August 11, 2021

IB vs AP

Would you like to earn college credits while still in high school? Do you want to challenge yourself with advanced learning at high school level before joining college or university? Or maybe you just want to start exploring a subject that you would like to study at the university?

If your answer to all or any of these questions is a YES, you should consider the IB or AP program.

In this lesson, you’ll about IB vs AP. In particular, we’ll tell you what they’re and then look at the differences between them.

Primarily, the main difference between IB and AP program is that IB is more structured than the AP. In IB, students must take 6 subjects and attend classes for two years to sit for an exam. On the other hand, the AP program is flexible, allowing anyone to take an exam even if they haven’t enrolled in the course. 

What is IB?

Founded in Geneva in 1968, recognized by at least 1,207 universities in the US, and designed for students aged between 16 and 19 of grades 11 and 12, the International Baccalaureate (IB) is a program that focuses on global education and teaches students to become functional in a global society.

In IB, students study six subject groups. These are individuals and societies, sciences, mathematics, language and literature, arts, and language acquisition. They also study a set of disciplinary approaches which are the Theory of Knowledge, CAS (creativity, activity, and service), and Extended Essay.

To earn a diploma, an IB student should take at least three High Level (HL) subjects and two Standard Level (SL) subjects.

What is AP?

AP is an acronym that stands for Advanced Placement. Dating back to the 1950s, the first primary goal of the Advanced Placement program was to keep freshmen at elite colleges engaged to suitable coursework.

Today, the AP’s objective is to give high school students in the United States access to more challenging college-level coursework and earn them college or university credits.

Rather than being as cohesive as the IB program, the Advanced Placement allows students to choose from 38 courses in seven subject areas, which are History and Social Sciences, AP Capstone, Arts, English, World Language and Cultures, and Math and Computer Science.

There are two important things to keep in mind as far as the AP program is concerned:

  • The course you choose to enroll in depends on what your high school offer
  • It’s possible to study on your own for an AP exam if your school doesn’t offer the course

IB vs AP: What are the Differences?

The following are the differences between the IB (International Baccalaureate) and the AP (Advanced Placement) programs:

1. Availability

The aim of IB and AP courses is to give high school students the opportunity to explore more challenging, college-level subjects before joining college or university.

Speaking of availability, the IB program isn’t so widespread yet. At the time of this writing, only about 1,207 schools offer the IB diploma program in the United States compared to more than 20,000 high schools that include Advanced Placement coursework for students.

The Advanced Placement course is available only to students in the United States. IB diploma, on the other hand, has an international prevalence, with more than 5,000 schools in at least 158 countries offering the curriculum.

2. Content and Structure

On the one hand, the Advanced Placement program lacks a structured approach. Students choose any course from the subject groups and their understanding of the subject (s) is subject to the assessment at the end of the course. Furthermore, you don’t have to complete the course to take an exam. That’s because the AP program allows anyone to take an exam.

One the other hand, the IB program is more structured. It requires that student choose 6 subjects and study them for a period of 2 years.

The coursework includes research, doing an exhibition, writing an essay, composing a 950 words commentary, and participating in extracurricular activities such as CAS and EE.

Overall, the content and structure of the IB diploma program helps to not only promote high-level research but also enhance intellectual discovery and writing skills.

3. Scores and Testing Requirements

IB students must enroll in the course to take the corresponding IB exam. The cost for an IB exam is $199 and teachers grade these exams on a 1 to 7 range.

The AP program, on the other hand, allows you to sit for an exam even if you have never enrolled in an AC course. Students pay $94 for each exams and schools grade the exam on a 1 to 5 range.

4. College Admission

It’s important to note that colleges don’t prefer one curriculum to the other for admission. Rather, they care more about the grades you get in high school as that’s what they use to determine whether you can get an admission.

So as far as college admission is concerned, student should determine their academic goals first before choosing between IB and AP.

At the end of the day, both programs will help you to prepare to join an institution of higher learning. The most important thing to do is to make sure you study hard to get the most put of the curriculum that you choose.

5. Obtaining College Credits

Many student who take the IB and AP programs do so because they want to earn college credits. While both programs allow students to earn college credits, the required score will vary from college to college. That’s because every learning institution has its specific set of requirements that students must meet.

In general, a student will have to score a 3 or 4 in an Advanced Placement program and at least a 4 in the IB diploma program to qualify for college credits.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the IB program is completely different from the AP course. Now that it’s easy for you to distinguish between the two, you should also find it easy to pick a program that will suit you best.

The most important thing to do is to understand what you would like to achieve and then use that approach to choose between the Advanced Placement and the International Baccalaureate program.

About the author 

Antony W

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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