IB Frequently Asked Questions

What is IB?

IB (International Baccalaureate) was developed in 1968 as a college preparatory program for internationally mobile students aged 16-19. Schools in seven cities, including New York, Beirut, Copenhagen, Geneva, Teheran, Manchester, and Glamorgan, Wales, piloted the program. Most of the first schools to offer IB were private international schools, but today over half of schools offering IB are public schools.

Today the diploma program is offered in over 2,000 schools worldwide and taught in three languages, English, French and Spanish. The IB program is big internationally and is growing in the United States. IB programs have been recognized and praised by admissions officers at a variety of prestigious colleges and universities. Christoph Guttentag, Director of admissions at Duke University, has stated that "one of the advantages of an IB curriculum is its structure and quality. It's a coordinated program, well established, well known and well respected. We know the quality of IB courses, and we think the curriculum is terrific." According to Jim Crowder, Director of admissions at Macalester College, "the IB offers an integrated curriculum that provides students with the skill needed to be world-class scholars, and an educational philosophy that prepares them to be first-class citizens. I do not know of a more comprehensive and appropriate learning model."

Why IB?

IB courses provide students with the opportunity to do college level work that is measured against an international standard. There are studies that show that students taking one or more IB classes and assessments are twice as likely to graduate from college on time as those students that did not take college level classes. The feedback received from colleges and universities has indicated that IB students arrive at college very well prepared. The IB program also provides students with a peer-supported learning community where scholarship is highly valued.

What is the IB Diploma Program?

The diploma program is a rigorous pre-university course of study which leads to examinations. It is designed for motivated students who hope to attend university. Since 1970 it has had over half a million graduates worldwide and is growing by 60,000 graduates a year. It is aimed at students in the final two years of high school. Diploma students take six subjects, usually one from each subject group, write a 4,000 word extended essay, complete 150 hours of creativity, action and service and take Theory of Knowledge. The diploma is well-recognized by universities around the world.

What subjects and exams do diploma students need to take?

Diploma Program students generally take six examinations, including one literature course taught in the student's native language (at North that's English), one acquired language, one social science, one experimental science, one mathematics and one arts course. The arts course can be replaced by a second social science, a second experimental science, or a third language. Students take their examinations at the end of the two-year diploma program; sometimes they take up to two of their examinations at the end of the first year of the diploma program.

What are the IB assessments?

A student's IB score is based on a compilation of scores earned through a variety of assessments. Every student enrolled in an IB class participates in this system through the internal assessments. These include oral commentaries, portfolios, projects, essays, and research projects. Students receive a SM North grade as well as an IB grade for this work. We submit IB grades and student work samples requested by IB to the IB examiners. This is done to moderate the teachers' grading so as to be certain that our teachers are correctly using the IB grading standards and that our scores are aligned internationally.The final step in the assessment process is the final examinations, held in May each year. Once completed, we mail the exams to assigned examiners throughout the world. The IB examiners are experts in each subject area. The exam scores are combined with the scores from the other assessment components for the determination of the final grade, 1 (low) to 7 (high).

Students can take individual IB classes and earn a score for each class (completion equals 3 or above) or can be IB diploma students, which is a 2 year program for juniors and seniors.

Courses are either standard level (one year of study (two for Math)), followed by the IB exam or higher level (two years of study (three for Math)) followed by the IB exam. IB diploma students must take at least 3 higher level courses (a student takes either a standard level or higher level course and exam, but not both levels in the same subject). Students must earn at least 24 points (based on exam scores of 1 to 7 and their extended essay and TOK scores) to receive an IB diploma. At North only juniors and seniors are eligible to take IB exams, and only seniors are eligible to take Higher Level exams. All IB diploma students must also take the Theory of Knowledge course.

What is unique about the IB program?

The IB Diploma is the most comprehensive, rigorous, and assessed high school diploma available in the world today. The Theory of Knowledge course, the 4,000 word extended essay research paper, the CAS requirement of 150 hours of creativity, activity, and community service during 11th and 12th grades, the two year commitment to six areas of study, plus the assessments scored using international standards make the IB program unique. Most significantly, IB's uniqueness is defined by the organization's mission statement: "Through comprehensive and balanced curricula coupled with challenging assessments, the International Baccalaureate organization aims to assist schools in their endeavors to develop the individual talents of young people and teach them to relate the experience of the classroom to the realities of the world outside.

Beyond intellectual rigor and high academic standards, strong emphasis is placed on the ideals of international understanding and responsible citizenship, to the end that IB students may become critical and compassionate thinkers, lifelong learners and informed participants in local and world affairs, conscious of the shared humanity that binds all people together while respecting the variety of cultures and attitudes that makes for the richness of life"

Who is the typical IB student?

IB honors diversity, but what the students tend to have in common is their love of learning and their high motivation combined with perseverance and grit.

Can a student be in the IB program and still participate in sports, music and other extracurricular activities?

Many of our IB students are involved in either sports or other extracurricular activities such as band, scouting, church groups, outside music, dance lessons, etc. Some of our most successful students are our busiest. Success in the IB program depends upon the student's ability to manage his/her time, set priorities, and follow through with commitments.

How will students benefit from being a part of IB?

Students will be better prepared for university studies. As the IB curriculum is based on the inquiry model, encouraging students to become independent thinkers, students will also have attained a higher level of critical thinking, which will help them be responsible contributors to society. Many universities say that IB prepares students well for college work. Many also offer significant credit for success in IB courses, as well as up to sophomore standing for the completion of the full IB Diploma.

What are the requirements for acceptance into IB?

Students do not need to test into or apply for the IB program. Students and parents decide together what is the best path for the student. Teachers can be helpful in advising students about course selection as well. IB information times will also be scheduled for parents and students to explain the program.