The IB Diploma Program Explained

The International Baccalaureate diploma program is a two year program for adolescents typically aged 16 to 19. It is recognized around the globe as an entrance qualification for universities.

It is one of the most challenging programs in the world. Some educators describe it as a marathon of deliverables and exams.

The requirements are as follows:

Six subjects including an additional language, math and a science: Typically, three subjects are studied at Higher Level (HL) and three are studied at Standard Level (SL). SL subjects take up 150 teaching hours whereas HL subjects take up 240 teaching hours. More material is covered in HL subjects, therefore students need to demonstrate deeper subject knowledge and skills than for subjects taken at Standard Level.

In addition, there are three additional elements, known as the Core, that must be completed:

  • A Theory of Knowledge (ToK) course which is philosophical in nature and requires a 1,600 word essay and an oral presentation
  • The Extended Essay (EE) which is a 4,000 word independent piece of research.
  • Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS) which requires students to be regularly involved in a range of non-academic activities

Each subject will have a combination of externally and internallly marked exams and projects. IB exams are taken at the end of the two-year course.

How are the IB exams graded?

  • Each subject is graded 1 to 7 (highest) with up to a further 3 points that can be earned for ToK, EE and CAS.
  • A maximum of 45 points can be earned and one must obtain a minimum of 24 points to be awarded the diploma.
  • Students receive one overall diploma upon successful completion.

Who is best suited for this type of program?

The IB was designed to be taken by students with a wide range of abilities.  However, IB educators agree that the student’s attitude to learning is key.  Successful candidates will be:

  • Motivated
  • Organized
  • Able to meet deadlines
  • Willing to learn

The diploma program is indeed challenging but it encourages the development of skills which are intrinsic to university level study such as critical thinking, independent research and executive functioning skills, including the ability to manage one’s time.  As such, the DP is terrific preparation for university.

Please get in touch if you would like help understanding the DP or managing it.  We offer a wide array of services including student coaching and IB subject selection advice.

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