Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.
Please take a moment to read our updated TOS, Privacy Policy, and Forum Rules.

Is IB a good prep for MIT?

crazymomstercrazymomster Registered User Posts: 1,872 Senior Member
Our school is considering going to the IB program and I have lots of questions and would love any private messages as my questions are not all MIT related, but trying to keep my questions here related to MIT.

Are there different levels of IB diplomas and if so, how does MIT view them?

Is having an IB diploma or having taken IB classes persuasive in any way in MIT admissions (differently than having taken a rigorous workload)?

Is comparing IB to AP like comparing apples and oranges or is it more like comparing delicious apples to fuji apples?

Are graduates of the IB program as well prepared (or more?) than someone having taken a similar AP workload?

Any other thoughts?

Thank you.
Post edited by crazymomster on

Replies to: Is IB a good prep for MIT?

  • MikalyeMikalye Registered User Posts: 1,337 Senior Member
    It's comparing apples to oranges, but I have met, interviewed, and seen accepted quite a few applicants over the years who have gone through the IB program. I strongly feel that they have been well prepared for MIT.
  • collegealum314collegealum314 Registered User Posts: 6,768 Senior Member
    I did not do IB and don't know anyone personally who has. However, a few people have posted on this board who went through the program, and it seems like it is enormously time-consuming compared to a program with AP's. I'm not sure if there is an intellectual payoff, or if they just assign more work. Also, it seems like they have less time for EC's.

    I agree with Mikalye that IB is viewed as favorable as APs by MIT, so I wouldn't worry about that.

    I would post to the general board asking for a pro/con of the IB program. Perhaps there are some people who did it who can comment more knowledgeably.
  • MikalyeMikalye Registered User Posts: 1,337 Senior Member
    I'm not sure that collegealum is right, in that it is all that more time consuming. The basic curriculum has a minimum of 6 subjects, that does not seem like a much larger number than most students that I know who are doing APs. There is slightly less time for EC's due to the community service requirement (or more correctly the Creativity, Action, Service requirement, which normally consumes some 4 hours/week for IB students. However, in a great many schools, they make room for those 4 hours during the normal school day, and even in schools where they don't, the CAS project can often be discussed and described in many of the ways in which a student would describe an EC. Then the only real add-on extra is the Extended Essay, the ~4000 word paper. I can assure you that this is excellent preparation for university.

    I quite like the IB program, though I recogize that it is not for everyone. Its greatest strength, and its greatest weakness is its enforced breadth. I have seen AP students who take Calculus BC, Physics C, Chemistry, Computer Science A, Statistics, and say Environmental Science. 6 subjects, but very limited breadth. You just cannot do that in the IB, for better or worse.
  • orangemom12orangemom12 Registered User Posts: 219 Junior Member
    It's not just the Extended Essay. There are Oral exams and other papers due during senior year. The community service is not an issue. Additionally, where many seniors can make due with 3-4 classes Senior year, the IB student cannot. Most AP students do not take AP classes Freshman year. IB students must.

    As to MIT, I do know they love my son's school. It is an IB magnet. The work does prepare the kids for college;Some are relieved to start college and breathe again. The flip side is that for all the additional work, not many schools give IB students the precedence one would expect, like AP over Honors. I have heard from many that it is deemed equal to AP. If that is the case, take AP, have a life and forget it. Do this as long as IB is NOT an option in the school. If iB is indeed an option, take the IB.
  • suzy100suzy100 Registered User Posts: 4,318 Senior Member
    Stepson is a senior in the IB program. Great program, but extremely time-consuming and there seems to be virtually no benefit over the AP program which is also offered at his school. His younger brother is a freshman and we are advising him to take the AP route over the IB route.
  • orangemom12orangemom12 Registered User Posts: 219 Junior Member
    I'm w you, Suzy.
  • MikalyeMikalye Registered User Posts: 1,337 Senior Member
    Again it depends on what you are looking for. I think that AP courses are usually easier than doing an IB or an Abitur, and much easier than doing A-levels. But I also think that the IB is a fine preparation for university (and indeed for adult life).

    Competitive schools including MIT, in evaluating a student's approach to academic challenges ask one question "Is this student taking the most challenging academic program available to them, and if not, why not." They are interested in a student's academic decisions. Most students do not have a choice about whether they are doing A-levels, or APs or the IB (or the Abitur, the French Baccalaureate, or whatever else). As a result, it is not really indicative of anything as to whether a student has taken one over another. For the overwhelming majority of students, they took whatever their school offered. As a result, competitive schools including MIT cannot really value one qualification over another, as that tells them nothing about the student.

    If however, your school is offering an option, then the equation changes. Suzy100 indicates that their school offers both and they are advising their younger child not to take the IB but rather the AP's. That is a kid who will have to answer the "then why not" question, and if the answer is "I wanted an easier ride," then that is an answer that correlates quite poorly with competitive university admission.
  • coffeeannarborcoffeeannarbor Registered User Posts: 41 Junior Member
    ^^ While there are many good points, I have to disagree Mikalye saying that AP courses are easier than IB courses. If you go to any school that has a the option of doing an IB program or just doing AP, you would realize that they are the same course. My school (private college prep) and the public school in my city does that. The courses are listed as AP/IB Bio/Calc/Lit/etc. You cannot say "oh he wanted to take the easy way out and didn't do IB," well, that just shows that one did not carefully evaluate the course offerings. School do not separate IB classes from AP classes if they are the same subject. That would be a huge waste of money in today's budget strapped schools. And AP is not an easier ride if you manage it properly. In fact, there are easy rides in IB. There are easy IB classes! For example, IB standard level physics is so much easier than AP physics. Taking IB ITGS for history is easier than taking AP European History. IB TOK is not harder than AP Lang. IB History of the Americas is not harder than AP US His. The higher level classes are, well, the same classes as the AP classes. AP Bio/Calc/Chem/Physics/Lit is the same course as the IB counterpart in most schools that offer both IB and AP. So IB is not harder than AP.
    AP provides a vast amount of academic freedom. IB students do not have schedule flexibility. In fact, IB can prevent you from getting some of the basic course completions that would make one even more competitive at some top colleges, especially engineering ones. MIT wants one to take Bio, Chem, Physics and Calc. IB could possibly make you not be able to fulfill one. Why? Because IB requires one to take the same subject for two years.
    IB revolves around 6 cores and students have to take classes from each:
    1. English or native
    2. Foreign Language
    3. Social Science (history, philosophy, economics, itgs, psychology)
    4. Experimental Science (Biology, Chem, Physics)
    5. Math or Comp Sci
    6. The Arts

    Well, if you follow this properly, you will realize that since IB requires 2 years of studying the same subject, you will not be able to fit in 3 sciences given that you school's schedule is 6 periods. Since most schools spend the first two years of high school doing pre-AP/IB courses (like Honors classes), then a student taking IB won't be able to fit in all three sciences! Of course that doesn't mean one will not get into MIT, but that would limit ones ability to be prepared for some of the challenging courses.
    Note, I am not saying that IB is a bad prep. I am saying that you have to be careful in evaluating what program to take. IB has it's strength and faults.
  • bellybonesbellybones Registered User Posts: 134 Junior Member
    My oldest is taking an IB diploma. His two-years-younger brother is just as good a student, but plans to take AP. There is more reading and analysis in IB in my opinion. And saying the only difference is "just" the extended essay, that's like saying there's very little difference between the winters in Charlotte and Minneapolis, it's "just" that it's colder in Minnie.
  • FourChanFourChan Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    Coffeeannarbor, thats not necessarily true
  • coffeeannarborcoffeeannarbor Registered User Posts: 41 Junior Member
    FourChan, nice broad generalization, please explain. I can safely say that it most certainly is true that the AP/IB school out here in the budget strapped midwest do not split up their classes so that there is a special IB class and a special AP class that teach the same subject. With all due respect, IB is not very popular. IB programs are also seriously expensive. To become an IB certified schools, schools have to pay thousands of dollars, not to mention the cost of the training the teachers, the exams and the extra course materials. Fees and services
    I'm not saying this randomly. I attended my city's public school's board meeting when they were deciding whether to implement IB or not and they stated that they will not be splitting up their classes.
    Are there exceptions? Yes, there always is. Just like how I can that AP is not necessarily easier than IB. I can say that that IB is not necessarily better than AP, that colleges don't discriminate against AP students as long as they challenged themselves. Some students want flexibility. I have seen IB students who end up not being able to take some of their classes because of the inflexibility. So yes, there are some cases that it might not happen as I stated, but what I stated is true: IB doesn't give you much flexibility in classes (ask kids at International Academy, the #2 public school in the US, about their course flexibility in the last two years), IB cannot be absolutely stated without a reasonable doubt as "better than AP", oftentimes IB and AP classes are the same class.
  • atomicbaseballatomicbaseball Registered User Posts: 93 Junior Member
    My impression as a senior in the IB program is that, while AP is all about the test at the end and thus the quality of the class itself can vary tremendously, IB requires several assignments along the way which contribute to the final grade as well, thus ensuring the full curriculum is at least strong enough for that. In that sense, IB can tend to be more difficult than AP, though it depends on the quality of the AP teacher.

    For MIT in particular, it can be annoying - as noted, IB forces breadth. This often isn't particularly detrimental, and it does prepare students to write and introduce them to possible other interests. It's not impossible to fit all three sciences in even if you don't take them prior to junior year, as one can take multiple science classes - the "arts" class is actually an elective which can be an additional science class at some schools, and motivated students can sometimes take additional classes, though it depends on the school. And the 2 year courses thing is not technically a requirement, it's just that most people need that much time. For example, at my school IB physics (SL) is a one year course because everyone will have taken a year of physics already in 9th grade. However, depending on scheduling it can create issues. Because of IB, I will have graduated with only a semester of biology instead of a full year.
  • crazymomstercrazymomster Registered User Posts: 1,872 Senior Member
    Interesting discussion on the IB/AP and I appreciate it a lot. However it does make me not all that excited about bringing the IB program to my S's school, which I don't think we'll have a choice in.

    Our school currently has 8 periods. Would this continue to be possible with the IB program or would it "have to" go to 6?
  • atomicbaseballatomicbaseball Registered User Posts: 93 Junior Member
    There's no requirement on the number of periods. Technically, you need at least seven, as any full IB student takes the six main classes and theory of knowledge as well. IB students are also free to take additional classes (IB or not) assuming there is time in the day. It'll depend on the school, they may want to lengthen the classes so there's more time for the work required by IB, but they're not required to.
  • coffeeannarborcoffeeannarbor Registered User Posts: 41 Junior Member
    atomicbaseball, I really appreciate your input, just shows how different school have different approaches on IB. Your school teaches it differently from the ones here in Michigan, where students take the same subject (not the same course) twice (so for example, chem- take Orgo and then AP/IB chem. physics - physics SL/physics B and then AP/IB physics, biology - AP/IB Bio and then AP/IB Biopsych). It also depends on the number of periods. My school has 7 which allows for TOK, but the public school only has 6 and people taking TOK must stay an extra hour after school for that class.
    Our school currently has 8 periods. Would this continue to be possible with the IB program or would it "have to" go to 6?
    That depends on the administrator's choice. I can say that when my public school implemented IB this year, they went from a 8 period schedule to a 6 with people taking TOK having to stay after school. There is a likely chance that they might go to 7 but 6 is also very possible.
This discussion has been closed.