AP and IB, Good or Bad?

After a nice Holiday break, we finally get down to some new topics.

Being a high school student myself, when I first heard that my school had the available IB program (For those who do not know, the IB program or International Baccalaureate program, is an internationally recognized educational program, similar to the AP program, that allows students to get a heightened education. Upon completion of the program, the student receives a Diploma, the program can potentially have more prestige than the AP program because the IB program is recognized around the world. For more information on the IB program visit their website at IBO.org) I was delighted to have the opportunity to participate in the prestigious program. However, after going through the advocating process at my school, and trying to make my case as to why I should be allowed to pursue a distance program as a substitute for the regular English class, I have started to think about whether the IB or AP program is right for me. The pro’s and con’s of this situation have been discussed in numerous books and websites, including my most recent read The Overacheivers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids
This problem faces many of our gifted youth today, the seemingly obvious choice is to go with the AP or IB program, they will look really good on the college application; however, the AP and IB programs may not be right for every gifted child. For starters the courses are extremely rigorous. The course load is tough and the challenges that face the students in these courses are not to be scoffed at. I had to take a good look at myself and decide whether I could take the challenge, especially because I have not really experienced an extremely tough course load in the past. The AP and IB programs are not for the faint of heart, and even though many gifted students are extremely motivated, every student should ask themselves whether they are ready for the challenge. Secondly, the IB and AP courses may not offer the kind of challenge that your gifted child may want. This was and still is the big question for me. Will the AP and IB courses offer an environment that is both stimulating and challenging? Will the peers in the AP and IB courses allow me to have in-depth discussion and analysis? Will the teachers understand my gifted personality and allow me to be creative in their classroom? Your gifted student should ask themselves this, and if they are not satisfied with the answer, then maybe he or she should look into other programs such as the EPGY Online High School .

The best way to answer the previous questions is to ask. Talk to parents of students who are participating in the various programs at your school and get your gifted student to talk to other students in the programs. As you develop a sense of the programs and teachers at your school, evaluate the options available to you. For me the question that is most important is whether the students and teachers in my classes would stimulate discussion. I learn best when there is a lot of discussion, debate, and analysis. My favorite teachers have been ones that I can have an in-depth discussion with. So if the class consists of desk work and there is not much discussion, I am not likely to enjoy the class nearly as much as the one where everyone is talking and sharing ideas.

In the end, it comes down to how your gifted student learns the best and what kind of environment your gifted student thrives in. If you can determine that the IB and AP programs will provide opportunities that will stimulate and nurture your gifted student then go ahead and join the program. What I urge you not to do is just join because it will look good on the college application. Ultimately, your students happiness is much more important than the college that they get into.


17 responses to “AP and IB, Good or Bad?

  1. Wow, that sounded like it was written by a professional, not a high school student. I liked how you looked at joining the AP or IB at a different point of view. I know if I were smart enough for the challenge of those classes, I would probably not ask myself those questions, although you should. Very good job!

  2. How does AP and IB classes get students ready for college? Does it show them responsibility?

  3. The workload of an AP or IB course is much more rigorous than that of an honors or CP course so one could say that a student coming out of an AP or IB course will be more prepared for college. However, that does not mean that someone who comes out of an IB or AP course is going to be ready to tackle the challenges that you would face in college. As far as teaching a student responsibility, I think that the large difference between college and high school settings will outweigh the responsibility that may be gained from an IB or AP course. At college you are more on your own and there could be more distractions. Ultimatly what is going to help one in college will be study skills, which you can learn in an AP , IB, Honors, or CP class.

    Thanks for the questions.


  4. I’ve herd many things about IB and I am wondering is it really worth it because students that I have talked to said it almost isn’t even worth it.
    So I want to know how much of and advantage I have over so to say and honors student?

  5. Thats sort of a hard question to answer. Other than the fact that some schools give weighted grades to IB students, the real draw of the IB program is the prestige that it has around the world. If you pass your IB test with a good score, most colleges around the globe will take a second look at you. In fact, it can even be a guaranteed entry into some international colleges. The same effect that taking AP courses has on schools in the US, the IB program has on schools abroad.


  6. I’m in 11th grade and in my school thats a full IB student. i am about 2 months in Ib and it feels like i have been in IB for the past 2 years. i dont know if i should stay in it. i am really confused over the benefits IB has for students. Pre-IB was a breeze for me but now i barely passed with giving in my internal assessments and oral presentations. i really need a lot of help. please help me

  7. I am in grade 9 in Canada, but where I am high school doesn’t start till grade 10. Some of my friends are joining the IB program and they’re pretty confident, but me on the other hand not so much. This year I have really applied myself and getting fantastic grades compared to every other school year i have had. My friends are asking me to join them but I’m not quite sure I would be able to apply myself to homework every night. I have been thinking about it a lot, I was just wondering what are your thoughts?

  8. I’m an IB sophmore, and I’ve had a hard time with a few things. Mostly math. Now the whole point of IB is to get you to think. But I just don’t see math as thinking, I see it more as a routine of steps too difficult to understand (sometimes) and is more condusive to creating a human computer than a human being. And the Math and Science at my school are heavier and have more influence on your grade than the actual classes that make you think and express creativity. What are your thoughts on this?

  9. Im in 8th grade middle school, I applied for IB but didn’t make it, what should I do? Also will IB help me make it to a IVY league school?

  10. IB will definitely help you get into an IVY league school, whether they accept your IB credits or not is all up to them. That’s the problem with every college. There is no guarantee they will accept your credit or not, especially if you’re in IB. Say you flunked your Spanish oral, and only made a 2 on it. Even if you took the class for four years, your college can still choose not to accept the credit.A better example would be if you scored a 4 on the History exam. Now that’s the average score for most tests, but some colleges won’t accept your credit, even if you passed with the IB diploma, they can choose to deny your credit because of the 5-8 scoring policy.( P.s. IB internal assessments and external assessments are on a 0-8 scoring scale, 0-2 being absolutely poor, 3-5 being average, and 6-8 pure amazing-ness. Everyone begins with a 5, and they choose to either add on points, depending how well you do, or subtract them. That goes for every exam. Trust me, I’m in it! >_^!)

    Sometimes this is good, to start COMPLETELY new again, but not if you’ve completed the whole IB program. That is why a lot of kids are frustrated, because even if you complete such a “prestigious” program, it doesn’t guarantee you an absolute ride, or immediate submission. It mostly depends on class rank, your state, and scholarships that’ll really help you ride into college full swing. Besides, they’re only going to look at your transcript once, give you a pat on the head, and say,”Good job! Now you have to complete our requirements.”

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  12. I did a few IB courses in 10th grade this last year, and I found a few things to be troublesome… First of all, the classes were not as “learning oriented” as they claim to be; in fact, most of my peers were only motivated by grades, and the teachers supported that. A key thing to remember is that the IB teachers are often also Honors/Regular Ed teachers, too, and a common concern for public schools these days is grades. Think of IB as regular school grade-grubbing times ten. At least, that’s what it was for me. I’m glad that I got to try it a year early; now I’m seriously considering doing Running Start, my state’s college-course program for high schoolers. If you choose IB, beware–the quest for good grades often clouds the actual learning process.

    • how is it that you where able to start IB classes your 10th grade year, youre not suppose to start them till your 11 grade year. I was able to get an Ib class my sophmore year just because they needed more people in that class. Are you sure it wasn’t just MYP classes?

  13. Another thing that bothered me: if you choose to take full IB, meaning all of the required classes, it’s still a crapshoot. Plus, you are required to take certain classes, whether they’re your favorite or least favorite. Either way, you’re stuck with them. And in the end, even if you hold out the entire way with Biology HL (the class you hypothetically hate with a passion, as I did), there’s no guarantee that a college/university will accept the credit. That equals a ton of wasted effort on a subject you hate. Personally, I would rather be able to pick my topics, enjoy them, and have some free time left over at the end of the day. Plus, with other programs such as Washington’s Running Start, the colleges (both local and statewide) are more willing to accept the credits, as they are direct college courses. These programs can knock off an entire year of college. IB can do that, too, but it comes at a much higher risk.

  14. Hi-great writing and conversation! Let me say up-front that my daughter wants to attend an Ivy League school. She’s a sophomore. IB is junior and senior years at her school.

    IB was supposed to be weighted higher than AP, but in the last year it has not-they came out the same (i.e. AP English and IB English, both 4.25 for an “A”).

    The question is this-is IB really the best option for Ivy League, given the extra workload, stress and perhaps lower test scores? For example, Yale told her that they don’t give credit for AP or IB courses up front. REally, she just wants in to an Ivy League school, so does IB look better than AP on a transcript for that? Anyone want to weigh in here?

    Thanks in advance!

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  16. Hi My name is Evi and my school offers IB for the last 2 years of school. I recently got a 3 on my math SL test and it is the lowest ib score i have ever gotten. This 3 will be shown on my transcript and I was wondering how much it would affect my chances of getting into a good college in the U.S. All around I am mostly a 5,6,7 student. This is my first 3. Plus i havent taken exams yet. Do you think good colleges(my top choice is Carnegie Melon) will still accept me,? My first quarter grades were really good, but my school also sends mid year reports and this will be on my mid-year report.

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