If you are a high school student or middle school student approaching high school, you have likely heard of Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB). There are many similarities between these two programs, but the difference is that the IB Diploma Program has a separate diploma and additional activities required to earn that diploma. At the IB Student Chronicle, we will explore those activities and what it truly means to be an IB student.
But before we do that, let's answer the question: What is IB? There are a few essential components and things to know about IB. IB is a program offered at certain high schools around the world, and in many schools 8th grade students apply to be part of the program during their high school years. Once you become an IB student in high school, you will be required to take certain IB courses, and you will receive a separate high school diploma from the International Baccalaureate Organization when you graduate and successfully complete the program.
An essential step to completing the program is successfully meeting these requirements:
The IB Courses you take will be in your Junior or Senior year of high school, totaling 6 IB courses. There are two different levels of IB courses: Standard Level (SL) and Higher Level (HL). Many times IB courses will span over two years, and the first year will be SL while the second year will be HL. Or, in some cases, you could have HL Year 1 and HL Year 2. In order to earn an IB Diploma one must complete one of the following patterns of coursework:
The Extended Essay is a minimum 4,000 word research paper that you will begin the first semester of your Junior year and submit in the second semester of your senior year. The way that many would phrase this is: you have two years to formulate a research question of your choice and write a paper answering that research question. That's right: you get to write a paper on just about whatever topic you would like! As long as your topic is academically appropriate, you should be able to write you essay on it! We will go more into detail about the process of writing your Extended Essay under the "Extended Essay" tab of our webpage.
CAS stands for Creativity, Activity, and Service, and I personally believe this is one of the easiest and most fun IB requirements. For this you will build a Google Site where you write a journal entry about every activity that you do pertaining to creativity, activity, and service. But, don't feel overwhelmed: these journal entries can be about very simple activities that you're likely already doing! For example, walking the dog is something you can write about for activity! Being the captain of a sports team or having a leadership position in your school's drama department are also things you can write about! Any volunteer experience you have will fall under service, but also simply doing things around the house to help out has been logged as service! As you can probably tell, this requirement is a lot less intimidating than it sounds!
So, what does it take to get your IB Diploma? Make sure you take the 6 required IB classes and pass the exams with a score of 4 or higher, pass your Extended Essay with at least a score of 14/34 (we will take a closer look at the rubric under the EE tab), and provide evidence that you have been completing CAS experiences (your journal entries/reflections). This may sound a bit intimidating, but in my opinion, so far the experience (which we will talk about under the IB Life tab on our webpage coming soon) has been well worth everything, and I would definitely recommend it to any high school or middle school student!
By Canon Pham
Canon Pham is an IB Diploma Candidate and Junior at Glen A. Wilson High School who is passionate about using her voice to raise awareness of important issues and build community among like-minded people. After her first semester of Junior year, she started the IB Student Chronicle to help provide more information about the IB experience for prospective and first-year IB Diploma Candidates. She also writes for The Teen Magazine, tutors with Reading Partners, holds several leadership positions at school, and plays varsity tennis. Canon enjoys spending time with her two younger siblings, her adorable puppy dog, and her incredible group of friends.