Education Eye: International baccalaureate will appeal to the undecided

Catherine Stoker

Catherine Stoker

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Many schools now offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma or IB in addition to A levels for sixth form study.

If you are lucky enough to have this choice, it can nevertheless be quite a tricky decision , not only choosing which subjects to continue into sixth form, but also which qualification will lead to the most successful outcome upon leaving school.

With the A-level system currently under-going a revamp, moving towards the lions’ share of assessment taking place at the end of year 13, allowing more teaching time with fewer in-year exams, one could possibly argue that the differences are lessening. Especially since many schools which remain committed to A levels are broadening their sixth form programme by including some elements of the IB.

In contrast to specialising in 3 or 4 subjects at A level, a student pursuing the IB Diploma maintains more breadth, taking six subjects.

At least 3 are studied at higher level and although continuously assessed, are mainly examined at the end of year 13. Subjects studied must include English or native language, maths, a second language, a social science, an experimental science, plus an arts course or another subject option.

The IB may perhaps appeal to a bright teenager who is undecided on a career, is talented in a wide range of subjects so is unable to narrow down their choices, or an individual who enjoys independent learning.

It may less suit someone who is set on a few very specific subject strengths or is aiming for a certain career such as becoming a doctor, where in-depth study of the sciences at A-level might be more suitable.

The IB is well-respected by both universities and employers since it encourages the development of strong study and interpersonal skills such as research, presentation, critical thinking, equipping students with useful tools to ease them into either higher education or the workplace.

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