Parents generally understand what AS and A levels offer to sixth form students. However, some independent and state schools across the area also offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma or IB. Consequently, a number of parents have recently asked why they might choose it over more widely recognised A levels.

In contrast to specialising in 3 or 4 subjects studied in depth at A level, a student pursuing the IB Diploma will maintain more breadth, taking six subjects. These are studied across two years, at least 3 at higher level and although continuously assessed, are mainly examined at the end of year 13, allowing more ‘learning’ time with fewer in-year exam sessions.

Subjects studied must include English or native language, a second language, a social science, an experimental science, and maths, plus an arts course or another subject option. The IB may perhaps appeal to a bright youngster who is undecided on a career, is talented in a wide range of subjects so is unable to narrow down their choices, or an individual who enjoys independent learning. It may less suit a youngster who is set on a very specific career such as becoming a doctor, where in-depth study of the sciences at A-level might be more suitable.

The extended essay, theory of knowledge, creativity and service elements of the course broaden educational experiences, challenging teenagers to apply their knowledge and understanding within areas of personal interest through individual research and community involvement.

For able students, this may appeal more than the defined syllabus boundaries of A Level, developing the ability to think, challenge, evaluate, manage their time, as well as make decisions, all vital skills for further study at university and the future world of work.What are the benefits of A level study in the sixth form when compared with the IB Diploma?

The answer to this question is depth of study within the subject. IB has a focus on breadth of study whilst A level allows for concentrated study in certain subjects. If for example a teenager wishes to be an engineer, doctor or nuclear physicist studying maths and sciences at A Level will provide a much deeper knowledge and understanding of these vital subjects in preparation for study at degree level. If however they wish to be a diplomat, politician or lawyer, a broader curriculum such as the IB Diploma in the sixth form, may lead to a better grounding of knowledge across a whole range of valuable subject areas, prior to university degree level.

For most, academic attainment is linked to interest and enthusiasm for a subject. With many youngsters having either a maths or science bias or a flair for the Arts, A levels allow them to focus their studies in their area of interest. For example a student who gets most enjoyment from languages or literature may find the compulsory study of Maths within the IB a chore.

For assistance in choosing the right sixth form courses, please contact us.

What are the benefits of studying the IB Diploma in the sixth form when compared with A Level study?
With three subjects studied at Higher Level, three at Standard Level, an extended essay and a theory of knowledge course, the answer to this question is to maintain breadth. This may appeal to a youngster who is, as yet, undecided on their chosen career path or has a diverse range of interests in terms of subject enjoyment and consequently wishes to retain as many open doors to possibilities as possible.

Students studying the IB Diploma course are required to study Maths, Sciences and Languages, as well as being encouraged to retain an ‘open mind’ and explore their own learning.

Life requires students to think for themselves and not be ‘spoon fed’ so the ability to think, challenge, evaluate as well as make decisions are all vital skills for life and the future world of work.

For assistance in choosing the right sixth form courses, please contact us.