IB International Baccalaureate Curriculum – Pros and Cons
Whether you’re just hearing about the International Baccalaureate for the first time, or you’re already deep into the decision-making process, look no further.
You can’t go past the most obvious point in the IB’s favour – the international aspect.
The IB Diploma Program is recognised by all leading universities, which instantly puts you on the world stage and contextualises your application.
Regardless of where you sit your IB exams, the results mean the same thing, and they’re understood by admissions officers.
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 such as university style report and essay writing, source citing, and how to conduct independent research.
So when you get to uni and your first assignment is a 4,000-word research report complete with academic references, this won’t come as a shock because you’ve been there, done that in the Extended Essay (EE) component of the IB.
While other students are looking up referencing guides and working out how to structure such a long essay, you’ll be on your body paragraph, keeping up with source citations as you go.
The breadth of study is something that the IB offers that no other curriculum comes close to.
You’re exposed to a much wider range of subjects in the IB than you are in other curriculums.
Not only do you have to choose a wider range of subjects in the IB, but you have a much wider range to choose from. Courses offered in the IB Diploma include psychology, philosophy, film, computer science, and global politics, which you won’t find on many school subject lists.
But it’s necessary to provide choice in order to develop “well-rounded students”, which is one of the goals of the IB Diploma Program.
In the IB, you grow not only as a student, but as a human.
Not surprising coming from a country known for its neutrality, one of the IBO’s aims for its IB programs is to create a more peaceful world by creating more socially conscious adults who will go on to make meaningful contributions long after they’ve completed their education.
Length of study
The IB is no walk in the park. In fact, it’s not a walk at all. Think of it more as a run – but a marathon, 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 a two-year period. 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 come the end of your final year you’ll be tested on two years, and you’ll have to have just as strong an understanding of the material taught at the beginning of the course than at the end.
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 really well to fit in all the activities as well as keep your grades up consistently with all the different assessments going on.
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 “double dip” in another category, but there’s no triple dipping. This means you can take two sciences, for example, which for most people might be enough.