BLOG: Ask the College Counselor — AP vs. IB

We often get this question from our high achieving secondary school students…which program is better, AP or IB? The answer would depend on what the educational goals of the student are.

We often get this question from our high-achieving secondary school students…which program is better, AP or IB?  (Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate).

The answer would depend on what the educational goals of the student are. Many students are very focused, and have well defined goals, while others tend to allow the social or recreational activities to dictate. On balance, the IB degree program in the last two years of high school is given more merit at the most competitive colleges.

Three reasons for that are:

  1. The IB teachers, unlike AP teachers, have to be evaluated and certified every five years.
  2. The tests given require essay or short answer responses for the most part.
  3. And there is a "capstone" 4000-word writing project at the end of the program.  

If your student likes to write, IB may be the one for them. However, if he/she is interested in science and possibly going into medicine, that goal would call for a different set of skills, though learning how to write is indeed a good goal, no matter what the career.  

AP courses have been around longer that IB, and the College Board has received criticism regarding the way AP courses are designed. It is in the process of revising its history and science curricula to address the criticisms of the most competitive colleges. In other words, those colleges do not feel that many high schools are challenging students to do true college-level work and grade inflation is immediately recognized when they compare the May test scores with the teacher’s grade.

Under the proposed changes, as I understand them, US history students may spend less time studying the names, dates, events, documents and more time talking about such themes as “politics and citizenship.” Science students may also spend more time on themes and on investigative learning and less time on the material and terminology required to work at more advanced levels.

All in all, taking the most challenging level of coursework AND doing well in it is the best thing to do.

If you would like us to speak in your local high school, shoot us an e-mail, at support@getcollegefunding.org.

For free seminars, WEBinars, and useful tools to help guide the college planning process, please go to www.GetCollegeFunding.org, and sign up for our "10 Mistakes Most Parents Make When Planning For College."

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