Will switching to IB board give you an edge over CBSE/ICSE students in international college applications?

Will switching to IB board give you an edge over CBSE/ICSE students in international college applications?

Shifting a child from a CBSE/ICSE school to an IB school after Grade 10 is a crucial decision that parents need to plan for with due care.

Most high school students in India study under the aegis of the CBSE, ICSE, or State Boards. However, recently, we have seen a huge presence of schools that offer the IGCSE, A-Levels, and IB Programs conducted by International Boards.

IGCSE, established by the University of Cambridge International examinations, is recognized worldwide for its emphasis on student-centric education. It is designed to be taught as a two-year course for students in Grades 9 and 10. During the two years, the teachers use different methods of assessment including course work, practical exercises, oral and listening tests, project work, and written examinations. Post IGCSE, students can opt for A/AS levels or IBDP for their plus 2.

The IB programs were founded by The International Baccalaureate Organization, is a non-profit educational organization with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. It runs three programs:

  1. Primary Years Program from Kindergarten to Grade 5
  2. Middle Years Program from Grades 6 to Grade 10
  3. The Diploma Program for Grades11 and 12

Both CBSE/ICSE and IB offer quality education. CBSE/ICSE offers a relatively theoretical model of education that is well suited for students preparing for college entrance exams in India and is also reputed and recognized worldwide. The Grade 12 exams are scheduled in March to enable students to join the college in July as per the Indian system.

The IB program curriculum consists of a range of subjects incorporating a global context of knowledge and encourages an application-based methodology of assessments and learning. The inquiry, research, and writing-oriented IBDP program are accepted by universities around the world as a sound foundation for college-level studies.

Students who shift from a CBSE/ICSE school to an IB affiliated school will be challenged by the curriculum and the systems of learning. IBDP students are graded on a total score of 45. They are marked from 1 – 7 in six subjects with the cumulative maximum being 42. The Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge grades contribute to adding the remaining 3 points. Students can choose their subjects from six groups with three Higher Level (HL) and three Standard Level (SL) subjects.

Students should not switch to IB just because they wish to apply abroad. It does not help or increase the chances of admissions. Multiple other factors matter, and are used to make admissions decisions. Rather, the shift should be based on a thorough self-analysis by a student.

The student should reflect on the following questions:

  • Do I seek deeper knowledge about the topics I study?
  • Do I enjoy reading books for recreation?
  • Do I question what I learn in class?
  • Do I seek a wider, global scope of exploration while learning?
  • Do I enjoy inquiry-based assignments?
  • Do I analyze facts in a balanced manner before arriving at an opinion?
  • Do I have good writing skills?

Once the decision to move to IBDP for Grades 11 and 12 is taken, appropriate preparation should begin. It is advisable for parents and students to gather information through research and interactions with IB students/parents to have a clear understanding of what would be required from a student in an IB school.

The next task would be to list out the facts and create an action plan to bridge the difference. Reading, research, analysis, writing, and time management skills should be actively developed for a successful conversion to the new system. Parents and students should have frequent conversations at home about the progress of the student and maintain regular communication with teachers, counselors, and coordinators to address queries and seek advice.

Students who have studied both- the CBSE/ICSE and IB curriculums- say that being informed and consistent is helpful. Also, asking for help without hesitation is important to ensure support from all resources available in school and at home.

The quantity of work needed for excelling in either curriculum is not very different- just a shift in approach is needed. Regardless of the Board of Education, students will be on the right track as long as they understand that their sincere work will translate to excellent grades.

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