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Is my school normal?

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I have been doing grade 10 IB after coming out of a Montessori school last year and it's been great. One of my friends has constantly been saying that we're not doing the 'real IB' and that 'prep IB' is something that our school made up to make more money out of us. (Incidentally, he's not going to study in the IB diploma program.) The IBO website has information on an 'IB MYP' program, but I don't believe we're doing that curriculum. It differs from class to class, but it appears that half of the time we're doing the QSA curriculum (the local curriculum) and half of the time doing the IB diploma curriculum. What's going on here?

Another thing that confused my is SL/HL in languages. One of my friends (different friend than mentioned before) said that our IB coordinator said that English HL is for native-speakers and SL for non-native speakers. I thought that there was A2 for non-native speakers? I'm doing Spanish ab initio at the moment as my second language, is it possible to do Spanish B HL? Spanish to me is easier than Biology, my other choice for a third HL (the other two I'll do are History and English), but I guess I could do that. I've had to do much more study for Biology to get an A than Spanish, although maybe that's just because 'prep IB' ab initio Spanish is naturally very easy.

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Well a lot of schools (especially in North America, for some reason!) have a similar "pre-IB" or "prep-IB" thing going on. For some reason nobody anywhere is particularly interested in teaching the IB MYP (not to say that nobody takes it, it's just not anywhere near as widespread as the Diploma) and so the years before the Diploma they teach either a different national/international curriculum (e.g. GCSEs, iGCSEs) or if there's not usually an educational exam at that stage (like in the USA, for example) they invent something. This invention of schools aka "pre-IB" or "prep-IB" is designed (by them, of course) to prepare you with the knowledge you'll eventually need as a prerequisite for the Diploma. So you probably are taking a course they've made up of their own accord - but it is also probably a course targeting you for eventually taking the Diploma. It's also the case that certain parts of the national curriculum are compulsory so if you're still doing little bits and bobs of the QSA it's likely these are prescriptive parts of your education which the government insists you're taught.

As for the languages, you're right in saying that A2 HL/SL is for non-native high-level speakers. A1 is for native speakers at both HL and SL. B HL/SL is for semi-speakers and AB for anybody who's never done it before at all. As you'll presumably have done quite a bit of Spanish by the time you start on the Diploma you can probably take Spanish B (and at HL if you'd like :o ). Just for the record although I don't think it applies to you, there's no such thing as AB HL or SL - ab initio languages come at just one level so you can never count an AB language as a HL subject, you have to take it at at least B or above.

Ab initio for any language is pretty easy (on account of it being the very basics!) - if you want to do B HL you'll need to have a reasonably large vocabulary and a good command of pretty much every tense if you want a high grade. I mean people at my school did HL & SL but had been studying Spanish for 4 years or so prior to taking it at a B level (and got grades ranging from 3-7). Perhaps ask your Spanish teachers if they reckon you're adequately prepared -- I don't know how much ab initio covers to prepare you for taking it at B. It may well be fine, but you should probably check as LOTS of people take B languages after having studied the language for at least 3-4 years or more :P

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Well a lot of schools (especially in North America, for some reason!) have a similar "pre-IB" or "prep-IB" thing going on. For some reason nobody anywhere is particularly interested in teaching the IB MYP (not to say that nobody takes it, it's just not anywhere near as widespread as the Diploma) and so the years before the Diploma they teach either a different national/international curriculum (e.g. GCSEs, iGCSEs) or if there's not usually an educational exam at that stage (like in the USA, for example) they invent something. This invention of schools aka "pre-IB" or "prep-IB" is designed (by them, of course) to prepare you with the knowledge you'll eventually need as a prerequisite for the Diploma. So you probably are taking a course they've made up of their own accord - but it is also probably a course targeting you for eventually taking the Diploma. It's also the case that certain parts of the national curriculum are compulsory so if you're still doing little bits and bobs of the QSA it's likely these are prescriptive parts of your education which the government insists you're taught.

Hm... I've never thought of that. The thing is that in History we're only doing QSA stuff - but some of the stuff we're doing is grade 11 and 12 stuff. In Biology, we did a term of QSA (comparing organ systems) and 3 terms of IB diploma stuff. Why would it be something we must learn if it's the curriculum of an elective. In fact, the only classes we don't have as electives this year are English and PhysEd (Maths is split into Standard/Advanced).

It's great that the prep-IB is not just something my school made up. Time to rub it into my friends face ;P.

As for the languages, you're right in saying that A2 HL/SL is for non-native high-level speakers. A1 is for native speakers at both HL and SL. B HL/SL is for semi-speakers and AB for anybody who's never done it before at all. As you'll presumably have done quite a bit of Spanish by the time you start on the Diploma you can probably take Spanish B (and at HL if you'd like :o ). Just for the record although I don't think it applies to you, there's no such thing as AB HL or SL - ab initio languages come at just one level so you can never count an AB language as a HL subject, you have to take it at at least B or above.

Ab initio for any language is pretty easy (on account of it being the very basics!) - if you want to do B HL you'll need to have a reasonably large vocabulary and a good command of pretty much every tense if you want a high grade. I mean people at my school did HL & SL but had been studying Spanish for 4 years or so prior to taking it at a B level (and got grades ranging from 3-7). Perhaps ask your Spanish teachers if they reckon you're adequately prepared -- I don't know how much ab initio covers to prepare you for taking it at B. It may well be fine, but you should probably check as LOTS of people take B languages after having studied the language for at least 3-4 years or more :P

Spanish B HL sounds great. I don't think they actually offer the class though, because I don't think that anyone else actually wants to do it.

I had done Italian for 3 years - but if I had to do it as a B language I would fail miserably. Spanish I've only been doing for a year (well, I did a semester of basic Spanish but all I really learned was the pronouns, arból and genders) and I think I'd actually be able to do it as B HL. I'll learn all the tenses and expand my vocabulary during the Christmas holidays.

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*shrug* I have nooo idea how electives work or anything, I'm afraid I'm very unfamiliar with the way the education system works in Australia. We just did the national curriculum and remained happily ignorant of the IB until we reached the Diploma (and even for the first half of year one, come to think of it...).

And technically your school did just make it up (there's nothing set about it and no two people will do the same thing), it just made it up with precedent! :P This may also explain why they're getting you to do the diploma stuff already and randomly mixing it in (I take it grade 10 is the year before the diploma?). Technically speaking it may actually give you an advantage if you do the IB as a 2.5-3 year course instead of a 2 year one. Especially if they start teaching you Diploma-level maths a year early :o Or any subject, lots of them are a bitch to finish in the time frame if you're starting from basics. Be happy about it if I were you -- and also don't worry about it until you actually get to doing the Diploma. Whatever you do in the years before you do the Diploma ends up meaning jack squat anyway. Different content, different syllabus, different knowledge and of course different level of difficulty.

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Apparently my school offers Spanish ab initio, but it offers Spanish B HL as well as 'invitation-only'. My friend said that they're not a different class or anything, they just go to the library to study sometimes (he has a grade 12 sister doing the IB at this school). I might end up doing Maths HL (the only reason I wasn't going to is because I thought I needed an A level of achievement, but I only need a B level). How much more difficult is Maths HL over Maths SL? And what about Spanish HL over Spanish ab initio? Apparently they have to write book reports in Spanish :) .

A lot of people have probably asked this before: but why do people do four HL subjects? Is there any advantage to it?

*shrug* I have nooo idea how electives work or anything, I'm afraid I'm very unfamiliar with the way the education system works in Australia. We just did the national curriculum and remained happily ignorant of the IB until we reached the Diploma (and even for the first half of year one, come to think of it...). Why do people do four HL subjects, is there any advantage to it?

And technically your school did just make it up (there's nothing set about it and no two people will do the same thing), it just made it up with precedent! :D This may also explain why they're getting you to do the diploma stuff already and randomly mixing it in (I take it grade 10 is the year before the diploma?). Technically speaking it may actually give you an advantage if you do the IB as a 2.5-3 year course instead of a 2 year one. Especially if they start teaching you Diploma-level maths a year early :) Or any subject, lots of them are a bitch to finish in the time frame if you're starting from basics. Be happy about it if I were you -- and also don't worry about it until you actually get to doing the Diploma. Whatever you do in the years before you do the Diploma ends up meaning jack squat anyway. Different content, different syllabus, different knowledge and of course different level of difficulty.

I don't think we're doing any diploma-level Math. The only subjects that I think we've been doing diploma curriculum for have been Natural Science subjects (for me, Biology and Environmental Systems and Societies).

Edited by Saim

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There's absolutely no advantage to doing an extra HL except for personal satisfaction. Universities don't expect you to have tried to do more than the diploma and neither reward nor penalise doing extra subjects in their admissions process - after all, for some people there's no opportunity to TRY taking 4 HLs so it makes no sense to give it an extra positive because the playing field simply isn't balanced that way so you'd be excluding excellent candidates against less good ones who simply spent an extra hour a week.

Also I'd actually caution you against Maths HL. You have to remember that Maths comes in 3 forms - Studies, SL and HL. Studies is easy, SL is hard and HL is (unless you're a very mathematical person!) generally accepted to be beyond hard. Most people take HL Maths because they're either a) very gifted or b) they need it for their degree! You won't find many people doing it voluntarily otherwise. It's definitely, in my experience, a HL to stay away from. For instance the highest grade at my school in HL Maths over the past 5 years has been a 5 (once) and most people get 3s or 4s, although of course this varies between schools - and nobody at my school is stupid, either. All in all it's tough! Unlike some subjects (english is definitely the best example) where SL & HL hardly differ at all in terms of difficulty, SL &HL Maths differ a lot. You need a good teacher and some talent to consider taking it. The best people to ask for advice would be those in the year above you or those in the final year of IB to see how they rate the difficulty/teaching. How well you can do in HL Maths (and SL for that matter!) is really dependent on the institution you attend and how much experience you've had of maths prior to IB level. In the UK generally the mathematical standard can be pretty poor - you can get the top grade right before IB and suddenly struggle majorly with SL!

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Hm... I've never thought of that. The thing is that in History we're only doing QSA stuff - but some of the stuff we're doing is grade 11 and 12 stuff. In Biology, we did a term of QSA (comparing organ systems) and 3 terms of IB diploma stuff.

most schools are going to teach you similar stuff in each grade no matter where you are in the world.. it's not like you change schools and BAM they're teaching completely weird and new things. i mean, in year 7 pretty much everyone learns about pH scales in chemistry, its not as though each curiculum is so unique that no single person could just fall into it.

so don't worry, im sure it's just standard stuff they're teaching you :P

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Sandwich:

There's absolutely no advantage to doing an extra HL except for personal satisfaction.

I agree. 3 HL's could make your IB Diploma/Curriculum more attractive to colleges, but 4 HL's means your are insane, extremely smart, or both.

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