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Terpsichore

IB/Oxbridge compatibility

Hi,

As you might have noticed, this is my first post on these forums (having lurked around for a little bit), so I ask, please, bear with me if I'm covering old ground or posting in the wrong place or committing any of the usual newbie failings :S

First, I feel I should give a little background on myself. I'm 15 years old, and my school has just introduced the IB. I'm coming towards my A-Level/IB choices and would really like to be able to decide what to take ASAP, but I don't feel I'm getting much support or help from my teachers, who just tell me to decide based on my GCSE results, which doesn't really help in the slightest since I'm usually a straight A* student.

I took double science, geography, history and latin as my options (in addition to French, Maths, RS, English Lang/Lit), and have already received a few results as I took 3 subjects early.

I want to study Natural Sciences in the future at Cambridge University, but I have been told categorically by certain members of the science department that I will not get in if I take the IB. However, I really love the courses and structure, and the general ethos of the IB, and I would very much like to keep my options open as to what I want to do in the future, rather than going down the specialised sciences route.

So my question is, do I follow my heart and take the IB (I would do Biology, Chemistry, Maths and English HL, then History/Economics/Geography SL and Latin SL), and risk not getting into Cambridge for that course, or take a gamble and go long-term and take 5 A-Levels (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Latin).

Any comments are appreciated, because I am completely and utterly stuck at the moment, and no-one seems to be prepared to give me a balanced picture of IB vs. A-Levels regarding this choice.

Edited by Terpsichore

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Well, it is obviously a hard choice. However, when it comes for you not being able to get into Oxbridge Nat sciences from the IB is rubbish. For example just last year a girl from my school got into cambridge natural sciences, with an offer of 42 points. I believe she had all biology, chemistry, physics and math, not sure about the other subjects or which ones where HL. If you want to get in there it might be advisable to ask the IBO for a special right to study 3 subjects from group 4 (natural sciences), on the ground that they are required for your university subject.

However, on the general I don't know whether they appreciate IB or A-levels more in the NatSciences.

If you are in the first group from your school doing IB you might want to take in the account that the results might not be that great yet since the school and teachers are only familiarizing themselves with the IB system.

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If you were going to be doing the standard 3 A-Levels, then I would've said that you should do A-Levels and do some activities outside of academia to boost your application and make it look more shiny.

However, since you're going to be doing 5 A-Levels, I'd say to go with the IB since it'll give you the edge. It'll be the same or less difficult than taking on 5 A-Levels, and command some respect as it is a respected qualification to hold while applying to any university.

The problem that you will face however, is that your school has just introduced IB. A lot of first time IB schools don't really go through all that well, with some failures and a lack of high scorers. And as much as you can prepare for your exams and get a decent enough grade in the papers, your Internal Assessments (IAs) will count for a percentage of your grade, and with some new schools, such as mine, not being able to give useful support to students.

If you really want to do IB, do it in a school that has more experience.

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Scade, that is very encouraging :S . I'd read elsewhere on these forums about being able to get a non-regulatory diploma in certain countries (for med school), but didn't think this was possible in the UK.

How would I go about doing this?

As for the lack of experience in my school, yes, this concerns me greatly as well. However, there really isn't any question of me changing where I am, since I am on scholarship (it is an independent school) and I would really hate to have to adapt to somewhere else (as well as having to take even more important exams, since without a scholarship we cannot afford the fees).

Just to clarify, the year just entering sixth-form is the first year to take IB, but by the time they take the final exams I would be halfway through the course. I've spoken to all the people taking it (only 12 of the most able for this year's intake), and they seem to think they are being taught very well (but killed under the extra work-load). They have classes outside of the usual timetable and seem to cope very well with it... but I realise the proof is going to be all in the results which appear long after when I have entered the programme.

Perhaps another matter is the way the IB students seem to be getting 'special treatment' and the school is certainly trying to sell it to us (I guess it all comes down to the money and time they have invested in it). A lot of the staff and students feel very uneasy about the way in which it is being introduced...

Edited by Terpsichore

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Hi Terpsichore,

I've just applied myself to Oxford Uni and I do the IB. They're asking for insane points (as high as 42), but I'm predicted above that so I should be okay. If you take the IB, just be sure you are competant across the board, because getting a high points total is a must.

There's no reason why you shouldn't get in (in fact, the IB will teach you so much more than A-Levels, and Unis are starting to 'get it'), but you must be prepared to work and you must be prepared to get very high offers.

Also check that your subjects can all be timetabled. My school didn't allow me to do a certain combination of subjects (2 sciences), so do your research before commiting.

Good luck.

Edited by laneolaneo1

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Terpischore: In order to get the non-reg diploma, you'll have to tell your DP coordinator that you want to study medicine in a country which requires all 3 natural sciences, i.e. Finland or Sweden. You don't actually have to go there, you just tell her you want to study there (say it's because of the free, good education), and she can use it as the reason for making the application for the non-reg diploma. If she's not familiar with non-regulatory diplomas, or refuses to do it, tell us about it and we'll help you force her into letting you do the non-reg diploma :S .

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It is possible for you to do a non-regulation IB diploma.

You just need to go and talk to your IB co-ordinator and explain to her your situation. She may or may not approve but judging by your excellent grades I think you will make it!

:S:)

Alternatively, you may think about doing 7 subjects instead of the normal six. In that way, you will be able to do all three sciences and also an Art subject.

I did not choose that option because I am horrible when it comes to time management so .....

Good Luck!

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I personally have some friends studying at University of Cambridge, all of them are A-levels graduates and they all comment that UoC now even values IBDP more than A-levels. Remember, your offers will be likely to be 776 or 777 at HL subjects and surely UoC would ask for a specific subject to be scored 7 e.g If you would like to do Biochemistry in Natural Sciences, you would be asked to achieve a 7 in Chemistry.

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If your school is not going to allow you to take non-reg diploma, you can choose to do an A-Level Science externally.

I think your school will asist you all the way, since it teachs A-level.

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This is maybe a bit too late, but I have a friend who has just started reading Nat Sci this year at Cambs and she got 42 ;]

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