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"The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot." | A UVA Student on the IB Program

We had the privilege of interviewing Daniel S. via Google Doc and asked for some experience about: the IB Program

  • a student at the University of Virginia

  • tennis team captain in high school

  • had the highest total IB exam score award of his class

  • 34 on ACT, 1480 on SAT

Here are some important words he shares:

  • "IB is less flexible and makes it harder to get college credit for many classes. "

  • "I think one skill I learned from the IB Program was to get more work done in less time; basically better time management skills."

Q: First, would you mind explaining what IB means?

A: Well obviously, IB stands for International Baccalaureate, which is an international organization that, in summary, is pretty rigorous but looks pretty nice on your college application. In IB, almost all your classes are IB classes, which is different from AP classes where you can take however many you want.

Q: You were awarded the highest total IB exam score of your class. Can you explain how your school system worked? (special centers, IB programs, etc.)

A: In my school system, each school had a general “focus” or specialty, which is why many schools have specialty centers within the school. One of the specialty centers at my high school was IB, which honestly isn’t really a specialty but more of a balanced academic program. In the IB Program there are two different programs: Middle Years (MYP) and Diploma (DP) Program. MYP basically encompasses freshmen and sophomores while DP includes juniors and seniors. For many DP classes, there are IB exams that must be taken, with scores out of 7, which, along with other scores from various large IB assignments throughout high school, add up to a total score that determines whether you can get your IB Diploma or not.

Q: There were many other options in your school system to pursue specific interests (computer science center, math center, arts center, etc.), why did you decide to pursue an IB school?

A: I’ll be honest, I don’t remember why I chose IB. After middle school, I had three choices: IB, math & science center, or my zoned school. I think I might have chosen IB because the math & science center was much more competitive and rigorous with not much reward, and I thought being average at a good school would not look as good as being in the top 5% at a less good, but still pretty good school.

Q: How would you compare IB and AP? What pros and cons did they offer and why did you lean towards IB?

A: IB is less flexible and makes it harder to get college credit for many classes. I only had the chance to take one AP class (AP Calculus BC). In AP, you can take whatever and however many AP classes, and take an AP exam that’s graded out of 5 to get college credit. For IB, DP classes are split up into Standard (SL) and Higher (HL) Level classes, and only HL classes can get you college credit. Of course, HL class exams are much harder than SL, but the main thing is that you must take a minimum number of SL classes, and some classes were only offered HL or SL, so that limited our options. I took SL Chinese, Chemistry, and Mathematics, and HL History, English, and Biology. I only got college credit for HL English and AP Calculus BC. If I took AP, I for sure would have gotten more college credit.

Q: How would you compare the IB system to a normal class?

A: IB has many special assignments throughout high school along with and apart from classes. Outside classes, IB requires a Personal Project, Extended Essay, and CAS Project which help determine IB Diploma status. These were all long-term projects that would span a whole year for each, requiring a lot of work outside of school. In classes, there were Internal Assessments, which were basically papers we needed to write about a topic of our choosing based on what we’ve been learning in the specific class. Also, in general, IB classes tend to be tougher in terms of curriculum and expectations than normal classes, at least at my high school.

Q: What is one skill you have learned from the IB Program?

A: I think one skill I learned from the IB Program was to get more work done in less time; basically better time management skills. I learned to prioritize assignments, concentrate better in shorter amounts of time, and find better places to concentrate. I found out that listening to soft music without lyrics in a quiet library helps me focus, so I could grind out assignments in short amounts of time.

Correction from previous post: Interviewee name is Daniel S., not Daniel W.