Most students don’t even realize that there is another option other than the one they are familiar with. And that’s perfectly normal. However, this debate between Advanced Placement, commonly abbreviated as “AP,” and International Baccalaureate, IB, is more important than just humoring one’s curiosity. Some schools offer both AP and IB courses, leaving students and parents with a tough decision. So here’s the lowdown on AP and IB.
What is IB?
The International Baccalaureate Organization in Cardiff, Wales runs the rigorous program and sets the strict curriculum for the IB program. Both internal and external authorities influence the grading of exams and papers. There are two options within the IB program: students can take individual classes with the intent to receive a certificate of completion for each class or students can strive to earn an IB diploma.
The IB Diploma Program is a two-year program for upperclassmen, who are willing to follow an assigned track of the most challenging classes. These students must complete a set of individual IB courses in addition to the Theory of Knowledge course, a 4,000 word extended essay, and 150 hours of creativity, action, and community service. Lastly, they must earn at least 24 points by scoring well on IB exams.
What is AP?
The College Board establishes the requirements for the AP program and curriculum, though they do not influence the assessment of students until the final exam.
Students take individual classes based on their interests and qualifications and may begin taking AP courses at any point in their high school career, just as long as the school offers them. College Board awards students based on their success in multiple AP courses. AP Scholar, AP Scholar with Honor, and AP Scholar with Distinction are prestigious titles that reflect high scores on multiple exams.
What is a similarity between IB and AP courses?
Both courses feature a fixed syllabus. There is little to no flexibility in these classes, which replicates the strict timeline of a real college course. Students are expected to be independent and motivated, therefore it is required that they can manage their time even with the heavy course load.
What is the difference between IB and AP exams?
A student in an IB class may or may not be prepared for the respective AP exam (it depends on the course), but he or she is allowed to take both the IB and AP exam for that course. On the other hand, a student in an AP class is not allowed to take the IB exam. A student may self-study for an AP exam, but not for an IB exam.
IB exams are graded on a 1 to 7 scale, while AP exams follow a 1 to 5 scale. A score of 3 on an AP exam is often considered to be the equivalent of a 5 on an IB exam.
AP Review has been commercialized, giving students access to review books. Unfortunately, students in the IB program do not have easy access to similar study materials.
Are AP and IB courses equally impressive to colleges?
There are rumors that the IB program is harder, but this myth is quickly debunked since colleges are equally impressed by AP and IB courses. In fact, colleges are often more familiar with the AP program. Furthermore, they’re equally likely to offer credit for similar AP and IB classes.
Bottom Line: Whether you take one or the other (or possibly a mixture of both), you must do what works for you. That’s what will be the most healthy and rewarding. As long as you strive for excellence and challenge yourself, colleges will be impressed and you will feel successful.