDIED?
There are three compulsory, core 'elements' to the IB. These are:
Theory of knowledge (TOK): you will learn about where knowledge comes from, how to analyse evidence and how to argue a point
Creativity, action and service: you will be encouraged to get involved in theatre or musical activities, sports and/or community service
Extended essay: you will be asked to investigate a topic of interest and to write a 4,000-word essay
In addition, you will take six subjects - three at standard level, three at higher level. This gives more options than A levels when it comes to choosing a mix of subjects.
The six subjects are:
A first language (your mother tongue)
A second language
An experimental science (biology, chemistry, physics, design technology)
A mathematics and computer science
The arts (visual, theatre and music)
Individuals and society (history, psychology, geography)
IB students complete assessment tasks in school and take written exams at the end of the programme.
Each of the six subjects taken is marked out of 7 (maximum of 42 points).
Candidates can gain up to 3 extra points for their extended essay and the TOK elements of the IB.
The diploma is awarded to students who gain at least 24 points, out of a total of 45 points.
An IB diploma total of 24 points is worth a B and two C grades at A level, rising to the equivalent of six A levels at grade A for the maximum 45 points.
The top UK universities usually make offers to students who achieve between 32 and 40 points.