Structure of IB
The IB generally has 6 main classes, each class from a group as illustrated below. The subjects that are actually available for your choice vary from school to school and each class has versions in the Standard Level (SL) or Higher Level (HL). According to IBO, the SL level requires 150 hours of instruction in an SL course and the HL requires 240 hours. IB Diploma is a 2 year program and the HL is observably more rigorous than the SL.
Here is the breakdown of each subject group.
Group 1: Studies in Language and Literature
Usually the IB English A course. You are expected to deliver a high volume of essays/ responses to different genres of literature. The final exam has writing and oral components.
Group 2: Language Acquisition
This is the IB foreign language course (either A or B module). The most popular languages are Chinese, French and Spanish.
Group 3: Individuals and Societies
Group 4: Experimental Sciences
This is the science components and you get to choose from Chemistry, Biology, and Physics. Applied base research projects at university first year level is commonplace.
Group 5: Mathematics
IB Maths SL. Algebra, trigonometry, geometry, statistics, calculus is covered
Group 6: The Arts
Plus Extended Essay (EE) (a 4000 word paper), Theory of Knowledge (TOK) and Creativity, Action, Service (CAS)
What is IB?
The IB program is also known as the International Baccalaureate program. It has 3 components, namely the DP (G12-13), MYP (G7-11) and PYP for 3 stages of learners. The program is highly competitive and requires students to have thorough understanding of the topics, regardless of the subject. Today, many countries (including Hong Kong) regard an I.B. Diploma as equivalent to their own country’s secondary school diploma. This provides for a great alternative to students thinking about going to universities in US/ UK and other countries outside of HK.
IB Program Features
Students are also required to take at least 3 (but not more than 4) HL subjects and the remaining 3 or so SL, meaning that roughly half of the courses are HL.
Compared to IAL/ IGCSE, this program may look confusing at first glance as the school teacher has some degree of autonomy to choose what topics to be covered, and how it should be covered. For instance a maths teacher at School A would include topics that might not be covered in another school, even both schools follow the IB program. At the exam, students may actually come across topics that might not be covered in school at all. The uncertainty that entails could surprise some students
So how do we prepare for IB?
When the IB first started, students can expect to drill past exam papers seriously; top scores come naturally with some serious work. As the IB curriculum continues to evolve, this is becoming less the case. More than ever, students are required to exhibit their understanding and make educated inquisitions thoroughly. Without years of solid foundation in the subject matter, these skills will not be attainable.
Preparing for IB takes years of hard work. Despite that the actual final exam does not come until grade 12. The preparation should start as early as grade 4, especially with Maths and English subjects, as numeracy and writing skills is all about practice and familiarity.
Diploma level courses are generally much more demanding than middle years courses; without a solid foundation, students could become poorly prepared for is ahead at the diploma level. For instance Diploma level English expects a student to critique and analyze a wide range of literary works with flair and insight. As one can imagine, those without sufficient exposure to literature, pool of vocabulary and essay training would most likely suffer in their dipoma years. It is in the students' best interest to prepare for diploma level courses as soon as they start the middle years program.
Diploma level Maths and Sciences subjects are also foundation based. Past paper drill alone do not work as diploma level maths requires a student to understand and answer complex questions in a very tight time frame.
Except for Primary Years Program, students in the program are graded out 7. A 5/7 student would indicate an average student. Hudson Academy students often score around 6/7 or even 7/7.