If you wish to enroll in college-level courses, the International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) programs will probably be on your list. Each program helps you enter institutions of higher learning with confidence in your abilities and carries weight with universities. But which one holds better prospects? Here’s a look.
What are the benefits of each program?
The benefits of both programs are quite similar. They offer courses intended to teach you the skills and habits to help you succeed at college. In addition, they prepare you for college-level work, improve your writing and problem-solving skills, and teach you how to plan your time and studies to manage the challenging coursework at college.
IB and AP exams can be used to earn college credits. However, you’ll need to check if your preferred college(s) offer credits only for higher level (HL) IB classes or also for standard level (SL) classes. AP credits can count towards actual college classes, and exam scores of 3 and higher can get you into higher-level courses. Some colleges don’t offer credit for AP courses but don’t require you to do the introductory courses.
How many classes can you take?
There are a total of 38 subjects in the Advanced Placement (AP) program, and you can take as many as you want. However, not every high school in the U.S. offers AP exams for all subjects, and some high schools limit the number of courses a student can enroll in. Because the AP program is challenging, students may overextend themselves if they take multiple AP classes in one semester. The AP exam consists of multiple-choice questions and free-response questions that can be answered in different formats.
The IB program has six areas of study. Like the AP program, you can choose the courses you want to take at the higher and standard levels. The IB program emphasizes critical thinking, and students are encouraged to ask questions and develop their research skills. However, to earn the IB diploma, you have to take six subjects – three to four at the more challenging higher level and the rest at the standard level. In addition, all IB diploma candidates must complete the course TOK (Theory of Knowledge), which is assessed through an extended essay and presentation and requires students to reflect on the nature of knowledge.
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