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International Baccaulaureate

What Is The International Baccalaureate?

The International Baccalaureate is a set of internationally recognised post-16 qualifications. Unlike A-Levels, the IB is recognised for entry to university in several different countries. It is designed to provide a wider knowledge base, with academically challenging study and final examinations which prepare students for higher education.

What Does The International Baccalaureate Cover?

The IB is a two-year course which students take instead of A Levels. It includes six compulsory subjects:

  • Language (the student’s first language)
  • 2nd language
  • Individuals & Society (including history, psychology and geography)
  • Maths & Computer Science
  • Experimental Sciences (biology, chemistry, physics & design technology)
  • The Arts (visual, theatre & music)

Three of these subjects are studied at a higher level; the remaining subjects are studied at standard level. The higher level is comparable with A-Level, whereas standard level is comparable with AS-Level. As well as this, students must complete the Diploma Core:

  • An Extended Essay of 4000 words on a subject of the student’s choice
  • Theory of Knowledge (ToK) course - the study of knowledge, analysing evidence and arguing a point
  • CAS (Creativity, Action, Service) Programme to include sports and/or art and/or community work.

It is possible for students to take examinations in individual subjects; these are referred to as IB Diploma courses. Students may also take examinations in individual subjects, the Extended Essay or Theory of Knowledge and gain certificates in these areas only without obtaining the full Diploma.

How Is The International Baccalaureate Graded?

Grades are awarded for each subject, from 1 to 7 with 7 being the highest. In order to achieve the International Baccalaureate Diploma, students must achieve a minimum of 24 points across these individual subjects.

The Theory of Knowledge and Extended Essay are graded separately from A to E and then converted to numerical points. Up to three additional points can be added to the overall scoring. The highest possible Diploma score is 45 points, comprising of 42 from six subjects and 3 from the Core.

 Why Study For The International Baccalaureate?

The International Baccalaureate is an internationally recognised qualification, so students can use it to gain entry to universities in more than 140 countries.

Unlike A-Levels, which require a student to specialise in three or four main subjects, the IB allows a wider base of learning for longer - so students don’t need to decide on a specialism until they are considering a degree. This gives them more freedom in terms of which degree courses they want to apply for.

 Does UCAS Accept International Baccalaureate?

UCAS does award points for International Baccalaureate studies. Points are awarded for subjects graded at higher level and standard level, and for the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge. Many universities will also specify a requirement for overall IB point score, with specific points in higher level subjects.


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