by Jolijt T '11

IB Say What?

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program is a pre-university diploma originally designed for the children of diplomats. Its worldwide consistent standards and curriculum allowed the children to move around the globe and still get a full education.
Over the past 30 years, the IB Diploma Program has been adopted by over 1,100 public and private schools for all students and has evolved into one of the finest pre-university advanced education programs available in the world today. “Send us prepared students á la IB… It is the “best” high school prep curriculum an American school can offer,” said Marilee Jones the Director of Undergraduate Admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the nations top five Universities.
The Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Harvard University, the nation’s top University, Marilyn McGrath said, “IB is well known to us for excellent preparations. Success in an IB program correlates well with success at Harvard. We are always pleased to see the credentials of the IB Diploma Program on the transcript.”
The Diploma Program begins in 11th grade and goes on through 12th. At BSGE, students participate in the IB Middle Years Program (MYP), a preliminary to the Diploma Program in the 7th through 10th grade. What makes BSGE’s IB Program unique is the school’s assumption that all students will participate in the quest for a full IB Diploma. Most other schools offer IB only to the top of their class. This puts standards quite high for students at BSGE and some buckle under the pressure. The strain of the requirements for the diploma can be overwhelming and it is therefore important that both students and their parents fully understand what to expect.
Classes and Exams
The curriculum and its requirements are designed to create well rounded students rather then throwing them into a series of courses. The IB exams test knowledge not necessarily speed or memorization.
IB students must study six different subjects, three at standard level (SL) and at least three at higher level (HL). The standard level courses consist of 150 hours of instruction and the higher level courses are typically about 240 hours of instruction. Two of the standard level tests must be taken junior year, the rest of the tests will be taken in senior year. The tests are administered in May. Student must test in each of the subject areas:
1. Language A1- typically English, your strongest language. In Language A1 you study American and world literature.
2. Language B- your foreign language
3. Individuals and Societies- the study of humanities and Theory of Knowledge
4. Experimental Science- lab work, collaborative learning, interdisciplinary group projects
5. Mathematics and Computer Science
6. Arts- a choice between music, technology and visual arts.
Additional Requirements
The additional requirements make IB unique; no other high school diploma requires such an extensive amount of high end individual work and discovery. Besides the classes IB diploma candidates must:
1. Write an Extended Essay which is a 4,000 word original research paper on a subject of the student’s choice. Each student will get an advisor and will work on the paper over his/her two years in the program.
2. Take at least 100 hours of the critical thinking class Theory of Knowledge. Students will need to write a 1,200-1,600 word essay on one of the 10 TOK subjects provided by the IB.
3.  And participate in at least 150 hours of Community, Action and Service. Students will need at least 50 hours in each of the three categories and are encouraged to do more. The hours are logged on official CAS forms and submitted to the International Baccalaureate Organization by January of the student’s graduating year.
If students do not get the diploma they will be awarded certificates in the subject areas in which they test and pass. These certificates, like the diploma, often count for college credits in the subject they are for.
University Preparation
Marcelo Triana, BSGE class of 2008 admitted, “Looking back at the past four years, I understood the fact that I developed a skill that very few other students had. An International Baccalaureate education had given me the ability to master discussions and interpret readings in a complex and abstract manner. The spiel that was constantly reverberated at me, from high school administrators, about the IB curriculum helping you in college was actually correct. The pain endured during my junior and senior years were finally paying off…”
The IB Diploma and its intense work load also helps students develop time management, goal setting and organizational skills. “The International Baccalaureate [programs’] em­phasizes critical thinking skills, increased content knowledge and an interdisciplinary approach to ed­ucation not only prepare students for success at the post-secondary level, but also for life and the world of work,” said Dr. Kathleen Plato, Supervisor of Advanced Placement Programs in Washington.
University Recognition
Universities around the world are well acquainted with the Diploma Program and its benefits. Christopher Guttentag, Director of Undergraduate Admission at Duke University says, “one of the advantages of an IB curriculum is its struc­ture and quality. It is a coordinated [program], well established, well known and well respected. We know the quality of IB courses, and we think the IB cur­riculum is terrific.”
Around the United States most colleges consider IB Diploma classes university level and give students college credits based on exam results. The higher end universities give credits for subjects in which the student scored a 5, 6 or 7.

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