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IB or AP? Make the right decision!


Throughout the course of your high school career, students have several aspects of focus for college admission that need diligent work. For example, there is GPA, extracurricular activities, and standardized testing. However, one of the more important aspects of college admission can fall upon how rigorous your courses in high school are. This creates an opportunity to follow either the AP (Advanced Placement) or IB (International Baccalaureate) route. In both systems, students are allowed to participate in college level courses, while having the ability to earn college credit. However, as these programs are becoming more popularized, a student may find difficulty in finding the right option for them:


  1. Is one more recognized?

  2. Does one look more impressive than the other?

  3. Will one improve the chances of getting into a top school?

  4. Are the difficulties of both AB in IB the same?


In this article, you will find both the Pros and Cons of both AB and IB courses. From this, you will be able to compare and contrast them and ultimately decide which is the better option for you.


1. Course Structure:


AP: Classes are one year long, and cover a wide variety of content. It is similar to courses in college or university.

IB: Courses are mostly over two years long, and are at a much slower pace. Uses mostly critical thinking skills and involves a lot of research, analysis, inquiry, and reflection


2. Teacher Quality:

AP: No mandatory training from the College Board, only basic teacher training required by the state.


IB: Teachers receive formal training organised by the governing body. They work as a team to create a curriculum across standards.


3. Focus:


AP: Emphasis on subject knowledge while learning important tests and note taking skills while working under time pressure.


IB: More focused on research, critical thinking, essay writing. Courses are less focused on taking tests.


4. Exam format:


AP: AP Exams are administered once at the end of each course. Includes multiple choice and free response questions. Exams are graded in the United States


IB: IB exams include several components including written, oral, and taped exams over the span of two years. Assessment and project work can be difficult. Exams are graded World wide.


As a parent making decision, we have summarized certain key value drivers so you can easily understand the options before you.


  1. One IB exam is more expensive than an AP exam.

  2. The IB has a longer course of study, larger work-load throughout the year.

  3. You have to be enrolled in an IB school to take the exam, but you do not have to be enrolled in an AP curriculum to take the AP exam and earn credit.

  4. Although AP is more popular than IB for American colleges, not all colleges give them the same value. It is important that a student is aware of how their preference schools weighs their AP scores out.

  5. The IB mimics a liberal arts philosophy and places an emphasis on global education.

  6. The IB pushes students to participate in extracurricular activities such as community service as part of their course work.


Conclusion: What should you choose?


Choosing either AP or IB can benefit you in different circumstances. If you are a student who emphasizes subject knowledge while prioritizing standardized tests over open -ended questions then, AP might be the right path for you. However, if you prioritize more essay writing, and using your critical thinking skills more, then IB may be a better option. Both are equally respected by colleges and universities, and choosing one over the other will not hurt your chances of admission into college.


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