International Baccalaureate Diploma (IBDP)

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme is part of the International Baccalaureate programme of education, is studied by students between the ages of 16–19 and is recognised by universities around the world.

International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP)
What is the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme? The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBCP) is part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme of education which is taught in thousands of schools across the world. Starting with the IB Primary Years Programme, the continuum of internationally focused education is followed by the IB Middle Years Programe and culminates in the completion of either the IB Diploma Programme or the Career-related Programme.Take a look:

What are the aims of the International Baccalaureate?

In 1968, the International Baccalaureate Organization sought to create a diploma that would be recognised by universities around the world. Today, it provides learning over a very broad base of disciplines, inspiring creative thought and an ability to relate learning to experiences outside the classroom, preparing students for further learning and a future career.The IB has proved itself to be the success story in secondary education over the past 30 years, and it is now recognised as an entrance qualification to universities in more than 140 countries. Due to its international transferability, it is increasingly becoming the top choice for internationally relocating families with school age children.Simone Lorenz-Weir, head of upper school at Oakham School, in Rutland, England, recognises that the IB has grown to become one of the most highly regarded educational programmes in the world.“The IB ticks many boxes academically because of its rigour and the breadth of subjects students take,” she says, “but ultimately it is the skills that students learn that make the programme so very desirable.”

What is the International Baccalaureate Diploma Curriculum?

The compulsory core of the IBDP curriculum contains three elements: 
  • Theory of knowledge – the bases of knowledge, how students analyse evidence and express themselves in rational argument; students are encouraged to draw on experiences gained outside the classroom.
  • Creativity, action and service – this part of the programme encourages students to get involved in theatre or music activities, sports and/or community service.
  • Extended essay – investigation of a particular topic of interest and a 4,000 word essay about it.
Alongside the three core elements, students also select one subject from each of the following six areas: 
  • First language – normally the student’s mother tongue.
  • Second language – this could be a language already studied, or a new one.
  • Experimental sciences – biology, chemistry, physics, design technology.
  • Mathematics and computer science.
  • The arts – visual, music and theatre.
  • Individuals and society – history, psychology, geography.
Normally, students will study three of the six optional subjects at a 'higher' level (240 teaching hours per subject), and the other three at a 'standard' level (150 teaching hours). However, students can also opt to take four subjects at the higher level and two at the standard level.International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme
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International Baccalaureate Diploma: Theory of Knowledge

In addition to their chosen subjects, all students take Theory of Knowledge (a challenging critical-thinking course) and undertake an Extended Essay (a dissertation-style research project). Both of these prepare them for the rigour of university, teaching them to research independently, to analyse evidence, and to prepare their thoughts into a well-written (or verbalised) point of view. 
“Universities certainly recognise this,” says Ms Lorenz-Weir, “as they often find IB students settle in quicker and feel more comfortable with the self-sufficiency demanded by higher education.” 
In fact research reveals that the IB is consistently highly regarded by university admissions officers. Every year, in their University Admissions Officers survey, ACS International Schools in collaboration with the International Baccalaureate Organisation, ask admissions officers to rate three exam systems, A levels, the IBDP and BTEC and rank them against factors such as ‘encouraging independent enquiry’, and ‘developing ability to cope with pressure’. Out of the 81 UK universities surveyed, the IBDP was rated top in developing 13 out of 14 factors considered useful in preparing students to thrive at university.Karin Purcell, development director at Marymount International School London, supports the view that the IB gives students the edge when it comes to applying for a university place. “Our experience shows that our students who graduate with an IB Diploma are increasingly at an advantage when applying for university, especially here in the UK, she says. “We have a lot of hard evidence that the trend is in favour of students with an IB.”

International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme: pros and cons

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme offers a broad subject range and is well-known for encouraging students to develop independent study and critical thought, but can be considered quite challenging for students who are not ‘all-rounders’ and some consider it too broad for those students who wish to specialise.However, the IBDP is consistently highly regarded by university admissions officers and is one of the few international curriculum choices that is truly globally transferable.

International Baccalaureate Diploma Assessment

Most of the assessment is through examination, marked externally. However, in nearly all subjects, some of the assessment is carried out by teachers who mark individual pieces of coursework.The Diploma normally takes two years to complete, with exams taking place in May and November. It leads to a single qualification, rather than separate qualifications for individual subjects. However, if students do not achieve the full diploma, they will be awarded a certificate for each subject taken.

International Baccalaureate Diploma Scores

The final IB diploma is awarded to IB students who receive a minimum score of 24 points, and who successfully complete the core IB components, including the extended essay and theory of knowledge. International Baccalaureate Diploma scores are calculated on the awarded grades of 1 to 7 for each of the six subject areas to combine for a total of 42 points plus an extra 3 points for the core IB components.The maximum available score a Diploma Programme student can achieve is 45 points. Unlike the UK’s school examination system, the GCSE and A Level – which has seen grade inflation and received criticism of lowering standards – since its inception, the IB has maintained consistently strong standards across the globe for more than 40 years. According to the IBO, IB Diploma pass rates have remained consistent at around 80 per cent, with the average score on the IB diploma consistently sitting at around 30 points.IB Diploma students receive their results in July and January following the May and November examination sessions.This article was originally published in August 2016.

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