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To IB or not to IB?

Weighing up the qualification choices facing today’s 16 year olds


With increasing numbers of schools offering the International Baccalaureate (IB) instead of A-levels, how do pupils decide which route to take? A necessary step to further education, it’s vital students make the right choice to ensure they get the very best from their last two years of school. Here are our thoughts on how the two stack up – and what to consider before making a decision.


A known quantity
Still first choice for many schools and students, A-levels offer a well-trodden path into higher education. Universities are accustomed to processing applications from A-level students, and with UCAS points and A-level grading systems aligned, it makes it easy for candidates and institutions alike.

Covering only three subjects, it’s a great option for those who already know what they want to do in later life. Pupils are free to focus on the areas they enjoy, jettisoning those they either struggle with or no longer need. With plenty of time to explore each subject, students emerge with the in-depth knowledge they need to pursue further studies in their chosen discipline.


An exciting alternative
Gaining traction across the country for its global perspective and internationally transferrable qualification, the IB provides a more well rounded option for many. Instead of committing to a course of study at 16, pupils can explore a wider range of subjects for longer – making it ideal for those unsure of their next step.

The IB is also highly regarded by employers, who consider its graduates well equipped to operate and compete in an increasingly global marketplace. Additional modules, such as the Theory of Knowledge, stress the importance of critical thought, and with a greater leaning towards independent study the IB is an excellent grounding for university.


How to choose?
Both routes offer something different, so it’s about considering an individual’s interests, learning style, and future ambitions. While some schools do offer their pupils both options, there may only be one course available – so it’s important to balance the merits of each qualification in the context of the schools under consideration.

Our tutors are experienced supporting students in both their A-level and IB studies, and our advisory services can help find a school that meets both academic and emotional aspirations. There’s more on the differences between the two qualifications in this month’s news article, and if you’re ready to explore your options further, do get in touch with the Figtree team.

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