The difference

What is the difference between IB and IGCSE?

The IB is an all encompassing description for what is three different programs.

PYP for primary aged children.
MYP for middle school to IGCSE level.
IBDP for the diploma program, post 16 education.

I presume you are comparing MYP with IGCSE. I teach IGCSE and IBDP but I have never taught the MYP, but based on my experience of teaching students who have done both to enter the IBDP, it doesn't make much difference.

IGCSEs are more difficult than UK GCSEs so do not compare them to those.

What is the difference between IB and A levels?

  • IB students take six subjects, three at higher level and three at standard level. These subjects are studied for two years and are examined at the end of that two year period.
  • In contrast, A Level students, usually take 4 or 5 subjects in the first year and a smaller number in the second year. It is possible to “cash in” a subject at the end of year one and accept a qualification called the AS Level. The full two year course of study is known as the A Level.
  • The IB offers a broader education: there are six subject groupings and students have to take a subject from each of the first five. In practice this means that IB students have to study literature in their own language, a second language, a social science subject, a science and mathematics. The final subject area is the Arts - Music, Theatre or Visual Arts and it is possible to take one of these subjects as the sixth option or, instead, take an additional science, an additional language or an additional social science subject. This flexibility means that it is possible to take Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics – if you want to study medicine – plus literature, a language and a social science subject. It is also possible to take unusual subject combinations – Italian, English, Chemistry, Mathematics, Psychology and Art, which would be difficult to replicate in an A Level school.
  • There are also a number of other requirements which are an integral part of the IB. Each student prepares a 4000 word essay based on an original piece of research and there is a compulsory Theory of Knowledge course which is also assessed. Finally, the IB involves a compulsory programme known as CAS (Creativity, Action and Service). This involves a minimum of 50 hours each of a Creative activity and Action activity and a Service to the Community activity and it is impossible to be a warded the Diploma without satisfying this component.
  • Schools which offer the A Level will, of course include sporting, cultural and volunteering activities within their sixth form curriculum but there is no attempt to integrate these elements in the same way as which this has been done with the IB.
  • How difficult is the A Level when compared with the IB Diploma? The maximum score achievable for the IB is 45. Only about 65 students worldwide are able to do so each year. The pass mark is 24 points. It is possible to fail the Diploma as, worldwide, only 78% of students who take the Diploma each year pass it. Compare this with the A Level where hundreds of schools and colleges are able to report that their students achieved a 100% pass rate when the results are published each year. According to the UCAS tariff, 45 points is the equivalent of 5 grade A* at A Level, 40 points is the equivalent of 4 grade A* at A Level and 35 points is the equivalent of 2 grade A* at A Level and 1 grade A. Finally, the percentage of students achieving a Diploma each year has remained constant over the
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