Fully recognised by top universities across the world, the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) is a high-quality programme for students between 16 and 19 years old. What IBDP aims for is not only to help students to acquire excellence in breadth and depth of knowledge, but also to improve their abilities of independent and critical learning. A study shows that IBDP students have demonstrated to be more capable in handling demanding workloads and time management. It may make people to wonder if the competition would be very severe and difficult for kids to succeed, particularly who have no previous experience in this approach. But it is important to note that through training at school and IB tutoring, most IBDP students have been admitted into world’s top universities.
It is crucial to have a clear overview of how IBDP is structured. There are three core elements and six subject groups. Aiming at improving students’ ability of critically thinking about what they have learnt at school and applying that knowledge beyond class to examining real situations or analysing other texts, the three core elements are Theory of Knowledge, Extended Essay as well as Creativity, Activity, Service.
Theory of Knowledge (TOK):
Students are trained to think about what the nature of knowledge is and how we develop the knowledge of what we think we know. It often involves philosophical reading and writing on crucial concepts and understanding of classic debates on humanity, morality, economy and etc. Topics of Theory of Knowledge could be “To what extent are areas of knowledge shaped by their past? Consider with reference to two areas of knowledge”, “There is no such thing as a neutral question. Evaluate this statement with reference to two areas of knowledge”, “The task of history is the discovering of the constant and universal principles of human nature.”
Extended Essay (EE):
Allowed to freely choose the area they are interested in, the subject they have solid knowledge or what they plan to study at university, students should conduct individual research and write a 4000-word (or 4800 Chinese characters) research paper. For students who have particular interest in literature, the topic could be “An analysis of the costume as an reflection of inner reality of female characters in Eileen Chang’s early short stories”, or “a comparative reading of Lo Live and its film adaption in the context of Post-socialist China”. For students deciding to study science at university, they may consider topics like “The effects of sugar-free chewing gum on the pH of saliva in the mouth after a meal”.
Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS):
CAS requires students to go beyond academic studies and to participate in various activities. This part is not formally assessed but students need to reflect on their CAS experiences and to prove that they have achieved what CAS expects from them. Generally, the three strands of CAS means that students should participate in the activities that improve creativity such as arts, creative writing; they also should put efforts in physical exercise to lead a healthy lifestyle along with other academic work within IBDP; they are expected to make contributions to an unpaid exchange experience as volunteers. Through those activities students could develop good communication skills with people and collaboration spirit as part of a team.
While TOK, EE and CAS help students to go beyond class and explore knowledge through various and creative approaches, the six subjects are what they should devoted most of their school time studying and preparing for examinations. The six subjects are Studies in Languages and Literature, Language Acquisition, Individuals and Societies, Sciences, Mathematics, and The Arts. To fully discover diversified talents and fulfill different plans for further development, IBDP gives students freedom to choose among different levels of courses that match him or her best and hence makes the learning process more personalized.
Studies in Languages and Literature
Students should take at least one subject from this group. For students who wish to obtain a bilingual diploma, they should take two subjects. This group of subjects provides students with a very broad range of texts and guides students to appreciate literature works from various perspectives, to improve skills in writing literary criticism, to get familiar with important theories and literary genres, and to develop abilities of looking at cultural phenomenon, and to explore some linguistic knowledge behind the languages we use in daily life. While they may have some particular interest in a certain language, but generally students should take the language that they are competent. There are three subjects for students to choose from: Language A: Literature, Language A: Language and Literature, and Language and Performance. Except Language and Performance which is conducted in English (unless by special request in Spanish or French), Language A: Literature and Language A: Language and Literature are available in 55 languages.
Students are required to take at least one subject from this group. The teaching goal of this subject is to promote understanding of another culture through training in languages. This group provides Modern Language: Language ab initio and Language B, and Classical Languages
Individuals and Societies
Students should take one subject from the six academic areas in this group. This group of subjects enables students to have a better understanding human behaviours and how modern society works from multiple perspectives. Social phenomena including economics, politics, culture would be discussed in classes. Subjects listed in this group are Business Management, Economics, Geography, Global Politics, History, Information Technology in a Global Society, Philosophy, Psychology, Social and Cultural Anthropology
With the purpose of introducing business management theories and other tools frequently applied in viewing business management cases, this subject teaches students to explore business activities in both local and international level. It shows basic knowledge of finance, accounting, management, the history of business development and shows students how to make business decisions critically. This subject is available in both Higher Level and Standard Level.
This subject teaches students economic theories and methodologies with training in both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Available in both Higher Level and Standard Level, students will study microeconomics, macroeconomics, international economics and development economics. While Standard Level students are assessed by take two examinations, Higher Level students are assessed by three.
The goal of geography teaching is to provide academic training in both natural and human geography, showing them how nature influences human activities and how human reshaped the appearance of nature. Students will also study environment protection, sustainable management and how to analyze challenges and crisis that we face today. This subject provides both Higher Level and Standard Level courses, both will cover some core themes and optional themes while Higher Level students have extension topics to study.
This subject talks about crucial political concepts including power, human rights, international relations, and equality. Students will learn how to look at political issues from a global perspective and to analyse how one single political issue would have wide impact on the world. Available in both Higher Level and Standard Level
Studying history not only trains students to analyse what happened in the past but also to understand issues and human activities today. Focusing on major historical events and historical methodologies, students will look at various topics including culture, economy, politics to analyse history from comparative and diverse perspectives. Available in both Higher Level and Standard Level
Information Technology in a Global Society
Exploring the interaction among Social and Ethical Significance, Application to Specified Scenarios and IT Systems, this subject teaches students not only information technology but also perspective to examine social and ethical issues in various scenarios. Available in both Higher Level and Standard Level.
In the process of trying to answer questions like “do we have free will?” “what do we mean when we talk about morality?”, students taking this subject will learn philosophical tools and learn how to challenge or defend an argument in a logical way. This course will encourage students to study philosophy through discussions and applying what they learn to look at different situations. Available in both Higher Level and Standard Level
Studying different psychological theories and arguments, students will learn psychology from biological, cognitive and sociocultural level. Available in both Higher Level and Standard Level.
Social and Cultural Anthropology
This subject will examine core terms and methodologies in anthropology with examining a wide range of topics related to ethnographic accounts, including individual and social organisations, system of knowledge, system of morality, politics, culture and etc. This subject is available in both Standard Level and Higher Level.
This subject is available in Standard Level only. It guides students to learn about what it means to belong to a certain religion, how religious belief has shaped the way people look at the world and how to develop understanding and awareness of religion issues.
Students are required to take at lease one subject from this group: Biology, Computer Science, Chemistry, Design Technology, Physics and Sports, Exercise and Health Science. Students are trained to analyse and use effective scientific tools to study different cases and to help them to learn how scientific world works.
At least one subject from Mathematics is compulsory, and computer science is an elective. There are four subjects available to accommodate different needs of students and to fulfill requirements of different universities: Mathematical Studies Standard Level, Mathematics Standard Level, Mathematics Higher Level, and Further Mathematics Higher Level.
This group provides five subjects: Dance, Music, Film, Theatre and Visual Arts at both Higher Level and Standard Level. Subjects in this group have strong flexibility while teaching in different cultural contexts, while the focus in on creativity in the disciplined and practical research into various art genres. Students may opt to pick up an additional subject from Sciences, Individuals and Societies, and Languages to rather than a subject from the Arts group.
IBDP expects students not only to have acquired solid academic knowledge such as understating of key concepts and methodologies, but also to demonstrate good abilities in applying academic skills to analyzing arguments and dealing with problems. Students will be assessed by their performance against standards, not by their position in the rank order. Both external and internal assessment will be conducted. External assessment includes essays, structured problems, short-response questions, data-response questions, text-study questions, case-study questions and multiple-choice-questions. Internal assessment includes oral work in languages, fieldwork in geography, laboratory work in sciences, investigations in mathematics and artistic performances. The Theory of Knowledge and Extended Essay could contribute up to three additional points in total to the overall result. While Creativity, Action, Service does not count into the overall grade but it is compulsory to finish IBDP. Both Higher Level and Standard Level subjects have the same number of points.
This is IBDP; when it gives you a lot of options and personalised combination of subjects, it may also bring more burdens to young students who have to handle various assignments with tight deadlines in very different areas from culture to science. Many students have gradually realised that IB tutoring is very helpful in their daily studies. Chances are that when students try to finish homework or write extended essay at home, they realise that they have a lot of questions or they find themselves kind of lost in structuring the paper. With IB tutoring, it is easy to ask a tutor any questions and get immediate guidance in the very focused one or two face to face tutorial hours. To get a better grade requires systematical training and patience. It is very important for students to have someone who can work closely with them at their own pace for a long time and can figure out their problems quickly. IB tutors who have years of experience of helping students with observant eyes and abundant, flexible teaching materials are ideal.