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IB or A-Levels?

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Applying to Uni? Let Universities come to you. Click here to get your perfect place 20-10-2014
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    Hi everyone,

    So I have no idea what to do after GCSE's, and the IB really appeals to me, but I have heard it is super difficult, and I don't want to do the IB if I will do worse than I would at A-Levels.

    The school I would do IB at is the one of the top in the UK, so I'm not worried about the teaching, just about the heavy courseload that the IB has.

    I would take-
    HL - History, English and Psychology/Theatre
    SL - Mathematics, Biology and Italian ab initio

    For A-Levels -
    Maths, English Lit, History and Classics

    I want to go to University and study History, what do you think would be best for me? I have no strict career plans.

    I am predicted all A's and A*s and GCSE.

    Thank you!
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    Hi,

    I'm taking the IB at the moment and honestly, I love it so much I wouldn't go to A-levels at all, maybe that's because I'm self-motivated, I don't know. However, what I do know is that, IB gives obviously a broader availability of subjects and therefore, when it comes to university, you as a whole are a more rounded student.

    A-levels reduce the subject amount significantly, however, it does allow you to learn those subjects in great detail, which is great. However, IB HL subjects also allow you to do this. In some cases HL subjects are compared to Degree level, for example Maths HL. Furthermore, you can take 4 HL subjects if you want to. I did, but dropped to another SL in about 4 months...

    Anyway, assuming that the school you are hoping to go to for the IB is one of the best in the country I would suggest, do the IB and don't look back, it's a long and treacherous road but its well worth it!

    None can decide for you, what you should do, it could change in an instant and anyway History sounds like a good career plan to start off with.

    Hope this helps.
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    One thing I would say is don't go into A levels expecting an easy ride, and tbh it really annoys me when everyone says IB is so much harder than A levels.
    In my school we do both IB and A level's, and yes it is easier to float along doing A levels and get C's/D's in your A levels, whereas in the IB you have to pass each subject to get the diploma overall, however, if you want to get the A*'s at A level, you have to work hard.

    One teacher once said that he's seen A levels who work harder than IB'ers, and IB'ers who work harder than A level'ers. Therefore I would just say make sure you don't just take A levels for the easy option and don't underestimate them.

    In terms of your actual situation, I would say that because you know what you want to do you are at an advantage, and A levels might suit you because you can specialise, however, in the same way the broader subject range might be good for you in IB.

    Also how much extracuricular stuff do you do? I think the CAS scheme as part of IB can show how varied you are as a person, which can be a bonus, but if you already do that sort of thing anyway it may not be beneficial.

    The thing I do find bettern about A levels, is that my exams are split up over the course of two years, which I find a lot better as it gives that safety net in case something did happen, and makes me feel a lot less stressed. Although, this could be negative if your someone who prefers just to get all your exams out of the way.

    I'm happy doing A levels and I think they were the right choice for me, however I know loads of people doing IB and they say they are happy, so I would say look at the positives and negatives of each, possibly look at the entry requirements for prospective uni's for IB and A levels, and I'm sure in time you'll be sure which one is right for you
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    I've no much idea about the A levels, but I'm doing the IB, my last year, and I'm sick of it. Anyway I guess that by the end of the year you would be sick of any course you're doing though. The IB has a lot of extra work, so if you're not used to work extra hard, I wouldn't take it. Sometimes I wish I would have done the A levels instead, as it gives you more background to what you really want to do in the future, but the IB also offers a wider range of subjects which is good, plus the way of teaching which I've found to be more... interactive? not sure if that is the word.

    I think both of them, the IB and the A leves have their pros and cons.

    Good luck with your choice
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    The IB is hard and challenging, especially if your aiming for great grades above 40. In my own experience, i find the IB very interesting because your exposed to many different subjects instead of specializing straight away in high school - you'll end up specializing in university. Depending on the type of worker you are you will have a different IB experience, if you can balance your workload and be an efficient worker the IB is ok, but if you let everything pile up, especially internal assessments the IB can be a real pain. I don't regret choosing the IB. Although I am a bit disappointed when i see A level students getting easier offers (ie AAA or AAB whilst they ask and IB student for 38). But this varies from uni to uni.

    If you really know what you want to do and where you want to study you could email the universities you will want to apply and ask then if they have any preference.

    Good luck
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    I am an international student who has done both A-levels and IB. I will argue with anyone who says that one is easier than the other ; however after experiencing both programmes I personally believe that IB is simply better. I do not want to insult any A-levels students, because I am fully aware that for ex. examination in A-levels in more thorough and so a more detailed knowledge is required on exams.

    So to explain fully what I mean when I say that I find IB a more interesting programme I will now share some reflection on both courses.

    What really annoyed me in A-levels, especially in sciences, was that the programme was divided into modules. At the beginning I thought that this is much better than taking one or two exams after two years of studying, but I now understand that it is not. It is very easy to lose marks, because mark schemes in A-levels are very strict (for ex. when there is a 6 mark question there are 6 or 7 key words/statements in the mark scheme; in IB when there is a 6 mark question there is 8-10 possible marks and key words, although favoured, are not essential if student shows his/her understanding). My impression of biology and chemistry in A-level programme is that if you want to take a good mark you should learn mark schemes off by heart (especially ISA papers) and even when you do it some silly and unrelated questions will appear and you will get for example C, because ISA grade boundaries are very strict. So students usually end up retaking exams or doing EMPA, which is tiring and wasteful – each retake is 20 pounds.
    Moreover, science modules are only loosely connected one to another. I think the person who designed the course aimed for it to gradually take the student from less advanced to more advances material, but failed completely. Compared to IB syllabus the A-levels one seems messy and unorganized, lacking actual connection between modules. IB SL Biology has much more sense that AS Biology and it is simply more interesting (and I am not the only person saying that). It is more understandable and the books are better.
    As far as chemistry in concerned I can only comment on A-level chemistry and contrast it with what my friends from IB said about their chemistry. The former might be better for people going into courses with organic chemistry, because in IB you can basically skip a large part of organic by choosing a different option. I found A-level in Chemistry very interesting in general, but some bits were simply soooooo boring and made no sense because a-level chemistry is less advanced than other equivalent European programmes! And also I know for a fact that lab reports in IB are more convenient that ISA, even if at the beginning of the course you might feel like they are more difficult.
    As far as history is concerned I would recommend IB very much, because you can choose what you want to study. The history is said to be one of the most demanding subjects in IB and I will agree with this statement, but at the same time the topics are more holistic than in A level. When I did IB I scorned at ‘the international perspective’ but after two years I can understand how important it was. When you leave the IB programme you have an idea about why is the world now how it is. When you leave A-level you know all about England, Ireland, and suffrage and you think you know something about Stalinist Russia and something about Germany ( well, you do know quite a lot in terms of facts) but the reality is you don’t understand the basic problems of modern politics. I can already see the amount of people who are going to argue with this, so let me just explain that this is my impression and is in not objective at all.
    I would also recommend Geography in IB, because it is a pleasant, fairly easy and useful subject, but I have not done it in A-level so I have no comparison.

    Now something that I feel really strongly about: languages. Ok, now listen people, this is important. IF you actually want to learn the language DO NOT CHOOSES A-LEVELS. I did ab initio Spanish and A2 Spanish and to be honest the latter was just ridiculous. I don’t even know where to start.
    Since IB is international, everything you do is in Spanish (especially if you are in an international school). The paper is in Spanish. Exams check your knowledge of SPANISH. You are required to understand Spanish. Spanish is the focus of your course.
    In A-level you spent a lot of time doing listening and an enormous part of your exams is listening. This is very wasteful, because if you are able to do the speaking exam you have to have good listening skills. In IB there is no listening exam, because during the speaking your ability to respond is assessed.
    Moreover, in the exams ( AS) you are required to write what you hear in Spanish in English. Now people who already speak a foreign language will know that if you actually want to be fluent in a language you have to stop the translation going on in your mind ( the faster you do it the better). But this is just the beginning. A-level doesn’t actually teach you any form of writing. It only shows how to express your opinion in an essay form, while in IB at the most basic level of a language course you are taught how to write formal, informal letters (this is actually very useful ex. when you write to unis in Spain), reviews... At HL you are required to be able to use quite well formal language, idiomatic expressions as well as express your opinions.
    Most importantly, A2 Spanish focuses largely on translation, which is fine if you want to do translations later on in life (although given how ridiculous the mark scheme is it will not be very useful) but it may actually hinder your ability to express yourself in Spanish. I would also like to mention that some of the examiners of Spanish seems uneducated and lots of native speakers I know have criticized A-level programme very strongly. From my point of view A-level languages are a really bad choice, because not only is your knowledge of the language not sufficient to for. ex go for a year abroad and study there, but also is not recognized by the rest of Europe. Honestly people, it is better to take B1 or B2 European certificate than A level!

    Now, let’s go to something I find very entertaining in A-levels: critical thinking. This subject seems like a minimalistic version of TOK, but IS NOT NEARLY AS GOOD. You waste a lot of time on it and you often end up confused, but from my point of view it just produces student who are unable to think outside the box and are not able even to see trough logical fallacies. TOK is easy to pass and even if you get like a C over all you really have a good understanding of how all the areas of knowledge work and you can still get 2/3 for essays.

    Finally, I would like to say that the amount of work you do in IB and in A levels is similar, however I would argue that IB gives you greater chances of getting into uni (unless you want to go to Oxbridge), because for ex. to get into majority of law and medicine courses you will need overall 36 point out of 45 with 666 at HL. This is not easy to achieve, but not impossible, because to get a 7 you usually need around 80% (depending on how did other people do and on the difficulty of the exam) unless you are taking maths HL or history, where grade boundaries are extremely flexible. To get into the same courses on a decent uni you will need AAAa, or AAB ( if you are lucky). This might be more difficult to obtain, because the exam is much more detailed and doesn’t want to check your knowledge but to lower your score as much as possible.

    On the other hand, if you are less ambitious and you would be happy with let’s say BBC-CCC in your a-levels don’t go for IB, because it will kill you and you will hate it and it will be simply too much. Also if you want to go for engineering course please keep in mind that HL maths is required and it is more demanding than A-level maths, and that physics is said to be more demanding in IB ( not my own experience, so I would suggest you compare the programmes on your own). If you want to go for an average uni or below average uni don’t bother with IB. If you want to something challenging ( your way of thinking and your understanding of how things work around you will be challenged; workload is comparable) I would suggest you choose IB.

    Also a message to people who want to study medicine: if you will not get into medicine in the UK, because for ex. you got 6,5 in biology and chemistry don’t worry! IB is recognized in the whole of Europe and you can go and study medicine in English to Poland or Slovakia. This will not be much more expensive that the English course but and might give you better scientific base and you will get accepted with 5 in bio and 5 in chem, because IB is very much preferred there. A-levels on the other hand are less valuable that any other European baccalaureate and for any course in English you will be most probably asked to pass an entrance exam.

    Ok, this is all I have to say. I have been as honest as it is possible and I know I have been quite harsh on A-levels, but I don’t believe that the standard and organization of the course are sufficient. After doing both programmed I remain convinced that IB in superior ( and also it gives people sense of unity because they have to spend more time at school and can complain about this together).
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    This is really a nice description of both A - Level and IB. IB is indeed very challenging. Well it is possible to study just 3 subjects and take exams for those 3? It is a very important choice to make for most of the students now. Can you suggest me some schools in London that provide IB courses? I see that you are very keen in explaining others how important is to choose IB. Thanks
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    (Original post by Aniaaa)
    I am an international student who has done both A-levels and IB. I will argue with anyone who says that one is easier than the other ; however after experiencing both programmes I personally believe that IB is simply better. I do not want to insult any A-levels students, because I am fully aware that for ex. examination in A-levels in more thorough and so a more detailed knowledge is required on exams.

    So to explain fully what I mean when I say that I find IB a more interesting programme I will now share some reflection on both courses.

    What really annoyed me in A-levels, especially in sciences, was that the programme was divided into modules. At the beginning I thought that this is much better than taking one or two exams after two years of studying, but I now understand that it is not. It is very easy to lose marks, because mark schemes in A-levels are very strict (for ex. when there is a 6 mark question there are 6 or 7 key words/statements in the mark scheme; in IB when there is a 6 mark question there is 8-10 possible marks and key words, although favoured, are not essential if student shows his/her understanding). My impression of biology and chemistry in A-level programme is that if you want to take a good mark you should learn mark schemes off by heart (especially ISA papers) and even when you do it some silly and unrelated questions will appear and you will get for example C, because ISA grade boundaries are very strict. So students usually end up retaking exams or doing EMPA, which is tiring and wasteful – each retake is 20 pounds.
    Moreover, science modules are only loosely connected one to another. I think the person who designed the course aimed for it to gradually take the student from less advanced to more advances material, but failed completely. Compared to IB syllabus the A-levels one seems messy and unorganized, lacking actual connection between modules. IB SL Biology has much more sense that AS Biology and it is simply more interesting (and I am not the only person saying that). It is more understandable and the books are better.
    As far as chemistry in concerned I can only comment on A-level chemistry and contrast it with what my friends from IB said about their chemistry. The former might be better for people going into courses with organic chemistry, because in IB you can basically skip a large part of organic by choosing a different option. I found A-level in Chemistry very interesting in general, but some bits were simply soooooo boring and made no sense because a-level chemistry is less advanced than other equivalent European programmes! And also I know for a fact that lab reports in IB are more convenient that ISA, even if at the beginning of the course you might feel like they are more difficult.
    As far as history is concerned I would recommend IB very much, because you can choose what you want to study. The history is said to be one of the most demanding subjects in IB and I will agree with this statement, but at the same time the topics are more holistic than in A level. When I did IB I scorned at ‘the international perspective’ but after two years I can understand how important it was. When you leave the IB programme you have an idea about why is the world now how it is. When you leave A-level you know all about England, Ireland, and suffrage and you think you know something about Stalinist Russia and something about Germany ( well, you do know quite a lot in terms of facts) but the reality is you don’t understand the basic problems of modern politics. I can already see the amount of people who are going to argue with this, so let me just explain that this is my impression and is in not objective at all.
    I would also recommend Geography in IB, because it is a pleasant, fairly easy and useful subject, but I have not done it in A-level so I have no comparison.

    Now something that I feel really strongly about: languages. Ok, now listen people, this is important. IF you actually want to learn the language DO NOT CHOOSES A-LEVELS. I did ab initio Spanish and A2 Spanish and to be honest the latter was just ridiculous. I don’t even know where to start.
    Since IB is international, everything you do is in Spanish (especially if you are in an international school). The paper is in Spanish. Exams check your knowledge of SPANISH. You are required to understand Spanish. Spanish is the focus of your course.
    In A-level you spent a lot of time doing listening and an enormous part of your exams is listening. This is very wasteful, because if you are able to do the speaking exam you have to have good listening skills. In IB there is no listening exam, because during the speaking your ability to respond is assessed.
    Moreover, in the exams ( AS) you are required to write what you hear in Spanish in English. Now people who already speak a foreign language will know that if you actually want to be fluent in a language you have to stop the translation going on in your mind ( the faster you do it the better). But this is just the beginning. A-level doesn’t actually teach you any form of writing. It only shows how to express your opinion in an essay form, while in IB at the most basic level of a language course you are taught how to write formal, informal letters (this is actually very useful ex. when you write to unis in Spain), reviews... At HL you are required to be able to use quite well formal language, idiomatic expressions as well as express your opinions.
    Most importantly, A2 Spanish focuses largely on translation, which is fine if you want to do translations later on in life (although given how ridiculous the mark scheme is it will not be very useful) but it may actually hinder your ability to express yourself in Spanish. I would also like to mention that some of the examiners of Spanish seems uneducated and lots of native speakers I know have criticized A-level programme very strongly. From my point of view A-level languages are a really bad choice, because not only is your knowledge of the language not sufficient to for. ex go for a year abroad and study there, but also is not recognized by the rest of Europe. Honestly people, it is better to take B1 or B2 European certificate than A level!

    Now, let’s go to something I find very entertaining in A-levels: critical thinking. This subject seems like a minimalistic version of TOK, but IS NOT NEARLY AS GOOD. You waste a lot of time on it and you often end up confused, but from my point of view it just produces student who are unable to think outside the box and are not able even to see trough logical fallacies. TOK is easy to pass and even if you get like a C over all you really have a good understanding of how all the areas of knowledge work and you can still get 2/3 for essays.

    Finally, I would like to say that the amount of work you do in IB and in A levels is similar, however I would argue that IB gives you greater chances of getting into uni (unless you want to go to Oxbridge), because for ex. to get into majority of law and medicine courses you will need overall 36 point out of 45 with 666 at HL. This is not easy to achieve, but not impossible, because to get a 7 you usually need around 80% (depending on how did other people do and on the difficulty of the exam) unless you are taking maths HL or history, where grade boundaries are extremely flexible. To get into the same courses on a decent uni you will need AAAa, or AAB ( if you are lucky). This might be more difficult to obtain, because the exam is much more detailed and doesn’t want to check your knowledge but to lower your score as much as possible.

    On the other hand, if you are less ambitious and you would be happy with let’s say BBC-CCC in your a-levels don’t go for IB, because it will kill you and you will hate it and it will be simply too much. Also if you want to go for engineering course please keep in mind that HL maths is required and it is more demanding than A-level maths, and that physics is said to be more demanding in IB ( not my own experience, so I would suggest you compare the programmes on your own). If you want to go for an average uni or below average uni don’t bother with IB. If you want to something challenging ( your way of thinking and your understanding of how things work around you will be challenged; workload is comparable) I would suggest you choose IB.

    Also a message to people who want to study medicine: if you will not get into medicine in the UK, because for ex. you got 6,5 in biology and chemistry don’t worry! IB is recognized in the whole of Europe and you can go and study medicine in English to Poland or Slovakia. This will not be much more expensive that the English course but and might give you better scientific base and you will get accepted with 5 in bio and 5 in chem, because IB is very much preferred there. A-levels on the other hand are less valuable that any other European baccalaureate and for any course in English you will be most probably asked to pass an entrance exam.

    Ok, this is all I have to say. I have been as honest as it is possible and I know I have been quite harsh on A-levels, but I don’t believe that the standard and organization of the course are sufficient. After doing both programmed I remain convinced that IB in superior ( and also it gives people sense of unity because they have to spend more time at school and can complain about this together).
    I am writing a paper on IB vs 'A' levels - the advantages and disadvantages of doing either one of the exams. Where did you get the information on the marking scheme from? From what I can see the 'A' level is looking for much more specific answers.
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    I got the info on mark schemes from experience. If you go through 5 and 6 mark questions in both programmes you will surely notice.I would give you some examples but I do not have access to any IB past papers at the moment. But you are right A levels are all about very specific answers, while IB may seem more general because the exam taken aims to check the knowledge gained by student during 2 years. However, I would say that it is essential to explain that some 'a-level' questions are sometimes very poorly constructed and while indeed they require more targeted answers, they are at times ridiculous ( answer and question seems not to be related). This can be especially well demonstrated by some questions in unit 4 of biology.
    Goof luck with your research paper!
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    Hi there, I have just last week taken my final IB exam, and also have past experience of the A level system, so hopefully I can be of some help!
    In my opinion, the IB is, overall, a slightly more demanding course than taking 3 A levels -this is mainly due to the huge workload that is involved; there is little difference in the difficulty of subjects taken in IB compared with A levels (except for Maths HL). However, it is tailor-made for those students who enjoy their studies and are willing to put effort in, which it sounds like you are. Although I didn't take History myself, a few of my friends did. They say that there is a huge amount of learning required in History HL, and that it is one of the hardest subjects available in IB. However, they also say that they enjoyed and were interested by the material that they studied. If you are passionate about history, which presumably you are since you want to read it at university, then you will flourish.
    However, I would advise you to check the offers for both IB and A levels that your chosen universities give. One of my biggest regrets when deciding to do IB was that I didn't think to check university offers, stupid I know. If you are thinking of applying to Oxbridge/Russell Group universities, the offers tend to be 36 at least, and for the very top-end universities, 40+ points. I have found that the offers given to A level candidates do tend to be easier to obtain (I'm sure some A level students may argue with that, but its just my experience since applying). For example, I have an offer for biochemistry at University of Manchester of 37 points. The equivalent offer they give to A level candidates is AAA. Looking at this in terms of UCAS points, my offer is 545 points, whereas 3 A's at A level is 360 points. Based on UCAS points, it would appear that my offer is harder to achieve, so I think that this is something you should consider before you make any decision on which course you choose to do.

    If you need to ask anything else, feel free to message me anytime!
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    I took the IB diploma during high school and loved every minute of it. It's such a great course and really forced me to choose subjects (like literature and history) that are normally outside of my comfort zone. (Typical science nerd here) I ended up really loving those subjects!! In fact, I loved them so much so that I even had a mini crisis during university application time because I suddenly wasn't sure if I wanted to take a pure, sciency degree.

    HOWEVER, if you know exactly what you want to study at uni (this especially applies to people wanting to study science or engineering at uni) I urge you to consider taking the A levels. My course has a load of physics and maths in it. I only took maths to SL and did not take physics as an IB subject at all.

    While a subject at HL is a comfortable equivalent (if not more demanding) than the same subject at A level, a SL subject is definitely not comparable to its A level counterpart. Taking physics, maths, chemistry and biology to A level would probably have prepared me better for the academic demands of my course.

    As you are planning to study history at uni, I actually think IB would be a better fit. IB is all about holistic, well - rounded learning. Bottom line: it's up to you and whether you want to put up with taking subjects like biology and maths.
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    (Original post by Will Migo)
    Hi,

    I'm taking the IB at the moment and honestly, I love it so much I wouldn't go to A-levels at all, maybe that's because I'm self-motivated, I don't know. However, what I do know is that, IB gives obviously a broader availability of subjects and therefore, when it comes to university, you as a whole are a more rounded student.
    For me, your use of "self-motivated" is so important.

    I've just finished the IB in a school where predominantly everyone did A-Levels, maybe only 5% of us did IB; those that want to learn and as you say, are motivated.

    With IB, it is a heavy workload; on the whole, the subjects are 'roughly' the same difficulty as an A2 for HL, or AS for SL. I say roughly, because there is variation. The IB workload comes because you do 6 subjects, plus the core, whereas in my school the A-level lot did 3 or maybe 4 subjects. Where they had free periods to do homework/coursework...we hardly had free periods so our homework was done at home.

    I've noticed that for people our age, many find it hard to appreciate doing more work than is necessary to 'get by'...but IB gives you the breadth and variety, as well as the extra skills through TOK and EE, that mean later in life (university and beyond) you always have the option to take another path should you want a change. Furthermore, with IB you can still specialise at uni, and if anything the extra subjects you did with IB may well help as you learn to appreciate different perspectives/ideas rather than the 'one path' approach you tend to get from A-levels.

    In no way whatsoever am I discrediting A-Levels; they will get you where you want to. However, if you are someone who wants to learn, is prepared to work, and appreciates the way the majority of industries and companies are going global, IB will give you it's rewards. However, unfortunately I've seen it with a few of the others in my classes, if you don't work with IB and do 'just enough', you can get caught out big time at the end.

    For me and the majority I know who have chosen, IB was the right choice, yes for university I would have the same options if I did A-levels, but I know I'm well prepared for life (e.g. IB has given me another language I wouldn't have got otherwise). Just remember, IB is right for some people, and A-levels for others, it is a completely personal decision and there is no right answer for everyone!

    Hope this helps x
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    Hi, i spent a year at a school studying the ib with biology, chemistry and english at higher and history, french and maths at standard level.

    I want to go into medicine but universities are asking for really really high ib scores and i'm thinking about switching and going through the a level process instead because i feel focusing on 4 subjects would be easier than 6.

    As an ib student, would i find a levels easier - i would take biology, chemistry, english and french ..? Some of my friends who got their AS results today were telling me of Cs and Bs and how they were happy with those grades and these are people that, despite not having seen much of in the last year, i knew to be hardworkers who got As and Bs at GCSE. Are a levels that hard to do well in?

    The belief held by ib students is that the a level folk have it easier, as friends doing a levels would tell their ib counterparts of the earlier summer holiday, more free time on their hands than to know what to do with and just the general laid back attitude they have towards their studies - everyone doing a levels would tell us ib lot we work too hard (it's true, the saying is if you do ib, you may pick two of the following:
    1. good grades
    2. enough sleep
    3. social life)

    what do you guys think?
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    Hahahahaha. I finished the IB in may and got my results on July 6th this year.

    Having been through this dilemma myself (and believe me on this, all IB students have second thoughts at some point during this two year course) to the point where I actually enrolled at my former school's sixth form for A-levels before reverting back to continue with the IB, I offer my two cents. I know it's six months out of date, I guess but well...just in case anyone stumbles upon my post.

    Your subjects are definitely do-able. For me, taking HL maths, physics and chemistry and SL spanish, English and history was difficult. And I worked my butt off. At one point, I hadn't slept in three days. However, a word of caution. Wherever you choose to take the IB, make sure that the institution has some experience teaching the IB. You don't want to have to go through the pain of your teacher giving you a 7 for your IA, and on results day you find you get a 5.

    Experienced teachers are always worth there weight in gold. Personally, my academy was fairly new to the IB (I was the second year to have taken it), and as a result the teaching wasn't amazing and for a couple of my subjects I had to teach myself the course content in preparation for the final exams.

    I went through clearing after not meeting the requirements of UCL and Nottingham, but I was lucky in that I managed to secure a place at Queen Mary to study Materials Science and Engineering.

    Whoever takes the IB has to know what they're letting themselves in for. It's not a walk in the park. Be prepared for the blood, sweat and tears that come with studying such a rigorous qualification. Even if you're the most gifted student intellectually, the IB will be challenging because it's all about effective time management and knowing yourself. Everyone has different aims, and different goals. While someone may be aiming to go to Oxbridge, Imperial, UCL or Kings, another person may want to go to Hull. Think about your goal, and the best way to get there. For medical and engineering students, I would most definitely argue that here in the UK, the best route to take would be a-levels. Because you then don't have to worry about stuff like CAS, TOK, EE's and your SL's. You can focus more and devote more time to shining in your A-level Maths, A-level Chem, A-level Bology and A-level Physics.

    Next, don't think that well because the IB is an international accredited qualification, I should go for it. Or because your parents want you to do it, you will do it. Life is about choices and having confidence in the avenues you choose to explore. If you're not 100% sure you'll get to your goal through the IB, the chances are that you won't through the IB. So then take another qualification that will get you there.

    Another more personal point. I'm of the opinion that there still exists an institutional bias against those who choose to take the IB here in the UK (at least in the field of engineering and medicine. Perhaps history as well.). Universities tend to offer inflated grades, don't realise how much more work and effort the IB requires and some universities still don't even know what the IB is. I had one university when I was on the phone to them during Clearing, that asked me what the IB was. I then had to go into a lengthy conversation with the guy regarding the two year hell I went through. Be mindful of these things before you decide. Experiences are there to be shared and to be learned from. I'm not saying that you, dear reader will experience the same as I went through, because every individual is unique and has a different set of skills. But what I am saying, is that whatever decision you make you will have to live with it and follow it through. Growing up starts here.

    You may feel that this post has been tarred with a negative paintbrush, so I will offer you some more brighter points.

    The IB has more of a community feel than that of its A-level counterpart. Everyone is or will be going through what you are or will have to be going through. Deadlines are deadlines, and your teachers will be chasing you up with official IBO forms and pieces of homework or simply assessment work they will want you to complete. But, people will always be there to offer you a hand, and a kind smile whenever you feel stressed.

    One final point I'd like to make is that the IB makes you a tougher person. You become used to writing long, drawn out essays and meeting word limits. And you most definitely become used to dealing with stress.
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    matilda, If I were you, I would stick with IB. Sure, unis seem more demanding about IB, but then again after a year in the programme you probably know a lot about lab reports etc., and while A-levels have some practical parts to it, they seem very loosely connected with what you do in IB ( from my point of view).
    Anyway, if you choose to go with A-levels you will be required to obtain AAAa, while from what I remember you can get away with 6,6,7 at HL in IB ( not quite sure about that; I only remember offers from last year).
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    (Original post by Aniaaa)
    matilda, If I were you, I would stick with IB. Sure, unis seem more demanding about IB, but then again after a year in the programme you probably know a lot about lab reports etc., and while A-levels have some practical parts to it, they seem very loosely connected with what you do in IB ( from my point of view).
    Anyway, if you choose to go with A-levels you will be required to obtain AAAa, while from what I remember you can get away with 6,6,7 at HL in IB ( not quite sure about that; I only remember offers from last year).
    You can 'get away with' 6,6,7 at HL in IB. Looooooooooooool.
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    I did the IB and I am off to study Psychology at University in September, however if I knew that I wanted to go into Psychology before college, I would have just done A levels due to the much reduced workload and the more spare time. I personally choose IB as I didn't know what career I wanted to go into and the IB gives you so many options, but you seem already sure of what you want to do. But if you're confident in your intelligence and commitment and would prefer the challenge, then go for IB.
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    I have no clue how the IB works as we don't do it at our school, but I'm thinking of moving in Year Twelve to a sixth form that does. Could someone explain what SL is etc to me? I am pretty sure I want to read Medicine, so maybe it would be better to do A-Level then? But I would like to learn to do essays etc...
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    (Original post by nombo)
    I have no clue how the IB works as we don't do it at our school, but I'm thinking of moving in Year Twelve to a sixth form that does. Could someone explain what SL is etc to me? I am pretty sure I want to read Medicine, so maybe it would be better to do A-Level then? But I would like to learn to do essays etc...
    We share the same dream
    I also want to do medicine
    I am doing the IB by the way and i still have the same chance even though...
    SL is standard level and HL is higher level
    You have to do 3 of each... I do Bio, Chem and Eng Lit at HL and Maths, German and Psychology at Standard.
    Trust me it is not that bad but just demanding and if you are confident and self motivated then youll surely pass
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    Hi everyone

    I'm not from the UK, meaning I don't know anything about A-levels, but I graduated from IB in Sweden this year and since I still can't accept that it's over, I feel the need to join my fellow IBers and shine some light on IB.

    Although these past years have been the most demanding of my life, they have also been the best. I've met friends who I hope to keep forever and I've, honestly, realised who I am. See, IB brings out both the best and the worst in you, and while you quickly forget your worst moments (often involving an IA that is due the next day but still only contains an idea for an introduction), you will never forget the first time you realised that you can handle much more than you thought you could. I promise that you will become a better person (largely due to CAS) because there will be no room to be less than you can be.

    Of course, everyone fails sooner or later when they're in IB, but some how everything always turn out well, in the end.

    I realise that I didn't really contribute with anything new in this discussion, but I just couldn't pass on a moment to glorify IB.

    Good luck!
    / Cecilia

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Updated: January 21, 2013
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