Understanding AP and IB Programs

Thursday, November 25, 2021
differences of ap and ib programs

Every parent wants to provide the best education possible for their children, to give them a head start for their future. Children need to be academically competent and global-minded to be able to meet the challenges of an ever-competitive business landscape regardless of their chosen field, discipline, or career. 

The natural course is to enroll their children in an international school with academic programs that prepare them for this journey. These schools offer Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. Some schools offer both programs.

Unfortunately, most parents often choose a program without really knowing what AP or IB is.


AP vs. IB programs

AP and IB are academic programs that offer opportunities for students to earn college credits. Schools offering these programs usually provide college-level courses and exams.

While both are geared toward obtaining college credits, they differ in several aspects, such as objectives, processes, and costs. But before we dive into how they are different, let’s first explore what these programs are. 


What is Advanced Placement (AP) program?

Designed by the United States College Board, the AP program helps students prepare for university. It offers advanced college courses that qualify high school students for advanced classes or earn college credit. 


Advantages and disadvantages of AP

AP is more widespread compared to IB. For example, in 2019, over 2.8 million students took AP exams compared with the 166,000 who took IB exams.

Taking an AP exam is also less expensive than taking IB exams. An AP exam costs Php6,000 ($120). It is the same amount you would pay for an IB exam. However, you need to take the six exams amounting to Php36,000 ($720) on top of the annual registration cost of Php8,500.

AP does not have the more holistic program that IB has. However, this allows students to focus on advanced classes that they would excel in.

AP is recommended for students with heavier academic loads because AP is curricular compared with IB, which requires extracurricular commitments.


What is International Baccalaureate (IB program)

The IB program is a two-year diploma program developed in Switzerland. It provides students aged 16 to 19 years with an internationally recognized diploma for university admission.

Advantages and disadvantages of IB

IB combines subject matters and disciplinary structures that students naturally encounter on university campuses.

IB emphasizes the development of a global mindset, so it is highly suggested for students who want to live and work abroad eventually. That is why IB students have an easier time adjusting to college life.

IB students tend to be more mature because the entire program requires dedication and effective time management.


Comparing AP and IB programs (H2)

In understanding AP and IB programs, several vital points need to be looked at, including academic skills, classes and exams, and admission and credits.

Similarities and differences of AP and IB programs

Let’s start with the similarities between AP and IB. Here’s a rundown of these. Both programs:

  1. Offer college credits or advanced standing recognized by the majority of the universities in the US
  2. Provide an educational experience that requires high-performance expectations from both the faculty members and students
  3. Attract students who want to achieve academic excellence
  4. Utilize external assessment and evaluators in scoring these assessments

AP prioritizes subject mastery. The emphasis is on developing rote learning and test-taking skills. On the other hand, IB focuses on critical thinking and essay writing skills. Their exams are mostly research-style essays.

Speaking of exams, AP offers students the flexibility to pace their reviews and the actual tests. They may review on their own, then take the exam. Students need not be enrolled in an AP class to take the exam.

Unlike IB, it requires students to enroll in programmed courses. Enrolled students need to score high in their exams. The higher the levels of these exams, the more difficult they are. IB requires students to complete the six exams.


A pivot

Before choosing an academic institution to enroll your child in, it is best to have a long-term mindset. Answer these questions first.

  • What does my child want to achieve both academically and professionally?
  • Which university would help him achieve his academic and professional goals?
  • Which university to choose to attend一local or international?
  • How much do I need to prepare to find my child’s local or international education?

You or your child may have a list of pre-selected universities that he wants to pursue. Know, however, that these universities put a premium on AP or IB exams. They prioritize students who thrived despite the heavy academic loads.

It is best to check the guidelines of your chosen universities regarding college credits.

If your child is studying at an IB school and planning to pursue a college degree in the Philippines, he will find it challenging to tackle admission tests since these are usually timed multiple-choice exams. Nonetheless, these are the most vital points of AP.

If your child plans on attending university in the Philippines, then enroll in a foreign college or university later on, it would be more advisable to take AP instead of IB.

Reedley International School Manila is one of the few international schools in the Philippines to offer the AP program. Please feel free to contact us should you need more information about the said program.


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