IB vs A levels

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kate_ie
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#1
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#1
Please help
Looking to study classics (Latin) or PPE type course at oxbridge

My school offers A level & IB
If I did IB I would do Hl: Latin, maths, English
SL: Biology, economics & philosophy

If A level - English lit, Latin, Maths & further maths & maybe an EPQ

I have heard that IB has an enormous workload and it may not be worth it vs it prepares you more for uni than a levels
Thanks
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juicygcse
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#2
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#2
(Original post by kate_ie)
Please help
Looking to study classics (Latin) or PPE type course at oxbridge

My school offers A level & IB
If I did IB I would do Hl: Latin, maths, English
SL: Biology, economics & philosophy

If A level - English lit, Latin, Maths & further maths & maybe an EPQ

I have heard that IB has an enormous workload and it may not be worth it vs it prepares you more for uni than a levels
Thanks
idk about preparing you more for uni other than having a bunch of busy work with SL subjects - curious why you would think that? Higher workload maybe + forces you to do what is effectively an EPQ but then again A level allows you more time to do extra-curriculars/part-time job/whatever vs IB doing work on subjects that aren't really benefitting you (SL). But that's just my opinion

From what I've heard, IB maths tends to be considered harder than A level maths because it specialises more (you don't do pure, states, and mechanics) so what you do is harder. Seeing as you seem to know what you want to do, is there really any benefit keeping the SL subjects? Do you particularly like bio or whatever? I wouldn't recommend further maths A level if you don't want to actually use it, but you can always drop it after year 12 if you don't want to do PPE
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alma_beu
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#3
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#3
I’d advise going with the IB as it (according to an Oxford study) makes you better at critical thinking which would be very beneficial for PPE.

Additionally, if you do IB remember your diploma will be worth much more than A-levels if you end up applying internationally / going internationally for a post grad. There are so many benefits of doing IB over A-level and if definitely argue it prepares you better for uni and makes you a more well-rounded student.

If you do maths at HL you’d have to see if it’s HL AA or HL AI, I’d suggest doing AA since it had a lot of pure maths and is generally considered the harder of the two.
Last edited by alma_beu; 5 months ago
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alma_beu
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Also about the workload, thousands of students have managed it before you, you will too. Especially if you’re planning to study at oxbridge IB will help you with time management skills and whatnot.

Also the Extended Essay process is really fun.
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juicygcse
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#5
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(Original post by alma_beu)
I’d advise going with the IB as it (according to an Oxford study) makes you better at critical thinking which would be very beneficial for PPE.

Also the Extended Essay process is really fun.
I can see that, however FM for Oxbridge PPE would definitely help as well - also EPQ is basically just extended essay so they'd be doing it anyway. I don't think it's entirely fair to say one is definitively better than the other, apart from international study as you mentioned (even then depends on the country - e.g. Ireland doesn't do IB anyway so they couldn't care less which one you did).
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alma_beu
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#6
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(Original post by juicygcse)
I can see that, however FM for Oxbridge PPE would definitely help as well - also EPQ is basically just extended essay so they'd be doing it anyway. I don't think it's entirely fair to say one is definitively better than the other, apart from international study as you mentioned (even then depends on the country - e.g. Ireland doesn't do IB anyway so they couldn't care less which one you did).
I wouldn’t say an EPQ is the same, there are merits to both but I really enjoyed the EE specifically.

Yes further maths is beneficial, but a lot of content will be covered by IB AA HL maths so it’s not necessary.

And I’d argue the IB is definitely better as it allows you to study more subjects making you more well-rounded while still having a focus on your HL subjects. With them wanting SL philosophy that would be of great benefit for PPE, so would HL Latin if they did classics.

The IB also engages you through TOK (this is one of the main things that makes the IB so good at developing your critical thinking skills).
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wenso
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#7
For universities in the UK, IB is seen as the equivalent as A-levels so it really does not give you an advantage in the admissions process. However, all my teachers have said that due to the immense workload you get at IB, first year of uni will be more manageable for IB students than those who did A-levels.

I think you should also consider whether you’re a well-rounded student or not, and whether you will enjoy learning a wide range of content, if not, go for a-levels.
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alma_beu
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#8
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(Original post by wenso)
For universities in the UK, IB is seen as the equivalent as A-levels so it really does not give you an advantage in the admissions process. However, all my teachers have said that due to the immense workload you get at IB, first year of uni will be more manageable for IB students than those who did A-levels.

I think you should also consider whether you’re a well-rounded student or not, and whether you will enjoy learning a wide range of content, if not, go for a-levels.
It depends on the university though. Birmingham for example, A*AA is equivalent to 32 IB points with 766 at HL, while at Manchester A*AA is 37 766.

Some universities therefore value the cumulative IB points more highly.
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juicygcse
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#9
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(Original post by alma_beu)
I wouldn’t say an EPQ is the same, there are merits to both but I really enjoyed the EE specifically.

Yes further maths is beneficial, but a lot of content will be covered by IB AA HL maths so it’s not necessary.

And I’d argue the IB is definitely better as it allows you to study more subjects making you more well-rounded while still having a focus on your HL subjects. With them wanting SL philosophy that would be of great benefit for PPE, so would HL Latin if they did classics.

The IB also engages you through TOK (this is one of the main things that makes the IB so good at developing your critical thinking skills).
You didn't do an EPQ if you did IB so how would you even know whether they are different? They are both essays that are independently researched, fundamentally there is no difference between the two. Maybe have slightly different restrictions on what you can write about (again, don't do IB so I don't really know) but generally there is no big difference between them.

No, FM is not covered by IB maths, for one you take optional modules and for another IB maths isn't as hard as taking both FM and maths (even Cambridge admissions tutor I spoke to said he would be expecting extra work for a maths based degree from an IB maths person)

Like I pointed out, IB sacrifices time you could spend doing other things to make you more well-rounded for your other subjects (I wouldn't count being mediocre at a bunch of academic subjects more well rounded than doing sports/debating/playing an instrument). Both A level and IB are what you make of them in terms of well-roundedness

I don't know much about TOK because I don't do IB, but according to my friends at school who do it they just use those lessons as a free period lol - and when they actually do stuff it's sort of like informal debating? So I guess it would really depend on the other students/the teacher how beneficial it actually is, but certainly at my school it really does nothing for them

I also think this has slightly become 'I did IB and I liked it so the OP will too'. IB is not for everyone; A levels are not for everyone. I personally think, presuming they want to go to a UK uni, that the person should just look at the syllabuses for their HL subjects/A levels and see which one they like better.
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alma_beu
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#10
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#10
(Original post by juicygcse)
You didn't do an EPQ if you did IB so how would you even know whether they are different? They are both essays that are independently researched, fundamentally there is no difference between the two. Maybe have slightly different restrictions on what you can write about (again, don't do IB so I don't really know) but generally there is no big difference between them.

No, FM is not covered by IB maths, for one you take optional modules and for another IB maths isn't as hard as taking both FM and maths (even Cambridge admissions tutor I spoke to said he would be expecting extra work for a maths based degree from an IB maths person)

Like I pointed out, IB sacrifices time you could spend doing other things to make you more well-rounded for your other subjects (I wouldn't count being mediocre at a bunch of academic subjects more well rounded than doing sports/debating/playing an instrument). Both A level and IB are what you make of them in terms of well-roundedness

I don't know much about TOK because I don't do IB, but according to my friends at school who do it they just use those lessons as a free period lol - and when they actually do stuff it's sort of like informal debating? So I guess it would really depend on the other students/the teacher how beneficial it actually is, but certainly at my school it really does nothing for them

I also think this has slightly become 'I did IB and I liked it so the OP will too'. IB is not for everyone; A levels are not for everyone. I personally think, presuming they want to go to a UK uni, that the person should just look at the syllabuses for their HL subjects/A levels and see which one they like better.
How would you know they aren’t different if you haven’t done both? I’ve heard from people doing EPQ’s and the approaches are not the same.

Of course you need to do additional maths if you do IB AA HL maths and want to go into something like engineering or mathematics at university — OP isn’t so it wouldn’t be needed.

You don’t become mediocre at a bunch of academic subjects lmao. Clearly you’ve never taken IB if you believe that. An SL subject still spans two years and you learn a lot more than you’d expect. Especially since most HL classes are 4 SL classes a week with SL students and then 2 HL classes.

You gain an insight into a breadth of topics sure, but saying you end up mediocre is unfounded.

TOK is often a hit or miss at schools, however, using TOK as a free period is a waste of resources. What brings the real benefit in TOK are the exhibition and the essay we write in the two years, those make you think much more critically than you’re used to in other subjects.

IB isn’t for everyone, it is incredibly independent and yes the workload is high. That’s exactly what makes it a great way to prepare for university.

Additionally, you have CAS in IB — meaning yes you will do sports outside of school and many other extra/super curricular activities including volunteering (pretty much mandatory for the S in CAS) and artistic extra curriculars.

IB doesn’t just make you well rounded academically it encompasses being well rounded outside of school into the diploma as well.
Last edited by alma_beu; 5 months ago
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kate_ie
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#11
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#11
(Original post by alma_beu)
Also about the workload, thousands of students have managed it before you, you will too. Especially if you’re planning to study at oxbridge IB will help you with time management skills and whatnot.

Also the Extended Essay process is really fun.
Hey thanks so much - would you say I have picked a particularly hard combination knowing that IB is already considered harder than A level (I have heard HL Maths AA & Latin are especially difficult)
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booklover1313
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#12
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(Original post by kate_ie)
Hey thanks so much - would you say I have picked a particularly hard combination knowing that IB is already considered harder than A level (I have heard HL Maths AA & Latin are especially difficult)
I think there is a lot of fearmongering about the IB, with people saying it has a super heavy workload. Yes it does, but doing 4 A levels is also a lot of work. You also get 20-25% of your grade being coursework in the IB, so when it gets to the exam, there is less stress.
If you are interested in all your subjects, and you don't want to drop bio, econ & philosophy, then I would 100% go with the IB. I really enjoyed it, and found the EE very useful prep for uni.
Maths AA is tricky but not at all impossible, and I don't think you need to worry about Latin being really difficult.
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alma_beu
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(Original post by booklover1313)
I think there is a lot of fearmongering about the IB, with people saying it has a super heavy workload. Yes it does, but doing 4 A levels is also a lot of work. You also get 20-25% of your grade being coursework in the IB, so when it gets to the exam, there is less stress.
If you are interested in all your subjects, and you don't want to drop bio, econ & philosophy, then I would 100% go with the IB. I really enjoyed it, and found the EE very useful prep for uni.
Maths AA is tricky but not at all impossible, and I don't think you need to worry about Latin being really difficult.
I definitely agree with the fear-mongering. It is stressful and it’s more work than A-levels because of your course-load, but it’s very manageable all things considered.

Throughout my entire IB process I only really gotten stressed at the end of the first semester for DP2 and I presume it will go until after the exams.

But the first year was really fun (it still is I just have a lot of deadlines right now) and being able to finish coursework releases a lot of the stress.

And yeah AA HL maths is hard (can’t say anything for Latin) but you’ll manage that too.
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econhelp525
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#14
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#14
It doesn't matter. Do whichever qualification where you'll get a better grade.

Further Maths is not needed or even desirable for PPE at Oxford, and I don't think most candidates even have it for PPE.

It's also absurd to say that A Levels will be less valued internationally?
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artful_lounger
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#15
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If you're keen on classics I might be inclined to suggest going with A-levels just so you can do as much Latin as possible before your degree. Although IB might be useful preparation in the sense of getting you used to working on a variety of different things from different approaches/methodologies (which is common in classics type degrees as you have language work, literary analysis, historical and/or archaeological options and possibly philosophy), the central feature is the language work and you really want as much preparation as possible for that!

Further Maths is unnecessary for PPE (as opposed to single honours economics) or classics, so I'd probably suggest not bothering with that if you do A-levels. Also note that PPE courses do not require or expect any prior background in any of the subjects (just in maths) and will teach them all from scratch (and the approaches may be somewhat different to the A-level/IB approach anyway so having done those subjects in A-level or IB won't necessarily give you an advantage once you are on the course either) so you aren't missing out on much by not doing those to SL in IB if you did A-levels.

Just for reference as well, as a past IBer ToK was really a bit of a joke - I think we had one lesson a fortnight and I definitely did not learn much of anything about epistemology from it (on the contrary it instilled a sense of solipsism in me for a couple of years more than anything since we never actually learned of any arguments against solipsism...). The entire thing also just hinged on a presentation we did (I think now you guys might need to do an essay for it though) which was also a bit of a joke. You can do an EPQ to do something similar to an extended essay in A-levels too, if you have some idea of what you want to do it on, so you don't miss out on that.
Last edited by artful_lounger; 5 months ago
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