(Original post by Pavlina)
I definitely agree that the IB is significantly harder than A levels, and that university offers for the two diplomas just don't match up - however, I think it's more complicated than a case of unis just not "understanding" the IB.
The IB is taught (at least in my country, and in many others as far as I've heard) in very expensive private schools; paying a lot of money means that the parents have a greater level of leverage. In my school, this led to some ABSURD situations, i.e., one student's parents complained that their son wasn't allowed to smoke on campus, and it violated his basic rights, and that they would switch him to another private school if this wasn't resolved, so the school gave him a special card that allowed him to leave campus whenever he wanted for cig breaks.
This is of course an extreme case, but what I mean is, parents ALSO have more leverage where predicted grades are concerned than in public schools. The teachers/ administration don't just try to be fair, they also try to please the parents who are paying - and so, often, give the students higher predicted grades than they actually deserve. This may be by just one or two points - but in the end, it causes a significant predicted grade inflation as opposed to A level schools. Top universities are flooded with candidates that are predicted 40 and above, even though they will probably only end up achieving a 36 (which is ALREADY a fine result at IB.)
I think this discredits the diploma, as universities are never sure of whether the predicted grades are accurate or a result of pressure put on the school; also, since they receive so many apparently "exceptional" candidates, they are forced to set the bar much higher. In this way, they're also checking whether the predicted grades are correct - "alright, you're predicted a 42! Well, that's great. Let's see if you can actually GET those grades, and if you can, you're more than welcome to attend."
Do you see what I mean? In IB more so than in A level, predicted grades are VERY inaccurate compared to the actual grades the students achieve, which must make it harder for universities to sort things out.
Also, some universities DO understand the A level and give quite fair offers. For example, in Queen Mary (4th in the UK for Law, right after Oxbridge and UCL) a typical A level offer is A*AA. A typical IB offer is 36 points. So, some places ARE coming around to understanding the IB better