Talk to me about the International Baccalaureate (IB)(13 Posts)
I'm looking for opinions on the IB and what it entails is it stressful? Is it more work than alevels? Is it valued anymore? My dd is keen to do the IB,she is a hardworker and high achiever and has an interest in politics
Good for humanities. Not good if you want to do sciences.
You can't specialise in the sciences and maths in the way you can with A levels. If the OP's DD is interested in politics and the humanities, then it give a rounded education.
Dd is interested in social sciences and humanities. She likes politics and All things like that. She fancies something different then alevels that's all.
I am not sure the IB is good enough for MFL students either. However as a general rule, if you are good at maths, sciences and the arts and would like to carry on with a wider choice of subjects into the 6th form, the IB is a good idea. It means you do not really specialise but can take higher modules in your favoured subjects to get the points score up. A levels can be targeted more accurately to a degree, eg STEM subjects or MFL.
I think schools put a lot of extra resources into IB and then try and persuade young people to do it, whether it is the best option for them or not. If your DD is really good at social sciences and humanities, these can easily be covered by A levels. If she does not want the obligatory subjects at IB then it is best avoided because her points will be lower than she could have obtained with top class A levels. I don't think IB should be chosen because it is different. It should be chosen because the style of the IB really suits your DD's educational profile - ideally an all rounder.
I've had DCs do the IB and DCs do A levels and I would recommend A levels every time. It's less work and its easier to get high grades. The CASS requirement is also quite onerous for some students.
There were a lot of 'suprise' IB results at my DCs school with many students doing worse than expected. Only the most academic students did the IB but some still really struggled with it (I admit it could be the school? )
My DCs found the IB hard but they still enjoyed it and, fortuanately,they did well at it. They liked taking a wider range of subjects. One went on to do medicine and the other Maths.
DC3 did 4 full A'levels and we think it was still less work than the IB although it's still hard.
DC4 is doing 3 full A'Levels which is less work again but means he can concerntrate on getting excellent grades - and three good grade A levels gets you into any university and almost any course.
despite what some people might say
One advantage of the IB is that they get their results much earlier than the A level results - as long as they get the results they want it means they can have a fantastic long summer before starting Uni. My DCs really appreciated it.
Personally, I think the IB is infinitely better than A levels, but it doesn't suit everybody - students do need to be good all rounders, and I agree with the pp who said that it requires considerably more work. I guess it comes down to what you're looking for from an education, really - an easy path to good results or a fuller, rounder, more holistic education that demands significantly more effort.
It simply isn't accurate to say that IB students "don't specialise", or that the IB is only suitable for students who want to do humanities. Many do go on to do medicine, engineering and the natural sciences at prestigious universities. Indeed, I've heard many teachers argue that IB higher maths is considerably harder than A level, and similar for higher level MFL. There is a reason why only the brighter kids tend to do IB at the schools which offer both options!
The only problem with the IB in my view is that it is quite restrictive in terms of subject choice. That's fine if the options happen to fit with your preferences, but it isn't necessarily workable for everyone.
If your dd likes the look of it and is prepared to put in the effort, I'd tell her to go for it! I am only sorry that there are no schools that offer it where we live, as I'd love my dd to have the opportunity to do it. She is very lucky to have the option!
If your goal is to give your DC an excellent education, the IB is well worth considering. The three Higher Level subjects are at A level standard (some a bit lower, some a bit higher, but overall roughly equivalent), while the Standard Level subjects are a shade higher than AS Level, and result in a very well rounded education. Plus, there is the 5,000 word Extended Essay research paper, along with 2,000 word externally assessed research papers in every subject, which mean DC arrive at university very well prepared. I believe IB students do better than average throughout university as a result. IB is also a good choice for students who aren't sure which direction they want to go in at 15. My DD could have applied to study a range of humanities or biological sciences at university.
BUT... if your goal is to minimize stress and get your DC into the best possible UK university, I would steer clear of the IB. On the stress front, there are the CAS (Creativity, Activity and Service) hours that make for a well rounded, community-minded person but take up a lot of time. Then there is Theory of Knowledge. Plus the fact that students are carrying six subjects, often with at least one where they have little aptitude, plus that 5,000 word Extended Essay, 6x2,000 word pieces of submitted coursework, oral exams in a host of subjects (not just languages), plus..... It is a very heavy programme.
For universities: One mediocre grade in a Standard Level course that is not remotely related to your DC's future plans (in my DD's case, maths) can pull down the whole average, making it difficult to hit those conditional offers. And IB students are competing for places with A Level students, who are generally taking far fewer courses and only in areas of strength.
For medicine, IB students simply cannot take three sciences and this can be limiting. DD's friends had very limited options for medicine despite being top students. And in my
humble opinion, many UK universities do no properly value IB and have requirements that do not equate to what they require for A Level (unlike Canadian and US universities).
Hope this helps.
I agree with boatashore.
Whilst there are obviously merits to the IB, doing one when you're going to be applying yourself to a UK uni is putting yourself on the back foot. In my experience, universities do not give significantly lower offers to IB candidates in recognition of how hard it is. So all too often it's easier to just get your 3 As a at A level, in your areas of strength and get in to uni that way. Of course, there are things you can do to add to your A levels if you want to, like the AQA Bacc, but I don't think that is widely recognised either.
If it were my daughter, I'd advise her to do A levels unless she was a) a very academic all rounder and b) didn't know what she wanted to do at uni.
If she's looking at alternatives, there is always the Cambridge Pre Us if you can find somewhere that offers them!
Sevenoaks which is all IB got 45 to Oxbridge last year doing a range of subjects so I counter the claims that it makes Uni applications harder. A State grammar down the road from Sevonoaks that do IB also do well at Uni applications. My DD is keen to do IB for a host of reasons including she likes to be challenged, likes science, history and languages and the element of IB about your place in the world and volunteering is so much more then just passing exams. Plus the government don't seem to interfere with it! , no grade inflation, instructions to suddenly mark more harshly.
Sevenoaks is one of the most academic schools in the country so obviously has many fantastic academic candidates for Oxbridge. Most schools cannot compare with them. I second doing the course that suits you best, academically. I don't think the IB is particularly good for joint honours languages but perfectly good for lots of courses. Being an academic all rounder is probably the best starting point for the IB and being unable to decide which subjects to drop is an advantage!
I agree with boatashore. DD has just finished her IB, which was much, much more work than A-levels, which DS and D-niece did.
However, I do think that she is very well prepared for university - the Extended Essay (maximum 4,000 words) is excellent preparation for university work, as are the Written Assignments that are around 1,500 words.
DD enjoyed her CAS work, but I can see that for some students it was both time-consuming and quite an effort.
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