The IB diploma: What you need to know
We all want the best education for our kids, right? Depending on the academic programmes available in your home country, the IB Diploma (aka the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme!) might be a new option on the table for you. This globally recognised course has become increasingly popular with schools and students in Singapore for its well-rounded scope of study, interlinked subject curriculum, independent research and self-directed learning. To help you and your child make the best decision, we take a look at the nitty-gritty of the different stages of the course.
Before you start…
Before opting for IB diploma studies, you need to choose your subjects. As a first step, it’s best for you and your child to consider how the IB diploma will work for their interests, skill set and future ambitions. To help decide, sit down together and identify their future study plans, career desires and any subjects they currently enjoy or excel in.
It’s also worth chatting about which subjects work well together and which might stretch them – this will help when it comes to decide on Higher Level (HL) and Standard Level (SL) sections. You should also consider the differences, if any, between the IB diploma and the type of curriculum your child has studied before. And it helps to be clear on the kind of knowledge they’re expected to have on board before commencing the IB diploma course.
One major difference is CAS, the IB’s unique compulsory extra-curricular requirement. Students must undertake Creativity, Action and Service throughout the diploma. These are activities that can involve arts and creative subjects, something physical, or a voluntary, unpaid placement.
IB diploma students also have to take a broad range of subjects, so it’s important to understand the requirements and what your child needs in order to pass. (The IB’s failing conditions are infamous for catching a small number of students each year!)
IB diploma: The first year
Year One involves a lot of learning! Mastering the required knowledge across all six major academic subjects, as well as planning for the Extended Essay (EE), getting to grips with Theory of Knowledge (TOK), and managing time with CAS combine to make it a very busy year.
Students will also need to begin thinking a bit harder about their future study and work plans, as well as their key areas of interest as they prepare to go into the second year of the IB diploma.
Although the first year IB diploma exams are internal and don’t contribute to your child’s final scores, they’re still very important. For one thing, schools use them to set predicted grades. What’s more, they help students to assess their progress and make the best use of the break between the first and second year to consolidate their learning.
IB diploma: The second year
Throughout the second year, students work towards their final exams, which contribute heavily towards the final points score. Your child will need to finalise any internally assessed work, their EE and any other course demands efficiently. This will give them as much time as possible to focus on finishing learning their course material and beginning to revise.
There’s lots of time-juggling involved again, as students will also start applying to their chosen universities! Again, narrowing down key areas of interest for further study will be needed here.
Help is at hand!
As you can see, the IB diploma is a demanding yet rewarding course with many requirements. Time management and organisation will be important for your child, as will their ability to prioritise and navigate all the new responsibilities.
If you have some doubt, or you feel your child will need additional support, there are professional Singapore-based IB diploma tutors that can help. This assistance can range from pre-IB prep, to one-on-one bespoke support with subject selection and combinations through to a fuller pre-IB preparatory course.