Which is harder: IB or A Levels? Watch

Poll: Which is harder?
IB (57)
80.28%
A Levels (14)
19.72%
anxiughty
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#1
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#1
Just having a small debate. I wanna see what people (especially UK students given I'm an international) think. Feel free to share your thoughts down below

(i'm not asking bc i want to know what to take - i already know a levels is more specialised and ib is more broad etc and stuff i just want to know how people feel about these two)
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moggygeorgieee
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https://www.telegraph.co.uk/educatio...-the-test.html
I think the only sure way to know is to sit both the IB and A-levels. However from grading I think it is easier to do amazingly well in the IB than it is at A-Level. For example, AAA at A-Level and 35 at IB are equivalent. Upwards from AAA, you could get A*AA, A*A*A, or A*A*A*. That's three grades space - however you could get 10 whole grades (points) above AAA equivalent in the IB - so there's definitely a lot more space to excel. The IB is more general tho apparently !!
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yeahthatonethere
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Personally I would say IB seems harder however I didn't do it so I may be wrong. With A Levels I got the chance to choose the exact subjects I was best at and liked the most whereas with IB you have to do subjects within certain categories and I definitely would have struggled with some of those (e.g. languages)! But that's just a personal view.
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anxiughty
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(Original post by moggygeorgieee)
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/educatio...-the-test.html
I think the only sure way to know is to sit both the IB and A-levels. However from grading I think it is easier to do amazingly well in the IB than it is at A-Level. For example, AAA at A-Level and 35 at IB are equivalent. Upwards from AAA, you could get A*AA, A*A*A, or A*A*A*. That's three grades space - however you could get 10 whole grades (points) above AAA equivalent in the IB - so there's definitely a lot more space to excel. The IB is more general tho apparently !!
It's quite hard to do "amazingly well" in the IB given the current statistics of around an 80% pass rate and a 30 point average (at which most students get 30-35 points and only 4% get over 38 points [which I've manually estimated from the May 2017 IB Statistical Bulletin]). At A Levels, you can choose to excel at 3 but you dont need to excel at 6 (my friend and I were talking about this).

I've been told that A levels are merely equivalent to three IB HLs (given the breadth of what the IB has to cover especially as you can't specialise at only things you're good at - so I'd say it isn't as easy as you may be thinking).

I do agree however that an AAA could be equivalent to a 35 etc (and i say could bc im still not 100% sure), but it's still extremely hard to even achieve that. Also what do you mean by more "general"?
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moggygeorgieee
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(Original post by anxiughty)
It's quite hard to do "amazingly well" in the IB given the current statistics of around an 80% pass rate and a 30 point average (at which most students get 30-35 points and only 4% get over 38 points [which I've manually estimated from the May 2017 IB Statistical Bulletin]). At A Levels, you can choose to excel at 3 but you dont need to excel at 6 (my friend and I were talking about this).

I've been told that A levels are merely equivalent to three IB HLs (given the breadth of what the IB has to cover especially as you can't specialise at only things you're good at - so I'd say it isn't as easy as you may be thinking).

I do agree however that an AAA could be equivalent to a 35 etc (and i say could bc im still not 100% sure), but it's still extremely hard to even achieve that. Also what do you mean by more "general"?
General as in there are more subjects. I didn't know that there was a 30 point average! That's lower than I thought. I must just have really clever friends who have sat the IB.
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anxiughty
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(Original post by moggygeorgieee)
General as in there are more subjects. I didn't know that there was a 30 point average! That's lower than I thought. I must just have really clever friends who have sat the IB.
I guess you could say general, however you can opt to have /some/ specialisation ish ie the arts group (group 6 out of the six groups in the IB) can be replaced for another subject in any of the five other groups, so if you want to go into something such as chem engineering, you can take physics + chem + math all at HL (which are equal to taking them at A levels I believe) while doing other SLs from the other required groups
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Katarinanokat
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#7
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(Original post by anxiughty)
It's quite hard to do "amazingly well" in the IB given the current statistics of around an 80% pass rate and a 30 point average (at which most students get 30-35 points and only 4% get over 38 points [which I've manually estimated from the May 2017 IB Statistical Bulletin]). At A Levels, you can choose to excel at 3 but you dont need to excel at 6 (my friend and I were talking about this).

I've been told that A levels are merely equivalent to three IB HLs (given the breadth of what the IB has to cover especially as you can't specialise at only things you're good at - so I'd say it isn't as easy as you may be thinking).

I do agree however that an AAA could be equivalent to a 35 etc (and i say could bc im still not 100% sure), but it's still extremely hard to even achieve that. Also what do you mean by more "general"?
(Original post by yeahthatonethere)
Personally I would say IB seems harder however I didn't do it so I may be wrong. With A Levels I got the chance to choose the exact subjects I was best at and liked the most whereas with IB you have to do subjects within certain categories and I definitely would have struggled with some of those (e.g. languages)! But that's just a personal view.
Hey! If you don't mind, I'll offer my (obviously biased) opinion in this as an IB student.

I think certain types of people tend to do well in the IB due to them being well rounded, but for most it's a bit of a pain because it's rather different than most qualifications I think.

Finally, I think the most angering thing is that universities can't seem to come to a consensus on what is a "good IB score. For example, you're right in saying that AAA is equated to 35 points sometimes, but there are other times when universities have unusual comparisons. For example, Lancaster in it's biology course equates AAB to 35 points. But LSE in its economics history course thinks that AAB in A-levels is the same as 37 points. There are other examples, but this sort of unequal consideration of IB is quite common, and leaves a lot of students annoyed that their qualification doesn't have a proper standard. Further, there's a huge debate about whether A level maths is equal to IB HL maths, which I personally think IB HL is closer to Further maths from discussions I've had with A level students. This causes a lot of students to take HL maths for things like Econ and even in rare cases psychology (which I assure you does not need the level of HL maths) and struggle with the concepts that are honestly only necessary for students who want to study physics or maths itself. Don't get me started on Further Maths in IB, which I think is such a mess of a class that it's the reason IB changed the maths course altogether.

In all honesty, I don't think it's about what is "easier" but objectively I think it's a lot less confusing applying to universities with A level grades, as there seems to actually be a standard of what the grades mean.
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SomMC1
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(Original post by moggygeorgieee)
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/educatio...-the-test.html
I think the only sure way to know is to sit both the IB and A-levels. However from grading I think it is easier to do amazingly well in the IB than it is at A-Level. For example, AAA at A-Level and 35 at IB are equivalent. Upwards from AAA, you could get A*AA, A*A*A, or A*A*A*. That's three grades space - however you could get 10 whole grades (points) above AAA equivalent in the IB - so there's definitely a lot more space to excel. The IB is more general tho apparently !!
AAA is not 35 at IB.

LSE BSc Economics: A level: A*AA with A* in normal Maths
Or IB: 766 with 7 in HL maths (harder than normal A level maths) 38 points
Now, HL maths is considerably harder than any other HL subject (King's did research on that) and also harder than normal A level maths. It is seen as the equivalent of Further Maths at A level, yet it is not treated as such.

In IB you do 6 subjects, at least 3 higher level and 3 standard level. To top it all off, there are coursework in each subject (a lot of them). There is TOK (theory of knowledge) in which we have to do a presentation for 10 min and then answer any questions and an essay by December 2018. You also have to do the Extended Essay and hand it in by December. That's basically an EPQ but not seen as an extra 0.5 A level as it is in A Levels. It's all compulsory.
To top it all off, there is CAS which if you dont do every week, you fail.
Maybe IB subjects dont go as indepth as A level ones but why should they? We got 6 subjects and all this other things whereas A level people only do three subjects, have over 20 hours a fortnight free periods. Whenever someone does Further Maths s/he is seen as god, even though it's similar to HL maths. HL maths is seen by unis as just meh not bad.

A level students definitely have it much easier to get into British Unis and it's so angering when they complain about their workload.
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SomMC1
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#9
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(Original post by Katarinanokat)
Hey! If you don't mind, I'll offer my (obviously biased) opinion in this as an IB student.

I think certain types of people tend to do well in the IB due to them being well rounded, but for most it's a bit of a pain because it's rather different than most qualifications I think.

Finally, I think the most angering thing is that universities can't seem to come to a consensus on what is a "good IB score. For example, you're right in saying that AAA is equated to 35 points sometimes, but there are other times when universities have unusual comparisons. For example, Lancaster in it's biology course equates AAB to 35 points. But LSE in its economics history course thinks that AAB in A-levels is the same as 37 points. There are other examples, but this sort of unequal consideration of IB is quite common, and leaves a lot of students annoyed that their qualification doesn't have a proper standard. Further, there's a huge debate about whether A level maths is equal to IB HL maths, which I personally think IB HL is closer to Further maths from discussions I've had with A level students. This causes a lot of students to take HL maths for things like Econ and even in rare cases psychology (which I assure you does not need the level of HL maths) and struggle with the concepts that are honestly only necessary for students who want to study physics or maths itself. Don't get me started on Further Maths in IB, which I think is such a mess of a class that it's the reason IB changed the maths course altogether.

In all honesty, I don't think it's about what is "easier" but objectively I think it's a lot less confusing applying to universities with A level grades, as there seems to actually be a standard of what the grades mean.
Hahah, we were basically discussing the same things. *high five*
HL maths being compared to normal A level maths gets me so triggered though. Im here struggling to get a 7 predicted in HL and being compared to an A student with normal A level maths just drives me nuts. King's with another Institution did research and surprise surprise they said that HL maths should be taken on a similar level as Normal A level maths + Further maths.

Only 2/3 of offers for pure Economics @ LSE have Further Maths in their A levels. That means that 1/3 of offers are handed to people with Normal A level Maths. But if I, an IB student, tried applying to LSE pure Econ. with just Standard Maths, they'd laugh me off.

Sad.
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icygrl
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I’ve never taken an IB course but I have completed 3 A levels and let me tell you that stuff IS A CHALLENGE and it really affects your MH and your overall self esteem 😂 but you know
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In 24 hours I’ll find out if these past 2 years of hard work, minimal breaks, revision, stress, tears and anxiety have finally paid off.
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infiinitee_
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ly
(Original post by kiki213)
I’ve never taken an IB course but I have completed 3 A levels and let me tell you that stuff IS A CHALLENGE and it really affects your MH and your overall self esteem 😂 but you know
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In 24 hours I’ll find out if these past 2 years of hard work, minimal breaks, revision, stress, tears and anxiety have finally paid off.
In general, our HL courses are seen to be equivalent to A level courses. We are all required to take 3 HLs so we all basically also take 3 A level courses. On top of that, we are required to take 3 other classes and have our core components completed (CAS- essentially a requirement of extracurriculars, TOK- a presentation and an essay on 'knowledge', and the EE- a 4000-word essay that is similar to the EPQ). If we fail any of these components we fall our entire diploma. The IB definitely also takes a toll on its students' mental health and self-esteem- and in my opinion, a bigger toll compared to A level students.
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Katarinanokat
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(Original post by SomMC1)
Hahah, we were basically discussing the same things. *high five*
HL maths being compared to normal A level maths gets me so triggered though. Im here struggling to get a 7 predicted in HL and being compared to an A student with normal A level maths just drives me nuts. King's with another Institution did research and surprise surprise they said that HL maths should be taken on a similar level as Normal A level maths + Further maths.

Only 2/3 of offers for pure Economics @ LSE have Further Maths in their A levels. That means that 1/3 of offers are handed to people with Normal A level Maths. But if I, an IB student, tried applying to LSE pure Econ. with just Standard Maths, they'd laugh me off.

Sad.
I just graduated and I'm going to study biological natural sciences next year, which honestly makes me feel so fed up with the sheer volume of physics related maths I had to learn to be considered "competitive" for most science courses. HL is far too much work and headache, and it's even worse when in A levels they can take their equivalent of "HL" as 2 full classes.

I really think the IB should put in some resources into contacting universities and helping them understand how to equate IB qualifications to UK ones. It would seriously up the number of people who take IB, as a big reason i've seen people avoid it would be because it's so misunderstood and just a pain.
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SomMC1
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(Original post by Katarinanokat)
I just graduated and I'm going to study biological natural sciences next year, which honestly makes me feel so fed up with the sheer volume of physics related maths I had to learn to be considered "competitive" for most science courses. HL is far too much work and headache, and it's even worse when in A levels they can take their equivalent of "HL" as 2 full classes.

I really think the IB should put in some resources into contacting universities and helping them understand how to equate IB qualifications to UK ones. It would seriously up the number of people who take IB, as a big reason i've seen people avoid it would be because it's so misunderstood and just a pain.
It is ridiculous how disadvantaged we are. And when an A level student takes further Maths, s/he is seen as an absolute god. AND it's 4 A levels so s/he is praised even more and it just makes me want to quit IB and do A level.

We could both take normal maths at A level and get into the same unis but no, we are forced by the requirements to take HL maths and get at least a 6 in it. It just makes me angry... thank god im finishing next year.
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yudothis
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Absolutely no doubt that it is IB. The only people who say otherwise did A Levels.

Every single person I know who did IB, had so much of an easier time in their first year at uni, as they were much better prepared for the different work uni requires.
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Katarinanokat
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(Original post by SomMC1)
It is ridiculous how disadvantaged we are. And when an A level student takes further Maths, s/he is seen as an absolute god. AND it's 4 A levels so s/he is praised even more and it just makes me want to quit IB and do A level.

We could both take normal maths at A level and get into the same unis but no, we are forced by the requirements to take HL maths and get at least a 6 in it. It just makes me angry... thank god im finishing next year.
Yes! I am 100% glad to be done with IB and HL maths. Praise be to graduation.
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moggygeorgieee
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(Original post by SomMC1)
AAA is not 35 at IB.

LSE BSc Economics: A level: A*AA with A* in normal Maths
Or IB: 766 with 7 in HL maths (harder than normal A level maths) 38 points
Now, HL maths is considerably harder than any other HL subject (King's did research on that) and also harder than normal A level maths. It is seen as the equivalent of Further Maths at A level, yet it is not treated as such.

In IB you do 6 subjects, at least 3 higher level and 3 standard level. To top it all off, there are coursework in each subject (a lot of them). There is TOK (theory of knowledge) in which we have to do a presentation for 10 min and then answer any questions and an essay by December 2018. You also have to do the Extended Essay and hand it in by December. That's basically an EPQ but not seen as an extra 0.5 A level as it is in A Levels. It's all compulsory.
To top it all off, there is CAS which if you dont do every week, you fail.
Maybe IB subjects dont go as indepth as A level ones but why should they? We got 6 subjects and all this other things whereas A level people only do three subjects, have over 20 hours a fortnight free periods. Whenever someone does Further Maths s/he is seen as god, even though it's similar to HL maths. HL maths is seen by unis as just meh not bad.

A level students definitely have it much easier to get into British Unis and it's so angering when they complain about their workload.
I’m sorry. It has now been brought to my attention a couple of times that I was totally wrong about the IB, thank you for enlightening me !
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SomMC1
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(Original post by moggygeorgieee)
I’m sorry. It has now been brought to my attention a couple of times that I was totally wrong about the IB, thank you for enlightening me !
If only unis were as understanding as you are, then we'd have a good mixture of IB people at unis too
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hiitshannahbaker
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(Original post by anxiughty)
Just having a small debate. I wanna see what people (especially UK students given I'm an international) think. Feel free to share your thoughts down below

(i'm not asking bc i want to know what to take - i already know a levels is more specialised and ib is more broad etc and stuff i just want to know how people feel about these two)
Hi!
I think that the IB is broader and HARDER than the A levels. I did the IB and I had friends who were doing the A levels and I saw that they did not work as hard as I did!
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anonymous1231231
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stupid question, but do all UK students do a level? or are there some sixth forms that offer IB?
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anxiughty
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#20
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(Original post by anonymous1231231)
stupid question, but do all UK students do a level? or are there some sixth forms that offer IB?
there are some sixth forms that do IB and I've met sixth formers that did the IB whilst the majority of their school did A Levels it's not a wide thing tho and it's like a small amount of UK schools that do it (and i think most if not all that do it are independent schools haha)
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