Butting Heads(?) – Which is the Better Program: IB or AP?

AP Side: Picking classes for the next year will always leave an impact.  In middle school and the first year of high school, it is either honors or non-honors.  Want a more relaxed class?  Take non-honors. But if you want a challenge, honors is the way to go.  In the sophomore year, it is now IB or AP.  Both routes are great, but only one will help more in the future.

Going on the AP route through high school prepares students for college classes and examinations.  According to collegeboard.com, students step away from memorizing facts and “instead…engage in intense discussions, solve problems collaboratively, and learn to write clearly and persuasively.”  AP classes provide college credit depending on how many classes are taken and how high final test scores are.  The school only offers some AP classes, the first of which becomes available sophomore year with AP Government.  Students do not have to take AP for every core class or electives.

The school has the full IB program, a smaller program gaining recognition from colleges.  As stated at the Freshman Parent Night, IB is more recognized in the state than out of state colleges.  The full IB program requires that three higher level classes are taken between the junior and senior years and four standard level classes are taken.  Taking the full IB program will consist of all the core classes, an IB language and two electives.  Students can also fulfill individual certificates for each class, instead of taking the full IB program.  Taking this route can put much stress on the student, which can lead to bad grades and no time for friends and family.

Take as many AP classes as possible.  Those classes offer the most college credit for the future and can help to a significant extent.  Taking AP classes will be better if attending an out of state college is the goal.  The IB program is still smaller, and only some colleges recognize it.  If the goal is to go to a state college or university, then IB may be the better option since it is recognized regularly here in the state.  AP classes do prepare students for more college type classes.  It gives students a head start on what will be learned in college and it helps students master the subject.

Taking AP over IB is the smarter choice if going to college is the goal.  Colleges know more about AP classes since it has been more recognized around the country than the smaller IB program.

Also AP Side: It seems like there is always talk about this International Baccalaureate class or that Advanced Placement class. But which one is better? For me, it was a close call. However, AP is slightly better than IB. Both programs are rigorous and require critical thinking skills. However, AP is recognized in more colleges for credit. IB classes are generally less familiar to colleges. Recently, however, they have grown in size. Nevertheless, the AP program is more likely to catch a college’s eye.

Deciding whether to go in the IB or AP direction is a decision that should be made carefully, as both programs are taught differently. Also, a factor in determining which path to take would be whether the school offers the program. Although the IB program is more known at the school, AP is still offered here. The AP program focuses on students’ ability to know facts and apply them. The IB program is concentrated more on presentation skills and interpreting new information quicker. Both exams, as I said earlier, require critical thinking skills, and both are long, around three to five hours, and are taken near the end of the year. So, AP’s advantage of college credit is crucial.

Despite minimal offerings of AP here, there are still some courses in the program, including math, English and social studies. One advantage of AP is, unlike the IB diploma program, which requires students to complete at least 150 hours of extracurricular activities, a 4,000 word extended essay, and a 1,600 word theory of knowledge essay, is taking all AP classes is not required, and neither is the test. Instead, the program depends more on one’s interests and strengths. The IB program is more globally centered, focused on almost every subject, but the AP program is beneficial to those who like to pick and choose.

Another aspect of AP classes is they are often recognized as college credit over IB courses, as mentioned earlier. However, scores on the exam will always be a factor for colleges in determining credit, no matter if it is an AP or IB exam. Although some think AP courses are pure memorization, this is not true. To succeed in an AP class, one needs to, of course, know the facts, but also be able to apply them to new situations and topics that require one to think critically. For example, learning facts about the Chinese government is just one part of the equation. The second part is using those facts to predict trends and behaviors within its government. Life skills can be learned in both AP and IB classes.

Despite similarities, taking an AP class not only helps motivate people, it can provide a leg-up for college. Now, that is one advantage sure to get people’s attention.