IB is short for International Baccalaureate. It is a high-quality international education program, and its certificate is recognized by top universities worldwide. A’ Levels has been the standard examination students in Junior College have to appear for in Singapore. However, some schools have started to offer the IB exams instead of A’ Levels in recent years, which brings students to one question – should you take the A’ Levels exams or the IB exams? Here are some considerations that may help you in your decision:
Do you want to focus on one subject matter?
Suppose you aspire to become a Chemist, and you are certain about it. Nothing else in life makes you feel more alive than Chemistry. Then, you should pursue the A’ Levels track. The A’ Levels curriculum for each subject goes deeper and can help students grasp concepts better for each subject. The A’ Levels examinations test students’ understanding of each subject and ability to apply their knowledge correctly. It does not deviate from this purpose.
This is why it is possible to score very well for A’ Levels with lots of practice, provided you got the concept right. You are also not too distracted by other subjects that can potentially work against you. For example, if you are a highly mathematical person who struggles at every General Paper lesson, at least the only thing you need to wrestle with is General Paper. This is a breeze compared to what you have to face in the IB exams.
If you want to be a little more experimental in school and are not content with mere academic progress, you may find that IB Singapore is the better track for you, as it excites you and challenges you to reach your fullest potential. The IB curriculum is highly comprehensive and competitive, comprising the DP (Diploma Program) core elements and six subject groups. The core elements are Theory of Knowledge, The Extended Essay, and CAS (Creativity, Activity Service). The six subject groups are Studies in language and literature, Language acquisition, Individuals and societies, Sciences, Mathematics and The Arts. In addition, you may find yourself taking such a combination of subjects in IB: English Literature, Chinese, Economics, Biology, Mathematics, Theatre. If such a varied subject combination excites you more than it intimidates you, go for IB!
Difference between IB and A levels:
Subjects: The IB is considerably more challenging than A-levels. When it comes to IB, students must study six subjects plus extras, whereas students study three subjects with A-levels. Universities reckon both the IB and A levels as academically challenging qualifications, so generally speaking, it doesn’t matter which you have as long as you’ve studied the right subjects at the right level. In short, IB is a perfect fit for students in a globalist, multi-cultural environment like Singapore! It’s also very transferable if you make an international move, given its truly global reach.
Examinations: IB coverage is more extensive, but the final exams tend to be less challenging than the A levels. Children who are more exam-savvy might do better in the A-level exams. The IB exams benefit students who are good at time management, independent learning and research. One key difference between the two routes is that the IBDP mandates students take a broader spread of subjects across disciplinary areas.
The A-level route requires students to take at least one contrasting subject. For example, many humanities students tend to choose mathematics, while science students tend to choose economics.
The IBDP has six subject groups: studies in language and literature; language acquisition; individuals and societies; sciences; mathematics; and the arts. Students can choose courses from these six groups. However, they may opt to study additional sciences, individuals and societies, or take up a language course. Most schools extensively follow the International Baccalaureate in Singapore as it allows the students to explore and learn in fascinating ways.
Some international schools in Singapore offer IB as it is highly preferred by parents and students alike. It is challenging but also helps students have basic knowledge in a wide range of subject matters.