Which is Better: AP or IB?

A prospective client emailed me yesterday with a question that is regularly asked of me when I give presentations on college admission around the Denver area.

Which is better, Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB)? Do colleges find one more impressive over the other?

In my opinion, both the AP and IB programs are equally valuable, in that the exams associated with those courses provide an external measure of quality. Any student who does well on the end-of-course assessments associated with either program can genuinely claim to have done college work in a high school setting.

The structures of the two programs are very different, however. Think of AP and IB this way: AP is a smorgasbord: pick the courses you want, leave behind those that tempt you less. IB, by contrast, is a “prix fixe” menu: you get all or nothing. There is a range of choice within IB, but the entire high school curriculum is dictated by those initial choices.

The fact is that highly competitive AP students are taking 6, 7, 10 AP courses and doing well on the exams (scores of 4 or 5 out of five possible points). Likewise, highly competitive IB students are not only taking the IB courses, but are scoring 5, 6, or 7s (out of seven) on the diploma tests. However, there are also plenty of students who take lots of AP courses who do not do well on the exams (many do not even take them!). Similarly, there are students in IB programs who are unlikely to fulfill all the requirements of the IB diploma.

As to whether colleges prefer AP or IB? Colleges like them both. Both programs represent tough curricular requirements. But in the end, it’s all about the student’s performance: did they perform at the very top of the scale for either program? Did they pass the independently administered exams with flying colors? If so, colleges will be heavily recruiting those students—regardless of the AP or IB label.

One thing parents (and students) ought to keep in mind as they look at schools and at individual teachers: ask about their pass rate. That is, ask what percentage of students enrolled in these programs take and pass (or get perfect scores) on the AP or IB assessments? The answer to this question will be a better indicator of program quality than the label. I have several clients who are getting very high grades in AP courses, but who will never be able to pass the AP exams. Their teachers are simply not up to the job of presenting such a demanding curriculum and helping students achieve to the standards set by that curriculum.

So to reiterate, both the AP and IB programs are excellent preparation for college, and the colleges seek out students to excel in either environment. Students and teachers should look beyond the labels to ask about the quality of the programs on offer. Just as we don’t judge books by their cover, we should not judge a program by its label.

Mark Montgomery
Montgomery Educational Consulting

Published by Mark Montgomery

Mark is a leading educational consultant. His experience as a professor, college administrator, and youth mentor help him guide students from around the country and around the world.

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203 Comments

  1. I agree wholeheartedly with your last thought about not judging the program by the label.

    Pass rate has a lot to do, also, with who the school allows to take the exam.

    I remember at my high school that all students were required to take the AP test, for whatever reason. That program happened to be better than another area school that cherrypicked only the brightest to take the AP test.

    Beyond parental involvement, the best way to assess the quality of an individual course is to grill its specific instructor on teaching methods, textbook, assignments, method of review, assessments used. If an AP US History teacher, for example, uses anything on its unit tests besides actual DBQs or actual AP test questions, the program isn’t worth looking into further.

    http://awaitingtenure.wordpress.com/

  2. Mr. Baxter,
    Thanks for visiting my site.

    One other thing I neglected to mention is that the quality of the teacher in that AP or IB course is critical, and you emphasize that fact. It’s one thing to have a strong curriculum.
    But a strong curriculum in the hands of a weak teacher, is, well, weak. Perhaps not as weak as a weak teacher AND a weak curriculum.

    I would disagree somewhat, however, that every assessment in an AP or IB course needs to be a DBQ or an actual AP test question. There may be room for other sorts of assessments–in addition to the ones you mentioned. But you’re right in that if the course isn’t geared toward the tests, it really isn’t worth pursuing. The whole point is to succeed on the external assessment–not to merely “get through” the curriculum.

    Thanks again for your thoughtful comments.

  3. Hi great advise can you elaborate on what is DBQ or how do we prepare for actual AP test.

  4. My son began his senior year yesterday here in Florida, yet after three years in the IB program, decided not to enter his fourth. He informed me of this as I was on my way to bed; so I’ve not had a chance to speak with him yet. I’ve been ’email debating’ with his father about what’s going on, and my only concern is how colleges will perceive this sudden ‘dropping out’ of the IB program at the last minute. Will it affect his ‘overall performance’ perception by others? Thank you!

  5. Dear Rhona,

    Thanks for writing. It’s a shame he plans to drop out. Like you, I’d like to learn more about his reasons for abandoning the program, and about how his performance has been to this point.

    As for colleges’ perception of this decision, I am afraid that most competitive colleges will look unfavorably upon your son. He will be seen as slacking off at a critical time. He is pulling back from the challenge, rather than confronting it head on.

    This does not mean, however, that your son will have no options. Again, much depends on the reasons for his pulling back. For example, if he were getting grades of C in his IB courses, but could pull an A in each of his regular college prep or honors courses, then perhaps his decision was a good one.

    So, generally speaking, his decision is a poor one. But the truth is more in the details. I would have to learn quite a bit more about your son’s circumstances before I could state anything categorically.

    I hope this is helpful, and thanks for writing.

  6. Hi my name is michael i am 13 in the 8th grade @ millennium middle school in Sanford Florida, i am in the pre-ib program. my mom wants me to go to Seminole high school for the pre-ib program but i want to go to crooms. but she says that it was a waist of 3 years and that i am hurting my self if i go to crooms because ap is the same as ib and she wont listen that they are the same so what to do.

  7. Hi, Michael. Thanks for visiting my blog. My first question is this: why do you want to go to Crooms? Why do you not want to go to Seminole? You explain your mom’s thinking on the matter, but what’s yours? AP and IB are not “the same.” They both have their strengths and weaknesses. So let me know what you are thinking, and perhaps I can help a bit more. Or perhaps give me a call? Thanks!

  8. Hello, I have a 16 year old son who is a junior in our local IB program in Florida. This was his choice in attending the IB program due to the fact that he wanted to be better prepared for college and thought IB would best prepare him. We went to the local college night and were totally blown away at the University of Florida representative telling these kids that IB meant nothing to them, nor did their gpa’s or class rank. She said tell her things she hadn’t heard before. We walked away from the table with a very disappointed 16 year old who thinks he has been wasting his time in Ib since it won’t make any difference in college. I had to remind him that the reason he took IB was to make it easier on himself once he got to college. But obviously it will not be UF. Then last night a parent down the street asked why he was wasting his time doing IB when he could dual enroll and get his AA in high school. If you were in regular AP classes and failed all the exams would colleges frown on that, and would you have a hard time getting into college if you did not pass the IB exam. Our son would like to go on to become a dentist, so would it be wise to continue on in IB or would it be better to dual enroll his senior year. Thanks for your time

  9. Dear Connie,
    Thanks for visiting my blog. I’m sorry the UF representative was not more helpful in explaining the value of the IB. My guess is that the university does value the academic rigor of the IB, and would like to attract more student with that level of representation.
    I have contacted the director of admission at UF to ask if she’d like to respond to you directly. My guess is that she will.
    I will address your concerns about the trade-offs between IB, AP, and community college dual enrollments shortly. Stay tuned!

  10. Hello, I am in the 10th grade in an IB school in Florida. I am still considered Pre-IB. But I am not so sure I want to continue on to the actual IB program.
    If I were to leave the program after this year, would I be frowned upon by universities? I dont want to make the wrong decision and not get into a top college. My dream is to be a doctor and I dont want to mess that up.
    Also, would an Ivy Leavge University be more willing to accept me for staying in the IB program, vs. going into an AP program?

  11. Hi, Heather, and thanks for visiting my site.
    My first question is this: why do you want to leave the IB program?
    If the plan is to pursue an easier curriculum, think again. If you really want an Ivy League education, you will have to pursue a *very* rigorous curriculum, and that will mean pursuing more than a handful of AP tests in your junior and senior year.
    If you have been accepted to the IB, and if you already will have invested two years in the program, why do you want to pull back now–just when you will begin your junior year–when colleges will be looking carefully at your curriculum choices.
    Whether it’s IB or AP, if you want to go to the Ivy League, you need to pursue and excel in the most challenging curriculum available to you. And though the some AP courses can be very rigorous, there is no doubt that the structured curriculum of the IB is among the most rigorous in the world.
    Again, I come back to my question: why are you considering pulling back? While I can speak more about the particular strengths and weaknesses of the programs in general, I would need to know more about your particular situation in order to advice you in a more personal fashion.
    Thanks again for the conversation, and I look forward to hearing from you again.

  12. I am a sophmore in High school. I am currently taking 4 AP classes and a few pre-IB classes.
    But I look ahead and I dont know if the IB program is what I want. The school I plan to attend next year would allow me to take more AP classes.
    I dont want to stay in and regret it, and I dont want to leave and regret it. I just dont think thats where I want to be, and if I leave before the actual IB program starts, would I still be frouned upon?
    Right now, its as if I’m in an AP program, just next year I would be labeled IB if I stay, or I would continue as an AP student if I were to leave.
    I just dont want colleges to think poorly of me, because I do excell in school. I just dont like where my school is and how the school is run. A lot of the teachers are bad, and I dont want to do bad on the IB exam in the end…

  13. Heather,
    While there are still quite a few things I don’t know about here (more information on your school performance and the pass rate that teachers at both the AP and IB schools have achieved in previous years, for example), I can tell that you should allow yourself to be guided by this question, “Where am I more likely to get a high quality, rigorous education?” The labels of AP and IB mean little: it is the substance of the actual courses taught, as well as the competence of the teachers delivering the curriculum that will matter most.
    By the same token, your principal question should not be, “will anyone frown on me because of this or that decision?” If you made the decision that you felt was in your best educational interest, then that is easily explained on an application (if it is necessary…and I doubt it would be).
    What will matter, in the end, is your performance, whether in AP or IB classes, and/or on the tests. If you come through either programs with great grades and awesome test scores from these programs, then you’ll be in the running for some of the most competitive colleges in the country–NO MATTER which curriculum you elect.
    So you are right to look beyond the label of IB or AP to discern the underlying quality of the education on offer. Go with the highest quality.
    Hope that helps, Heather.
    And thanks again for writing!

  14. Dear Connie,

    I wanted you to know that the director of admission of the University of Florida has contacted me, asking if he can contact you directly. Please let me know if you’d like me to give him your email address, or if you’d like to contact him directly, instead. Please send me an email offline.

    Thanks!

  15. Hi, I’m 14 and I live in Nova Scotia. I’m in Late French Immersion (I started in grade 7). I can speak french well. Should I go into IB, French IB or regular Immersion?

  16. Hi, me again, I also could go into just plain English, but I don’t want to. High school (grade 10) starts next year. I think that my averages for all of my classes are high nineties, 95% and up. What should I do?

  17. Dear KM:

    Thanks for visiting and for your question. First off, I have to say that I’m not as familiar with the Canadian education system as I’d like to be. Second, I don’t think it will make much difference whether you do the French or English IB: either will be roughly equivalent. The decision is more about which language you consider dominant. If English is your first language (the one you speak at home), then the assumption that you would take French as a secondary language. But if you are strong enough in French to pursue it as a primary (and take all your science, math, and other classes in French), and if you think you might want to pursue university studies in a French-speaking university in Canada or elsewhere, then the French IB might be great. Educationally speaking, the curriculum will be the same. If you think you will attend an English-speaking university, then consider English. But either way, it won’t matter as long as you have strong fluency in both languages. As for French immersion, I’m not really sure. As a global thinker, I tend to think that might be great. But wouldn’t you get the same sort of immersion experience if you took the French IB?

    Thanks so much for you question. I’m not sure if I’ve sufficiently answered it, so let me know if I can clarify anything for you. Feel free to send me more information.

  18. ib is a great program. i go to ferguson high im in 11th grade, and in the end trust me it will hopefully all be worth it. do not procrastinate! thats all. ib mixes classes with ap as well. then when you reach senior year and have done all your ia’s and iop and ap test and ib test, finished yoour extended essay, and cast hours you can relax. and breathe. all the alumni’s said it them selves. it just depeneds how bad do you want it.

  19. Hello, Yadviga, and thanks for visiting my blog. I’m glad you shared your perspective. As many students sometimes forget, the investment in time and energy pays off…not only in college admission, but in the amount of knowledge and skills you acquire along the way.
    I appreciate your comments!

  20. Mark M.,

    First of all, I would like to note that I came to this site accidentally and am VERY happy to have been fortunate enough to have found it. Currently, I am a junior in the IB program and have just finished my first quarter with alright grades, three A’s, three B’s, and one C. In the IB program, especially beginning as a junior, I know that these grades are not that bad, but the problem is, is that I’m not use to getting ‘average grades.’ All through middle school and my first two years of high school, I held high grades, without a problem and my school offered the 4 year IB program, starting with two years of Pre-IB.

    My dilemma at the moment is whether or not I should drop out of the IB program. It’s not because I cannot handle it, if I were to stay in it for the next two years of my life, I know I will be miserable – literally ‘giving my soul’ to the IB program. But, what I really want to know is it worth it in the end? Should I really suck it up, study for several hours daily, sleep only two to three hours on school days, just to graduate and receive the IB diploma? I mean, should I really do it?

    My aspiration is to become a scientist, but I don’t like the way IB program forces the students to do work, seemingly to lack enthusiasm, and to just memorize empty words in our heads, and then pull out those words, memorized – not learned – into the many tests and exams we are forced to take. I just don’t believe that is learning. How can we learn, as students, YOUNG students, without having any passion for the subject?

    I just don’t believe that memorizing so much information, without having any interest for the subject, usually from both the teacher and the student, is worth it.

    But again, I know I’m really passionate about science. I went into the program junior year, really inspired by science, interested in everything about it, and only a quarter in, I don’t even remember what I once thought of it.

    I’m sorry this is such a long comment, but I hope you’ll be able to help me decide if staying in the IB program is right, or if I should do AP, Duel Enrollment, or Collegiate High School instead.

    – Much thanks.

  21. Dear Pperez:

    First of all, I’m glad you stumbled upon my site. I hope I am able to give you some helpful advice.

    First of all, I think we may have to take this discussion “off-line” at some point, so that I can ask you some more questions to get a better sense of your priorities.

    Second, I would also point out that you are only at the end of your first quarter of the IB program, and I have found that most students find the start to be quite jarring. The workload is prodigious, and the demands much greater than anything you have experienced in the past. It takes time for every student to adjust.

    Third, I want to know more about your particular IB program: how long it has been in operation, its track record in getting students to pass the exams, etc.

    Fourth, I understand your complaints about science. Lab work and class work are two very different aspects of science education, and in this country we tend to favor the classwork over the lab work. But keep in mind that medical school involves a ton of memorization and “book learning.” Sure, there are anatomy labs and medical examination practicums. But the only way to learn about pharmacology is to start memorizing. Any field of academic inquiry, at a certain level, requires that you master the fundamentals before you start going off on your own. That said, I do know that some teachers–and some curricula–have a way of drilling the joy out of learning.
    Finally, I would need to ask you more about your local alternatives and options. If you drop the IB, what is available to you, specifically. AP is not much different, as it requires a ton of work, too (including memorization). Dual enrollment may be an option, but frankly colleges will be more impressed by your IB diploma than a few community college courses (especially if you dumped the former for the later).

    I would be more than happy to talk to you about this personally. Give me a call at the number at the bottom of my website pages, and we can have a short chat.

    Thanks again for visiting, and good luck with all that homework!

  22. Dear Mark M.
    I am currnetly a sopomare in high school in Georgia. I am deciding between AP and IB. In ninth grade, I took 1 AP Class (Human Geography) and got a five on the AP exam. I am taking 2 APs this year(World History and Statistics) and have a 98 and 99 in them, respectively. My strengths are math(currenttly taking Analyis(Honors Trig) and have a grade of 100) and science(currently taking Honors Chemistry and have a grade of 100). I am not “weak” in English, History, and Spanish(my lowest grade is a 98), they are just not my favorite classes.
    If I take the AP route, I will end up taking 5-6 APs each year in my Junior and Senior years. At the IB program at my school, you must take History and English HL, and you have a choice between Math and Spanish as your other HL (no HL sciences offered). There is also a Calculus III class(above AP Calc AB/BC) offered at my school that is a Georgia Tech class that I would like to take. If I did IB, then I would have to do IB Math HL as well as the Georgia Tech class my senior year.
    My main question is that because colleges can see all the classes at my school, if I take AP are they going to mark me down because I did not take IB? If I take IB, are they going to mark me down for not taking AP? I am intersted in doing some related to math and/or science later in college, is one program going to prepare me better for that path? Is one program better for preparing students for college in general?
    -Thanks in advance for any advice you can provide

  23. Dear Cody,
    Thanks for your question, and I’m sorry it has taken me so long to respond.
    Three general rules apply to your question.

    1. You need to take the most rigorous curriculum you can.

    2. You need to do as well as you can.

    3. You need to explain your choices on the application. You should never leave it to admissions officers to “figure it out.” If you make choices that don’t make complete sense in sequencing–but you have a good reason for making those choices–then you can use the application to explain why you made those choices.

    So, what does that mean for you, in particular? Well, it’s hard for me to say, frankly. I’d need to chat with you at greater length. I’d also want to talk about other ways to ensure that you are going as far ahead with your interests in math and science as you can. For example, we could talk about summer options for math whizzes.

    Your question is whether you will be “marked down” for dropping the IB. I can only really answer “it depends,” in part on your reasons for the change, in part on what you do instead, and in part on your continued good performance. Further, it depends on how you explain the change on your application.

    How’s that for equivocation? I wish I could be more cut and dried in my answer, but as I have said elsewhere, if this business of college admission were so cut and dried, we’d have no need for admissions officers–or college consultants like me!

    All the best, good luck, and let me know if you’d like me to provide more specific, personal guidance.

  24. Hi, Im currently in my first year of IB (after 2 years of Pre-IB). Along with the IB courses my school requires that we take AP classes as well, often combined with the IB classes. For example I am in AP US history which also doubles as IB History of the Americas I. I am in 5 AP classes (Statistics, Literature and Composition, US History, Biology, and Human Geography) with each, except for Human Geography, acting as the first year of the IB course. I am in 2 additional IB courses along with those mentioned above (IB Theatre and IB Spanish).

    I really don’t want to drop out of the program, but I am beginning to think that it is just too stressful. If I were to leave the program I would most likely still take the AP courses, but I would feel like I wasted all of this time and effort. If I’m already so far into the program, do you think it would be a waste of my previous work? Do you think that I should you stick it out?

  25. Katie,
    Thanks for comment, and I am amazed at all you are doing. First off, I want you to know that I’m a little annoyed with your school for making IB and AP courses identical. They absolutely should not be. The curriculum requirements are different, and the exams for which teachers should be prepping you are very different. The school is trying to do it all, and my guess is that the teachers cannot bear the load any more than the students can.

    So ask these questions of your administrators–or have your parents help–or set up a little student investigative committee to explore these (use some of those skills you’re building in AP Stats!):

    1. What is the pass rate in each of the AP courses offered? What percentage of students taking these courses actually pass with a 3 on the AP exams, and what percentage get 4s or 5s?

    2. What is the pass rate for the IB exams? How many students are getting 7s? What percentage of IB students actually gets the IB diploma?

    The comparisons will tell you a lot about what teachers are *actually* teaching and preparing you for. Armed with your data, you should make some policy recommendations to your school and district: pick one or the other, but don’t send us all on the Bataan Death March and expect us to perform well on both the IB and AP assessments . And you know what principals both love and hate? DATA. So collect it and present it and demonstrate to the grown-ups (who likely didn’t actually do either AP or IB programs!) that they are loony.

    Keep your eyes on the donut, here. You are in this game to *learn* something. Remember my comments above that the fact that a course is labeled IB or AP means little. From a practical point of view, you have to ask about pass rates, because this is an external (though imperfect) assessment of what you have learned. Beyond that, you also have to think about which teachers are best able to help you learn and succeed. Just because the course is labeled for “smart” kids doesn’t mean the teacher is prepared to deliver on the promises of the curriculum and exams.

    Once you have your data, and you reorient your perspective to focus on the donut, you can perhaps have more clarity as you make your decisions. Whatever you do, you want to do it to the best of your ability. Sticking with the IB when you wrack and ruin ahead is unwise. But jumping ship without full information is also unwise.

    I’d be happy to talk to you about this more. What school are you going to? What city and state? I’d love to follow this story. Your teachers and administrators are goofy.

    Thanks for visiting and asking such a good question. I wish I had a simpler, cut-and-dried answer for you!

  26. I am in the AP program at my school and I love it.
    The great thing about AP versus IB is that AP gives you more flexibility. For example, I want to study political science and then law so I don’t need high-level math or science skills. In IB I would be forced into high level math and science courses. In AP it is my choice which courses I take (I still want the high level math/science to appear well-rounded to colleges).
    Next year (Junior Year) I plan on 5 AP clases which include 1 english (AP Language), 1 science (Ap Physics B), and 3 social studies (AP Psych, AP U.S. Hist, AP Euro Hist) w/ non-AP Spanish 4 and Pre-Calc.
    Senior Year I plan another round of 5 AP classes: 1 english (AP Literature), 1 math (AP Calculus BC), 1 science (AP Chemistry), 1 foreign language (AP Spanish Language), 2 social studies (AP Macroeconomics, AP U.S. Gov’t, BTW: both of these courses are only one semester and switch w/ each other).
    AP allows me to tell colleges that while I am well rounded I do have a specific interest in a certain subject, mine being social studies. In IB I would not have as great an oppurtunity to show colleges that.
    P.S. One thing I dislike is the way my state treats Pre-AP courses against Pre-IB courses. My school only has AP so to take IB I would have to wake up at 4AM to go to school a couple of towns over. I decided that it was too much of a challenge (geographically) so I stayed with the Amazing AP curriculum my school has to offer. My complaint is that I took Pre-AP classes such as Pre-AP English 1 Honors but on my transcript all it says is “English 1 Honors”. At the same time students a couple of towns over get “English 1:Pre-IB” on their transcripts. I feel that is unfair because IB is supposed to be equivalent to AP but my state seems to disagree with making it 100% equivalent.

  27. Jesus,
    Sounds like you’ve investigated all the ins and outs of the offerings in your area, and you are making well-informed decisions. If you do well on all those AP exams, you’ll be very competitive for college admissions just about everywhere–assuming, of course, that you are excelling in other areas of your life.

    Thanks for visiting, and let me know if you need any individualized assistance.

  28. Hi, I’m currently in the 10th grade. I plan on transfering to a school in Australia or Singapore for the last two years of high school. My present school does not offer any IB or AP programmes. Which one would you say is better: IB or AP?

  29. Hi, Nam.

    IB and AP are both good. In international schools, you’ll find more IB. In American-style schools overseas, you’ll find more AP. Either way, you’ll be well served if you do well on the end-of-course exams. If you’re trying to decide between an IB or an AP school in Australia or Singapore, ask the administrators about pass rates on the exams. Choose based on performance indicators, not on the label of the curriculum.

    Hope this is helpful, and good luck with your overseas transfer. Very exciting!

  30. Hi,
    My son is in 8th now and has decided to do the Pre IB and then the IB program. He is in Plano ISD (TX). I am suddenly hearing that Ivy League colleges are not looking at the IB programs favorably. Is it true? Are less kids from IB programs getting into Ivy Leagues? In that case, is AP a better path? Thanks in anticipation.

  31. Hello, and thanks for your question, Moushumi. I don’t know where you are getting your information. Ivy League colleges love the IB. But the IB is no guarantee of anything. What matters is your child’s performance in the IB program, as well as every other aspect of your child’s preparation and personality. But with acceptances to the Ivies hovering around 10% or less, there simply is no guarantee of admission. However, there are things (other than choosing curriculum) that 8th graders can start doing as they prepare for HS. I talked to a parent today who will likely hire me for my freshman package, just to have another pair of eyes and ears to help counsel the child. It becomes a pressure cooker, and I try to take the stress off everyone. Again, never any guarantees. But if your son does the IB program and does it well, and then does about a zillion other things, then his chances might move from less than 10% to, say, 50-50.

    Anyway, I hope this helps. And don’t believe everything you hear. Ivies love IB. But the love students who perform well in the IB even more than they love the program.

  32. Hi Mark – I found this website while looking through my school’s IB website (Rowland High School-Los Angeles, CA), but I noticed I can relate to the problems in many previous comments.
    I’m currently a sophomore in high school, and recently my IB coordinator brought up the question of how to organize my schedule for next year & senior year based on whether I plan to stay in IB or not – before it’s too late – and I wouldn’t want to stay in IB junior year and then quit senior year because that would look very bad.
    I’m worried I might not survive an IB senior year because I would have 6-7 IB/AP classes, including being a member of several clubs and the possibility of having a part-time job all at the same time. If I quit IB, I would probably have at least 5 AP classes and have a little (or a lot) more freedom, but also I’m worried that that won’t be enough of a challenge that prestigious colleges would expect (e.g. UCLA, UC Berkeley, Yale). Plus, I want to take a few of those special courses that are only available for IB kids (such as Theory of Knowledge).
    -And earlier this week I talked with the IB coordinator and she said the IB schedule is rarely ever changed so I won’t be able to take Calculus BC, but instead I’d have to take IB Math (which I heard from current students that it’s incredibly easier).
    I haven’t really thought much about the benefits of AP/IB exams, but is it true that if you fail the exam for a said course, then you’d have to take it again in college to get the credit?
    I really want to see myself graduating with an IB diploma, but I’m not sure if I can handle the rigor of the courses along with a whole bunch of extra-curricular activities, or even worse, fail and get a big fat “F” on my transcript from too many expectations, and realize that I wasted my final years of high school by being in a program I thought I could handle but actually couldn’t.
    -Stressed

  33. Hello I am a student in gr. 10 pre-ib, in canada. I am now thinking of dropping the ib program because I think it will not be benificial to me. The only reason I enrolled in the program is because I planned to going to Harvard, and doing the IB program would increase my chances. When I recently had a long talk with my parents and saw the fees for Harvard university, we could not afford to pay it. Now that I am probably going to end up going to a university in Canada, I’ve learned that most universities just convert the IB mark to the academic marks, they increase the percentage of the IB mark or something along those lines. Anyways, if I would graduate IB with an 80, and it would convert to a 90, I’m thinking I could probably graduate at academic level at 95. So basically, do you think IB is worth it, if I plan to go to university in the same country where I live in?

    thank you

  34. Hi, I’m a sophomore student in highschool, I am in Pre-IB program right now, I think I will do IB next year. My question is how is your class rank and GPA will affect college admission?
    My current Culmulative GPA: 3.75 I took all honors classes, and I am pretty sure I will get back to 3.82 by end of my 10th grade. I ranked 150 out of 500 right now, but it will probably raise up to yop 100.
    I just don’t know how much of your 10th and 9th grade GPA will affect my college admission…

  35. Hello there!
    Thanks for the GREAT advice.
    I am a grade 9 student here in Canada. And I am constantly thinking if I should take AP or IB. I am just wondering if I do plan to take full IB in the future, will it affect my outside life. For example if you’re highly involved with curricular activities outside of school(sports, job, volunteering and etc). Will this greatly affect your grades if you plan to continue in all of this? That is what’s really bothering me because I am involved in many things, and I still maintain my average of 94%. But when I think about going to IB, I’m afraid this will be all too much to handle. I don’t want to be wasting my time in studying and not hang out with my friends. I still want to have a life!
    So would IB be too much for me? Or should I stick to AP?

    Greatly Appreciate the advice thanks!

  36. Hello.

    First of all, you should not look at the fees when considering applying to Harvard; you should think about the competition. Harvard has the most generous financial aid in the US, with the average discount of over 60%. The sticker price is very high; the price you are asked to pay could be quite a bit lower, based on your family’s financial need. Even for Canadians.

    Second, I respectfully ask you to consider whether your education is simply a matter of cost / benefit analysis in terms of dollars and cents, or whether it is more a matter of training your mind to its fullest capacity. IB is a great way to train your mind to its fullest. If you do well in the program, you will also have more opportunities within Canada, I believe.

    So I wouldn’t frame your question in terms of the scores of 80 vs 90. I’d think more about what it is you want to learn and why you want to learn it. If your education is just about getting a job, well, then what job will that be? (Keep in mind that some jobs that pay pretty well do not require a college degree).

    Anyway, I’m not sure I’m answering your question directly, but that is partly because your question is not really one I can answer for you. I can only ask more questions!

    Thanks for visiting!

  37. Hi, Tom.

    Your class rank is very important: it shows how well you stack up against your peers at the same school. You are currently in the top third of your class. If you move it up to top 20%, that will be great (and will open up your college options a bit). Your grades in 9th and 10th grade do weigh heavily on your cumulative or overall GPA, so don’t slack off in those years. It is never too early to get great grades!

    Thanks for stopping by.

  38. Hi. I am a junior at a high school in Orange County, CA. I am in the IB program right now but am thinking about dropping out because of the workload. I knew it was going to be a lot of work, but I have a lot of family problems going on right now, and I feel like I don’t need the extra stress. Also, this year I am taking the IB Spanish B test.. but I haven’t taken a Spanish course since this past summer. I also have to do the Spanish Internal Assessment which is a 3-minute presentation with a Q&A after (in Spanish). I don’t have that much time to study for the test and since I haven’t had recent experience in the language, should I just drop out? On the other hand, I feel like I should continue with the program and try to rise to the challenge. What do you think?

  39. Lisa,
    I’m not sure I can give you the personal advice you seek, as I think it is hard to give you a recommendation without knowing a lot more about you.
    But I can say this: if you need help preparing for the Spanish test, consider signing up for SpeakShop (http://speakshop.com ). This is a wonderful, cost effective tutoring service that can help you get prepared for just such an interview. And the cost is not that much. My wife is doing SpeakShop, and loves it. You will really be able to boost your oral skills and confidence with something like SpeakShop.

    As for AP vs. IB, you are right to consider the impact the IB will have on your high school experience. It’s tough. And if you have family problems and whatnot, you may not want the stress. Then again, AP will not be a cakewalk, either: if you want to perform at the highest level, you will need the same sort of focus. A lot depends on your goals: if you want admission to the most competitive schools in the US, you’re going to have to put your shoulder to the wheel, whichever curriculum you pursue. But make no mistake: there are plenty of very high quality colleges out there that are not as competitive or difficult to get into, and making a conscious decision not to place undue pressure on yourself can also be liberating.

    So I’m sorry I can’t give you more personally tailored advice. I’m only raising issues you have likely already thought about. But you are asking the right questions at least, and you should feel good about that.

    Good luck to you!

  40. first of all thanks for answering previous question. I have one more issue,I immigrant to U.S 3 years ago, I don’t know if I really should take IB english SL and HL. Right now, I’m taking English Honors and have all A so far, but teacher isn’t really good.
    And, Will my disadvantage of background such as recent immigrant help me when it comes to college admission?

  41. I have a question regarding how colleges look at a private high school education vs a public education (AP and IB programs). We are trying to decide if it is worth paying for a private HS if my daughter could take AP in her public HS. We would be able to send her to a better college if we go public but how to colleges perceive the difference?

  42. Hi, Michelle. Good question. I don’t think colleges care a hoot about private vs. public education. They care about your daughter’s performance. Assuming that she were to get straight As, score perfect 5s on all AP tests, and were otherwise involved in the same activities, what would be the difference? Furthermore, at some private high schools, the entire senior class may be applying to a single, selective college. Believe me, they won’t all get in, no matter how wonderful they all are, because colleges want a diverse class (and admitting 50 kids from Philips Andover would not be considered “diverse”).

    There are, of course, many reasons why you might select a private school over a public school for your daughter. But having an “edge” in college admissions is not one of them.

    Hope my opinion helps you in your decision. Thanks for the question.

  43. Hi, Tom.
    I can’t really offer specific advice, but your choices of which courses to take should depend not on the talents of the teacher, but on your own talents: can you handle the increased work load? As for how your background will come into play, it will be taken into consideration at any college or university that takes a wholistic approach to the admissions process. But performance is always number one.

    I’d talk to the teachers of English SL and HL and ask them their opinion. Show them some of your written work in your honors course. Express your misgivings. Tell them you want to try to push yourself, but you also don’t want to make a foolish choice. You may also want to talk to your school counselor.

    Hope this helps!

  44. Hi, Raymond. Glad you find the blog useful.

    It’s hard to answer your question, other than to say that it is true that IB is very difficult and does have an impact on other areas of your life. The demands are great. It all depends on your goals. Some pain is worth the gain, as they say. If you plan to attend a selective college, you are better off doing the IB, as you will not be as competitive for admission to those places as your peers in your school who do complete the IB.

    Most students who are successful in the IB program are also able to maintain involvements outside the classroom. Community service is required for the IB diploma, anyway. You also get “credit” for things like sports through the CASS requirement–which is applied to the IB completion and diploma.

    I also hasten to add that the admissions process is different in Canada–it is more straightforward. I would take your question to an admissions officer at a Canadian university to which you might consider applying. I am not an expert on the Canadian system.

    Hope this helps!

  45. Hi, Stressed. I’m sorry you’re fretting so much. I don’t think I can offer you the specific advice you crave, as I would need to have a much longer conversation. My sense is that you should listen to the advice of the teachers and counselors who know you, know their own IB program, and who can gauge your talents better than I. Of course, the IB program is stressful and challenging, and it will have an impact on how many involvements you can take on outside of class (but don’t give them up entirely if you are thinking of selective colleges).

    By the same token, do not make a decision based on some far-off, unknowable chance of getting into UCLA or Yale. If you don’t live in California, your chances at UCLA are tiny. Yale is a crap shoot, no matter how you look at it.

    Get an education for an education’s sake. The rest will take care of itself. If you place too many of your dreams in some particular college, you will drive yourself crazy.

    If you think TOK would be fun, then take the IB! If you want the intellectual challenge of tackling high level material, take the IB. Let the chips fall where they may. There are so many wonderful colleges out there that will be happy to accept you that you seem (to me) to be stressing out about things you cannot control.

    Do what you love and love what you do. The future will take care of itself.

  46. Hi my name is Jacqueline, I am 15 years old and my school has just been approved for the IB program (for junior and senior year). I am planning my schedule for sophmore year and I can plan it in one of 2 ways. One for AP and one for IB, my schedule isn’t big enough for me to take all the classes required for both. The things concerning me about IB are that I swim year-round on a team and I am there for 2-3 hours a day 5 days a week. There have been rumors around my school that the IB program is extemely time consuming and I won’t be able to swim while doing the program. Quitting my sport is not an option for me so I was wondering if you could give me some input on my situation, thank you.

  47. Dear Mark,

    I was thrilled to find your site. I’m the Mom of an 8th grader who has been in the IB MYP program for the last 3 years. We have recently decided to do the IB Diploma program as she enters Highschool in the fall. We live in Omaha Nebraska so the program is relatively new. I was recently confronted with a question from a parent whose child is embarking on a rigourous AP schedule. They were concerned how the 7 tests including 3 that would be standard level could measure up to an AP student taking in upwards of 14 AP classes and exams. I explained that there was more to the rigor in the program in addition to the tests, but after hearing her concerns I wonder how many parents shy away from the program for that reason. Frankly, after reading your site alone, it sounds like IB is not for the faint of heart. In my daughters prospective HighSchool many students decide to drop the program. In this years class of Senior IB students there are just 55 in a class size of over 600. I appreciate your view, in that ultimately it is about growing a great mind. I’ll admit that I’m just as concerned about College as the next parent. My daughter would like to take a chance at Yale. However, what we have decided to do is to prepare the next 4 years as an Ivy League prospective student, regardless to whether she applies to Yale or not. So goes the saying “If you shoot for the stars but only get the moon….” Hopefully if she does well she will be attrative to many colleges.

  48. Hello, Venee, and thanks for visiting. I’m glad you are finding this website useful. While I know you are “as concerned about college as the next parent,” I hope you will retain your perspective. No matter what college ultimately welcomes your daughter, she will still have the stars. By keeping your eyes on the education as the ultimate goal, the place where she receives that education may not be as important. If I can be of any help as your daughter prepares for this journey, just let me know! I love working with IB students (and AP students, too!).

  49. Hello, Jacqueline. I’m afraid I don’t have any specific advice to offer, other than to say that you are asking the right questions. I’m working with a couple of swimmers right now, and I know their commitment to the sport is all-engrossing. I might ask another question: which is more important for your future, do you think: swimming or academic achievement? If you are good enough at swimming to earn a full scholarship (which is rare in swimming–as this sport does not have near the money that football or girls’ volleyball have), then what university are you aiming for? Is your dream of a sports scholarship realistic? Frankly, it is much more likely for students who succeed in the IB program to receive academic merit scholarships than it is for a swimmer to receive a swimming scholarship. So I’d ask if you are seeking money to help you pay for college whether swimming or academics is the better bet for you. I cannot really answer this question for you without knowing a lot more specifics. But I can always answer a question with another question!
    Good luck!

  50. Although I see that no blog entry has been made on this subject since February I would think this would be the time of the year many parents would have questions – as I do and am hopeful this string is still alive.

    My sone just finished his Senior year in the schools IB program. He got good grades this year ending in teh top 5% of his class. No he did receive some B’s, but as you mention below the weighted average changes the GPA. The problem we have is this – he is lazy (and admits it) I am not happy in that he has done well and now wants to withdraw from IB and go back to regular school with a smathering of AP courses. For exa,ple he has IB English now, but did not like it, was way too stressed and would often just get very upset about the workload. I know you cannot provide specific advice. But all I know is that his WGPA is probably around a 4.1 but I am not sure about his normal GPA, he is in the Spanish and Science clubs and a letteman on the football team. As he has been doing CAS he already has a lot of community service hours. I am very very that since he admitidly is a slacker and truly is stressed (I can see it in him) that it ‘may’ be best to pull him out. I just hate to see the last several years of IB work go to waste. This summer and year is out time to look around – what do we tell the colleges about dropping – not being able to handle the load is not an option as that is what is expected in his Senior year. As far as scholarshios go, I amafraid this will hurt him as well. BTW, this is the 1st IB class our school has offered – he would be in the 1st graduating class, so they truly are having their growing pains and he has yet to pass an AP exam. So I ask how to I spin this as to not look as bad as I think it is – advice is appreciated

  51. Hi, DeDe…Thanks for restarting this thread!

    You present quite a conundrum, and I wish I had concrete, specific advice for you. A couple of clarifying questions, though: you say he has completed his senior year, and yet he has not completed the IB. Is he in a PG year program? I’m not sure I understand the “year out” you speak of.

    I know very little about your son. I know little about his collegiate or professional aspirations. Part of the problem among kids is that the goals (like “getting into a good college”) are way to abstract for them to focus on things they don’t really enjoy. What is “college” to a 17 year-old? On the one hand college represents freedom and independence. On the other hand, it’s just more school. Here’s the adolescent logic: “Do I really have to work so hard in high school just so I can work harder in college?”

    You drop a very interesting fact that merits further focus, I think. You say your son “has yet to pass an AP exam.” My question would be, do you think he is likely to pass the IB exams and earn the diploma if he sticks with the IB program? It’s quite possible that the school is having trouble preparing students for either the IB or the AP exams, so there might be some measure of blame we could hand over to the school. But sometimes kids who are motivated to excel will overcome the weaknesses of their school in order to achieve. It doesn’t sound like your son has that internal drive.

    Finally, I would point out that underlying your questions is a concern that your son will not get into a “good” college. You worry that he is somehow “hurting himself” by making the choices he does, or that he is “wasting” opportunity. What, in your opinion, would be a “good” college for him? Would he be happy and content in an academically competitive atmosphere? Does he like to hang out with brainiacs? Does he love going to the library and pulling random books off the shelf? Or does he need a different sort of education that is more hands-on, less lecture based, or perhaps more vocational?

    If he were my client, I’d spend a lot of time investigating what makes your son tick, what his interests are, what excites him. I’d also listen to him when he says that this, that, or the other thing is just not that interesting or important to him. Once he begins to understand himself a bit better, I’d help him select colleges and universities that fit his abilities, interests, and aspirations. No matter who he is, I can assure you that he can get an excellent education, if that his choice.

    I’m not sure if this is very helpful to you, DeDe. My only advice is to look deeply into your son and ask whether the phrases “go to waste” and “hurting himself” and “admittedly is a slacker” relate more to inappropriate goals or college ambitions than to some intrinsic personality trait. If you listen to (and take time to nurture) his goals and aspirations, you may be able to remove these phrases from your descriptions, and begin to think of your son as successful, ambitious, and competent within his own personal context.

    I guess I’m feeling a bit philosophical today. Last night I watched the pilot episode of “Glee,” the new television series (you can watch it for free on hulu.com for the next couple of weeks). The lead character, a teacher, finally learns that his own definition of his success is the right one, because it is keyed into his passions. Help your son find his passions, and he’ll be both happy and successful.

    Thanks again for your questions, Dede, and please let me know if you have further questions, or if you’d like to explore the possibility of having me help your son identify the best path for himself.

  52. Your response is appreciated. My quick typing and lack of spell check may have led to some miscommunication – I will try better this round.
    He is about to start his Senior year.
    Several of the parents (beyond me) do believe that the school is not preparing the students adequately for the exams. I have yet to get the nerve to ask for the statistics from them. Some of us have gone together to the principle, school board, district board chairperson and the IBO organization itself – all which did not get us parents anywhere.
    One significant point I left out. We moved between his Freshman and Sophomore years. He was not popular where we came from – when you grow up and stay with the same kids forever they know your strengths and weaknesses and the bad ones play upon that to build their own reputation.
    We have for year tried to nurture carefully what he said were his aspirations. For at least three years it has been Chemistry / Chemical Engineering and a College that best applies these skills. He was even looking at the Citadel (which I am not positive of the connection there as he has not stated a firm interest in the Military in the past – although we would support it) So back to my initial point… When we moved (for my job) we specifically moved into a school zone that offered a magnet school and had a chemistry program he liked – and eventually he hated the school. So we transferred him out (at the end of his Freshman year) to the IB school. Until the completion of his Junior year he worked hard but was ok with it.
    He is very much a hands-on learner. Book-speak and a walk-walk won’t do it in totality. We have moved him out of certain classes in the past due to what we felt were teacher-student conflicts. He has a very smart (over-confident) attitude. I guess I am frustrated that we (him included) have put a lot of work into the last 3 years and he wants to back up and take it easy. This is what I consider the ‘going to waste.’ Don’t get me wrong he does not get in trouble at school and the principle likes him, but he is like Burger King and wants it his way. He, I think, has not matured enough to understand what is ahead and maybe is not prepared for such decisions yet.
    Now that we have moved he is very popular and has more friends that he has ever had before. They are good kids, 1/2 are from church and they do volunteer events etc and the other 1/2 are from school and they play school sports and hang out in general. So other than being miserable in IB he is happier now than in the past. As far as his career goals, I asked his yesterday what he wanted to do and I got back a “I don’t know, maybe I will just join the military and they will put me through college” Well this was the first we heard of that one directly.

    OK this is too long for your other readers, so i will stop here, but thx again…You are in Colorado correct?

  53. Left one part out…

    Libraries are not his thing at all. The only time he is there is to meet his tutor for Spanish (he will start Spanish 4 next year) I think (know) he also chokes on big tests. For example he got a 90 in Spanish for the term and a 38 in the Final. He got an 89 in Biology and a 68 on the final – the others are relatively close. BTW – both those classes he hates.

  54. Hello, again, Dede. Thanks for the follow up. All of the specific information is much more helpful in allowing me to think about more specific advice for your son. I liked the bit about Burger King: he is certainly not alone in wanting it “his way.” But like most young men, he’s probably not able to separate the long-term from the short-term aspect of “his way,” and like most of humanity, he is most likely to focus on the short, rather than the long. Human nature, I guess.

    I am, indeed, in Colorado, though I have clients all over the country and in Asia and the Middle East. I work well with kids who like to use all the technological gizmos to communicate. If you’d like, please give me a call and we can discuss your son’s needs offline a bit, and I can give you more personal advice and an explanation of how I might be able to guide your son through the entire college maze (which would include some guidance about how to plan for senior year).

    Thanks!

  55. While I was investigating the IB Diploma program, I happily stumbled into your blog. Our son has been in private school since kindergarten. His school does not offer high school education. We were faced with the difficult decision of what school would best prepare him for college. When boarding school recruiters came to his school, he was impressed with some schools in the East Coast. We visited some private schools locally and in the surrounding areas, but he didn’t like any of them. So, we were considering boarding school or public school outside our district, which would require tuition.

    Fortunately, one of the schools in our district is implementing IB. September 2009, is the first year that this school is participating in the IB curriculum, and it is the only school in the district offering IB. Our son took an admission test to qualify for IB. He scored 97% on the Naglieri test and 99% on each of the ITBS reading and math. He is accepted into the IB full diploma program. I don’t think two to three hours daily homework will be considered a heavy workload for our son because this schedule is standard in the private school he attended. Furthermore, writing compositions and oral presentations in both English and Foreign language (Spanish) are required curriculum in his school.

    After reading your blog about current IB students wanting to drop out of IB due to heavy workload, I am a little concerned whether we should put our son into the traditional AP. The school that he is going to attend high school has a good AP program. Kids from this school have been accepted to Harvard annually.

    We have another concern with foreign language. Our son has invested so much in Spanish. He has been taking Spanish since Kindergarten. He can read, write, and present orally in Spanish. He wants to change foreign language from Spanish to French. If he takes Spanish in the 1st semester of his freshman year, he will be taking Spanish II. He will not have any problem with the extended essay and oral presentation as required by the IB curriculum. However, if he selects French as a foreign language, he is starting over from scratch. I am doubtful that he will be fluent in French where he is able to write the extended essay and present it orally during his junior and senior years.

    Do you have advice?

  56. Dear Jen,

    Thank you for your comment and question. I’m not exactly sure what sort of advice you seek. It does seem that you are asking the right questions and that you are trying to gather information and seek a good fit between your son and the educational programs on offer in your area.

    One quick word of caution: both a good IB program and a good AP program will provide plenty of challenge. The difference between the two is that IB is more of a “prix fixe” menu, while the AP is more of a smorgasbord. All other things being equal, the difference between the AP and IB is in structure, not in the degree of academic rigor.

    With regard to language–and as a former language teacher and one who speaks both French and Spanish–I am not sure how much it matters for him to change from Spanish to French. If he will be placed in Spanish II his freshman year, then his current level of proficiency probably is not that high. He should be able to gain an equal level of skill in French in a single year. As for the extended essay and oral presentation: those will likely be in his primary language, which I presume is English–unless he takes Spanish or French at a much higher level and is functionally bilingual.

    There is much else in your posting that leads to other questions that I really cannot answer without greater familiarity with both your son and the schools he is considering. Don’t hesitate to contact me should you like to share more specifics.

    Thanks again for stopping by.

  57. Thank you for your responses to my inquiries. You put my mind at ease with the requirement of the extended essay in a foreign language other than English.

    Thanks,
    Jen

  58. Dear Sobhi,

    Thanks for the question. The answer is one that is controlled by your secondary school. You need to consult with your guidance counselor at that school to learn what their policies will be in crediting you with extra points for IB or AP.

    My point is that those extra points are generally stripped away by colleges and universities as they try to uncover the mysteries of your transcript.

    So have a chat with your counselor, and if you still have questions, don’t hesitate to come back and ask. All the best!

  59. hello.
    my name is Feriell and i am currently an incoming 9th grader. my school, Rockville High School has only had the I.B program for a few years and i’ve heard mixed opinions. What grabbed me most is that the workload could prevent me from extracurriculars such as journalism and drama. i have heard that many students regret going into I.B..
    writing is my passion and i was wondering what you reccomend. All honers classes and later AP (AP isn’t an option untill 10th grade) while doing journalism or I.B for colleges?? could you explain to me the differences,costs, and benifits of someonewith a passion for writing. (RHS newspaper is one of the top rated in the country, would doing well in this be as impressive to writing schools as I.B? more so?)

    thanks,
    Feriell

  60. Hello, Feriell,
    Thanks for the question. It’s a complicated one. First, let’s separate the journalism/newspaper issue from the AP vs IB question. Put it this way: either way you cut it, your junior and senior years of high school are going to be tough, whether you load up on AP courses or take the full IB diploma curriculum. And yes, the curriculum sometimes has its costs: you have to make some sacrifices in order to achieve great grades. Whether you are willing and able to make those sacrifices is something you do want to carefully consider. But I do know lots of excellent IB students who are still able to carry heavy extracurricular loads. Somehow, they make it work. But it takes focus and self-discipline. (And the same would be true if you loaded up on AP courses: they are HARD when taught well, and I know that Montgomery County schools generally do teach them well.)

    As for writing and journalism, both AP and IB curricula will demand lots of writing from you . But I see no reason that you could not contribute to the newspaper in addition to doing your school work. Again, whether you take the IB or AP curriculum, you are going to have some heavy academic demands.

    I’m afraid I’m unable to be much more specific. We’d need to sit down and talk at length about your options, about which AP courses you might take in lieu of the IB, discuss your college plans, and generally make a complete educational plan for you. This is exactly what I do with my clients, and I’d be delighted to help you with all that, if you like. Just give me a call!

    Thanks for visiting my blog, and good luck!

  61. Dear Mark, After making the sacrifices necessary(both our child’s and our own) to complete high school with a full IB diploma, our child’s college told us yesterday that she will receive only 4 credits for all the hard work that she put in, because, although she received a full ib diploma with an extra certificate, she only scored one 5 on the hl tests. (She maintained an excellent gpa). They had previously told us, in more than one face to face conversation, that if she got a full diploma, she would be only a few credits shy of starting her sophmore year. Individual scores were never mentioned! Today I am bitter, thinking that she would have been better off taking only a few ib courses and concentrating on them, as she would have gotten more credits for less effort.
    Before we started this program, it was touted as being the best way to go, better than ap, and very limited as to who they let in. We did not see benefits in either college acceptances or awards, and to a certain extent, feel that we were misled, if not actually lied to by both our high school and the college. And now we have to tell her, that the college doesn’t care about her ib diploma, they just consider her “well prepared”. In fact, one staff member told us, that “they were just high school classes, it wasn’t like she was taking college courses”.
    All that being said, 2 questions.
    1. Do we have any basis for asking her college to consider that she received a full diploma with all the work that entailed, and perhaps reassess her credit standing? (Keep in mind that we chose her college based partially on what they had told us, and this was a HUGE financial decision to pick this particular college.)
    2. Our son is entering his junior year of ib, and now we are wondering why he just go through the stress if there is no payoff. It seems to me that he could be just as well served by taking a few ap courses, and saving himself all the extra stress. What is the best way to go?
    Any advice of direction you could give us is greatly appreciated!

  62. ps. I need to add that her grades were excellent, SATs and ACTs good also, California Merit Scholar, finished top 6%, etc. so she wasn’t a “slouch” and just squeaked by.

  63. Dear Diane,

    Thanks for your question. It sounds like you have been through the wringer, bounced around with a misunderstanding of the practicalities of how IB courses are valued. The crux of the matter is that the IB curriculum is considered in slightly different ways by the college admissions office and by the college registrar.

    First off, I would ask whether you have thoroughly scrutinized the college website that your daughter is now attending. Most colleges make it quite clear what IB courses (and the grades and exam scores) that can be used for credit. If you have something in writing from a college official that states anything contrary to what is published on this website, or if the college is not living up to its published commitments, then you do have a basis to request a reassessment of her standing.

    Second, keep in mind that your daughter is attending a private institution, and that private institutions are tuition driven. They charge for their services. They cannot be in the business of giving away credits: if they gave away credits, they would not take in sufficient money to operate. Colleges do love and respect the IB curriculum and diploma, and are willing to offer some benefits for taking this rigorous curriculum (admission being one of the benefits…!). But one cannot expect that they will simply give a student an entire year of credit just for having taken the IB curriculum. If your high school left you with that impression or made that promise, then your complaint should be lodged at the high school, and not with the college.

    Third, to put a point to it, your daughter’s college does value her IB diploma very much. Her IB curriculum was probably a large factor in her acceptance. However, it is not the diploma that gets the college credit. Nor is it her grades in high school or her GPA. It is her results on her IB exams. Most colleges accept no less than an IB exam score of 5 for college credit, and many college require a 6 on certain exams, while others require a perfect 7. But the exams are the determining factors in awarding credit at most colleges. If your high school did not make this clear, they should have. But the college your daughter now attends makes it very clear on their website that the minimum score required to receive college credit is a 5. Please note that AP tests are considered the same way: taking an AP course doesn’t get you anything–you have to get a top score on the nationally-normed examinations to even be considered for college credit (and many top colleges will refuse both college credit or even waive prerequisites–even if students score a 5 on the AP).

    Fourth, my guess is that you did not decide to send in the deposit your daughter’s preferred college until her financial aid award was clear. While you may have been under the impression that she would attain sophomore status, my reading of the college website is that you could have anticipated what credits your daughter would receive even before you received a final assessment from the registrar. Again, if the college is not living up to this published commitments, then you do have reason to complain. But my guess is that you will get nowhere in complaining to the college.

    Finally, while I know that many parents encourage their kids to pursue the IB (or AP) courses solely because of the possibility of reducing the cost of college, this doesn’t seem to me to be the most important benefit of these courses. You say that there is no “payoff” for pursuing the IB. I feel that the payoff is that your daughter has been accepted to a selective institution. She is well-prepared for the academic rigors of that institution. If you were counting on the IB to reduce the cost of college, this was the wrong basis upon which to select the IB.

    If the goal is to reduce the cost of college, the only sure-fire way to do that is to sign up for “dual enrollment” courses for which your son will receive both high school and college credit at a local community college or state university. Then as an undergraduate, he must attend a state institution where those college credits, by law, are transferred to the state university. While private colleges look upon dual enrollment courses favorably in the admissions process (as they do AP and IB courses), they are under no obligation to give away credits. Indeed, as I have explained, it would be economic suicide for them to do so. Only your state institutions that have articulated post-secondary enrollment option (PSEO) agreements will be under any obligation to accept credits for “college level work” while completed in high school. Please note, however, that only certain general education courses will transfer under these agreements, so you need to inform yourself of exactly which dual enrollment courses will automatically transfer to your state universities.

    I’m sorry you did not fully understand the practicalities of how IB exams are considered for college credit, and I appreciate your frustration. I hope this explanation of how the system really works is helpful as you contemplate your son’s educational trajectory. If I can be of assistance in helping him decide which path to pursue, I hope you will give me a call.

  64. Hello,
    I just registered in the pre-IB programme in Miramar high school. I’m a freshman. I have two AP classes and the other 4 are pre-IB. Should I, for my junior and senior year, take the Post IB or quit the whole course and just take AP classes? I heard that you can get a higher GPA with AP since a A is 6 points and a B is 5 points but IB prepares you for college. I’m trying to be a surgeon and I want to get a scholarship ( I have pretty high grades ). Which course can you get a scholarship more “easily” with?
    -Thank You

  65. Dear HK,
    Thanks for your question. The answer to your question is this: getting into college and getting a scholarship is not all about GPA alone. Colleges value the IB for the reason you state: success in that program proves you are ready for college. But remember: you must do well on the IB exams, as well as get good grades. The fact is that neither program (or both programs) is a guarantee of a scholarship. You must have excellent grades (not just “pretty high” ones), and you may need to possess other characteristics that a college may want you do have (for example, some colleges really value community service, or athletic abilities, or musical talents). Getting a scholarship is never “easy,” but with hard work and success in either the IB or AP curriculum, you may have a good shot. Hope this helps!

  66. Dear Mark,
    I’m currently enrolled in Pre-IB 10th grade in Florida. I want to go to medical school, but am worried about how dropping out of the program would affect how colleges view my choices. I want to stay in and go further into the program, if I get accepted, but I’m not so sure that my grades would turn out as good as they could have turned out with AP courses. Also I love the teachers I have now, but if I do drop out I’ll lose them. Another thing that’s annoying me is the maturity level an intelligence of most that aren’t in IB at my school. For example: a non-IB junior joined my Human Geography class and one day asked “Are we [the USA] apart if Western Europe or somehing?” “No.” “Then why are we even talking about it. We’re in the US aren’t we. What’s the point of learning about other countries.”
    There are an immense amount of other times that this has occured.
    If i stay in IB i feel as if I’m either going to get kicked out because of my GPA or I’m going to go mentaly insane. Please help me with my dilema.

  67. Dear Anna,
    Thanks for the comment and question. Your dilemma is the most common one, and I cannot really help you out of it. The IB curriculum is very demanding, and as a result, only the best and brightest tackle it. You will be taking a risk by staying with the IB, but colleges respect and admire (and often compete for!) students who stick with it. Even if you were to get a somewhat lower GPA (say even a 3.0 unweighted) you’d still have excellent college opportunities, including to colleges that would prepare you well for medical school.
    As a former teacher, I would encourage a student who dislikes sharing their class time with ignorant, disinterested students, to stick with it. Take a risk. You’ll be working hard for those grades, but you will learn a ton. And that’s the point, isn’t it?
    Best of luck!

  68. Dear Mark,
    I am a junior and am currently enrolled in IB/AP Eglish at my school. We have the option of taking the AP and/or IB test (for an IB certificate). We also have the option of dual enrollment. I am confused as to which is the best option. I currently have a good grade in the class, am enrolled in other honors/AP classes, and have a good GPA.

    I am also a comtetitive swimmer with a very good chance of getting an athletic scholarship. However, I understand that I need to choose a college with both a good swimming program and respected academics. I am not limiting myself to Ivy League schools and have not decided if I prefer public/private or Div. 1 or Div. 3. I would like to go to school out of state.
    Both the AP and IB programs at my school have high success rates with good teachers. I feel confident that I would be able to pass either. With this, is dual enrollment really necessary? And given my circumstances, would a college prefer and IB certificate or AP test in this class? Any advice would be great!

  69. Hi, Jen. Frankly, if you have the option of AB and IB, and you want admission to the most selective colleges in the land, then don’t take the dual enrollment courses. A good IB course is (generally speaking, and in my opinion) more rigorous and demanding than a “general education” course at the community college. If, however, you want to focus on your swimming, strive for Division 1, and keep up your grades and eligibility, then dual enrollment might work. And if you’re fast enough, the Ivies might still want you.

    I’d need to know a lot more about your priorities and your abilities before I could give you more specific advice. All of these options have pros and cons (as you know–or you wouldn’t have asked me the question!). So much depends on your chosen educational trajectory. If you and I were working together, we’d need to sort out those priorities pronto, and then make decisions that conform with those decisions.

    Hope this is helpful, and good luck.

  70. My husband’s work will be taking our family overseas for two years. We will be moving to Germany and think we have found a great international school for our three children.

    I am concerned about my oldest child. She will be in 10th grade when we move next summer, so she will be attending 10th and 11th grade in Germany. The international school only offers A-level and IB courses. It is my understanding that A-level courses are inferior and I don’t think US colleges will think highly of them. But if she isn’t able to complete both 11th and 12th grade she will not be able to take the IB exams, since our local high schools don’t offer IB courses, only AP courses.

    Another option is live about 50-60 minutes away from my husband’s job so my children could attend another school. This other school offers AP and IB classes. My husband is willing to do whatever is best for their education.

    If she were your daughter what would you recommend? Should she take A-level, or should she take the IB classes even though she will not be able to take the IB exams? Or would it be better to find an international school that offers AP classes?

    My oldest daughter is a straight A student who would like to earn a scholarship and go to medical school. We don’t have either A-level or IB classes in our area so it is all very confusing. Whatever advice and insight you have would be greatly appreciated.

  71. Hello Kate,

    Thank you for your question. It is true that some colleges view the IB program as the most competitive program available, but it does not mean that US colleges do not think highly of the A-levels. Most schools will review a students curriculum rigor in context to what is available to them. In other words, did the student take advantage to the most challenging courses they had access to. While taking the IB diploma is great because a student can potentially receive college credit, it is also important to consider what is the best decision for your family. Also, students do not necessarily have to be enrolled in AP courses to take the AP exams, so another option may be to take the IB courses and then prepare for AP exams to obtain the college credit. A combination of an AP curriculum sophomore year and an IB curriculum junior and senior year would be seen as competitive. I would speak to the college counselor at both of the international schools you are thinking of enrolling your children in and seeing what they advise. I bet they have seen students in this situation before and can offer you some concrete solutions.

    Best of luck,

    Katherine Price
    Educational Consultant

  72. I’m currently a Junior in one of the top IB schools in America. My cummulative GPA is about a 3.5, but I know that it will definitely be dropping after this semester. I’ve had a lot of health issues lately and I will even have to have surgery as a result. All of these health issues plus the rigorous full diploma IB work is putting a toll on me personally. Is it going to look bad on future college applications if I drop from the IB program and switch to taking AP classes instead? Or should I attempt to stick to IB and suffer from all of the stress, health issues, and extensive workload? I just don’t know anymore what the best option is.

  73. Molly,
    If the IB is taking a psychological and emotional toll, and if your grades are also suffering, then you need to do what is appropriate for yourself in the moment. Excessive worry about what some unnamed college might think in the future is just going to make things worse. Focus on doing your best and enjoying life. You will get a great college education at a college who will value you for who you are.
    Best of luck.

  74. Hi, I am a sophomore attending Richard Montgomery HS in Montgomery County. I’m taking Pre-IB courses right now, and I’m supposed to start the IB program as a junior. However, I’m really unhappy with the Pre-IB and IB classes I’m taking now – the workload is manageable and my grades are fine, I just feel very limited by some of the requirements of IB.
    So, I’m considering dropping out of the program and just taking AP courses for the next two years of high school. I’m afraid though that seeing as I have good grades, it will look like I’m not challenging myself enough. I want to study at Georgetown’s school of Foreign Service, so I’m also nervous that dropping out of an international program would be a bad move for a student interested in international affairs.
    Do you think it will significantly lower my chances of getting into the college I want to attend if I switch from IB to AP?

  75. Hello, Carly. The decision to switch to AP from IB–in and of itself–will not have one smidgen of impact on whether you are admitted to Georgetown’s SFS. What will matter is the rigor of the courses you take, your performance in them, your choices of courses (AP Government or AP Comparative Government or AP Economics?), and all the other things you bring to the admissions table (your awards, your extracurricular talents, your interests, etc.).
    If you feel limited by the IB, then take the AP. Just continue to do the best you can and excel at everything you do. And don’t forget to take some time out and enjoy the process once in a while!
    Best of luck!

  76. Hello Mark,

    I am currently a grade nine student in Canada. The High School I am planning to attend offers both AP and IB.

    As a grade nine student, most of my marks are within the high 90s. I have the choice to pick between IB and AP.

    However, my dilemma is whether the rigorous requirements of IB is worth it in comparison with AP as IB will take up more of my time.

  77. Hello, Jim. It’s hard to answer your question because you don’t really talk about the real dilemmas between AP and IB for you. You don’t want IB to “take up more time,” but that’s not really the issue: both can be very time consuming. It depends on whether you want the a la carte approach of the AP program, or the “fixed menu” approach of the IB. The decision, in my mind, has to do with your academic priorities more than your other priorities.

    I am sorry to be unable to be more specific. I hope this helps.

  78. Hi.
    I am an international HS junior.

    I go to an IB school. My school does NOT offer any APs and does not have any classes for them either.

    I am very interested in going to US for studies and am wondering which will be the better option, self-studying APs or taking the diploma?

    I think I should self-study ~5 APs, get them done by junior year (2010). Then, I can do around ~5 IB subjects (not the diploma, but the certificate).

    That way, I can have both the labels. I think I am up to it as well. If I can get the AP scholar with distinction, everything will be great, as I will have an award to write about on college apps.

    What do you think?

    Your advice is greatly appreciated!

    Thank you!

  79. Jake,
    The IB is widely recognized in the US. There is no need whatsoever for you to self-study for the AP exams. Your academic preparation at your international school will be quite enough, in my view. Go out and do some extracurricular activities. Piling on more academic credentials seems superfluous to me.

    That said, if there is a favorite subject in which you excel mightily, you should take the SAT 2 test. If you want to try the AP, that’s fine. But no need to do it in every last subject.

    Go out and have some fun, Jake.

  80. Thanks for the reply!

    I am more of the guy who studies from a textbook at home, not the one who clings on to his laptop working on TOK.

    AP does seem to be more suited for me. Also, I looked at some universities’ websites and they give more credit to AP than to IB (IB SL for some places is as good as nothing).

    Won’t it be good to already have credit by junior year rather than wait for results a month before joining college? Also, I think universities are likely to prefer real AP scores when I apply for admission than ‘predicted’ IB scores.

    Thanks for all your help!

  81. Hi again, Jake.

    I laud your willingness to learn stuff on your own. I encourage you to continue to go above and beyond requirements to explore the subjects and topics that really interest you.

    Keep in mind, however, that being a “power tool” will not guarantee you admission to any college. Top flight universities want to see passion and excellence not only in school, but outside of school as well.

    Of course it all depends on which colleges you aspire to attend.

    Good luck, Jake.

  82. Hello. I am a grade 8 student going to a high school that offers IB and AP classes.I also get straight A’s. I have yet to take the IB test to get in, but I am confident I will. What I would like to know is, what kind of students does IB want, and I have heard mixed comments about if IB is worth doing or not. They say it’s very challenging and tough. One of my friends dropped out because she said it was too stressful. I am not sure if I should do AP or IB, or if I should just do regular classes.

  83. Hello,

    Choosing between AP and IB is a personal decision that is different for each student. Both programs require students to be motivated and ready for rigorous courses. You should discuss your decision with your parents and your guidance counselor to make sure you have the appropriate preparation for either program. Both programs are highly regarded by colleges and universities, however the AP program will offer you a little more flexibility. You can choose the number of AP courses and which subjects you would like to take. This will allow you to excel in subjects you are good at and may keep you from being overwhelmed. However, if you take a smaller number of AP courses, your curriculum may appear to be less competitive than a full IB diploma. Either way, taking some AP or IB courses is a good indicator to colleges that you are a motivated student! Good luck!

    Sincerely,
    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate
    Montgomery Educational Consulting

  84. Hello,
    I am a junior at an international school where everyone completes the two-year IB diploma and I have been attending that school since 6th grade (so I have gone through the MYP as well). I am taking four highers and have a 6.4 GPA. For me, the workload is manageable. Next year I will earn my bilingual diploma.
    I have a few questions:
    1) Since my school offers nothing but the IB, I am not taking a more rigorous curriculum than anyone else in my class. Colleges seem to be more interested in people who have taken the most rigorous curriculum possible. Since I could have taken a fifth HL, or even taken on a seventh subject if I had desperately wanted to, how will this impact that aspect of the admissions process? Do you think that they will consider the diploma program the most rigorous available?
    2) In the IB program you are limited to 6 classes, while if you take the AP route you can fill your schedule with AP classes (some of my public school friends are taking up to 8 at a time). AP classes can easily boost your GPA above 4.0 even if you only score a 5 on a couple of exams. However, in IB it is incredibly difficult to achieve a GPA above 7.0 since you have to score a perfect 7 in at least one HL course. How do colleges deal with this? Do they convert the 7 point scale into a 4 point scale? If they do, then IB curriculums get the short end of the stick. It also doesn’t reflect all the extra work that is put into the diploma program by students (TOK, the extended essay, thinking outside the box, etc). I am of the opinion that the two-year IB courses are more difficult than the AP courses (though I admit that this view is biased). So, what I basically want to know is how colleges deal with this discrepancy. Do they just ignore it?
    Thanks!

  85. Hello Abby,

    You definitely have some great questions. Basically, colleges are going to recognize that HL IB courses are the most competitive course available to you. Some schools may convert your grades into an estimated 4.0 scale, while other may just look at your grades in terms of A’s, B’s, etc. For example, a 7 or 6 may be considered an A, 5 would be considered a B, 4 or 3 may be considered a C, etc. With regards to your decision to take 5HL instead of 7, it sounds like you made the right decision for you in order to keep your grades up. Colleges will consider any completed IB diploma a rigorous curriculum. With regards to the comparison to the AP program, colleges do recognize the extra work that goes into completing an IB diploma.

    I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

    Katherine Price
    Educational Consultant

  86. Hi im olivia and im in 9th grade. Im in the AP Program and is enrolled in all pre-ap classes. I make A’s and B’s and sometimes in Geometry Pre-Ap i make c’s. If i continue to get these A’s and B’s do u still think I will be able to get into a good medical college. Maybe like Baylor or UT Southwestern in Dallas? And also what is a good college for me if i want to be an Anesthiologist when i grow up? I know it is early for me to think about this but i just wanted to know if I would be able to get into my dream colleges. Advice is grateful=)

  87. Hi, Olivia.

    You cannot earn a medical degree as an undergraduate. Rather, you will have to attend medical school (and beyond) if you want to become anesthesiologist. For your undergraduate degree, it doesn’t matter too much what you major in, as long as you acquire the knowledge and the prerequisite courses to prepare you for medical school. Any number of colleges and universities can prepare you for med school, including Baylor and UT-Dallas.

    As for where (and if) you can get in to your dream colleges, it is too early to predict. Keep working on your grades, get involved in activities you love (and are good at), and prepare carefully for the standardized tests. And rest assured that you will find a good college that fits you well–educationally, socially, and personally.

    Best of luck!

  88. hello, im a full time IB student with both IB and AP classes,will completing these two programs ease my way to med school, and is the IB as rigorous as med school?
    i want to be an anesthesiologist

  89. Hello, Javier.
    Anything and everything you can do to hone your academic skills will “ease your way” to whatever sort of profession you seek. The IB is indeed serious, but I’d have to say it’s serious in a different way than med school. Plus, I’d just remind you that med school is at least five years away. Don’t give up on your goals, but also remember you have a lot of living to do between now and a residency in anesthesiology. Also keep in mind that it doesn’t matter too much what you major in while in college–even if you want to go to med school. In fact, you might actually do better NOT to major in sciences in college. So find the things you enjoy, do them well, and keep your eyes on your goals.
    Good luck!

  90. Hello Mark,
    We are currently in the french school system and our first of 4 children is approaching 10th grade. We are trying to decide between keeping them in this BOI program (Bac S or ES with option International: the french BAC with English and History ) or sending them to live elsewhere to complete the IB program (3 hours away and a huge investment ).
    After speaking with a few top Boston Universities they do indeed recognize the BOI, and they seemed to be good with the fact that we are in a private catholic school ranked in the top 15 in France; but we need to know to what extent is the advantage of just going all IB? Is this really the best way to get in? Our children love America and do want to go to an american college – they would be applying as french students. English is their second language but they are completely bilingual, as we have been living here for 20 years. One main concern is the SAT preparation which seems to be done completely with the IB program. (Otherwise I will have to self teach as its not a popular choice here in our small town.)
    Its been very difficult to get a ranking of wordlwide IB school results and connecting them to college entrance figures….
    For our circumstances – what would you recommend for the best way to score on the SATS and college entrances? Thankyou so much, Kate

  91. Hello, Kate.

    Je vous remercie de m’avoir contacté. J’aimerais bien vous offrir des conseils en français. Mais comme ce blog normalement est écrit en anglais, je vais changer de langue!

    Most every college and university in the United States will recognize the French Bac, and will be able to interpret your kids’ transcripts. To my mind, there is no advantage to IB. What matters is not the curriculum, but the student’s performance in that curriculum. Both the S or ES Bac are rigorous, as is the IB.

    The fact is that admissions is not a science. There is no “best way” to get in anywhere. A student therefore needs to make decisions based on interests and abilities, and upon what is reasonable (a 3 hour commute seems unreasonable, to me). Of course, if you really want a geographical advantage, you might want to move to North Dakota–but I doubt that a family accustomed to La Douce France would flourish in Bismarck. Again, focus on the needs of your kids, and do what you can to help them perform as well as they can. Admissions folks will give them due consideration when the time comes, and the colleges will be happy to review a quality applicant from France–or anywhere else in the world.

    With regard to SAT tutoring, you might want to give me a shout via the contact form. I have some SAT tutors I work with who are set up to do tutoring via Skype–and who are very good.

    Hope you find this helpful. And if I can help guide you and your family more specifically, please let me know. I do work with students from all over the world!

  92. Mr. Montgomery,
    I am an incoming sophomore to my high school and I have taken pre-IB courses my freshman year. I have done well, but as I look ahead, I will have to cut almot all courses that interest me and subsitute it with IB courses (except for a four year nationally recognized criminal justice program known as Law Academy ). It’s tough because most of my friends are in IB classes and I’m unsure about AP. Should I take AP and regain the flexibility in my schedule to take more courses that interest me. If I take AP, I will be taking a total of 8-9 AP courses, more so than my IB courses I might be taking. I would like to attend college at Vanderbilt University and perhaps attain a scholarship. Would AP and extracurriculars along with good test scores and good grades be enough or would I need IB? Is it more important to be in classes with friends or to take a course which is well rounded for you? Thank you for introducing this entry on this matter.

  93. Hello,

    I have been in the IB diploma program since 9th grade. I am currently in the 11th grade and I take HL Math, Physics and English. The rest are Standard level subjects. I have completed all my CAS hours. Unfortunately my parents are moving to another country due to their job. This means I have to go to a new school in 12th grade. The school offers only AP programs and they have already offered me AP calculus, AP Physics and History.
    My question is does it matter to college admission that I moved between 11th and 12th grade? Will it effect admission if I switch between IB and AP? I will end up with a AP certificate and not an IB diploma. Is this OK? I plan to apply early decision to UPenn. How are my chances?

  94. It is sometimes very “Tiring” to hear endless dribble by self proclaimed Know-it-alls make wild attempts at Comparing AP WITH IB.

    There is NO Comparison. IB Students take and Pass IB as well as AP exams. You will find that “Regular” AP kids take the AP classes…but Do Not Pass the AP Exams…….

    I hope you can handle this Truth. An IB Diploma Student IS THE REAL DEAL…..And AP or Caps or Kaps or whatever is NOT the REAL DEAL…..

    SL IB Courses at typical IB Schools exceed AP for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is they typically are taught over two years rather than one….

    HL IB Courses….DWARF AP COURSES…..it is not even close…..

    Once again…..AP students take AP Exams….IB students PASS AP EXAMS…

    Glad to have cleared this up…lol

  95. Thanks for your comment, John.
    There is no doubt that the rigorous curriculum of the IB, along with the diploma, are great academic preparation–and an intellectual work out. While I disagree with your denigration of the AP program, I do agree that in some cases IB students can also take (and pass) some AP tests without further preparation–while the reverse is generally not true: students who take the AP program will not be able to take or pass IB exams.
    However the differences are in the structure of the curriculum for both programs, not in the intrinsic worth of one program over another. Further, we wouldn’t want to imply that students who take the AP program (and do well) are somehow lazy, ignorant, or intellectually inferior. Further, doing well in either program will certainly prepare you for college level work.
    The IB program fits some students, and works less well for others. In some parts of the country, students have a choice. And choice can be a beautiful thing!

    Thanks again for writing in.

  96. Hello,
    I am currently enrolled in the IB program, but I have been hearing alot recently that it is not looked upon by colleges any better than AP is. What worries me is that I will put myself through the stress of such a rigorous work load and then not wreak the benefits in the end, as in financial aid such as scholarships. If what I am after at the moment is scholarships, what would be the best program to embark in. Considering that I have been in the pre-IB classes the past two years and have conquered those with straight A’s and one B.
    My other concern is that I have been told IB is geared toward students wanting to major in History and English, where I would like to major in Science or Math when I enter my college career. What is the validity of this statement?

  97. Hi Mark,

    I can’t decide whether to take AP or IB, though at the moment I am enrolled in IB. My most recent concern is that I have heard AP is more universally recognized than IB (I want to stay in the US). I need some sort of scholarship if I want to go to a university versus community college. Also, do you need to obtain the full IB diploma to be considered better than AP students when applying for college?
    Thanks, I will appreciate any feedback. This has been a very difficult choice for me thus far.

  98. Hello, Jordan.
    Thanks for the question. The decision is a tough one. But to my mind, the decision has nothing with its acceptability at colleges. The IB, most definitely, is universally accepted, respected, and admired among university admissions personnel at all levels of our higher education system. Your preparation will put you in good stead for things like admission and scholarships both, assuming you are getting good grades and your predicted IB exam scores are high.

    Further, IB is great for both science and math–at least as preparation for college. The curriculum is clearly different between IB and AP, but that does not mean that one is better. Different is different–and has nothing to do with quality.

    The decision you face depends only on your preferences. Do you want the focus and intensity of the IB curriculum that will clearly take you to a “higher level” in the subjects you choose? Or do you want the more smorgasbord approach of AP, where the depth is not quite as profound, but the quality just as good (remember “different” does not refer to a difference in quality). Which structure is for you? Which curriculum do you prefer? Either program will prepare you to compete at the highest level in college and beyond, and either will give you solid preparation in science and mathematics.

    Decide which you prefer, and go with that.

    Best,
    Mark

  99. My question got cut off, sorry about that. I had wanted to ask you about the differences on the AP exam and the IB exam. As in types of questions and difficulty, and how they affect you in college.

  100. I recently received the most wonderful experience of travelling in “Eastern
    Europe” these past few wees. I’ve always been shaky about my future, but thankfully with this trip my goals are becoming a bit clearer. And as of this moment I want to focus on getting a great education (not just good grades).
    And I also have decided to study in Poland, as naive as this may sound to most. my heart and mind is really set. Luckily this trip was before junior year and I have the opportunity to pursuay my way into the IB program or take the load of AP classes as planned before. But I am not sure which to choose for my new college path.
    I have always taken honors and recently finished my first AP class with a “B”, and thanks to all the hard work (I transferred mid-year from a World History Honors Class to an AP European History Class and had to make up all the work in a quarter’s time) I happily passed the exam with a 4.
    The only thing that may also be stopping me is my not such a looker total GPA of a 3.39 non-weighted & an academic of 3.21 non-weighted. I have two years to raise this dramatically. My plans if to be non-IB would look very much similar to this:
    Junior Year:
    -Trigonometry/Math Analysis
    -Spanish III Honors
    -English III Honors
    -AP U.S. History
    -AP Biology
    -AP Art History

    Senior Year: (if Junior year is successful)
    -AP Calculus AB
    -AP Spanish Language
    -AP English Language or Literature
    -AP Gov./AP Economics
    -AP Environmental Science
    -AP Psychology
    I will also be studying German language, Spanish Literature, Chemistry, and Studio Art on my own, mainly in the summertime. And if I feel confident enough to take the AP exam, I will. Mind you I am attending a very hard working public high school known for both its AP passing rates and excellent IB program. I am also Mexican-Asian, I don’t know if that’s vital information outside of the United States.

    I’m just not sure if this or the IB program would be more suitable for me to get into an international university.
    Thank you for your time,
    Madeline

  101. I have a completely different thread. My son attended the French Lycee in the US and has passed the FRENCH baccalaureate. How does this compare with the IB? He has been admitted to an American college already. How do we correlate his results with US counterparts in terms of a) course placement and b) college credit equivalents?
    Can you comment on the comparison between the authentic French bac and the IB?
    His school has had for recent history 100% success in the French bac (all students must take it) and our son finished with honors (mention) but was in the middle part of his class.

  102. Hello, Didi,
    Historically, the IB has roots in the French Bac. However, the two are quite different, as you know. As for your question as to how the French Bac will translate into course placement and credit equivalents, I’m afraid that the only folks who can answer that question are the academic advisers at university your son will attend. They make those policies and decisions. You might connect directly with the international student advising office to help you and your son navigate the transition between the French and US systems.
    Best of luck!
    Mark

  103. Hello, Madeleine,
    I think it’s wonderful that you are interested in studying in Eastern Europe. How is your Polish? Are you fluent? Keep in mind that the AP program will not translate to the European system, and that the requirements to enter a EU university are completely different from those of a US university. The IB will be helpful, but unless you have Polish (for example) as your first language within the IB, then you are unlikely to be accepted to anything except a special track of courses that some universities offer in English–targeted at foreigners. You will need to be very, very well-informed if you want to study for your first degree in Europe. Just as US universities will not accept foreigners unless they are able to prove proficiency (fluency) in the English (the language of instruction), Americans will be expected to follow coursework in Polish (or Dutch or German or Czech) immediately upon entering the university. I hope this is helpful information for you! Best of luck, and congratulations on your new-found passion.

  104. Hi, Megan.
    The IB is very well regarded by colleges, and generally it is regarded much more highly than students who take 3 or 4 AP classes. If you want scholarships, you will need to perform at the highest level–in either AP or IB. And working at that level can, as you say, be stressful.
    As for IB being better preparation for history and English than science or math, tell that to my students who are in the IB that are going for engineering or math or physics or pre-med. They are getting accepted…and many are offered money…to study science.
    You see, Megan, it’s a choice you have. Which do you prefer? Read over my description and explanation of the two programs, and determine which you would really prefer. Either path can help you reach your goal. But the path is only a path. You have to muster the energy and resources within yourself to succeed. Again, this is a matter of preference, rather than a strategy for getting admitted or receiving more scholarships. Either path will work.
    Hope this helps, and thanks for asking the question.

  105. AP exams are taken at the end of the course. IB exams are taken at the end of the senior year. Both types of exams are difficult. As to how they will affect you in college, I have to go back to my previous statement: it all depends on your performance. If you well on either sort of exam, you will be well-prepared for college. If, on the other hand, you bomb…well, then, the preparation is not so great. Choose the path that makes the most sense for you, and college will take care of itself.
    Good luck!

  106. Dear Shane,
    To go right to your questions, Vanderbilt does not automatically admit IB students any more than AP students. They are looking beyond the curriculum to the performance, and then to other aspects of your application and how you fit into their community. So take the curriculum that you enjoy more and that fits you best–academically. Taking classes just to be with friends is probably not the best way to consider academic “fit.” Take the courses that best coincide with your learning preferences and style, and preferred level of intensity.
    I hope this helps.

  107. Hello, Lane.
    Your parents’ move will have an impact on your transcript, and you will have to take the time to explain what happened on the application so that the admissions folks can follow the decisions. They will likely not hold the change against you. The way to ensure that this does not happen is to get recommendations from your old school, as well as from your new school, to support your application. Your counselors will play an important role in explaining the change to colleges. You need to gain their support and assistance.
    As for your chances at UPenn, everything depends on your performance–and upon all the other subjective factors that go into an admissions decision. None of this is a science, so don’t spend too much time worrying. Instead, focus on doing well, focus on documenting the move, and focus on doing the things you love.
    Thanks for writing in!

  108. This is a bit of a different thread. I am a sophomore in high school in America and my goal is to go to university in France. I am not fluent yet, but by the end of my high school career I would have taken 5 years of French. I know that French students take the baccalaureate to get into university. My school doesn’t offer it, but would I need the baccalaureate? My school does offer the IB program, but would that be accepted instead of the bac? I think I could get the bac via CNED, but would that be necessary if I’ll take the ACT? And what would be the process of applying for a French university? Thank you.

  109. Dear Diane,
    I’m not an expert in French university education and entrance requirements. But since I do read French and at one time was a student in Grenoble, I had a look at the Université de Stendahl in Grenoble. They have a portion of their site directed at foreigners from outside the European Union. Check this out: http://www.u-grenoble3.fr/1197885708681/0/fiche___article/

    Perhaps the best source of information (according to the web page) will be the Embassy of France in Washington, DC. Give them a holler.

    Bonne chance!

  110. My son is a sophmore and has the opportunity to take an AP US History class. He also has three honor courses, biology, spanish and geometery. He is taking CP English. He is apprehensive about the AP history class and concerned that keeping up with the work load of the AP class could hurt his average in his other classes. If he drops the AP class he would have to take an CP history class, honors is not offered in US History. What would you suggest?? Is it more important to keep his GPA up by taking the CP class or should he challenge himself with the risk of lowering his GPA…he also plays football and track and is in the middle of completing his Eagle Project.

  111. Dear Mark,

    I am an IB student of two weeks, and would like to drop out of IB Diploma program. I am leaving in six months to go to a college. I didn’t know that I was accepted so I decided to go to the program. So, I was wondering if i have to still take an exit exam or not? And, I was wondering if taking a few AP classes would be a better idea than taking the IB?

  112. Shelly,
    If you are dropping out of the program, there is no need to take an exit exam. I’m confused by your question. if you are going to college, do you need to take any AP classes. I guess I would need more information in order to be able to advise you. Thanks for writing in!.

  113. Dear Susan,
    I cannot really answer your question other than to say that you have identified the decision point. As a general rule, I invite students to step up to the challenge. But there are other circumstances that might indicate the opposite. You have obviously grasped the issue. I wish you and your son the best.
    Mark

  114. Trying to chose a HS for my daughter. One school is ranked in the top 10 of the US for choice programs the other an average school with an IB program too. Does it matter what school you go to if both have an IB program?

  115. Hello, Kristine. Thanks for the question. In general, what will matter most is how well your daughter performs in the IB program. As it is internationally normed, an IB test result in Des Moines is the same as in Dakar or Durban or Dheli. So in that regard, if both schools are IB, it doesn’t matter a whit which school she attends.

    That said, what will help her perform is the quality of the instruction: does the faculty have the experience in getting students to achieve the highest results? Some “average” public schools are just as good–if not better–than some of the most expensive private schools in this regard. So ask the schools you are considering about their average IB exam scores–especially in the subjects your daughter is most likely to pursue.

    I would also keep in mind that the top 10 high schools have perhaps 25 kids who apply to Harvard every year. Statistically, your daughter may have less of a chance of getting into Harvard from a top 10 high school than if she attended an IB school in Bismarck, North Dakota. Top kids at top schools compete with each other for the top slots: no top college will accept 25 kid from the same high school, no matter how highly qualified they may be.

    Hope that helps in your decision making process. Good luck.

  116. Hello, I would like to go to the IB program in another school, but I’ve heard that the quality may not be consistent as others. I’ve also looked up on school rankings, that school is further behind than a school that offers AP. Are these programs considered in rankings?

  117. Hi, Kaitlin. You ask a good question, but it’s really the wrong one. Don’t worry about rankings: worry about pass rates for both IB and AP. Ask what percentage of diploma candidates at the IB school actually attain the diploma. Ask what the score distribution is. You want to find out whether the faculty is able to lift you to the point where you can perform well at an international standard.

    Same with the AP. Find out which teachers are getting good pass rates, and of those who do pass, what percentage get a 5 on the test? This pass rate can and will be different in each subject.

    Getting good grades in and IB or AP program doesn’t really matter if you can’t pass the exam. Similarly, the school as a whole might not be that great, but if the AP teachers or the IB teachers are excellent, then who cares about the ranking of the school? In the end, it’s your performance that counts!

    Good luck!

  118. Perhaps another thing to consider when choosing an AP course or school is the perentage of the total student body taking the AP tests. In other words, look at the philosophy of student access to the courses. Some teachers might get a very high pass rate and large perentage of fives, but they limit the number of students they let into their course to only the top few. If you only let the best 15 students of the school into your course, it is not going to be too suprising if most of them get fives. An AP course that has a more inclusive philosophy will have a greater NUMBER of fives, but a lower PERCENTAGE of fives. This is why the percentage of fives in BC Calculus (a naturally self-selecting course as only the top math students make it to that level) is going to be higher than the percentage of fives for a course where any student is allowed to take it.

  119. Hello, Teacher.
    You make an excellent point: different schools have different philosophies in allowing students access to AP courses, and the statistical issues you raise help to demonstrate how numbers can mislead if not carefully interpreted within the context in which the numbers were generated.
    Thanks for taking the time to write in!

  120. i am in 8th grade and currently looking at going to an IB shcool or going to a good high school with an AP program. You said to find out how good the program is you said we should find the success rate for passing the tests but how do you find that out? How do you also find out if you would be able to make it in an IB program? Aso how do IB and AP programs differ? My parents want me to get as much collage credit as possible but we are uncertin how much collage credit you can get from each program? What ever you can answer is appreciated and any reconendations or advice you would like to give is welcome . Thanks

  121. Hi, Elizabeth,
    Choosing between AP and IB is also a matter of preference: do you want at rigorous “prix fixe” menu of courses, or do you want to take AP subjects in which you have strength and avoid courses in which you have weaknesses (which is more of a “smorgasbord” approach)?

    Also, with regard to college credits, both AP and IB can be great. But some colleges and universities may not accept those “credit” for actual advanced standing…it all depends on where you attend (see my articles about PSEO).

    As for assessing the quality of the AP and IB programs, just ask the principal or the IB coordinator for figures on pass rates. If they hem and haw, that’s not a great sign. And keep in mind that pass rates can be affected by policies about who is accepted or denied entry to AP or IB courses. A more open enrollment policy will lead to a lower pass rate, generally speaking.

    I hope this helps. I work with a lot of younger kids in your circumstances with this issue. If you have any questions or would like to consider working with a consultant, please let me know.

    Best of luck!

  122. so basically what this article is saying both AP and IB are great for colleges and it doesn’t really matter what you take as long as you pass right?

  123. Hi, Marian. You are correct! But I’d amend your statement: it’s not just about passing, but it’s about enjoying the curriculum you are taking and doing as well in it as you possibly can. Colleges like to see you challenge yourself, do well, and develop interests in things you enjoy and in which you naturally excel.
    Best of luck to you!

  124. We have one small IB school in our area. We also have traditional high schools that have AP classes. Our student is in 9th grade and we are trying to decide between the smaller IB school with less opportunities for extra curricular activities, and the larger traditional high schools with AP classes and lots of extra activities. She is a 4.0 student who is self-motivated and very hard working. At this time she wants to explore a career in the medical field, although not as a physician.

    How do we decide which school would be better? What do we ask the schools and what do we look for, especially since the IB school is just graduating the very first senior class (15 students total) and the traditional high schools have 100’s of graduating seniors although not all will have taken AP courses.

  125. Hi Mr. Montgomery,

    I don’t know what to choose! I go to a school in south florida that offers both programs and both are great. The IB program just rececntly started off only a couple years ago, but by what they tell me it has been a great start. Recently they asked me to make a decision, AP or IB….. i don’t know what to do! I want to go into engineering and am taking a course offered in engineering at my school now. What do you think? Should i do AP or IB?

  126. Karina,
    This tough decision is not one I can really help you with after a quick email. You are asking the right questions, and there are probably many more you could be asking. The most important one, however, is which program do you think you’d prefer? Which one would you like better? Make the decision based on current information and preferences, not on some sort of bet or gamble about your future. Either will prepare you for college–and engineering. If you think I can be of more specific help, give me a shout through my contact page at http://greatcollegeadvice.com/contact .
    Thanks!

  127. Hello.
    I can’t really advise you, other than to ask these questions:
    1. Which curricular format does your daughter seem to prefer?
    2. Which school would make her happier, in terms of her social life and her preferred activities?

    The fact is that this choice is not critical. What will matter in the college admissions process is her performance in either curriculum, as well as her activities outside of school: what is she doing to stand out from the crowd?

    I’m sorry not to be more immediately helpful. I wish you the best of luck.

  128. We live in Maryland. My is selected in the Magnet program. He is selelcted to Poolesville High School for the Humanities, Ecology, Math and Science programs and he is also selected to Richard Montgomery IB program. We are confused which one to choose either Pooleseville Math and Science or Richard Montgomery IB

  129. Hello, and thanks for your question! This is a good one. It’s all about what will most maximize your son’s strengths. An IB program will offer rigorous – and rigid – programming. I compared it to a “prix fixe” menu at a restaurant, from which a student chooses among certain offerings, which will then dictate what he can take next. By comparison, an AP program is more like a buffet, where a student is able to choose how much science, math, or humanities she is hungry for. Both options can be tasty and fulfilling, but only you and your son can decide what kind of environment will help him excel. If you are interested in exploring these ideas further, please give me a call!

  130. Hello Mark,
    My child is entering kindergarten in the fall. We have a public school in our Indiana district that is in its 4 year of running, 1st year of being accredited by IB, for the primary years k-6. The other option for our child is a private catholic school which has an excellent reputation and of course is funded by parents. Our concern is that the public school system must reduce the budget by 25 million. We are concerned about what impact this will have on the public schools ability to maintain the IB program. My other question is whether children at the levels of k-6 will really benefit from an IB program. Thanks

  131. Hello Mark, I am a sophomore at Shanghai American School and I have one week to decide which courses I will take. I’ve already chosen to take the IB full diploma path and I’ve chosen a few of my courses, such as: HL Theater, HL English (lit and lang), SL Math and Ab Initio Chinese.

    Now All I have to choose is my science and my social studies courses, but my biggest doubt is which one I should take as an SL and which one I should take as an HL…

    Do you think it is possible for a student to complete the IB Diploma with 4 HL courses, 1 SL and 1 Ab Initio language? Do you think it would be worth it? Would it be too time-consuming? How many kids have succeeded in taking 4 HL courses?

  132. Hi, Marisa.
    Sorry I missed you. I was in Shanghai until today! You’ll have to stay in touch; I get there about three or four times a year.
    My advice? Don’t kill yourself. Do the recommended three HL subjects. It doesn’t matter what you take: take the course you like the best, and leave it at that. Choose it because you like the teacher, or you like the subject matter.
    Spend the extra time–if you have any–doing the things you love.
    I know some other kids at SAS…maybe we have some friends in common!

    All the best.
    Mark

  133. Hi, Dawn.
    There is no Primary Years IB curriculum. If your school loses the program, it will not suddenly become a deadbeat school overnight. A discussion of the pros and cons of the IB Primary Years program would be long and involved, and if you’d like to have a personal consultation on the matter, we can set something up. But suffice it to say that the fact of having an IB designation is not what makes for a quality school. Moreover, if the IB designation is lost, the school will not likely change its curriculum–assuming that the changes they made to become an IB school have been positive changes.
    Best of luck.

  134. my school offer both AP classes and the IB program. For a person who want to go into the heath and science while having writing as their weakest strength which would be the best option. Also since i want to go to a college in Boston would AP be the best choice?

  135. Amanda,
    Both are good choices for health fields and for colleges in Boston. Your choice depends on which program you like better. Reread the post: the choice depends on your personal preferences. Both will prepare you for college–and prepare you well. But which will you like better? Which will help you succeed more? These are questions only you can answer.
    Happy deciding!

  136. Hi, I am thinking about either joining the IB or AP program at my high school. I’ve heard that the top colleges look at IB diplomas as better than many AP classes. Is that right? Should I go for the IB diploma because they are both offered at my school and would it seem like I took the easier route if I took AP?
    Thanks!

  137. Aly,
    As my post says, the two programs are different. Colleges do love the IB. But they also love AP. There is no right answer to this question…only your preferences…and your performance. Choose the program in which you will perform best.
    Good luck!

  138. which one is easier AP or IB? because my counselor gave me a Honors Modern World History but I know that I’m doing well in my regular US History right now.

  139. Hi Mark– can you please help me out—
    I’m a parent of a rising 9th grader and there is so much preparation that parents must do in order to help prepare there kid(s) for college.

    Well, I was wondering about the same things as these highschools were asking about— AP vs IB.

    I placed a call to the admissions dept of a university in GA and here is the response she gave me–

    The admission rep stated that most colleges view the following in order to make determinations for acceptance:
    grades; the rigor of classes ( honors, AP, IB);sat/act scores
    — she told me that if a student has an IB Diploma- ( overall B average)-that is highly regarded over a student that has a A average with all AP courses and has successfully passed most or all of the AP exams.

    – The honors courses would fall at the below the AP/IB courses

    – She also stated that it is important for the student to be involved in extracurricular activities in school as well as outside of school , such as –volunteering .
    – The choice I was struggling with is which school to choose–both schools over IB programs– 1 school is better ( in terms of teachers/safety/ academic progress) than the other school.

    So, when I asked the admissions counselor regarding the school ranking. She told me, that the how the schools rank against each other is not important.
    Whats most important is that the student takes challenging classes and makes at least an 85 or better in IB and/or AP, and is involved in extracurricular activies/ hobbies/ interests- as well.

    so– to me– since the opportunity is available- my dtr has decided to study under the IB program –b/c the she can take both IB and AP courses–and she will be ontrack for hopefully– graduating highschool with the IB Diploma–which is a highly respectable designation and makes her very competitive against others in the college admissions process.

    Is my thinking correct?

  140. Hello, Roshall,

    Your thinking is correct…with one caveat. What does your daughter want to do? The IB is very rigorous and highly structured. The AP is more of an à la carte system, in which students can play to their strengths and study more subjects over their four years of high school. I would be sure not to neglect your daughters preferences for the kind of curriculum that suits her best. Ultimately it is her performance that counts.

    I hope that is helpful.

  141. Hello.
    The post indicates that there is no easy answer to the question. All depends on your particular circumstances.

  142. Ok, what Aly said is that both AP and IB were offered at her school. It’s the same at mine. I read what the post said and I completely realize that taking AP is fine and still highly regarded, and probably a better choice for me since I already know what I want to do in life (pharmacist), so I can focus on that area. Plus, I will be a sophomore next year so it’s kind of too late to join. But, would a college penalize me for taking AP instead of IB since it’s the ONLY school to offer it in my ENTIRE state.

  143. I am currently in a public high school, in a country in the middle east, and I was thinking, if I transfer myself to an IB or an AP system in a private school, would that make any difference to let’s say Harvard?

  144. Hello Mark-
    My son just finished his junior year in HS and managed to get all A’s in the full IB program. He definitely wants to be an engineer so is questioning the value of taking IB History his senior year. It is a very difficult course and requires alot of time. Our school offers only IB or Honors courses. His counselor recommended he stay with full IB diploma so his college applications would say he was taking the most rigorous curriculum offered. Do you agree? He is not planning to go to any Ivy League, or highly competitive college. Thank you for your help!

  145. Hello Mark,
    I am in 9th grade and considering switching out of my current AP school to go to a slightly lower rated IB school. I was wondering if college credit is offered for IB courses as they are in AP courses, and if the IB program is really so rigid as to provide little freedom in choosing classes? Also, I am currently taking many pre-AP classes, so would changing to the IB program and not taking the AP classes I had prepared for look bad to a college?
    Thanks

  146. Hello, thank you for all the info: my question is very specific: what do the American colleges prefer an IB de Geneve or the French BAC S ? We have 4 children all scholored in France ; approaching the decision. My daughter is in the IB in Aix en Provence and 3 math oriented boys with the option to continue thru the French system to the BAC S (BAC scientific-math); (Either case, they are bilingual and have the 2 passports etc)Thankyou! Kate

  147. Hi, Kate,
    Colleges like both the IB and the BAC S. They will have the ability to “translate” the two different diplomas for their purposes. What is most important is how the student performs in those programs. I’d choose the program that is best suited to each child. It sounds like you’re doing that, so don’t worry about the future implications. Performance in the present determines more than the actual configuration of the diploma.
    Hope that helps. We work with kids from all over the world, so let us know if we can be helpful to you and your family.

  148. Hi, Kate. If your son is a top student, he should stick with the full IB diploma. Unless he plans to really bomb history, in which case should switch. But his record this past year does not indicate he will bomb. Tell him to stick it out and get the IB diploma. It’s good training: sometimes you have to eat your academic spinach.

    On the other hand, if he is really not interested in it, and if he is not planning on going to a selective college, then it doesn’t really matter. So he can take what he likes.

    You see, there is no cut and dried answer to this question. Everything depends on everything else. We specialize in helping kids–like your son–make their own decisions. Different people will tell you different things, based on their own assumptions about what is “good” for him. We help him decide what is good for him, and then live with the consequences that may (or may not) flow from that decision. This is what he will have to do as a grown-up: make tough decisions for himself. Let us know if we can be helpful.

    Thanks!

  149. Hi, Majed,
    The curriculum itself will make little difference. What will matter is your performance in the curriculum you choose to pursue.
    Good luck!

  150. No, Stephanie, you won’t be penalized. Your reward will come from pursuing excellence in all you do. Best of luck!

  151. Hi, I’m currently in my first week of Senior year and I’m in the IB program. I am thinking of switching all because of one class: Spanish. I dont feel i can get any grade higher than a C and that would be a stretch. My teacher even told me that she felt i am not prepared for the class. My school won’t let me mix so it’s either all IB or nothing. I do want to stay in IB but this spanish class will be my anchor towards the school i want to go to. But if i switch out i feel i am also holding myself back. It is difficult to describe my situation besides the fact my parents are in full support of AP but I’m torn and i dont know what to do? Will one class really hold back my college acceptance or is it just me being paranoid? I have by the end of the week to decide.

  152. Joseph,
    There is no easy answer here. One class won’t kill you, but it may affect your chances at particular schools. Since I don’t know the entire scenario, it’s hard to advise you. If you are doing well otherwise in IB, my initial inclination is to encourage you to stick with it, and to find some way to improve your Spanish. Have you looked at Speak Shop (http://speakshop.com). This is a tutoring company that offers one on one tutoring by a native speaker over Skype for a very low hourly fee. The teachers are very experienced, and my own kids have used it. Ask for Milvia in Guatemala, and tell her I sent you. Seriously, this could be your salvation if you stick with IB. But it’s going to take some work and dedication. And if you really want to get better in Spanish, consider spending your Christmas break in Guatemala studying at Probigua, the school where Milvia teaches. I know it would be expensive, but hey…college is going to be even more expensive.

    Again, it’s hard for me to give you specific advice on this. But perhaps this will give you another way to think about your chances of passing that Spanish course.

    Best of luck!

  153. Hello, Anna.
    College credit is a policy that each college implements on its own. Generally, those that give credit for AP courses also give credit for IB courses. You can look up these policies on the websites of colleges that interst you. And yes, IB is much more rigid than AP, if you do the full diploma program. The switch itself will not look bad. What is important is why you made the switch, and how well you perform.
    Hope this helps.

  154. I’m currently in 8th grade, applying for two magnet programs. One has IB, and the other has a lot of housing programs(Poolesville). i’d like to get into one of them, preferably the one with IB (Richard Montgomery). I have to admit that I didn’t get the best grades in 7th grade (a couple of B’s) and now I’m worried that I won’t get into neither of them because of it. I’m working really hard for this year, but since I can’t change last year’s grades, I want to know if it’ll put a big impact on the applications…

  155. Hi Mina,

    It is difficult for us to assess your chances for these programs since we are unfamiliar with their application review process. The best thing you can do is keep your grades up and submit the strongest application possible!

    Katherine Price
    Educational Consultant

  156. I’m currently a sophomore in high school and thus far my only AP class is in Spanish 4. I go to a relatively small high school where AP classes are only offered to juniors and seniors or students that have the necessary prerequisites. I’m making a 100 in Spanish 4 but should I fail the AP exam would that reflect badly on me? Would it be better to not take the exam?

  157. Hello,
    I am a Freshman at a good public high school in Kentucky. My parents are thinking of moving our family abroad next year, and I would attend an international school in the UAE that has an American curriculum, but would be back in Kentucky for my Junior year.
    My question is this: which do you think will give me a better education and look better to prospective colleges: studying in an international school for a year, or taking AP classes. (If I stay here, I can take two or three APs my Sophomore year…the school in Abu Dhabi doesn’t offer AP, just the IB program, but it doesn’t start until 11th grade.

    Thanks for any advice.

  158. Hi Lauren! I think it is always worth giving the AP exam a try. If you are doing that well in the course and study appropriately is likely that you will do well on the test. Best case scenario is that you do well enough to earn some credit heading into college and if you don’t try it you will never know. Thanks for your comment!

  159. I’m currently a freshman and now I need to do the pre-registration. The school offers AP classes for several subjects for the 10th graders. If I take AP classes in 10th grade, is that too early? Can I switch to IB classes for 11 and 12 grades or should I continue taking more AP classes? Should I wait and go for IB diploma, since I currently don’t have interest in a specific major?

  160. For medical school in Canada ,which is better I.B or A.P.I mean for bachelors degree in college for pre -med,is I.B better to prepare you or A.P and what is more widely accepted.Please tell me as soon as possible.I want to apply in high school [public or private].My plan is to go to Mcgill University for m.d,c.m.Also please tell me which college is best for this in Toronto.I have heard of Seneca and Centennial.Is Seneca better.
    Thank you.

  161. Hello, Dilawar. I’m not an expert on Canadian education…I specialize in the US. But either the AP or the IB can get you where you want to go in either country. It’s more about your performance in those programs than the content of the curriculum.
    Best of luck.

  162. I am undecided on whether to go on with the IB program at my school or switch to the AP. I am currently a sophomore in the IB program offered at my school. I am in the top 10% and have scored a 22 on the Act Plan. I want to get into a Ivy League School. Would I have a better chance to get into a Ivy League School with the AP program or IB? I realize the IB program is more rigorous and will take more effort but I am very undecided. What would you recommend? (My school requires English and History at HL and I would like to go into medicine).

  163. Hi, I will be in my first year of high school next year and I got accepted into and IB Diploma Program, but there is another school about 2 minutes away that offers AP courses. Will IB offer me any advantage at getting into certain universities and what is the max amount of college credits I can get with IB and AP programs.?

  164. Hi Mark,
    I am currently a sophomore at my high school and am trying to decide whether I should take all IB for the diploma or all AP. I have heard that ivy league colleges prefer students to take the most challenging classes that their school has to offer, and I’m not sure whether that would be IB or AP. Also, I’ve heard thath IB is more of writing and not as strong in math and science which will be crucial for me to go into pre-med school. If you could help me decide, that would be great. Thanks!

  165. Hello,

    I am a US citizen who recently moved to Alberta on a 3 year assignment. I have an 8th grader with straight A’s who is VERY bored here (seems to be behind his school in the US). In selecting high school classes, I am concerned with our ability to transition to the US smoothly in his Sophomore or Junior year,while maintaining his ability to take higher level courses in high school in the US. The school that we left in the US was very competitive reguarding who was allowed to take AP and IB classes. Demand exceeded availability. Does that make sense?

    We have 2 high schools in town, one with IB and one with AP. Any idea which will transfer to the US more smoothly?

    Thank you.

  166. Hello,

    Interesting question. There are both AP and IB programs in the US. Do you have any idea where you may live in the US when you transfer? If so, I would begin your research there. Some high schools offer AP programs, some offer IB. I would say that most high schools, regardless of which program they offer, should be able to handle the transfer.

    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate

  167. Hi Ashley,

    College do want to see you take the “most challenging courses available to you”. An full IB diploma is pretty straight forward in terms of being “most challenging”. For an AP curriculum, it depends on the number of AP courses you take and how many are available to you. The benefit of an AP curriculum is that you can pick and choose which AP courses you want to take, so if you wanted to take more math and science, you could. The answer is that both programs are challenging, it just depends on which one is the right path for you.

    Sincerely,
    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate

  168. hi am doing my final year of IGCSE am actually on the verge of finishing, am doing the exams right now. ive got an option to do IB or AP. but the school told me my D in math wont be good enough for AP, but this other school said they will accept me and they do IB. but then again the AP school has asked me to repeat my final IGCSE year, now here is the dilemna. although the AP school is supposed to be better known and you have a better chance of getting into a university, what should i do?

  169. My son is currently in 8th grade. he is very good in Math and science. He more inclined towards engineering as his college/career choice, not very much interested in Biology. He got an admission to CIBA (IB school in East Hartford CT) which has very good rankings. The only issue is they have biology in freshman and then IB biology in Jr, Sr years, no physics and not much flexibility. I just want an opinion on whether he should join CIBA or go to some other school where he may be able choose and pick his courses. Of course subject to staff in school which course (IB or AP) will better prepare him for SAT and have better preparation for college is he has to pursue engineering.
    Thank you

  170. Hi.
    I’m currently in 8th grade, and I have a choice of two high schools. One offers many AP courses, but the other is a school completely devoted to getting an IB diploma. The IB school is really new, and has only had one class. Next year, when I’m a freshman, there will only be freshmen and sophomores. My parents are convinced that IB is way better than AP, but I disagree. I’d much rather do AP instead of IB. My sister took one IB course, hated it, and took 5 AP courses throughout high school, and she got accepted into the University of Michigan, which is where I plan to go. I also think that they can’t judge IB over AP as just the programs. Whether or not I do well will depend on the teachers. I know many people that go to the high school and are taking AP courses, and most of the teachers are at least decent, and I know some that are very good. The IB school only offers actual IB courses in 11th and 12th grade, and as stated before, there are no junior or senior classes yet, so there is no way to determine whether the teachers will be good or not. That’s my personal opinion, but I’d really like someone with better knowledge’s opinion. Are my parents right? Would the IB program be better for me? If not, how can I convince them to let me take AP courses at the other high school?

  171. Hello,

    It is true that an IB diploma is seen as a very competitive and challenging curriculum, but an AP curriculum can be just as impressive. AP classes are seen more as “al a carte” allowing students to pick and choose their courses, where the IB curriculum is completely structured. I think if you do choose the AP curriculum, you need to make sure that you plan out the courses you want to take. Some students are experiencing challenges with AP classes due to scheduling conflicts. I think you need to choose the curriculum that you think you will be more successful in.

    Please feel free to give us a call if you or your parents have any additional questions.

    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate

  172. Hello,

    Thank you for your question. Either curriculum would prepare him for engineering, however, the AP curriculum offers more flexibility since it allows students to pick and choose their courses. The IB diploma is very competitive, but it is also very structured. He should choose the curriculum that would provide the best learning environment for him.

    If you have any further questions, please feel free to give us a call: +1.720.279.7577

    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate

  173. Hello,

    Thank you for your question. This is a difficult situation for us to comment on without knowing all of the details. Do you feel that you will be able to perform well at the AP level? Do you want to be able to choose your courses or does the structure of the IB diploma appeal to you. From the information you provided above, it sounds like you are choosing between the quality of the schools and not the quality of an AP or IB program.

    If you have further questions, please feel free to give us a call at: +1.720.279.7577

    Sincerely,
    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate

  174. Hi Brittany,

    The IB diploma is viewed as a very competitive curriculum, but you can have an equally competitive curriculum with AP courses. The answer do your questions lies in you asking yourself which curriculum, and which school for that matter is better for you. With regards to limits on how many AP and IB credits colleges accept, yes there are limits, but the policies vary from college to college. Some colleges only let you “place out” of lower level course, which does not really give you credit.

    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate

  175. Mackenzie, thanks for your message. I think you have some great opportunities ahead of you. Remember, colleges like to see that you have challenged yourself. Both AP and IB will do this for you. In addition, a school abroad will certainly provide a new experience for you that may open your eyes to new interests. Please let us know if you would like assistance with your college search!

  176. Saswatha,
    It’s wonderful that you are doing well in your school. Colleges like both AP and IB programs, because they like to see students challenge themselves and both programs clearly show this. So, you can’t go wrong whatever path you choose. You will need to work hard and achieve in either AP or IB if you have aspirations of attending a very selective school. Simply having a challenging course curriculum will not by itself make you Ivy League material. Remember, too, that even if you do take an AP or IB course curriculum and do well, this is no guarantee that you will be gain admission to an Ivy League school. The schools look at much more than just your GPA and course rigor. So, keep working hard, and please let us know if you would like assistance with your college search!

  177. Hi,
    I have recently finished my IGCSEs and my results will be out in august. However my expected results are all either A or A*. i have done 10 IGCSE courses which are: English First Language, English Literature, Sociology, Business Studies, Information Communication Technology, Extended Mathematics, Extended Biology, Extended Chemistry, Extended Physics and Arabic Second Language. Ihave already recieved my results for th arabic and ICT exams and have achieved an A* in both. Now i am trying to choose between doing AP or IB. I’m not sure what aspects I should consider when deciding. I know that both courses are quite rigorous and appreciated by universities. Besides that I don’t know much about either. Unfortunately my parents don’t have any experience in dealing with these things since both of them graduated in Egypt where things are a lot different from Canada. And since i’m their first-born this is the first time they have to consider these subjects. So i need some help with this crisis please.

    Thanks,

    Nancy

  178. Hello Nancy,

    It is difficult to offer advice without knowledge of you as a student. The basic difference is that IB is more structured than AP. AP you can pick and choose the courses you want to take. With IB, you have a set curriculum.

    I hope this is helpful.

    Sincerely,
    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate

  179. Hi Katherine,

    Thanks for the information. However I’d love it if you could give me some more guidance. So here’s some info about me:
    Well, i have just gotten my IGCSE results and have achieved top scores after studying my heart out for the duration of the 2 year course. I’m a very hard worker and very committed to mu studies.
    I plan on entering Medical school and therefore becoming a doctor. I would also like to attend top medical schools.

    Thanks,
    Nancy

  180. I am currently stuck between schools. One offers IB and the other offers AP. I am currently in PRE-Ib and next year will have to test into IB. However, the AP program is apparently very top notch at my other school and im not sure which one i should pick because i hope to study abroad in Europe or some other country for college. which one should i pick?

  181. Hi Nancy,

    As I mentioned in my previous comments, it is difficult for us to advise your on your course selection without knowing you. As you mention, both programs are highly regarded, but the question is which program is a better fit for you as a student? I suggest that you do more detailed research on the courses required for the IB diploma and the courses offered for AP. Here are some links with more information: http://www.ibo.org/diploma/curriculum/
    http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/ap/subjects.html

    This will hopefully direct you towards which subject area is a better fit for you.

    Sincerely,

    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate

  182. Hi, I’m an 8th grader in the IB program and there are two different high schools I can choose from. I can either go to an old high school and take IB programs or go to a new high school and take AP. My problem is that I don’t know which is more recognized by colleges and how much more credit you get for each program. I have been researching and all I can find is biased infornmation. Everyone in the IB program at my school is trying to choose, some are going to continue and some are going to the AP programs. I really don’t know what to do.

  183. Kelly,
    Thanks for your question! When it comes to AP versus IB, colleges respect and appreciate both curricula. One is not preferred over the other, so you won’t go wrong no matter which path you choose to follow. I suggest you look at the different course requirements of both programs and see which one suits you best. AP allows more freedom in course selection, but you may prefer the full spectrum of courses that is required by IB. Ultimately, your own personal preferences should drive your decision since colleges will be happy with either program.

  184. If someone was applying to one of the top 10-20 university or a top-notch university, and they received high marks, would the high marks in AP or the high marks in IB make them more likely to get into a top university?If someone wants to go to a top university, should they take IB or AP?IF you want to go to an elite top-notch top university and you have the choice, should you take IB or AP?Which do colleges/universities like more?Would IB or AP help you more and increase your chances of getting into a top university?

  185. Hi Tiger (or is it Michael?),
    Both AP and IB are very strong programs but they are very different. Both programs show colleges that you are choosing to challenge yourself academically but colleges will also consider how well you do in your chosen program. If you take IB or AP and do poorly that won’t help your case for admissions, so you want to make sure to evaluate the programs to see which is the right fit. That being said, both are looked upon very favorably. The other thing to think about is that students can just take random AP classes whereas a student who is invested in the IB program and seeking an IB diploma has to take a specific set of courses. That being said, no college is going to say there is a preference of one over the other. They are both highly recommended, so you need to determine which is the right fit for you and then perform well.

    I hope that helps.

  186. Hello,
    So my entire life I have been a straight A student. However, I have slacked off for the past two years. I am now a sophomore in High School fully regretting my decision to take the easy route. I have made the decision to make a dramatic change that all in all will change my life. Next year I am leaving the past behind me and joining the complete IB diploma program. I am ready to work harder than I have ever worked in my life. My dream I to go to college at Richmond: The American University in London. I will work harder than I have ever worked. I currently have 100% in AP English. My current GPA is a 3.5 and I am immensely disappointed in myself. I want to do a full 180 and turn my life around. If I ace every one of my classes for the next two years do you think it will be possible for me to be accepted into Richmond?

  187. Hello Madison,

    It is difficult for us to assess your chance at a particular school without seeing your full transcript and test scores. I will tell you that colleges love to see upward trends with grades. This is especially true if the student has increased the challenge of their curriculum. It sounds like you are doing all the right things, so keep up the good work!

    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate

  188. Hello, I’m an 8th grader. I want to go to medical school (my goal is Harvard or Stanford). I dont know if I should take IB or AP. My school district offers both and three other programs as well. I’ve narrowed it down to these two. If I want to be a science major, which one should I choose? I’ve heard that IB is more work and that I will have to pull all-nighters if I choose to do it. Is it beneficial for me to take IB? And will AP be easier? Can I get better grades if I take AP? So far, I am a pretty good student and I am taking all Pre-AP courses along with being in the gifted and talented program. My grades are all A’s. Please advise me with the best solution to my dilemma. Thank you.

  189. I’m currently in 9th grade, and I’m doing the MYP program at my school as it is mandatory, but once I finish 10th grade I want to transfer schools so I can do the IB Diploma program (I want to get the full diploma). The thing is, I’ve been looking into it online and it’s supposedly very hard and stressful. Lots of people are saying it’s not worth it and there’s too much work, whereas others are saying it’s great preparation for university. I really want to do it, but I’m afraid I might get overloaded with homework or fall behind in some classes. I’m a pretty good student; I’m getting 90-95% in all my classes except gym and drama, but I’m still scared the program might be too hard for me, any advice? Oh and if it’s any help, I want to study to become a dentist when I’m finished school.

  190. Hi, Sarah,
    The decision about whether to pursue the IB is a personal one. People who complain that the IB diploma is stressful and requires a lot of work are correct: it is hard. But good students can do very well in it. Undoubtedly it is great preparation for university. But what you don’t tell me here is what your current high school would offer you as an alternative. It is quite possible that your current high school offers an excellent curriculum delivered by excellent teachers who would also prepare you well for university. Whichever curriculum you choose, the curriculum itself is not what prepares you for college. Or for graduate school. So, please remind me again why it is that you are so keen to do the IB diploma?
    Best,
    Mark

  191. Hello, Gayatri,
    Your choice is a personal preference, not a strategy. Either curriculum can be beneficial and help you achieve your goals. Which school is closer to home? Where will your friends be going? Do you like the rigid structure of the IB that will likely allow for only one science course to be taken in grades 11 and 12, or do you prefer the flexibility to take several different science courses in high school? This choice of curriculum is important, but it should be set in the context of your other choices, as well as your goals and preferences.
    Oh, and remind yourself that in the US medical school starts after you finish your undergraduate degree. There are a number of direct admit programs, but as they say, those programs are “where fun goes to die.” So what’s important to you in your life–beside your career path?
    Let me know if I can help.

  192. Hello, My daughter is about to enter the 10th grade and she is stuck between the two. She has been going to a charter school that promotes the IB program for their high school and it starts in the 10th grade but she doesn’t know which way to go . She is a top student and enjoys learning. She has been getting A’s and high B’s for the 3 years she has been at their middle school. She is a very sociable person yet the classes are small so she doesn’t know which one,bigger classes or smaller. Also at the charter schools high school they don’t offer much electives or sports so she’s once again concerned about missing out on those. She values education but shes a little nervous about the work load of an IB diploma and the tests yet to come with how important they are. If you could help us that would be greatly appreciated,thank you for your time.

  193. Hi, Kyra. I’m not sure I can help you with these specifics in a brief exchange of comments. I sometimes do some hourly advising for students and families in this position who are trying to make a big decision like this. Would this be helpful to you? If so, please feel free to give me a call. Sometimes folks just need a bit of conversation to help them make the right decision for themselves. You can reach me at 720.279.7577. I look forward to hearing from you.

  194. Hi,

    My son has been accepted at IB Program in a magnet school in a not-so-good-neighborhood for 9th grade. His other choice is the home school with AP offerings and wider variety of extracurricular activities. He has gotten mostly A and some B grades in all 2-year accelerated Math (Geometry for 8th grade), Spanish 2 and honors programs for other subjects presently in 8th grade.He also has been part of present school’s Robotics team and made it to state championships. We are trying to decide which school will be a better choice to to prepare for Ivy league schools in high school. I’d appreciate your input on this matter of school decision.
    Thanks

  195. Hi Mark,
    I have to disagree with one of your statements. As a teacher, I see there are many students in our IB program who are simply lazy, so I disagree with looking at the teacher’s scores. We had a class of seniors that almost didn’t get their HIGH SCHOOL diploma, much less their IB diploma (if they got it at all) because they refused to do work. One of our teachers had her IAs pulled in their entirety because the first three requested to be marked by IB were by students who refused to do an IA at all. Another of our teachers had the lowest percentage passing score in the school’s IB program’s history – the same year she also had the first 7 we’ve ever had in a science class.
    So, I have to say that it’s not entirely fair to just look at the scores of the teacher to see if they are a worthwhile teacher. You can have a great teacher and students who don’t care.
    I realize that at the vast majority of IB schools you CAN look only at the scores, but there are some situations in which it really isn’t the teacher’s fault.

  196. Hi,
    I’m currently a freshman, I’m taking all honors gs and ap classes, Im a hard worker, and if I applied in 10th grade for 11th and 12th grade, how are my chances of getting into the ib program? Can a 10th grader even get into ib? I applied in 8th grade, when I had honor roll all years of middle school, and had a amazing essay that my teacher loved so much she read to the class, but messed up in the last round, I’ve always been in advanced classes, before I used to be in gifted and talented, and now honors, and I’m called ‘basically in ib’, but it’s very hard for me, cause I’m caught in the middle, all my friends have the title, and I have the same work and stress, but I don’t receive the guidance or oppurtunites as them. And my friends may try, but can’t really help me. I didn’t apply for ib in 9th grade before I didn’t get honor roll the first two quarters, due to my pressure and stress, and just not taking enough care of stuff before the quarter ends (the reason isn’t that important like the teachers not putting something in, like a make-up or me not doing something, adjusting, whatever. It’s still my fault ). If i get honor roll the last two quarters, and the beginning of next year, or whatever just how do you think my chances are? Shouid I even apply again? What do you think I should do, I know the benefits of the ib program. And I really want to, but is it worth it for me, or would it be far fetched?
    Im already in honors algebra 11, honors french 11, and ap gov in freshman year..

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