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The Hornet's Buzz

The multimedia news site of The Hornet's Buzz

The Hornet's Buzz

The multimedia news site of The Hornet's Buzz

The Hornet's Buzz

Program wars: IB vs. AP – Why IB is the choice for me



I’m an International Baccalaureate (IB) student, and proud of it.

Usually, at least. I suffer from the occasional bouts of exhaustion, frustration, and depression. Most of the time, though, I’m proud.

From my freshman year of high school, I knew that I was going to do the IB Programme. Why did I choose it over AP (Advanced Placement) classes? To me, IB seemed to have more advantages, and was better suited to my needs.

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International Baccalaureate is a full diploma program. At some schools it’s possible to take individual classes, but at Northtown you’re either in or you’re out. If you’re in, you test in six prescribed subject areas, along with completing additional requirements.

Obviously, this is very different from AP classes, where you can pick and choose subjects at your discretion.

However, I believe that the community mentality that develops is one of IB’s best aspects. As IB Coordinator Jane Reed said, “It’s a way of life.”

Set apart from other students in a “school within a school,” many IB students bond and form a tight knit – and generally dysfunctional – family.

We know what our fellows are going through, because we’re taking the same classes, working with the same teachers, and struggling with the same tests. Everyone does their best to help each other out.

Additional requirements also set the IB programme apart. IB students must complete extras: community service, a presentation, and an extended essay, to name a few.

These components are required, along with high enough test scores, in order to receive the diploma. Combining them with the necessary subject areas ensures that IB students receive a well rounded education – whether we like it or not. Though many of us may complain about it, the requirements ensure that we’re prepared for whatever college throws at us.

A current major disadvantage of the IB programme is recognition. It’s true that AP name recognition is much higher in America. Some colleges don’t recognize IB and don’t give credits for it. However, AP is confined to the US and Canada. IB exists around the globe and is recognized in 75 countries. If you want to go to college in Austria, you’re all set.

As a student who has taken both AP and IB tests, I definitely prefer the IB version. AP tests are taken all at once, and the multiple parts combine into a grueling session that can last more than three hours.

IB tests are split into two or three shorter “papers” taken in separate sessions that may be a few hours or even days apart. This helps stave off burnout, and allows students to make up for a poor testing day.

IAs (Internal Assessments) – individual research papers or presentations students do over the school year – also contribute to their final IB grade.

IAs can be a buffer for students who don’t test well, and give students a chance to completely control one aspect of their grade.

The community aspect comes back into play during tests as well. On testing days, senior IB students bring food, while the coordinators bring the programme’s famous mints. Everyone eats, studies, and freaks out together, which is a welcomed way to de-stress before the exam.

Overall, both the IB and AP programs offer challenging classes – often compared to college courses of differing levels – and prepare students for higher education. Members of both should be proud of their accomplishments.

However, I’m satisfied with the IB programme and – no matter how much I might complain when testing time rolls around – I would never consider leaving.

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