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Compare the IB to your country's 'own' educational system

  

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  1. 1. Is it considered to be more difficult to take the IB in your country than the 'official' educational system available?



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I'm from Denmark myself, and we have about 10 IB schools in the country.

Most of the IB's syllabus is considered much more difficult than that of our national system, particularly when it comes to Mathematics and Group 4. Most IB schools here also offer the Pre-IB, as it's pretty much impossible to go straight from primary school to IB1.

To illustrate the difference in levels of Mathematics, my coordinator tends to say that if you complete Mathematics Higher Level, and then decide to study Mathematics at university, you can pretty much kick back the first two semesters because you'll have learnt it all as part of your diploma, provided you've taken Statistics as an option. We don't even offer Further Maths, because that would be hell to anyone from the Danish educational system.

The overall structure of the Danish educational system is very different from the IB - you take appx. 12 subjects all in all, and then you slowly complete them over the three years you take them. Quite odd to most IB heads, I'd assume.

In the end, you pretty much get a fist to the face when they convert your grades to get into uni; medicine would require you to get around 40 points.

So, people. Tell us your story.

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In my school in the US, you can take college prep classes [which are the 'regular' classes] or Advanced Placement [AP] classes [which are college level courses taught in secondary school]. AP courses on average are just as hard as IB courses. Then with IB, you have the added stress of the EE & CAS plus TOK and the fact that you must take the required courses. With AP you pick and choose whichever subjects you want to take AP and which you want to take as college prep.

The state mandated that we take a certain number of years of history, math, English [language and literature] and a course of biology, physics, and chemistry. Also, you can get an advanced diploma for doing two years of one foreign language. So to meet the IB and state demands, we have all of 2 choices that we can make. First is to pick the B level language from Group 2. We can do either Spanish, French, or Latin. Then, we can take Psychology, Physics or Music SL as our 6th subject. For all three of these courses, you take the AP equivalent and self study the rest basically. Fortunately the AP and IB syllabi are somewhat similar.

IB students are seen as crazy but they're revered. No one in IB really cares about IB scores. Mainly because it doesn't matter as long as you pass and partially because the students who graduated never cared. It's never been instilled in us, in a way. Oh and we've had the IB program since 1996.

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I live in FL, US and have visited colleges throughout the country.

It is consdered the hardest system even in comparison to private schools.

The obvious opponents are private school and AP credit. However, the problem with those is that you can have a difficult curriculum, but you never reach the IB potential. I know of 2 private school in my area that are well esteemed. CEO's, Miami businessmen, Athletes, Singers and surgeons. Those are the type of parents the kids have. I have several friends from there and I am well aware of the curriculum and the private school experience. My friend as a junior year (usually emhpasis for AP exams of private schools) took no AP classes and had bowling and religion (the school itself is not religiously affiliated) as electives. the grading system is A for 85 and up. Thats another thing. Private schools have their own lenient curriculum for preparatory education and change the rules of the game.

AP curriculum, regardless of where you go, is usually never reached at that level. That is, you may take 1-5 AP classes during your high school year and then stop. Ib kids who are forced to take AP along with IB take all the exams.

I also have a perspective from another point of view.

Serbia/Bosnia - the curriculum of IB is equal to what is called over there "Gimnazija". That the term used for schools where you have to meet aan entrance exam, show academic resume in order to get in. Its a gateway to all other top careers. For instance, if you are to be a doctor you would go to Gimnazija, and then continue on your education. Its an academic pool of studious students.

Often times, those that have the budget and resources label themselves IB. That is they take the proper initiative to just go ahead and smack the label on the already hard curriculum. And since IB is offered in English, it is considered a prestigious thing to go there. The kids are well adept to education, and some of them have been directed towards the program like this one since early years by taking English courses all their life in order to be accepted into such college preparatory curriculum. Many of them venture out of the country afterward, studying in places like Switzerland, Germany and Russia if they cannot attend US for money-based reasons.

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I'm from Ontario, Canada.

The Ontario curriculum and IB curriculum are pretty much the same. For some subjects, the IB curriculum goes way more in depth (English A1 HL, econ HL), for others it's the equivalent (French B SL, maths SL) and for others, the Ontario curriculum involves a lot more to learn (bio SL).

I can't say how IB is compared to the rest of Canada since each province/territory has it's own curriculum, but in Ontario, the curricula are pretty much on par.

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I am located in Manitoba, Canada.

For our high school curriculum it is basically the same for English and History (depending on the teacher, there is no strict cirriculum for history). For the rest of the classes the teachers spend the first part of the last year of IB the teachers at my school finish teaching us the regular high school cirriculum (this may be different for the other IB school in the area. Also our school is not a full IB school, there are also regular classes). So for Math SL we did pre-cal for term one, and then rushed through all the IB topics in the last semester (all of it shoved in from Feb to Apr, gah). So after we did our provincial exam in pre-cal we were done with that and told that what we had learnt was basically irrelavent to anything for IB. Chem SL was basically the same way, after our midterm we were done our high school requirements and then we began our IB topics. So basically our school pretty much procrastinates in teaching us anything that IB actually wants us to learn. Physics HL was basically a mix of IB and regular all thoughout the 2 years of it. Japanese/Spanish/French was mixed with regular nonIBers and IB students. So the IB students just had to go more in depth than the others. So basically for all IB students by the time we were half way through grade 12 we had all our required credits to graduate. Then at teh end of year we had advanced credits for each of our IB courses as well. Therefore we would get both a regular high school diploma and (if in full IB and not partial) the IB diploma as well. Bonus I guess. Not that any university or college cares in the end *sigh*

Edited by Dark Matter

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I'm from Alberta, Canada.

I am starting IB this September so I am not entirely sure how the regular curriculum and IB curriculum compare. According to the brief talks I've had with IB teachers and the IB coordinator, the curriculums are fairly similar but IB goes more in depth for most subjects. IB is definitely a lot harder than taking regular courses, at least at my school.

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In comparison with the A Levels, which are the official qualifications in England and Wales (and something of an international export, I am led to believe), the relative difficulty of the IB differs, dependent on what you take and how many of them.

There are some "soft" A level subjects which are definitely not as hard as the IB, no matter what combination you take them in, and Universities actually publish lists of these that they're simply not accepted. On the other hand, some A Levels are more challenging (English Lit at A Level, for instance, is a lot harder than HL/SL English A1, which, if you've come through the GCSE system, is not really any harder than it was aged 15). All equivalent A Levels have more depth than IB qualifications. So if you did A Level Chem/Physics/Bio etc. you'd have done everything far more thoroughly and to a greater degree than the IB ever allows for. Comparatively the IB "skims" a broader range of subject areas in relatively minimal detail. An IB course at SL is probably equivalent to an AS Level, and a HL course equivalent to AS plus half an A2. Obviously the syllabuses differ hugely -- A Levels are more traditional, so for instance they have far more experiments for the sciences (the IB isn't really experimentally heavy), loads more organic and more or less the same level of theoretical chem. They tend to do the more academic end of things, whereas the IB sometimes skips out away from the hardcore into "modern" stuff, for instance the whole evolution deal in Bio is a bit of regurgitating random facts, which the A Level wouldn't bother with.

Most people do 3 or 4 A Levels, but some do 5 (very rarely 6), and it depends on which you do -- but it is possible to do a subject combination more difficult than the IB, for instance all three sciences, maths and further mathematics. There are no stipulated subjects, so you get to pick your own combinations. Of course the A Level is in modules, so you take modules every few months for both your AS and your A2 years, with the possibility to do resits throughout. In that sense it's way easier because everything can be learnt in segments (although there are synoptic papers) and doesn't all come at once. The sudden stress and knowledge bombardment is less. A Level students also get far more lessons a week in which to concentrate on their subjects (they got 8 per subject, whereas for IB we got 4 for SL, 6 for HL).

All in all, dependent on combination, when you take the exams etc. A Levels may or may not be more difficult! If you do 5-6 A Levels, and they're all decently rated subjects (i.e. not the soft ones) you're definitely doing way more work than the IB. I'm going to vote "yes" though because, on the whole, not many people choose to murder their brains in that way and usually the subject:number of subjects ratio people choose is easier than the IB. If you do hard subjects you tend to do only 3-4 A Levels, and you don't have to do things you don't want to (e.g. everybody being forced to take maths for the IB). On the other hand you do it all in more depth and with greater understanding - nevertheless it's easier! :(

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The French Bac IMO is harder. You have to do most conventional subjects such as french lit, history, geography, philosophy and all sciences even if you're doing the Bac L (language and literature option). You get accepted into university depending on your moyenne generale. (Your general average). Most people hardly score more than 15 out of 20. Although your core ,(subjects being languages and literature if you're doing the bac L), have a higher coefficient than the other subjects you still have to, pretty much, do well in every single area.

IB you can fully concentrate on 6.

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I'm from Denmark myself, and we have about 10 IB schools in the country.

Most of the IB's syllabus is considered much more difficult than that of our national system, particularly when it comes to Mathematics and Group 4. Most IB schools here also offer the Pre-IB, as it's pretty much impossible to go straight from primary school to IB1.

To illustrate the difference in levels of Mathematics, my coordinator tends to say that if you complete Mathematics Higher Level, and then decide to study Mathematics at university, you can pretty much kick back the first two semesters because you'll have learnt it all as part of your diploma, provided you've taken Statistics as an option. We don't even offer Further Maths, because that would be hell to anyone from the Danish educational system.

The overall structure of the Danish educational system is very different from the IB - you take appx. 12 subjects all in all, and then you slowly complete them over the three years you take them. Quite odd to most IB heads, I'd assume.

In the end, you pretty much get a fist to the face when they convert your grades to get into uni; medicine would require you to get around 40 points.

So, people. Tell us your story.

You know, that's weird. I'm starting IB1 tomorrow at a Danish IB school and I know people from what now will be IB2 who are taking Further Maths? What school are you going to/went to?

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There are some "soft" A level subjects which are definitely not as hard as the IB, no matter what combination you take them in, and Universities actually publish lists of these that they're simply not accepted. On the other hand, some A Levels are more challenging (English Lit at A Level, for instance, is a lot harder than HL/SL English A1, which, if you've come through the GCSE system, is not really any harder than it was aged 15). All equivalent A Levels have more depth than IB qualifications. So if you did A Level Chem/Physics/Bio etc. you'd have done everything far more thoroughly and to a greater degree than the IB ever allows for. Comparatively the IB "skims" a broader range of subject areas in relatively minimal detail. An IB course at SL is probably equivalent to an AS Level, and a HL course equivalent to AS plus half an A2. Obviously the syllabuses differ hugely -- A Levels are more traditional, so for instance they have far more experiments for the sciences (the IB isn't really experimentally heavy), loads more organic and more or less the same level of theoretical chem. They tend to do the more academic end of things, whereas the IB sometimes skips out away from the hardcore into "modern" stuff, for instance the whole evolution deal in Bio is a bit of regurgitating random facts, which the A Level wouldn't bother with.

Actually, at least for Physics, Chemistry, and Math HL, the courses are equivalent to a full AS+A2 course. With the case of Math HL, it extends slightly beyond as well. Other subjects such as languages, economics, etc. might be harder with A levels, and SLs for group 4 and math.

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Definitely. The Swedish system only has 3 different grades + one failing, and there is inflation in them. For every year it gets easier and easier to score full marks.

Also, the subjects in the national programme are only equivalent to SL at the most, which means that an IB-student can study more natural sciences than the students in the Swedish natural science programme.

So IB is definitely seen as harder than the Swedish education.

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Serbia/Bosnia - the curriculum of IB is equal to what is called over there "Gimnazija". That the term used for schools where you have to meet aan entrance exam, show academic resume in order to get in. Its a gateway to all other top careers. For instance, if you are to be a doctor you would go to Gimnazija, and then continue on your education. Its an academic pool of studious students.

Often times, those that have the budget and resources label themselves IB. That is they take the proper initiative to just go ahead and smack the label on the already hard curriculum. And since IB is offered in English, it is considered a prestigious thing to go there. The kids are well adept to education, and some of them have been directed towards the program like this one since early years by taking English courses all their life in order to be accepted into such college preparatory curriculum. Many of them venture out of the country afterward, studying in places like Switzerland, Germany and Russia if they cannot attend US for money-based reasons.

I live in Bosnia and Herzegovina so I'd like to comment on this.

My old Gimnazija has no entrance exam, the only requirement is a number of "points". (points = sum of grades of first language, foreign language, geography, history, maths and average grade from last 2 years of primary school. Additional points are awarded for participating in competitions, attending music school etc). About half of the students go to gimnazija after primary school(at least in my city, maybe it's harder in other parts of the country). There is no external assessment whatsoever so it some schools probably give better grades than others... But gimnazija is considered prestigious, I remember one of the teachers saying "You will be the future doctors, businessmen, presidents..."

Gimnazija has a very wide range of subjects, I had these this year: Croatian, English, German, Latin, art, music, biology, chemistry, physics, math, psychology, religion, physical education, history, geography, and elective English. That's 16!!! So after gimnazija you can study whatever you want. I'm just starting IB so I guess it teaches everything more in depth, but I've read biology, chemistry and math syllabi and I already learned about almost all of the topics mentioned there, judging by the titles. I can't say more about these differences, but I will when I "taste" IB.

IB is considered elite here but often with a negative connotation("it's for the rich kids"). There are only three IB schools in the country. Two of them are state-funded but I believe that students have to pay a fee for IB in both. Third is a private boarding school but all the students have full scholarships and are selected on merit(grades, extracurriculars etc.) IB diploma is recognized in universities but extra paperwork is needed to convert the grades. But for students who want to study in UK or US, IB is definitely the better option.

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In New Zealand, the other options are the Cambridge exams, which I honestly do not know a thing about, and NCEA, which is the most widespread. NCEA, which was changed about 5/6 years ago from the old precentage-based School Certificate, is pretty much a ploy to get more Kiwis going to uni. It lasts three years, and you do 5-6 subjects a year, which you can drop in and out of as you please. These range from History and Maths and those kinds of normalish subjects to Agriculture, Horticulture, Media Studies and those types of things. In Level One, which I'm doing now, at my school, you do 6 subjects, but at others you do 5. Each subject is divided up into areas called standards, which concentrate on a different skill. For History, from example, there's a standard on research, a standard on essay-writing, and lots of others. Teachers can decide which standards you do. Some standards are internally assessed, some are done in exams at the end of the year, and some are just little tests, or based on the teacher's oservations. Eash standard is worth a certain amount of credits, and you can pass each standard with Not Achieved, Achieved, Merit or Excellence. And, from what i've heard, it is really hard to get a not-achieved. Even if you do fail, there is no limit on the number of resits you can do. To pass Level One, you need eighty credits, including eight maths ones and eight literacy. Until two years ago, there wasn't even anything to distinguish between the students who passed with mostly excellences or merits, and the students who barely scraped their 80 credits. Compared to IB, this is a walk in the park. There are something like 7 or 8 IB schools in NZ, and my school isn't even entirely IB. In the middle of Year 11, you can choose whether you want to do IB or not, and only about a quarter of every year group actually does it.

So yeah, IB is really hard compared to what we've got.

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In Finland, after ninth grade, you are not legally obligated to go to school any more. However, an overwhealming majority do. If you want to continue your education, you choose between two different types of schools, ammattikoulu which is vocational schooling or lukio, which is basically highschool. You can also do both at the same time, so you get a vocational qualification and do only the required subjects in lukio, so then you get a kaksoistutkinto or a "double degree" loosely translated. Most people complete them in 3 years, but two and maximum four are also possible.

Ammattikoulu is much easier than IB in the sense that they do not have to study too much theory, they have a lot of practical work and gain job experiance in the field they choose. However, you can´t study all professions there, you can´t study to be a doctor in three years, but some jobs there include chef and electrician. In the old days, it was less prestigious to go to ammattikoulu, but nowadays it is more respected.

Lukio, in my oppinion, is as hard as you want it to be. The year is divided into five terms, and each term you can decide what you want to study. There are required courses in about 15 different subjects that you usually complete in the first year, but then the following years can study whatever is available that you want so that eventually you complete at least 75 courses. To pass lukio though, you need to take minimum four big exams in certain subjects and score well, kind of like the tests IB has at the end. Lukio can be harder, but it can also be easier depending on how hard the subjects you take are. People who take loads of courses have every day from 8 to 4, but someone might decide one term that they only have a few courses with school from 8 to 12, though they have to take more courses later to compensate. IB schools in Finland are considered international lukios.

So in a sense, IB is harder, but since I have not gone through the finnish system I don´t really know.

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I'm in England. Here there are not that many IB schools. IB is a LOT harder than the 'normal' educational system.

The normal educational system lets you sit 'A levels' in modular exams. The A levels make it much, much easier to get into uni!

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I'm from Alberta, Canada.

I am starting IB this September so I am not entirely sure how the regular curriculum and IB curriculum compare. According to the brief talks I've had with IB teachers and the IB coordinator, the curriculums are fairly similar but IB goes more in depth for most subjects. IB is definitely a lot harder than taking regular courses, at least at my school.

In Alberta, the difference between IB and the Regular courses vary depending on the subject. Biology HL is very similar to Bio 20/30, depending on what options your teacher chooses. If your teacher teaches the IB options that happen to match the regular program, the curriculum is 90% the same. Math SL seems to be mostly similar to Math 20/30/31, just the addition of two extraneous units.

English is quite a bit different, both because of the addition of WL works (which regular classes will never, ever study) and the different style of work that is assessed. However, IB History is vastly superior to Social 20/30, mostly because the Social curriculum in Alberta is the absolute worse out of any course taught in the province, except maybe CALM. IB French is also much better than regular French because it assesses speaking and listening in addition to writing and reading, while 90% of the regular curriculum is composed of the latter half.

I suppose IB is more difficult in that the expectations are higher, but shouldn't that be a given? And the most stressed students are the ones that procrastinated (which, I admit, is basically all of us.)

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I'd say IB is in general harder than the AP system, unless the person decides to load up on AP courses and take 6 in one year.

While IB courses often span two years, the AP courses only span a period of one year, making it very difficult to cover the entire curriculum in one year. The pass rates for AP exams are much lower than the pass rates for IB exams, although much of this is because many people taking AP courses are unqualified or not motivated enough to succeed on the exam.

IB tends to be much more focused on analysis and writing, while AP tends to be very focused on memorization. This is especially true for the AP history and psychology exams. I'd say for this reason, most of the IB exams are more difficult.

The AP foreign language exams, however, are considered much more difficult than the IB Language B exams.

Overall I'd say the IB program is more difficult the AP program, although very few people in America have heard of it.

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The comparison between the IB and Polish system gives... no similarities.

In Poland for whole 3 years of the high school you must learn over 10 subjects, (you can't even choose which to learn), and then in your finals, you take only 3 obligatory exams (polish, foregin language and maths) + the subjects which you need for your Uni course.

In practice, for 2 first years most of the students do nearly nothing to start learning a couple of necessary subjects.

As for difficulty, the IB is said to be way harder than the Polish system. Sometimes it's even funny to look at Polish math papers to see that maths can be easy :D

One sure advantage of Polish system? No CAS! It's terrible to see how much free time they have...

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I live in China, but I'm Singaporean American.

In China, I have to say IB is just a bunch of chicken**** compared to the chinese state schools. In math, at least. Kids in the local schools are at least 1-2 years ahead of IB students. Their standard math curriculum is basically IB Further Maths.

In Singapore they do A-Levels like the UK, which, depending on how many you take, can be harder than IB. But most of the time they're alot easier. But some people do S-Levels instead, which are definitely harder than their respective IB courses.

America is a joke imo. Unless you're packing on 6-8 APs a year, your workload is very very little compared to IB kids. However you can easily push yourself further with AP. I know one kid in particular that did 22 AP exams. With AP, you can start alot earlier than IB - like in Freshman year. But I can speak for AP Chinese, and it might be the easiest exam I've ever seen. On the other hand, I might barely get away with a 5 on the IB HL exam.

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I'm in England. Here there are not that many IB schools. IB is a LOT harder than the 'normal' educational system.

The normal educational system lets you sit 'A levels' in modular exams. The A levels make it much, much easier to get into uni!

Definitely agree with you. A levels are sooooooo much easier than the hell that I'm going through with the IB now. A levels are obviously more recognised by Universities, although I think that slowly, the IB is gaining recognition. However, universities I still think, don't fully appreciate the IB as some demand ridiculously high scores.

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