What is the IB Diploma Programme?

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) is a post-secondary education programme, taken by students between the ages of 16 and 18. In Singapore, it is equivalent to the Singapore GCE A-level and Polytechnic Diploma. Well-regarded internationally, the IB diploma programme has paved the way for many students into universities and employment around the world.

The diploma’s key strength is in its depth and breadth. Immersed in a range of subjects, students are exposed to holistic learning, independent research, non-academic activities, and flourish in world-class education system. 

What is the IB Diploma Programme?

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) is a post-secondary education programme, taken by students between the ages of 16 and 18. In Singapore, it is equivalent to the Singapore GCE A-level and Polytechnic Diploma. Well-regarded internationally, the IB diploma programme has paved the way for many students into universities and employment around the world.

The diploma’s key strength is in its depth and breadth. Immersed in a range of subjects, students are exposed to holistic learning, independent research, non-academic activities, and flourish in world-class education system. 

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The IB Diploma Structure

IB students are required to take a total of 6 examinable subjects, 3 at higher level (HL) and 3 at standard level (SL). In general, IB subjects that are taken at HL tend to be more challenging as compared to their SL counterparts. IB advises an estimated 240 hours of instruction time for HL subjects and 160 hours for SL subjects. Some subjects like ESS, Math studies, and Further Maths are only available at one level.

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Apart from the final IB exams, IB students are also required to complete additional coursework components, majority of which counting towards their final IB grades. Typically, these courseworks are completed over several months. To do so, students will have to embark on their own independent research, typically with assistance from resources beyond their curriculum and IB tutors.

The three coursework components IB diploma students will have to complete are:

  1. Theory of Knowledge (TOK)
  2. Extended Essay (EE)
  3. Creativity, Action, Service (CAS)

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The IB Diploma Structure

IB students are required to take a total of 6 examinable subjects, 3 at higher level (HL) and 3 at standard level (SL). In general, IB subjects that are taken at HL tend to be more challenging as compared to their SL counterparts. IB advises an estimated 240 hours of instruction time for HL subjects and 160 hours for SL subjects. Some subjects like ESS, Math studies, and Further Maths are only available at one level.

  • Usually taken in the IB student’s first language
  • Requires fluency in the chosen language
  • Studies literary texts in the language
  • A language they have no prior study (ab initio) or build on pre-existing knowledge of a language.
  • Develops language-learning ability
  • Cultivates a deeper understanding of another culture.
  • Subjects in humanities
  • Includes History, Geography, Economics, and Business & Management.
  • Traditional sciences: Chemistry, Physics, and Biology
  • Includes Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS), Computer science, Design Technology, Sports science.
  • Focus on abstract mathematical theories: Analysis and Approaches (AA)
  • Focus on practical applications of mathematical concepts: Application and Interpretation (AI)
  • Visual arts, Drama, Film and Music
  • Students can also opt to take a further subject in a language, a social science, or a science.
The IB structure focuses also on coursework

Apart from the final IB exams, IB students are also required to complete additional coursework components, majority of which counting towards their final IB grades. Typically, these courseworks are completed over several months. To do so, students will have to embark on their own independent research, typically with assistance from resources beyond their curriculum and IB tutors.

The three coursework components IB diploma students will have to complete are:

The Theory of Knowledge (TOK) paper is a compulsory component of the IB diploma. Unique to IB, the TOK paper is an interdisciplinary study in critical thinking which encourages students to discuss the extent and limits of knowledge in an epistemological fashion. This component of the IB diploma is typically completed in the student’s second year of the IB diploma.

The Extended Essay (EE) is a 4,000 word in-depth study in an IB subject or specific area of the student’s choice.

Combined with the Extended Essay (EE), the TOK essay makes up the additional 3 bonus IB points to the perfect IB score of 45.

The CAS is a compulsory component of the IB diploma that encourages IB students to be well-rounded and community aware. It does not account for any of the final IB points.

To complete this IB module, students will have to complete 150 hours over the 2 years of the IB Diploma Programme.

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How to do well in the IB exams?

The IB aims to nurture students who are principled, risk-takers, open-minded and thinkers. The organisation’s dedication to creating a community of life-long learners well-versed in the values of citizenship and moral practice is clear. An intellectually challenging curricula, the IB exams often have a global average of 30 points. In the past years, students from Singapore have outperformed the global average in the IB exams. Students taking the IB at ACS (Independent), SJI (Independent) account for almost half of the world’s 45 pointers in the IB. To do well in the IB, students should focus on IB content mastery, do well in IB coursework like the IA, EE, and TOK.

QE is Singapore’s leading IB tuition specialists. We offer a range of IB tuition programmes for students in Singapore IB schools, International IB schools (online classes). All IB programmes are intelligently designed by IB examiners, IB graduates from Singapore’s leading schools. These courses provide comprehensive coverage on textbook content, question practice, review, and IB coursework. Read more about our IB tuition programmes here.

The programme offers a chance for the all-rounder to shine, while providing those with a clear focus of their ambitions with a worthwhile grounding for further study.

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