A Parent’s Guide

A decision to do the IB is not one that should be taken lightly. A lot of people will have a variety of views on whether it is a good thing for your child. Ultimately, you have to make the decision with your child. You know more than any outside about what is best for your child, and whether the IB is suitable for them.

I firmly believe that the IB was right for me. I also believe that the IB has the potential to be a very good thing for a lot- but not every– 16-18 year old.  What I aim to do is to provide information about why you should consider the IB. I do not claim to know what is best for your child, but to give you some things that I think are worth considering.

I summarise the four key things that I would urge to consider about the IB here. This was an article I had published in Schoolgate, the education blog of The Times.  In it, I suggest that:

  • The IB offers breadth. More so than the current A-level system, the IB creates rounded and balanced academics.  Students are forced to study a wide range of subjects (including a compulsory MFL and mathematics). The upshot is students who are more ‘knowledgable’  in the best sense of the word. There is an attendent disadvantage: that your score in one subject affects the overal diploma score.  If you score badly, in say, maths, your overal score will be lower. More on the mechanics of that here.
  • Time. To do the IB well takes a lot of it.  The myths of IB students having no social life at all is a myth. Most of us are human, or were at one stage in our lives.  However, you are doing 7 subjects, some of which you don’t get to choose.  In order to get the very best marks, you will  be working a 60-70 hour week. (10 hours a day every day is about what I did during most of Year 2) It is very hard, and do not underestimate just how much work is involved.
  • Grade Inflation. This is the big plus of the IB when considered in the British system. There is none. The same percentage of people get full marks (45) today as they did when the IB started. Likewise, the mean score is always 30 points (+/- 1 point. You can be certain that the IB you do today is worth the same as the ones sat 30 years ago. I don’t have that faith in the A-levels.
  • Uni Preparation. No other qualifcation at pre University level makes doing a 4,000 wd essay and a course in ToK compulsory. This is precisely what universities love: it shows that you have some experience of writing university essays and makes you stand out from the crowd.

More Information.

I strongly recommend (hardly suprisingly!) my book. In it, I go into a lot more detail about the pro’s and con’s of the IB.  You can purchase it, and view a sample chapter here.

I have also found this Pdf. Hosted by Cambridge University press, it offers another perspective onto choosing the IB.

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