For most graduating IGCSE students, transitioning into the IB Diploma is like taking a step into the unknown.

The IB Diploma, also known as the International Baccalaureate or just IB, is an internationally recognised two-year tertiary education programme. It is also the most common academic path IGCSE students take post-graduation.

Even though the IB appear to be just one step up the proverbial academic ladder, the gap between them is greater than what most would expect. Students who are not well-prepared for the transition into IB may encounter difficulties when starting the new curriculum.

Here are three things you can do to help your child progress smoothly from IGCSE and IB.

1. Get familiar with the IB Diploma requirements

Nobody packs for a holiday before first knowing the itinerary. The same applies for academics.

If you want to prepare your child for the IB Diploma, knowing the diploma requirements is essential.

A pitfall most parents and students make when moving on to a new academic phase is assuming that the new programme would be the same as the programme they graduated from. While the two programmes are similar, they are also very different.

A difference IGCSE students need to be aware of is regarding subject selection. When deciding on subjects, the level it is taken at should also be considered.

Most IB subjects are offered at two levels: SL and HL. They stand for Standard Level and Higher Level respectively. Typically, subjects taken at HL are more challenging and require more studying hours than subjects taken at SL. To graduate, IB students have to study 3 SL subjects and 3 HL subjects.

Generally, most IB subjects are offered at both levels. However, exception exists. For instance, Language Ab Initio subjects are only offered at SL.

Subject selection is one of the IB requirements parents and students should be familiar with. The more parents and students know about the curriculum and what is required of students, the less the diploma is shrouded in mystery. This helps students to develop an academic plan and  the transition from IGCSE to IB.

2. Get to know the school your child is going to attend

The IB Diploma offers a great variety of subjects from six broad disciplines.

Despite the great range offered by the International Baccalaureate, not all may be offered to your child. This depends on the school your child attends. Different schools offer different subjects. For example, not all IB schools in Singapore offer Philosophy.

So, if your child enrols in a school that offers it, like UWCSEA, they would be able to study it as one of their six diploma subjects. On the other hand, if your child attends a school that does not offer it, like ACS, they would not be able to study it.

The moral: Always check if the school offers the subject before deciding on it.

3. Get an early start on the subjects.

As your child transitions from IGCSE to IB, they may find some subjects new and unfamiliar.

During the holidays before school starts, we would strongly advise students to get acquainted with these new subjects during the holidays. This gives your child a head start by spreading the school’s study load over a longer duration.

Many students find this early start beneficial as it helps them feel less overwhelmed when the school year starts.

For new IB students, it is not just the influx of new content that can be overwhelming. It is also the assessment structure of the IB diploma.

IB students final grades are computed based on a few components. First, a final examination at the end of the two years. Secondly, subject courseworks, also known as internal assessments. On average, these assessments can make up to 20% of your child’s final subject grades. To arrive at the final diploma grades, the IB will take into account two more coursework components. They are the Theory of Knowledge essay (TOK) and the Extended Essay (EE).

Therefore, if your child wants to excel in the IB, the coursework components like the IA, TOK, and EE cannot be neglected.

A common difficulty most IGCSE students face when transitioning into the IB diploma is finding a balance between learning and working on their courseworks. So, by giving them a jump start in their studies, you can greatly reduce the potential academic stress they would face when they start their first year of the diploma.