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DD is considering doing IB instead of A-levels

(40 Posts)
Themumsnot Thu 08-Nov-12 23:54:28

We have a sixth form options evening coming up so I would like some pros and cons from people who have experienced the IB.
I can see that it might work well for her as she is a true all-rounder who doesn't want to limit her choices so soon but I have a couple of concerns.
One is workload: with six subjects and an extended project it must surely be pretty intense.
The other is university offers as I have bee told anecotally that IB offers can be higher than the equivalent A-level offers.
There is also the issue that the only place where she can do IB is an hour and a half away by train, although our local FE college is so dire that quite a few people make the trek for A-level anyway. But three hours travelling a day is a lot, and the last train home is at 8.30 so she will be limited in extracurricular activities too.
But the main thing is for her to choose the right course. She is hardworking and ambitious, but not sure what direction to go in yet.

Phineyj Tue 20-Nov-12 22:45:09

I think 30-50 students is quite a small number and may restrict options, but it all depends which subjects your DD is interested in. It would mean small classes which is often good (obviously not so great for practical subjects like drama or sports science, for instance).

Regarding what Squeezedatbothends said, my (state) school's results stack up pretty well against the international competition. We have had students get the maximum number of points.

BiscuitCrumbsInBed Tue 20-Nov-12 23:03:40

I did the IB some 12 years ago at a local 6th form college. Just to query one comment from another poster, IIRC, you are not competing with other students in IB exams as they are marked against criteria rather than eg the top 10% getting a 7. May be worth checking this (IBO website may have info?) as it was a long time ago! All my comments may be out of date by now but FWIW:

It was very hard work and full on with CAS as well but I loved it and would recommend to anyone who is academically capable and an all rounder. I think it is arguably 'easier' for those inclined towards humanities subjects as there are 'easy' options for maths and science - maths studies (basically all statistics) and environmental systems.

I had an offer of 36 points from Oxford, worked about as hard as my brother who got 4 As at A level, and got 41 points.

IB is fantastic for making you think, pulling together different subjects, generally broadening your mind and giving you confidence, I felt pretty well prepared for the tutorial system. TOK in particular is a great bonus with students bringing their different experiences and interests to a philosophy type discussion. I loved it!

HappilyDeluded Sun 16-Dec-12 12:51:50

I too am facing the IB/A/PreU dilemma. Ds's school offers all 3 but the hard sell this year is definitely IB. He is definitely sold, but I have a couple of reservations: (1) because I "know" A Levels and feel comfortable with them and (2) the perennial question - is any teenage boy organised enough to do them!

However, I have been involved in graduate recruitment for a number of years and do look at 6th form qualifications as part of the mix. Too many applicants with uni 1sts/2.1s to meaningfully narrow down the selection - and it's not all that easy (or correct) to rank by uni either. And yes an IB does make me think differently about a candidate (there's often little to variance in A level results).

So looking at the long term, I will go with his enthusiasm and try to hold back on my concerns - but I'll be raising the question of "organisation" with his current teachers.

Phineyj Sun 16-Dec-12 17:49:04

There are teenage boys in the classes I teach organised enough for IB - they just don't ostentatiously show off their colour coded ring binders like the girls! Put it this way though - when do you want your DS to get organised - now, while he's under your eye, or at university costing you 1000s a year? Also with IB the public exams aren't until Y13 so he has a little longer to get himself into good study habits. You will need to make sure he works on his Extended Essay during the 2013 summer holidays.

complexnumber Mon 17-Dec-12 14:29:34

Just to confirm what had already been said on this thread a few times; the IB Dip. really is a better preparation for Uni.

Every year we have past students (normally those who left the previous summer) to come in and talk to our IB students about life after IB, and university life in general.

Year after year the message is clear, they feel they are streets ahead of other non-IB students when they arrive in terms of preparation for higher level education, study skills and time management (Regardless of where in the world they go to Uni).

Themumsnotroastingonanopenfire Mon 17-Dec-12 15:59:57

Well DD has now applied to the local college for A-levels and the further away college for IB as she still can't make up her mind. She is leaning towards IB though as she has talked to quite a few people from both colleges now and in general the one at the local college are far less positive about the experience.

Indyteach Tue 18-Dec-12 22:51:30

Hello. First ever post, so excuse me if I waver from standard chat routines. I teach IB diploma and A Level too. IB is excellent and A Levels can be too.

There's an important point that not all subjects equate directly to their A Level counterpart. For example many A Levels A* grades are roughly a 7, but Higher Maths is for serious mathematicians only. In other subjects, a 7 might even be easier than an A*.

The IB is hard work, but so is life. It may be easier to get into some courses at some universities with A Levels, but not all. The pattern varies within subjects and univerisities and is often oversimplified. For example, it's very hard to get into Maths at Cambridge with IB, as they want Maths and Further Maths and aren't really interested in anything else. But Maths at Oxford is arguably easier to get into with IB than A Levels.

You absolutely need to get the blinkers on and consider your child's needs and strengths, rather than anything else. If they are not all rounders and are fixed on a career in a field such as Engineering, then A Levels are right for them.

An important thing to consider is that A Level students apply with AS scores, rather than school-based predictions for IB students. This means that A Level students need to be on the ball immediately and cannot afford to slip up, whereas IB students could still get a high prediction to apply with even if they haven't excelled in the Lower Sixth, as the teacher can use their discretion and knowledge of the student to form their prediction. Anything less than all A's at AS at the same stage can close the door on many top universities. There is a myth that A Levels are easier, but I'm not so sure. IB may be more work, but not always harder work.

I had a student who missed their offer and insurance with 32 points, which is a modest score. They got their results at the beginning of July and were able to ring around and secure a Russell Group place in a very competitive subject before the A Level results were even out.

Just a few thoughts, sorry they are slightly rambling. IB and A Level are both strong and most able candidates will rise to the top either way.

IloveKatieHopkins Thu 25-Jul-13 16:18:05

The IB is way better than shitty A-Levels grin

sashh Sat 27-Jul-13 11:02:52

There is coursework that takes a huge amount of time but most of the marks (most subjects) come from the exams. These take place in one block over 2 and half weeks at the end. There is nothing stopping an exam schedule (it varies each year) being morning and afternoon for a week solid.

But A Levels are going back to being terminal exams so A Levels could also be in a one week block.

TheCavalier Sun 20-Jul-14 23:49:17

Just to give some advice for any parents reserved about their kids (sons especially) starting the IB.

I started the IB in 2011. I attended a top boarding school and my housemaster was vehemently against me studying the IB as opposed to A-levels, as, in his eyes, I simply wasn't organised enough. He got this impression due to me having a messy room (I was 16 and didn't have my mum around to nag me). He said that girls generally faired better in the IB, as they were more organised. Whilst my room was a mess, I was a bit dishevelled most of the time, disorganised isn't the same thing. I always had my notes around, always knew what homework I had. I might not write it down, or keep everything neat, but it was organised in my own manner.

I ignored the wishes of my parents, who thought that I would be better suited to A-levels and my housemaster and started the IB. It was a shock to the system, to say the least. It took me a month before I found my feet and had a LOT to catch up on. But two years, 4 university offers, 19 exams and countless coursework later, I came out with 39 points in the IB, and got into a top UK university, something I know that would never have been possible without the IB. It was the kick up the arse the annoying, lazy, 16 year old me needed to transform into the confident, independent twenty year old I am today.

HeleneCixous Mon 21-Jul-14 12:14:33

Thanks for that The Cavalier. I have a Y11 slacker-boy who is also adamant the IB is for him, good to know he may still develop a good work ethic grin

soddinghormones Mon 21-Jul-14 12:47:27

helene my then Y11 slacker boy was also adamant that he wanted to do the IB...

unfortunately after starting Y12 all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed he soon reverted to type and has had to spend the first week of the holidays completing biology course-work which should have been done weeks ago, he's still not completed his extended essay draftand if I was still pulling my hair out over his lack of effort when it comes to completing his CAS requirements I would be bald by now (fortunately I've decided it's his life and he needs to take responsibility for this ...)

There is a shed-load of work - all of which should be manageable if only he were just a tiny bit organised, sadly his work ethic is yet to materialise ...

Bonsoir Mon 21-Jul-14 15:01:13

A school averaging 32 points in the IB and a top score of 37 is to be avoided at all costs.

The less able DCs of friends who did the IB and went to second or third tier HE all got at least 36.

AtYourCervix Mon 21-Jul-14 15:20:12

DD1 has just finished IB. She scored 29 points and has got into the university of her choice (Russel Group blah blah...) They originally wanted 34 points but lowered it to 28 at offer.

I disagree with Bonsoir. DDs 29 score is average. Her friends scored between 26 up to 38.

AtYourCervix Mon 21-Jul-14 15:21:41

And this is a zombie thread.

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