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The IB’s popularity with some universities is the result of several factors: it suffers less grade inflation than A-levels and prepares students well for university. Mr John says that IB students who have gone on to university tell him that they are better prepared and do not find it as difficult to adjust as their new friends with A-levels.

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The language component (including the obligatory 4,000-word extended essay) pulled his final mark down. He believes that he should have moved school to take A-levels, where he could have concentrated on pursuing engineering, which is what he knew he wanted to do.


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On the flipside, Brian Hickmore, the former head of in France, says: “Contrary to what people think, when it comes to applying to university, there is not much difference between the IB and A-level programmes. That’s an outdated way of thinking.”


IB Group 6 subjects - Wikipedia

An IB student takes six subjects: three at higher level and three at standard, which must include maths, a science, English, and at least one foreign language. Words aren’t my son’s thing: science and maths are.

IB | Allen D. Nease High School

My son, 19, went to an international school where there was no choice but to do the IB, which was sold to us as the best choice. In hindsight, it was a mistake.

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How does one advise a student, such as my son, when faced with the arguments that one route is definitely the safer to a coveted university place?

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“If we had a candidate who was heading in this direction, we would have to be fairly certain that they could cope with the extra breadth, as well as maintaining the highest standards in their science and maths HLs before we would recommend the IB route,” says Mr Miles.

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Universities apparently love it: the new gold standard to guaranteed entry, which seems appealing when you remember the rush for clearing places this summer.

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My daughter’s timetable requires a dedicated focus to very mature levels - the IB allows less timetable space than A-levels, by about five lessons a week. The curriculum, with its extended essay, world literature and theory of knowledge components, means that she handles an enormous amount of research across a broad spectrum.