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How hard is the IB?

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    Hi, I'm a year 11 and I'm wondering whether it's better to do A levels or the IB, those who have done or are doing the IB, is it particularly difficult?

    Obviously you know more about the grades, is i understand its out of 45, 7 per subject 3 extra etc, but is 40 a ridiculously good grade or is it quite obtainable?

    Thanks
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    40 is obtainable, but it's even above what Oxbridge usually asks for most subjects. 32-38 is a respectable score and, when you look at the figures, doesn't require that much work if you pick the right subjects. Universities like UCL, Durham, Bristol, York, Exeter, Warwick, Leicester, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and KCL all fall within this grade group.

    I'd say that the IB doesn't require any more work than A-levels unless you pick two sciences and mathematics at HL, but it does require more dedication and organisation to go along with it. You're going to have to manage time and do independent research a lot more than A-level students will, but that stands you in good stead for university.

    On the plus side, I did really enjoy most of my time as an IB student, the one exception being when I was clinically depressed during my computer science dossier's final week.
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    (Original post by Aphotic Cosmos)
    40 is obtainable, but it's even above what Oxbridge usually asks for most subjects. 32-38 is a respectable score and, when you look at the figures, doesn't require that much work if you pick the right subjects. Universities like UCL, Durham, Bristol, York, Exeter, Warwick, Leicester, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and KCL all fall within this grade group.

    I'd say that the IB doesn't require any more work than A-levels unless you pick two sciences and mathematics at HL, but it does require more dedication and organisation to go along with it. You're going to have to manage time and do independent research a lot more than A-level students will, but that stands you in good stead for university.

    On the plus side, I did really enjoy most of my time as an IB student, the one exception being when I was clinically depressed during my computer science dossier's final week.
    not really for next year. UCL asks for 39 pts to get to Economics for next year, and Oxbridge asks for 38-42 pts as a basic requirement, so its not above it only falls in to their BASIC requirement.
    IB is difficult not only in picking two sciences and maths HL, but also finishing TOK and EE which is the most challenging part!!
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    If you're the type to get above 90%, then 40 is an obtainable score. Around here, getting about 85+ is a 6, and 94+ is a 7 (very roughly speaking of course)
    However, I checked a few days ago, and 42/45 was in the 98.5th percentile. But really, with IB, it seems a ton of people take it who really shouldn't, so they end up slacking off and not doing any of the work, so the percentiles seem a bit unnatural.

    I think it's more-or-less agreed that IB is more work than A-Levels (for the most part). Assuming you take the minimum (correct me if I'm wrong, Brits) 3 A-Levels, that's the equivalent of the minimum 3 Higher Level IB courses. But with IB, you also have to worry about your 3 Standard Level courses, plus the TOK class. Whether it's more difficult is debatable.
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    (Original post by fakeplastictrees)
    If you're the type to get above 90%, then 40 is an obtainable score. Around here, getting about 85+ is a 6, and 94+ is a 7 (very roughly speaking of course)
    However, I checked a few days ago, and 42/45 was in the 98.5th percentile. But really, with IB, it seems a ton of people take it who really shouldn't, so they end up slacking off and not doing any of the work, so the percentiles seem a bit unnatural.
    Forgive me from saying so, but to say that getting over 85 is a 6 is quite simply ********. The very highest grade boundary for a 7 for any subject is French B HL and that's only 87%. You're (quite fortunately) misinformed. The general rule is that a 7 = 81%+, 6 = 67 - 80, 5 = 55 - 67, 4 = 45 - 55 and so on and so forth.
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    Be aware that there are limitations on your subject choices, even though IB is billed as giving you more choice.

    Within the 6 subjects, you cannot study three sciences or two sciences and further maths, so A level may be the better option for scientists/engineers.
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    I'd say if you are in the UK, just do the A levels.

    Sure there's the A* coming up and whatnot but depending on your school record going into the IB might be a gamble..

    40 points is not unobtainable (40% of my classmates got 40+) however, only 5% of the students taking the IB gets 40+. My school is quite an old IB school, with many teachers who teach at the Oxford Revision Courses as well as being examiners.
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    Thanks guys, this has been helpful. I know 40 is higher than i need but i won't necessarily get in just with the bare minimum so i like to be sure i can do around that well.

    A lot of you are saying it depends on me (obviously).
    I go to a normal school, you dont have to pay or pass an exam to get in just live close enough to get there on time.
    I'm in the top ten percent of my year.
    I'm an all rounder, but i can be a tad lazy. But i can crack down on that, and i need to for Uni.
    I don't like french but i am halfway through the GCSE of it, and i can do the easier tier of it, "little or no experience".
    I want to do PPE at uni, the best place i get into.
    If i dont do the IB ill probably do Maths, History, "Theology and Ethics" and some philosophical fourth thing for the first year.

    So guys, advise away, but if you have time give it for other circumstances for other people.
    Thanks
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    If you want just want to get good grades and make it into a top uni go for A-levels. If you want to take a gamble and try something different go for IB.
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    Gamble? Why is it a gamble?
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    (Original post by JakeLucGoodman)
    Gamble? Why is it a gamble?
    Because it's not for everyone. Some of my classmates came into the IB with 8A*s at GCSE and ended up with only average scores. I know many people in my year regretted having taken it and some switched to A-levels after the first year. Also, it depends on the teaching at your school. The way the IB is taught is quite different to A-levels so if your school is relatively new to the IB you'd expect the standard of teaching to be lower.
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    ah... well ill be going to a college, my school has no 6th form, but it will be their first year of doing the IB, on the other hand they are teachers of the subjects surely just not in the IB format...
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    Also new topic, what is the difference within subjects??
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    (Original post by kuntimagee)
    Forgive me from saying so, but to say that getting over 85 is a 6 is quite simply ********. The very highest grade boundary for a 7 for any subject is French B HL and that's only 87%. You're (quite fortunately) misinformed. The general rule is that a 7 = 81%+, 6 = 67 - 80, 5 = 55 - 67, 4 = 45 - 55 and so on and so forth.
    No, actually, there was some terrible miscommunication.

    When I said "around here", I meant at my school. I'm well aware of the grade boundaries on the actual IB tests.

    To clarify, if your report card grade for grade 11, for example, is about 85+ here, that's probably a predicted 6. Like I said, very roughly speaking, and obviously it's different from school to school, but I doubt there's any school who gives out report card grades of 80% and then congratulates the student for outstanding performance and a predicted 7.
    If you've got about an 85% standing in the class (which is obviously tougher than regular classes, but not the difficulty of IB exams), that's a 6 (for sciences/math). For history/english, the teachers just go straight by IB marking.
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    (Original post by fakeplastictrees)
    No, actually, there was some terrible miscommunication.

    When I said "around here", I meant at my school. I'm well aware of the grade boundaries on the actual IB tests.

    To clarify, if your report card grade for grade 11, for example, is about 85+ here, that's probably a predicted 6. Like I said, very roughly speaking, and obviously it's different from school to school, but I doubt there's any school who gives out report card grades of 80% and then congratulates the student for outstanding performance and a predicted 7.
    If you've got about an 85% standing in the class (which is obviously tougher than regular classes, but not the difficulty of IB exams), that's a 6 (for sciences/math). For history/english, the teachers just go straight by IB marking.

    erm actually my school gave out 7s for a percentage of 75 for all subjects except for the languages. In which case its 83% or something I can't remember. whoops.
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    IB is very difficult, I'm not kidding. In short, it's because the IB requires you to do 8 subjects including Theory of Knowledge and Extended Essay. The other 6 subjects, their types being varied (e.g. maths, humanities, etc) can hinder you from getting a good score if you are bad in one or some of the types of subjects you must do in the IB.

    3 of the subjects are HL (Higher Level) which should be what you like most and are relevant to your desired uni course.

    The 3 others are SL (Standard Level), those that are studied in less depth than in HL.

    But anyway, the fact that you study a large number of subjects also contribute greatly to the difficulty of the IB.
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    (Original post by JakeLucGoodman)
    ah... well ill be going to a college, my school has no 6th form, but it will be their first year of doing the IB, on the other hand they are teachers of the subjects surely just not in the IB format...
    I wouldn't take it if it is the first year your college has taught it, you may well end up as a 'test guinea pig'
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    IB is not that hard. It mostly depends on the subjects you have. So you need to know your fields and choose the subjects you like to learn.
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    (Original post by paradise_lost)
    erm actually my school gave out 7s for a percentage of 75 for all subjects except for the languages. In which case its 83% or something I can't remember. whoops.
    Strange. At my school, they figured it would be disadvantaging the students if all kids who took IB had significantly lower grades than those who didn't.

    Anyway, it's their first year doing IB? I strongly, strongly suggest you don't take it. You'd think they would be teachers of the subject, yeah, but in my experience, the better IB teachers are those who have been teaching it for years and years. Even when they change the exam format or the curriculum, which they do every few years, my teachers are really apprehensive and anxious about it. IB just has very distinct patterns and specific rules. If your teacher just doesn't know how to deal with it, there's a good chance you won't do as well as you should.

    For a specific example, your labs are moderated. Your teacher marks them, then someone from IB marks a few, and adjusts the whole class's lab marks to match. In practice, this means your labs will be marked down because IB will decide your teacher is too easy (it somehow never seems to work the other way...). As far as I understand, getting marked down only a few points is actually a success. Apparently being marked down is quite common. If your teacher isn't aware of the specific things that IB expects from labs and doesn't mark them harshly enough, you'll be marked down loads and it might drop your class grade from a 7 to a 6.
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    Originally Posted by grape
    I wouldn't take it if it is the first year your college has taught it, you may well end up as a 'test guinea pig'
    There may be some truth in this, but the IB requires quite a lot of independent learning which reduces this factor.

    At my school, I was in the first IB group to take it, and the main issue throughout the two years was the teachers' lack of awareness of the full requirements for the subjects and their tests.

    If you are going to take the IB (and this is perhaps true for anyone, let alone someone whose school is just starting the program), it is essential that you find the syllabi for your subjects early on, so you can go over things teachers may have screwed up or even missed completely.

    More than A-levels, IB really requires you to know the ins and outs of your course; you can't depend on teachers as much to cover everything, and you have to be organised. That's probably the key difference between it and A-levels and why a lot of universities see the IB as a better choice. (Although this doesn't mean you won't get a high offer in the 40s, which is an annoying but often-occuring paradox)

    That said, the introduction of the A* might well balance out the seeming disparity in offers.

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Updated: August 27, 2012
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