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IB: What's it all about

This week in our sharings, we had a sharing on the International Baccalaureate diploma programme(IB) offered in Singapore. We covered what life is like generally and the structure of the programme. The video below documents the sharing we had by one of our volunteers.

The schools in Singapore that offer IB are listed as below (Not exhaustive):

  1. ACS(International)

  2. ACS(Independent)

  3. SJI

  4. SOTA

  5. Most international schools(CIS, AIS, SAS)

  6. Singapore Sports School

  7. Hwa Chong international

  8. UWC

The subject combination for the IB programmes is pretty different from that of JC, The subjects offered are of a wide variety and type. The structure begins with core subjects, Extended essay(EE), Theory of knowledge(TOK), Creativity, action and service(CAS). These three are the common subjects taken by all students, together with another six subjects students can choose from the subject groups as below.

  1. Language & Literature

  2. 2nd Language

  3. Individual & Societies

  4. Experimental Science

  5. Mathematics

  6. Arts or any subject in Group 1 to 4

How would you know if IB is for you?

Well, one thing that IB is not short of is writing, from the more humanities subjects to even the sciences, the art of writing would be utilised throughout your time in this program. Even the core subjects themselves already have the word ‘essay’ in them, so brace yourself for that if you choose to go down this path. For example, for the sciences, weekly research reports have to be submitted to train yourself for research-based work in the future. And an enabler of these writings is research and self-exploration, which will be very prevalent as you go along this journey. This is also evident in the use of experiential learning and a focus on it. The work done in IB is very ground-based, hands-on work and much less of the book study that we would be used to from secondary school. All of this would amount to the analytical work that builds up to the papers we will write through the research and work. So if this is something you think you would enjoy and excel in, why not consider coming into IB.

The focus of study in IB is more on breadth learning than depth learning that can be a good and bad thing. IB has a very experiential learning style, teaching students through more touch and go experiences and their individual research papers and projects. Students would be exposed to a wide range of topics within a subject to allow them to explore the different facets of the subject, at their own time and interests. But rarely does it go deep into the subject matter. This also encourages self-study and exploration into the topics that interest one, if they are willing to do this research. The programme is such that they prefer students to have a wider perspective of the subject to lead the students into self-exploration as compared to confining students to topics and going deep into these topics and rarely veering off. If you are someone who is still exploring your options and which subjects and courses you would like to pursue, IB would be good for you to be exposed to this range for you to hopefully find your interests.

IB is a good stepping stone into uni, in the type of subjects offered and also in the learning and working style experienced in IB. As previously mentioned, there is a lot of essay writing with the research involved, which will surely be encountered in university, with the papers stretching even longer than those written currently. Apart from that, the teaching and working style are quite similar. IB involves a mix of individual and group projects to hone your team-based skills and communication skills, with some even being exposed to leadership skills while maintaining your own academic integrity and own authentic ideas. These projects usually end or consist of an oral presentation where everyone would have the opportunity to present their work, expanding on their presentation skills. This style of projects and presentations parallels that of the university working environment, and this exposure will surely be helpful in assisting students to step up into the new environment.

To wrap up, here are some of the pros for the IB programme

  • Exposure to research paper writings

  • Continuous grading system, not dependent on only a final paper

  • Subjects promote critical reasoning and thinking

  • Value-based learning through group projects. Promotes collective learning collaboration skills

  • Oral presentation further adds to the group aspect and improves communication and presentation skills


Do note that these points are also slightly based on personal opinion and experience and may not be accurate in all cases.

If you have any further questions, feel free to leave a comment here or DM us on our Instagram page.

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