IB Programme

What is the IB Programme?

The International Baccalaureate, or IB, programme is a set of 4 programmes designed for students ages 3 – 19. For high school, most students participate in the longest-running IB programme: the Diploma Programme, first offered in 1968.

The Primary Years Programme was first offered in 1997 and is available for students age 3 – 12. The Middle Years Programme, for students age 11 – 16, was first offered in 1994. The newest IB programme, the Career-related Programme, was first offered in 2012 and is available for students age 16 – 19.

For more information about the similarities and differences among the Programmes, visit the official IB website.


What is the Diploma Programme (DP)?

The Diploma Programme consists of 6 subject groups and the DP core, which includes theory of knowledge (TOK), creativity, activity, service, and the extended essay.

The 6 subject groups are studies in language and literature, language acquisition, individuals and societies, sciences, mathematics, and the arts.

The programme is designed using extensive research to ensure it’s structured to benefit and assess students well.

What is the difference between the DP and the CP?

The IB DP is open to any student age 16 – 19, and there are DP students around the world. The IB Career-related Program, or CP, is also for students age 16 – 19 and incorporates the vision and educational principles of the IB into local career-ready programs. As of the end of 2018, there were over 200 schools offering the CP in over countries.

What assessments are apart of the IB DP?

The IB uses 2 assessment types: external and internal. External assessments may include essays, case study questions, or, in rare cases, multiple-choice questions. Internal assessments involve teacher assessment and may include oral work in languages, lab work in the sciences, or artistic performances.

How are students scored in the IB DP?

In the Diploma Programme, students receive grades ranging from 1 to 7, with 7 being the highest. A final Diploma result score is made up of the combined scores for each subject, and it is only awarded to students who earn at least 24 points, successfully complete the 3 essential elements of the DP core, and achieve certain minimum levels of performance. Two of the elements of the DP core—theory of knowledge and extended essay—can contribute up to 3 points to the overall diploma score, while the third—creativity, action, service—is an unscored requirement.

What is the difference between AP and IB?

Both AP and IB give students a chance to do college-level work in high school. However, the way colleges both use and view these types of classes can vary widely. Some colleges allow students to bypass entry-level courses or even earn college credit based on their performance in these classes and on their associated tests. Other colleges only use AP exam scores for course placement (but not course credit), while others do the opposite and only use AP exam scores for course credit (but not course placement). Colleges also maintain their own policies around the use of AP scores or IB courses for class standing; that means you may not be able to start off college as a sophomore, even if you are entering with 30 or more credits.

There are some big differences between the 2 types of courses and exams. AP includes both classes and tests, but you are not required to take the class before you take the test. This means that, even if your school does not offer AP classes, you may still be able to pass AP exams and earn college credit. However, it can be difficult to pass an AP exam without the structured, guided preparation that an AP class provides, so it may be worth looking into online classes that may be available through your state for free or low cost. IB, on the other hand, is a diploma that you earn through meeting a variety of criteria while enrolled in the programme. If you fail to meet some of the criteria, either during high school or upon graduation, you will not earn the IB diploma. This means that deciding to enroll in the IB Diploma Programme is a multi-year commitment, while AP exams are independent of one another and may be retaken.

Just like any other area of your college application, knowing how your hard work in high school can pay off in college is an essential part of preparing for college. However, if you’re already in high school, you’ve probably already started making decisions about what advanced courses, if any, you’re going to take. If you feel that a particular course or series of courses will increase your collegiate opportunities, make college more affordable, or showcase your talents, talk to a teacher or counselor to make a plan that works for you. There are many paths to college, and it’s important to consider the options that work best for you.