How good/bad is IB? Watch
I do IB course, while a couple of my friends do a levels and sometimes I feel like they have so many frees compared to me but one thing I have learnt from that is even though you have less frees you are more organised and work better than they do in this time.
Tok is a pain but sometimes it can be quite interesting (although I think I am unusual in thinking this) and having done one essay and one presentation I am really getting in the flow.
But what you have to remember it is you decision what you want to do now! Don't let friends sway you in certain direction as you will find you just don't like it. Yes IB is hard but so is A-levels, don't listen to the people who tell you that A-levels aren't hard because they totally are. In the end, I went with my gut instinct and you should too. I feel now that a term and bit into IB that I picked the right thing.
I guess what should determine your decision is how much you are willing to devote time to other subjects (such as social sciences and languages) which you don't really need if you want to become a medic. Keep in mind that you'll also have a TOK presentation and essay to do along with a 4,000 word extended essay, so the workload does pile up. You also cannot take all 3 sciences (bio Chem physics). Although I have heard that some schools offer a medical IB but I don't know much about it.
Also you have to do CAS which is a pain in the butt and you'll have to complete internal assignments for all your subjects... And failure to submit any of those means failure of your IB...
But honestly I do think it's a nice diploma to say you have
I hope this was helpful.
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- Practically, are you going to be able to do all the subjects required to do medicine at your school? You should be able to, but some schools, for example, schedule all or some of their science classes at the same time which means you'd end up with a timetable clash if you wanted to do more than one science. You need to ask your school/college if it would be a problem for you to do more than one science as the typical IB student normally only does one, maybe two. If you need to do three then this may be more of an issue and you need to check that your school can accommodate it before you commit to doing IB.
-Are you a good all-rounder? Remember that IB means that English, maths and a second language are compulsory parts of the IB as well as CAS, and the core TOK and EE. If you struggle with languages the IB might not be for you, though ab initio might be a good option because it's a beginner language rather than carrying on from GCSE level. Same with maths, though while you can take Maths Studies you might want to enquire whether it would be acceptable for the university you want to apply for.
-Are you good at managing your time? IB requires better time management than A-levels because of the many components to it. You need to keep up with each subject because you're not going to be able to cram for the exams like you can with A-levels because they're taken at the end of two years and in all likelihood you're going to have days where you have more than one subject exam. Similarly, you need to make time for CAS and probably try and get most if not all of it completed in first year so you can concentrate on exams. Logging CAS hours takes ages because you're required to provide evidence for all your activities (or they won't pass) and you will learn to hate managebac more than anything. If you don't log enough CAS hours you fail CAS and without a pass in CAS you fail the diploma. It's pretty difficult to fail CAS but if you do nothing for it then you aren't going to get your diploma and certificates are no good for applying to medicine.
-How well do you do in exams? As already mentioned, IB exams take place at the end of second year (around May time if I remember rightly). This means you will be tested on the material covered in first and second year in two or three exams for each subject. As I already mentioned, IB exams are crammed pretty tightly, the exam period will probably be max about two weeks. Although you have other assessments throughout the year, a lot of your grade rests on the final exams, if you mess them up in all likelihood you won't get the grade you want. IB exams are that bit more stressful than A-level ones in this respect, as although they aren't modular anymore, you take AS exams so aren't covering so much material in the exams. As you take more subjects you're also more likely to end up taking more than one subject exam on a day. For example I took two history exams in the morning and then two Italian ones in the afternoon in one day. Even if you're not going to try and cram beforehand, it can feel a bit like your brain has melted by the afternoon if you've already had exams all morning. You're also gonna end up taking more written exams than if you'd done A-levels, for example I ended up taking 14 exams. Most people cope, but if you get excessively stressed about exams A-levels might be a better option.
-What are the entry requirements like? Have a look at what some unis ask for for IB. IMO a lot of unis still don't give what I would consider equivalent offers. For example, some universities ask you to get a 7 in certain subjects which requires you to be (for some subjects) in as little as the top 1% of students who took the exam. You can have a look at the IB statisitical bulletin (just google it and you can look at years worth of stats if you're interested) to find out what percentage of people get certain IB scores and consider how easy you think it might be to get the requirements. You can also ask your school what their average IB score is and gauge from there what you think might be achievable for you.
Personally, having done IB I would pick A-levels because I think UK unis understand it a lot more and give more achievable offers but this has improved in the last two years or so with some unis lowering their offers.
Remember, even if you choose to do IB, there may still be the option of switching to A-levels during the first term of first year. At my school a good 1/3 of the year dropped IB within the first term because they decided there were some subjects they didn't like/ weren't very good at.
Hope this helps!
Honestly, stick to the A-Levels, the papers are basically the same but you've got 3 less subjects to study (4 counting TOK and excluding CAS and EE)
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To do the IB you have be pretty into the whole idea of it, but it means having less free time and also less time to do things like prepare for Uni tests like BMAT. I'd say stick to A levels, but do make sure you're ticking other boxes like volunteering, sports teams etc. On that note another very important thing i want to highlight is the school. My school (sevenoaks) is IB only and sorts out everything for you (CAS, loads of help with EE etc), i imagine a less dedicated school would make life pretty difficult.