AP, IB, and AICE Programs: A Brief Comparison (Part 2)

By: Judi Robinovitz | Last Updated: February 2, 2015


In our second installment about accelerated or advanced programs for high school students, we’ll consider the International Baccalaureate, of IB.

IB: International Baccalaureate

The IB program, too, has become an established fixture in many schools across the US. Students can receive an IB diploma, and even add AP courses and exams to the IB curriculum. The IB Diploma framework requires the study of two languages and diverse cultures; it includes required courses within each of six subject groups:

  • Studies in Language and Literature
  • Language Acquisition
  • Individuals and Societies
  • Experimental Sciences
  • Mathematics and Computer Science
  • Arts

IB students also take a Theory of Knowledge course, write a 4,000-word Extended Essay, and complete 150 CAS (Creativity, Action, and Service) hours. They must take at least 3 higher level courses (a student takes either a standard level or higher level course and exam in a subject, but not both). Students must earn at least 24 points (based on exam scores of 1 to 7 and the Extended Essay) and complete the equivalent of six 2-year courses to receive an IB diploma.

Many former IB students say the extended essay was the most satisfying and challenging thing they did in high school, because it prepared them well for college research. In today’s average high school curriculum, it’s rare to find such an emphasis on writing!

Due to its rigorous nature, preparation for the IB program is offered through the IB Middle Years curricula in the 9th and 10th grades or through other accelerated curricula.

So how do colleges view the applicant who has followed an IB curriculum? It depends. While institutions like Johns Hopkins and Bucknell University view IB and AP as equal in academic rigor, schools like Stanford and University of Chicago judge IB coursework to be more rigorous than AP. You can always call a college admissions office to ask for their perspective on curricula.

By scoring well on IB exams, students can receive college credit or advanced standing, just as they can for top AP exam scores. For instance, Florida State University (FSU) will award up to 30 semester hours of credit for the IB diploma. At the University of Florida, for incoming freshmen who receive credit for scores of 4 or higher on both higher level and standard level IB examinations, a maximum 45 credit hours can be applied toward college-level courses. Florida’s northern neighbor school, Oxford College at Emory University, will grant up to twelve hours of credit for IB scores of five, six, or seven on the higher-level examinations. An IB curriculum, combined with the right scores on the Higher Level exams, provides excellent chances for placement beyond introductory courses – with college credit to boot.

Our third posting will describe the Advanced International Certificate of Education, or AICE, new and popular in Florida schools.

If you missed it, our first posting in this series described the AP Classes/Exams.

Topics: AP Exams Test-Prep ib

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