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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the International Baccalaureate Organization?

The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) is an independent nonprofit educational foundation based in Geneva, Switzerland. It offers three programs: the Diploma Program in the final two years of high school, the Middle Years Program (MYP) for students in grades 6-10, and the Primary Years Program (PYP) for K-5 students.

How many schools offer IB programs?

As of September 2014, 3,882 schools in 148 countries offer one or more IB programs to 1,221,000 students. There are 393 PYP, 488 MYP, and 799 authorized IB Diploma schools in the United States. There are 14 PYP, 22 MYP, and 26 DP authorized schools in South Carolina.

What types of schools offer IB programs?

The IB programs are designed for highly motivated and academically minded students. At its inception, the IB Diploma Program was generally found in private, international schools. However, 90 percent of the IB schools in North America are public schools.

Is a lot of extra homework involved in IB classes?

IB courses are typically more challenging than regular middle or high school courses so students may be asked to do more homework. The challenge, however, is not always in the amount of homework assigned; rather it is in the quality of the assignments and the extent to which students complete those assignments. The added benefit is that students take greater responsibility for their own learning while they learn valuable time management and organization skills. Students do not have to forego other important parts of school life. They may still remain involved in sports, student government, clubs, theatre, music, community events, and other extra-curricular activities. Such activities are incorporated into the IB Diploma Program through CAS (Creativity, Action and Service) and the MYP through the Community and Service requirement.

What is the Middle Years Program?

The MYP is an educational framework that requires students to study eight subjects (English, foreign language, humanities, science, math, the arts, physical education and technology) each year of the program. Teachers present their curriculum through the MYP’s instructional strategies known as the Areas of Interaction. The model embodies three fundamental concepts: communication (valuing language acquisition in at least two languages); holistic learning (finding the connections across and within the subjects and grade levels); and internationalism (a growing understanding of a student’s own culture coupled with an understanding and appreciation of other cultures)

Does the Middle Years Program lead directly to the IB Diploma Program?

The MYP is an excellent preparation for the IB Diploma Program. Many of the concepts, program elements, and the underlying philosophy found in the MYP are consistent with those found in the IB Diploma Program. However, the MYP is not a prerequisite for the IB Diploma Program.

How does the MYP at Williams differ from courses of study at other middle schools?

The MYP differs from other middle schools because the students are taking six advanced level courses instead of the four courses that most seventh or eighth graders take. The additional courses include a foreign language, visual arts, and theatre arts. Seventh grade MYP courses are taught at a level equivalent to most eighth grade courses. Eighth grade MYP courses require the intensity of study of traditional ninth grade courses. MYP students can begin the ninth grade with three units of high school credit: English 1, Algebra 1, and Spanish 1 or German 1. Although the MYP offers students opportunities that other programs do not, the excitement and anxiety of entering middle school will be the same for a seventh grader at any school. As students make the transition from elementary to middle school, they must take more responsibility for organizing materials, keeping up with assignments, using a planner to list assignments and record grades, getting to class on time, developing effective study habits, and showing parents test papers, interim reports, and report cards.

How is the IB Diploma program different from other college prep academic programs?

The IB Diploma Program is a comprehensive and balanced two-year curriculum and assessment system that requires students to study courses across all disciplines. Within this structured framework, the IB Diploma Program provides a great deal of flexibility and accommodates student interests and abilities. Regardless of the courses taught, all students will explore the connections between the six major subject areas, will study subjects through an international perspective, will reflect critically on what it means to be a “knower,” will pursue one subject in great detail through independent research, and will have the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills in community service activities. Assessment of student achievement includes assessment of student work both by outside examiners as well as by the students’ own teachers. All assessment undergoes careful review to ensure that a common, international standard is applied equally to the work of students around the world. For these reasons, colleges and universities around the world recognize the IB Diploma Program.

What are the advantages of enrolling in an IB Program?

Students who complete an IB Diploma Program report that their IB involvement has given them the tools needed to succeed at the university level. In particular, students comment on their sense of preparedness, their self-confidence, their research skills, their ability to manage their time, and their willingness to be actively engaged in their own learning. Even more importantly, they have developed a sense of the world around them, their responsibility to it, and the skills with which to embrace the complexities of life.

What do colleges and universities think about the IB Diploma Program?

Colleges and universities throughout North America view the IB Diploma Program as providing outstanding preparation for university work. IB recognition policies of universities throughout the world are listed at the University and Government page of the IBO website,

How does taking difficult courses improve a student's chances for scholarships and admission to univ

At a time when increasing numbers of university applicants are all presenting equally impressive GPAs, admissions officers must look for other evidence that the student will succeed in the challenges of the new academic environment. Admissions officers look for such factors as the quality of the courses represented on the transcript, the balance of courses across all disciplines, the record of the student’s research abilities, and the details of school and community involvement – all requirements of the IB Diploma Program. Research conducted at several North American universities has demonstrated that IB Diploma students enjoy success at the university level and often earn higher grades than their colleagues. Increasingly, universities are actively recruiting IB students by offering enhanced recognition or scholarships for successful IB exam scores.

How does the IB Diploma Program compare with The College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) Program?

Both programs provide students with rich and challenging curricula and the opportunity to earn college credits. The College Board and the IBO have recently issued a joint publication that describes both programs. A copy can be found on the IBO web site under Diploma Program.