sammy_li11
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I have been making a few plans for sixth form and the future just to get a rough idea of what I could do.
My first plan is to do IB, where I would take Physics, Maths and Music HL, Chemistry, English Lit, Latin SL
I would choose Chemistry HL but I have heard that it is a very large course and that doesn't sound fun! My teachers recommend I do IB because I am very well rounded, although GCSEs don't really compare and I live an hour away from my school so I'm worried about not having enough time to revise thoroughly or well enough to get 42.
My second plan is to do A Levels in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry. My school does not offer 5 A Levels (that's why they offer IB), but I would like to do Music (although if I couldn't I wouldn't be too sad).

I guess my questions are: to IB students, how does it compare to A Level in terms of difficulty and time? I would like to pursue Physics in the future and am aiming for Cambridge, so do universities prefer IB over A Level? Finally, what is English like?! I despise English GCSE although it isn't too difficult.
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VanillaCream
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hey!

in my opinion, A levels seem easier than IB, not necessarily in terms of content, but in terms of workload - in A levels you usually do 3 (or 4) subjects, while in IB you have to do 6 subjects and TOK and CAS, you also have to do IAs (research papers or oral exams in languages) in all your subjects and EE in a chosen one. considering all of this, you should think if you want to spend so much time doing school work, it's not only about revising, my summer has just started and I feel like I'm gonna work on IAs, EE and TOK for all summer (and uni app on top of that, but everyone does that). on the other hand, IB gives you the chance to have a wider variety of subjects which is what I personally enjoy, but probably some people don't, like if you are very into science/maths, you might not like the idea of having (usually) 2 essay-based subjects.

I don't think unis have any specific preference, they even recognize some less-known qualifications, so whichever you choose, it'll be fine for the uni and if you're planning to apply to Cambridge, what's more important are the subjects and results, I know someone who got into Cambridge and is not from the UK and has done her national qualifications and still got in, what she needed was great results, not IB or A levels specifically. I would personally say that it is really hard to get like 42/45 (which is usually required by Cambridge), but it's not impossible, but it probably requires more hard work than getting e.g. 3 A* and A in A levels.

bear in mind, I'm not from the UK so I could either choose IB or my national qualification and decided to do IB, I can't say if I would change it for A levels (if I had a chance) because there are many cons and pros to both.

when it comes to Cambridge specifically, I think it would be good if you had Maths + 2 Science subjects at HL because some colleges require this and for others, it will be much more competitive.

btw, my subjects are HL: Chemistry, Biology, English B, SL: Maths AA, Polish A, Geography, so feel free to ask about any of the subjects (probably only Chemistry or Maths would be of your interest, tho )
Last edited by VanillaCream; 4 weeks ago
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sammy_li11
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(Original post by VanillaCream)
hey!

in my opinion, A levels seem easier than IB, not necessarily in terms of content, but in terms of workload - in A levels you usually do 3 (or 4) subjects, while in IB you have to do 6 subjects and TOK and CAS, you also have to do IAs (research papers or oral exams in languages) in all your subjects and EE in a chosen one. considering all of this, you should think if you want to spend so much time doing school work, it's not only about revising, my summer has just started and I feel like I'm gonna work on IAs, EE and TOK for all summer (and uni app on top of that, but everyone does that). on the other hand, IB gives you the chance to have a wider variety of subjects which is what I personally enjoy, but probably some people don't, like if you are very into science/maths, you might not like the idea of having (usually) 2 essay-based subjects.

I don't think unis have any specific preference, they even recognize some less-known qualifications, so whichever you choose, it'll be fine for the uni and if you're planning to apply to Cambridge, what's more important are the subjects and results, I know someone who got into Cambridge and is not from the UK and has done her national qualifications and still got in, what she needed was great results, not IB or A levels specifically. I would personally say that it is really hard to get like 42/45 (which is usually required by Cambridge), but it's not impossible, but it probably requires more hard work than getting e.g. 3 A* and A in A levels.

bear in mind, I'm not from the UK so I could either choose IB or my national qualification and decided to do IB, I can't say if I would change it for A levels (if I had a chance) because there are many cons and pros to both.

when it comes to Cambridge specifically, I think it would be good if you had Maths + 2 Science subjects at HL because some colleges require this and for others, it will be much more competitive.

btw, my subjects are HL: Chemistry, Biology, English B, SL: Maths AA, Polish A, Geography, so feel free to ask about any of the subjects (probably only Chemistry or Maths would be of your interest, tho )
thanks for replying! yeah i think workload is my main problem, it does seem like a lot. essay writing isn't too much of a problem for me, I just dislike the process and the effort it takes (and of course exams that are mainly essay based... english!). for the EE and stuff like that, my school does support us a lot through it.
i really do enjoy latin and music, aside from maths and the sciences they are my best subjects and i know that they will not be overly difficult for me in comparison to english - i don't know if it's quite worth taking such a huge workload as well as english though! as you take english (although at HL), how is it? compared to the gcse/igcse/equivalent, how big of a step is it? a friend of mine said 'GCSEs are like a slap in a face, but A levels are like you're being hit by a bulldozer' lol
and yeah i plan on doing the natural sciences course and then going into physics as a career, but it could all change!
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VanillaCream
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(Original post by sammy_li11)
thanks for replying! yeah i think workload is my main problem, it does seem like a lot. essay writing isn't too much of a problem for me, I just dislike the process and the effort it takes (and of course exams that are mainly essay based... english!). for the EE and stuff like that, my school does support us a lot through it.
i really do enjoy latin and music, aside from maths and the sciences they are my best subjects and i know that they will not be overly difficult for me in comparison to english - i don't know if it's quite worth taking such a huge workload as well as english though! as you take english (although at HL), how is it? compared to the gcse/igcse/equivalent, how big of a step is it? a friend of mine said 'GCSEs are like a slap in a face, but A levels are like you're being hit by a bulldozer' lol
and yeah i plan on doing the natural sciences course and then going into physics as a career, but it could all change!
I'm taking English B (from group 2) simply because I have to take my native language as a group 1 subject and didn't want to take 2 languages from group 1. so I can compare my native language (which is the same course that you're taking English, your Latin is like my English), I wouldn't say it is very difficult tbh. we have a pretty bad teacher tho so e.g. I'm gonna study in summer for that since this year was mostly wasted 'thanks to' our teacher, but if your teacher is fine, the course is not that bad. it is more difficult than our GCSE-equivalent polish, but it's also more structured and you clearly know what you need to know for the exam. besides, you do an oral exam which is a few month before the final exams usually and is 20% of the final grade or so. it looks kind of like a presentation that you choose a topic for (from the books you read in class) with the help of your teacher and you can prepare for it very well and already have some points towards your final grade. generally, I would say that the change between GCSE-equivalent is the highest in Maths AA (even though I take it at SL) and Chemistry, definitely not Polish (or English in your case).
you can have a look if your school offers English Language & Literature because that is said to be easier than pure Literature and is generally treated the same by unis even if you want to study some humanities subject (and you don't so it probably doesn't matter). we don't have English Lit at school (since it's not in the UK..), but we do have Lang & Lit and a lot of people take it even though none of them are English native speakers, so you should definitely find this course pretty easy.
hope this helps! if you have any more questions, I'll be more than happy to answer so feel free to ask
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IQuitTSR
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A levels are easier as you have less subjects and are better recognized so...
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VanillaCream
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(Original post by TheTroll73)
A levels are easier as you have less subjects and are better recognized so...
in what way better recognized?
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IQuitTSR
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(Original post by VanillaCream)
in what way better recognized?
hmm, I phrased it wrong but in the UK at least, it is usually easier to meet A level requirements than IB ones.

...and mathematicians don't have to worry about their english literature grade to get into mathematics at uni for example, which is ridiculous.
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VanillaCream
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(Original post by TheTroll73)
hmm, I phrased it wrong but in the UK at least, it is usually easier to meet A level requirements than IB ones.

...and mathematicians don't have to worry about their english literature grade to get into mathematics at uni for example, which is ridiculous.
oh yeah, that's right probably!
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IQuitTSR
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(Original post by VanillaCream)
hey!

in my opinion, A levels seem easier than IB, not necessarily in terms of content, but in terms of workload - in A levels you usually do 3 (or 4) subjects, while in IB you have to do 6 subjects and TOK and CAS, you also have to do IAs (research papers or oral exams in languages) in all your subjects and EE in a chosen one. considering all of this, you should think if you want to spend so much time doing school work, it's not only about revising, my summer has just started and I feel like I'm gonna work on IAs, EE and TOK for all summer (and uni app on top of that, but everyone does that). on the other hand, IB gives you the chance to have a wider variety of subjects which is what I personally enjoy, but probably some people don't, like if you are very into science/maths, you might not like the idea of having (usually) 2 essay-based subjects.

I don't think unis have any specific preference, they even recognize some less-known qualifications, so whichever you choose, it'll be fine for the uni and if you're planning to apply to Cambridge, what's more important are the subjects and results, I know someone who got into Cambridge and is not from the UK and has done her national qualifications and still got in, what she needed was great results, not IB or A levels specifically. I would personally say that it is really hard to get like 42/45 (which is usually required by Cambridge), but it's not impossible, but it probably requires more hard work than getting e.g. 3 A* and A in A levels.

bear in mind, I'm not from the UK so I could either choose IB or my national qualification and decided to do IB, I can't say if I would change it for A levels (if I had a chance) because there are many cons and pros to both.

when it comes to Cambridge specifically, I think it would be good if you had Maths + 2 Science subjects at HL because some colleges require this and for others, it will be much more competitive.

btw, my subjects are HL: Chemistry, Biology, English B, SL: Maths AA, Polish A, Geography, so feel free to ask about any of the subjects (probably only Chemistry or Maths would be of your interest, tho )
I'll give a better answer:

the way I see it IB is poorly suited to students who:
- Can do well in all but one compulsory subject (that's me, I suck in literature)
- Who wish to study physics, engineering, or math at uni, as they should take further math with either pure or mechanics options! (again me) They should even take AP physics C courses imo, on top of their A levels,
- Who wish to study 3 sciences and math in A levels (not me but plenty of medics do for example)
- Have no interest in philosophy whatsoever (TOK is a philosophy course) (yup I dislike philosophy)
- Have trouble collaborating with others well (yes this is important you need it for CAS). Let teens be teens, many are not ready for collaboration of this kind.
- Do not enjoy the idea of "compulsory community service", which is meant to be optional. A huge mistake form the IB imo. Yes, teens can and should do some but it should be their own initiative not because of meeting some arbitrary-looking requirements. They could have an (easy) course about CAS concepts instead. One that ENCOURAGES students to do volunteer work.

The IB is well suited to students who:
- Are not great at anything and need a little push
- Really are good at everything, or can look like that by choosing their subject cleverly (if literature was not compulsory I would be here)
- Enjoy many subjects and are likely to score better studying many subjects rather tan the few in A level.

The IB could be well-suited to those who:
- Those who prefer not focus in math or science in general, as the IB lets people get away with easy math/science options.
- Those who enjoy math and science but kind of wish to keep some humanities in their studies.

Everyone should do an extended essay/project if they have the chance imo, but that shouldn't be the decision between A levels and IB.
Last edited by IQuitTSR; 4 weeks ago
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xCaHx
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A lot of people have a lot of different opinions about IB, but in the end it comes down to your personal preferences.

In my opinion, if you already know you want to study Natural Sciences at Oxbridge, I would do A Level as Maths and Further Maths as they will be far more useful to you than what is offered science wise at IB. I did Biology at AS and then Biology in IB, and I knew that on many subjects we were just 'scratching the surface' and lacking some of the indepth knowledge that they teach in A Levels. IMO, the in depth concepts/topics at A Level give you a far better understanding of the subject as a whole than IB, and I also found that I didn't like the structure and content of IB courses compared to A Level. I found it awkward and a bit muddled for subjects like Psychology and Bio, and I believe this is probably the case for IB Math, Physics and Chem.
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