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IB V Alevels, how do the same subjects compare in both and where is there a list re CAS activities?(10 Posts)
Ds helpfully now interested in this after we’ve missed the school info evening.🙄
CAS - pretty much anything counts so long as the student isn't paid to do it. Eg, my DC1 could count practicing bass guitar & band rehearsals for Creativity, but not a gig that they got paid for. A classmate learned embroidery. Another did costumes for the local Am Dram. It's all v, v flexible.
Activity- anything vaguely sporty counts. They set targets for themselves & log what they do. DC1 logged lical running, plus swimming & joined a gym.
Service - anything voluntary. Guiding/Scouting helping younger units, garden maintenance for care home, St John's.
"Does it count for CAS?" becomes a catchphrase!
How arduous is it compared to Alevels? Keep reading all these threads saying it’s a massive slog in comparison. How do the same subjects compare in IB and Alevel?
We offer A Levels and IB at our school. The IB students have a full timetable - think GCSE timetabling for another two years. Ours are lucky if they have one free a week. Three higher subjects plus three standard plus Theory of Knowledge plus extended essay plus CAS - that's the workload.
IB students tend to need to be highly motivated, ambitious, organised, really hard-working.
DS finished his IB earlier this year. His school only offer IB at 6th form. He had 3 study periods a week, plus a double period that had to be used for CAS - when he spoke to friends at other schools doing A level he found that this was fewer study periods (or non-contact time) than at A level.
He didn't find the CAS too difficult - maybe because his school only offer IB they had a lot of options to cover stuff in school. For eg, cookery classes, PPE club, chess (for skills), volunteering opportunities for 6th formers to help with clubs etc for younger year groups and plenty of sports offered.
Exams are over a very tight period of time - no big gaps between exams like you often get with A level. When the exams start you need to be ready to go for all subjects.
Overall it was a great option for DS.
Does the school have a booklet with a description of the syllabus for each subject?
You will find whole discussions on whether IB Maths is harder/easier than A level, whether if you want to do medicine if A levels might be better, whether a range of subjects is better than just 3.
These questions come up all the time as soon as you start discussing IB and A levels! You'll never get a definitive answer!
Good luck with your DS's decision.
The full subject briefs are all available to download ...
Taught English Literature for both and as a department we were bereft when school dropped IB. The IB English course and assessment is so much more interesting and student focused.
CAS is the easiest part of the core and as BringontheScience said almost anything counts. What matters most is documenting what you have done and reflecting on it.
Universities like IB students because of the core - CAS, TOK and EE.
In general subjects in IB are inquiry based and content is not as prescribed as it is at A'level.
My DD finished IB this summer. In comparison to A levels:
HL is like further maths, SL is basically maths A level without the mechanics. Unlike maths A level (at least the board I'm aware of) you have to do a project, which I think is brilliant - using your maths knowledge in a way that's meaningful to you. My DD, as a potential medic, did hers on formulae to predict the spread of disease. I'd have loved having the chance to do this back in the dark ages when I did A level and found it completely unrelated to real life.
If you take SL, and have a uni offer with HL specific grades to make, it is tough to find the time to do your maths justice. Many, many people underperform in maths SL. Having said that, the maths has changed now. There used to be an easier Maths studies option, but now it's maths analysis and maths applications or something - not really sure if the applications is a properly manageable option like the old maths studies was. But if your DC goes for IB, don't underestimate the challenge of doing the more difficult maths options.
I LOVE the IB approach compared to A level. You do a lot of texts, a pair at a time, get assessed on them in some way (mix of presentation, spoken analysis, essay) and then move on - at least for SL you do, not sure about HL. The final exam is only on the last group of texts, when you've got a lot of your marks in the bag already. My DD did a Greek tragedy, a Shakespeare play, a Victorian novel, part of Paradise Lost, a modern play, a modern novel, Donne, Plath and Auden poems (and probably some other things I've forgotten). Really stimulating course. But maybe A level would be better if you hated giving presentations.
No translation, unlike A level. A lot of emphasis on good ideas in debates and essays as well as good use of language. It's testing your intelligence as a thinker/writer, not just your fluency in the language. (This may be the same in A level - not sure - but there definitely seems to be an encouraged multicultural IB way of thinking). If you don't fancy AS/A level MFL, you can do an ab initio course that gets you from beginner to around GCSE level.
Biology and Chemistry
My DD did HL for these. Think it was pretty much the same syllabus as A level, so a lot of work with all the other subjects on top. She's now studying medicine and hasn't felt behind at all on the science front.
Again, unlike A level, there's a project/investigation aspect to it (20% of total marks, maybe?). This was not as personalisable as in maths, at least at my DD's college, and was pretty high stress. Good preparation for a science degree though, probably.
Both HL and SL involve an extended essay. Not sure if that's true for A level.
Each subject has an extended essay or project, and then you have to do a separate extended essay on any one of your subjects. So a lot of coursework going on at the same time, which needs to be kept on top of.
Uni offers are more complicated than for A level. Most give a minimum for overall points required (out of 45) plus requirements for your 3 HLs. Some also give specific requirements for your SLs. There's quite a lot of variety with unis in translating A level standard offers to IB, ie. AAA might be 666, 665 or 667. BUT there's often more leeway with missed grades for SLs/TOK/extended essay on results day (or in my DD's case, A level results day, which is 5 weeks later - she was in limbo for those weeks but it all came good).
In summary, it's a lot of work, high stress at times, extremely stimulating, great preparation for uni. Not the easy route by any means, but my DD has no regrets at all.
Sorry, that was a bit of an extended essay in itself!
DS did IB and did very well. It was all consuming. He was a bit at sea during his first year at uni because he felt he had too much time on his hands. DD did 3 A'Levels and a lot of extra-curricular music. Found transition to uni easier. Both Oxbridge.
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