This is a question that an increasing number of Year 11 students must answer. I'll list the benefits and drawbacks of the International Baccalaureate and leave it to you to decide. I feel that in the end, you must choose a path that is appropriate for you and your objectives. However, utilising my 5 years of experience as an A level and IB Biology tutor and online tutor, I will conclude this article by stating whether I prefer the A Levels or the IB Diploma.
The benefits of the IB:
You have six subjects to pick from if you aren't sure what you want to do. Three at Higher Degree, which is slightly more difficult than A levels in some areas, and three at Standard Level, which is roughly the same level of difficulty as a GCSE. English, another language, a humanities subject, a science, a maths course, and a creative arts subject are among the options.
If you're the type of student who wants to know how we know what we're taught and always questions where information comes from, the IB will appeal to you because it requires you to complete a module on Theory of Knowledge (ToK) and write an essay on it. ToK is mentioned in all topics; for example, how can we know that all cells are descended from other cells?
If you want to conduct your own independent research and write a report to the same standard as university undergraduates and researchers, you can do so by completing the required Extended Essay (EE). Some students have even created work that is innovative enough to be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
If you wish to study science at university, the Internal Assessment guarantees that you are completely capable of conducting an independent scientific investigation that is rigorous and well-evaluated.
The IB provides a module called Creativity, Action, Service that you can take if you want adequate recognition for the extracurricular activities you've done that have helped you grow as a more well-rounded person (CAS).
Universities also believe that IB scores are more useful in distinguishing between lesser pupils and the most capable students, allowing for more favourable offers.
Universities are starting to recognise that IB students are better prepared for undergraduate study.
The IB appears to be popular among American universities since it closely resembles the material of the freshman and sophomore years.
The disadvantages include:
If you already know what university course you want to study and there are specific prerequisite subjects required to study that subject at university, or if you are a gifted athlete, musician, or artist, it may be far more beneficial to study three subjects at A level and spend more time developing your portfolio, practising your cello for Juilliard auditions, or hitting the diving boards in preparation for the Olympics.
If you have trouble organising your notes and managing your time, you will struggle to manage six subjects, including ToK, EE, and CAS.
Because some colleges are still unaware of the higher cognitive and higher order thinking skills required to earn a 6 or 7 in the IB (1=lowest grade, 7=highest grade), they may make an overly generous offer for admission.
As a tutor, I believe that IB students are more prepared to function academically at university, are better prepared to conduct scientific inquiries independently, which helps them perform better in science courses, and they graduate more resilient, autonomous, and lifelong learners. Recent study has backed up this assertion. If I were a university admissions tutor, I would choose an IB student with 40 out of 45 points, or even 38 points, over an A level student with 4 A*s since I know the IB student has a better chance of succeeding at university and will require less of my colleagues' time and effort.
However, consider your objectives, as well as your skills and weaknesses, to determine whether the A levels or the IB are more appropriate for you. Do not choose it because the majority of your friends are doing it or because your parents want you to.
If you require assistance with IB or A level Biology, please think about getting some tutoring support, it will help you to make the right choice for you.