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yii yann

Given the choice, would you have done A levels or IB?

Had a nice chat with my friend from a local high school, where they do A levels.

He thinks the IB is a program where "they try to be holistic, so they take emphasis away from studying and place more emphasis on philosophy and your CSA or CAS or whatever... but doesn't quite accomplish anything".

I responded with "There is a strange phenomenon with A level students, who seem to think that all their exams are harder than any other courses, when in reality it doesn't quite match up. A level subjects are actually a good bit easier than IB subjects, AND we do other things like EE and CAS."

Obviously we then discussed it properly, (not simply trying to "one-up" as in the quotes above), and came to the conclusion that this is stupid and I should get back to studying for my exams.

However, it's been nagging at me. What do you guys think? Would you, given the choice, rather have done A levels or IB? Why? What do you think are the pros and cons of both?

I can say with absolute conviction that I will do the IB. It is a very well rounded course, and it is difficult, but not too much. Just enough to push you that extra mile.

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We are more superior. Period.

I hope that you're not being serious here, because that statement of yours is basically dumbing down the supposedly bright image of an 'IB student' on so many levels.

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We are more superior. Period.

That is pretty crappy way of looking at it, and I hope you're just joking.

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I'm gonna guess he was just joking, I make those kinds of jokes all the time but it's hard to be sarcastic on the internet and come across as such.

I actually started my first year with A-levels, before switching to IB - you are right, the subjects definitely are harder in IB - but I can safely say, if I were not so set on studying abroad, I would've gladly taken A-levels. The reason is that the transformation of an A-level student into a university student is not that challenging! People keep saying that IB prepares for university-style independence, but most of my A-level peers, already preserve a high level of independence in their studying anyway.

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If I could go back I would have done A-Levels. Doing 3/4 subjects compared to 6 definitely is easier, so it not having to do the TOK or the EE. Also the modular system of exams (no longer in place) definitely would have made things more manageable. To be honest, doing the IB has not really done anything for me or my university places... I wouldn't say they prefer IB students. My friends who have done A-Levels have received all their offers, whereas the ones who have done the IB have been rejected from places. More A-Level friends have been accepted than IB friends.

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A levels. The IB is a waste of time. All of the rubbish about becoming a global learner is A grade level 7 horse poop.

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I wouldn't choose the IB again. A levels or something else, but not IB. Too much bureaucracy and you're not that much better prepared for uni than with A levels...

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I wouldn't do IB again... no... just... NO.

I don't know what A levels are, but I would just go with the regular Canadian curriculum.

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I actually don't know - I'd choose IB for the experiences and time I have had, which I've enjoyed on the whole despite suffering at times. If I had the chance to go back to my choice, I would do the same again - maybe I'd do things a little differently along the way, but I would stay with the IB. However, I can see the benefit of doing A-levels... doing just my higher levels would have been SO much easier, and I would have found it a LOT easier to get my uni offers and grades because there is simply less to learn about, and arguably all the extra of IB is useless. That said, some of it can be said to be for the better - Japanese as my SL for example, had I gone to do A-levels I have no doubt I would have dropped language. Now, the past 2 years struggling against Japanese has been torturous but it has got much better as I went on, and I intend to continue it, and had it not been for IB I may have dropped it, which ultimately would have been a mistake as up until IB I loved it and found it fascinating - I am beginning to re-find that after hating it for its difficulty, workload and impact on my IB score, and have lessened that towards the end.

What does irritate me though regarding A-Levels vs IB is that IB is not recognised more, which I think is a joke. I'm not saying IB is superior, or anything decidedly dogmatic of the sort. What IS undeniable; however, is the fact that we have so much more work to do. The CAS, the EE, the TOK, the twice the number of subjects.. does this mean nothing? I hate how universities consider 35 as easy to get as AAB. I think that sort of judgment is incredibly unfair as the IB forces you to undertake more commitments and more subjects - these SLs that you may be really weak at (eg English, maths, second language) that you would have dropped at IB. My maths teacher did A-Levels - the three that catered to him, and his academics are perfect for it. He admits if he'd done IB, being forced to do languages, english and humanities would have brought down his academic record. How can the two be considered equal when this is the case? Fortunately, KCL is changing their attitude towards the IB, a good development where effort and difficulty earns recognition. Lastly, for my university offer, it is 36 with 18 at HL, versus AAA for A-Levelers. However, an A-Leveler who exceeds this gets £1000 per year scholarship for excellence. An IB student with 37 and 18 at HL, or 36 with 19 at HL, etc, gets nothing, despite it being more difficult. Why? I protested against this but they said something along the lines of 'poor lambs have a tough time with exams' and that IB couldn't be catered to as well else everyone else as it would be too much. No consideration of difficulty or anything like that, and it's not like we have a particularly easy time o.O

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We don't have A-levels in my country, but I probably wouldn't have done the IB. After a full year of university, you don't gain any advantages in applying to universities or are better prepared once you get there, and all the extra stuff was pretty much a waste of time. I already did things for CAS before starting IB, but reflecting on it was a big waste of time. I like the friendships that I made by going through the IB, but I would have likely ended up in the same university I am in now with a little less work and a lot less extraneous fluff.

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I wouldn't really say the IB is holistic in the sense of holistic being like a soft 'friendly' version of just doing something normally. It's more or less doing the same thing normally with a side serving of holistic BS. Ironically, if it WERE holistic and CAS and TOK and so on were relevant to or involved with the academic stuff, that would probably fit with the IBO's vision much more.

It's not like real versus alternative medicine or anything where one is entirely dubious. The IB is more like butterfly and A Levels more like front crawl. Both are fast strokes to swim and will get you to the other end of the pool, but in butterfly you have to do that crazy arm thing where you nearly drown yourself under the water. Nothing especially easy about A Levels and front crawl - but you don't have to swim them whilst attempting to take your own life.

If I wanted to swim a stress-free, fast and efficient length of the pool, seeing as I'm not exactly a natural olympic swimmer, it would be front crawl all the way.

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It's not like real versus alternative medicine or anything where one is entirely dubious. The IB is more like butterfly and A Levels more like front crawl. Both are fast strokes to swim and will get you to the other end of the pool, but in butterfly you have to do that crazy arm thing where you nearly drown yourself under the water. Nothing especially easy about A Levels and front crawl - but you don't have to swim them whilst attempting to take your own life.

I actually like doing this crazy thing in butterfly...

If I had a choice, I would have done A levels. However, having a choice between Polish curriculum and the IB, I do believe I made a really wise choice of going for the IB. It's much more reasonable. Which doesn't mean it's good for you.

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Haha I am joking...I have exams at the moment and while us IB kids are dying, HSC kids are seriously breezing through. This is what our teachers keep telling us and it keeps us stable :)

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I have to agree that the IB piles on unnecessary work when compared to A levels, when you just look at university entrances.

Did you guys, however, find any value in it that wasn't only related to uni admissions? I found the course to be one that causes students to think and actually apply themselves to it, as opposed to the year of A levels that I did, which was simply studying from books. I'm not saying that A level makes students into mindless information churning machines, but that the IB actively encourages thinking critically about the knowledge you are attaining. It makes it actually worthwhile to do so.

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Well, given that I already had an analytical and critical mindset before taking the IB, breezing through all the extras and the analytical approach in subject teaching hasn't been too much of a challenge. Given living in Finland, I would have done the IB due to my desire to study abroad, except picked an easier set of subjects instead of these four HLs which have (especially physics and maths) been a tad tough at times.

If I lived in the UK, I'd go for A-levels. I'm quite certain that I would have done well enough to fulfill A-level equivalent UK offers and would have attended uni there then. The IB is, at times, a massive waste of time for a person who can already think critically and offers the nice concoction of loads of academic work and piles of extra junk, which, when timed less than well, leads to being on break at times and at breaking point at others.

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A levels. I will not let IB eat my soul again.

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I would do it again, maybe I'm just crazy but I find the IB to be a good experience.

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I had two options that my school offered me that is IB and A levels. I didn't know the difference and the importance between 2 so I took IB. And I am glad to say that I am still enjoying it.

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IB, as hard as it was, I did have some very memorable times in IB. There was a lot of emphasis on group work in IB (group 4 project, CAS, labs, TOK presentation and most of all, complaining about all your work together) and through this, I have made life-lasting friendships that I never would have made otherwise. IB prepared me for a lot of things as well, not just work-wise but also in life's other aspects. In IB, I learnt the importance of never trusting people with my work because even the existence of plagiarism softwares like turn-it in, do not stop people from copying your work (happened once to me). Now in college, I never ever send people my work because I have learnt my lesson. I don't believe I would have learnt this in a curriculum where everything came down to exams. Also, CAS made me do much more extracurriculars than I would have done otherwise and it felt amazing to climb Kilimanjaro and to work with cancer kids. Not sure I would have done any of that without CAS and now that I have done it, I want to engage in service projects and do more thrilling things like maybe give Everest a go.

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