IB explained

The IB, or International Baccalaureate, is an internationally recognised curriculum that aims to develop well-rounded students.


Offered by thousands of schools round the world, the IB is a curriculum of choice for motivated students who want to demonstrate their competence in a number of areas, such as academic achievement, critical thinking, and artistic pursuits.


We’ve answered a few common questions about how the IB works.


Who sits IB exams?

The IB programme offers qualifications for all years throughout primary and secondary school, through their Primary Years Programme (PYP) and Middle Years Programme (MYP). However, when most people refer to sitting their IB exams, they are referring to the IB Diploma, which is typically sat in the last 2 years of high school.


Often, because the IB Diploma is only 2 years long, students will sit other qualifications in Year 11 in order to prepare. These could be IGCSE or NCEA Level 1 qualifications, for example. Good results in these exams will prepare students for the rigour of IB.


How does the qualification system work?

An IB Diploma is split into a few components. The primary components are the core six academic areas that make up a student’s subjects. These include mathematics, science, a humanities or social science subject, two modern languages (including English for English speakers, for example), and the option of creative arts.

Students select six subjects to study, some at Standard Level (typically sat in Year 12), and a selection to follow through at Higher Level (typically sat in Year 13).


One of the key differentiators of the IB programme is the marks allocated for extracurricular activities. This includes three key elements. The Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course is taken by all learners, and discusses elements of critical thinking, including examining the construction of knowledge and learning. Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) involves the student taking part in and reflecting upon extracurricular activities on top of their primary studies. Finally, the Extended Essay (EE) provides an opportunity for students to investigate one of their key areas of focus in an in-depth 4000-word piece of independent research, similar to a thesis for University papers.


The Diploma is scored on a 45-point basis. Students’ six core subjects make up 42 points of this scale, and the remaining three points are drawn from the core programme requirements.


Is IB right for me?

The IB programme typically suits motivated, curious students who are aiming to develop their skills and effectively prepare themselves for University. Like CAIE, the bulk of a student’s overall grade comes from examinations sat at the end of the year, so a lot of pressure can build up to these examinations.


There is no question that the IB programme demands more of a student’s time than other qualifications, particularly given the requirements to complete extracurricular activities. However, for students who are already involved in activities which fall under the CAS requirements, the IB programme can provide an effective way to be recognised for these activities.


What can I do with my IB qualifications?

IB results are accepted by all universities around the world. Students who are looking to pursue further study in a particular subject area often find they are well prepared to do so by the rigour of the IB diploma, particularly given the Extended Essay requirements.


Where can I find out more?

The IB website has a comprehensive explanation of all of the key components of an IB Diploma. Find out more here:


I need help with my IB subjects, where can I go?

At EduExperts, we offer tuition across all main subjects for all popular high school curricula, including IB. Get in touch with your local centre for more information – your friendly centre manager will be more than happy to help you find the support you require!


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