IB Diploma for Dummies


For those who call yourselves as an IB students/candidates, this post is for you.

I'm an IB Diploma candidate on 2009. Everything that I'll write here may change in the future but here's what I've experienced during my Diploma years and I'll give you some tips to survive it.


IB, International Baccalaureate, is an international curriculum from UK. The Diploma Programme itself is a 2 years program in High School. 

We, IB candidates, have to choose 6 subjects to complete IB. Each subjects have 2 levels, standard or higher. For those who want to learn deeper on a certain subject, you can choose it in higher level (HL) because it does require EXTRA work than standard level (SL).

Those 6 subjects are including 1 your mother tongue's language (for example, I took Indonesian for this), 1 secondary language (I took English for this), Math, 1 Social Studies, 1 Science Subjects, and 1 (optional) group 6 subjects which is art subject (Fine Arts, Music, or Theater Art). For those who don't want do art, you can either double your social or science subject. In IB, we do not only study those 6 subjects, but you might also have religion, ethics, or other subjects (based on the school curriculum).
One more thing. You must take 3 (maximum 4) higher level subjects and 3 standards.

So in my case, I chose:
1. Indonesian A1 (HL)
2. English A2 (SL)
3. Math (SL)
4. Biology (SL)
5. Psychology (HL)
6. Fine Arts (HL) -- I chose Photography as my major

During those 2 years of IB Diploma program, we also have to do CAS (Creativity,Action,Service), write your Extended Essay, and do a presentation and paper in TOK (Theory of Knowledge). 

CAS means that you have to do some social work etc. for total of 150 hours, each one is around 50 hours. 

Don't forget the EE! Extended Essay is the most important thing in IB. It is a 4000 words essay of any topics from any subjects you wanted. 

TOK requires us to think critically, really deep, and logical. In the last year, you are required to write a paper on the given topics and also do a presentation on a subject your own choice. These 3 non-academic matters are crucial to add up some additional points on your Diploma score.

So, to sum up, in order to pass IB and get the DIPLOMA, you need to:
1. Pass all 6 subjects (Minimum score of 3 for higher level subjects; Minimum total of 12 for 3 HL subjects and at least 24 total points to pass IB),
2. Complete 150 hours of CAS (Recommend 50 hours each for C,A,S),
3. Write your 4000 words Extended Essay (If you get an A in your essay, you can get extra point to your overall score),
4. Do a TOK presentation and submit TOK paper
5. Do a G4 (Science) project
6. Submit IA (Internal Assessment) for each subject

7. Have your own ART EXHIBITION (for those who take Fine Art) 
or submit a video recording of your performance (for those who take Theater Art or Music). 

If you get 23 points from all your subjects and you get an A for EE, it's basically 24 isn't it? Then congratulations! You get your Diploma!


OK, that's pretty much some basic information about IB Diploma. You can see it yourself in www.ibo.org for more.

Now.. This is where I have to rant about the most important thing(s) you have to know about IB Diploma which you can find only in this post.

1. 2 years in IB = NOT ENOUGH! seriously. You got tons of work to be done in 2 years. Well, for me, it's not enough. 
Honestly, the hardest part in IB is to not procrastinate lol. Seriously.. How can you enjoy life that is full of doing homeworks, assignments,essays and all that stuffs and that's all you can do EACH SINGLE DAY? Can you imagine sitting down for like more than 10 hours in front of your laptop/computer or desk WORKING or even STUDYING and also sleep for not more than 6 hours? That was my life before.

2. TIME MANAGEMENT is essential for you to survive this. You need to manage your time on how long you want to have some refreshing and do your IB stuffs really really well or else you'll be really frustrated in the end. 

+ Tips: start researching your EE topic since the first year of the program. It will make you do less work in the end because EE is an extended essay and it requires some commitment to finish it.

3. Choose the RIGHT subjects with the RIGHT level! This is important. Once you choose either wrong subject or level, then say hello to hell. Well, for the languages and math, you can't remove it from your list but you have to really consider your own strength when choosing the suitable level.

I tell you what.. Learning language (A1 or secondary) in HL is not as easy as you think. Yes, I know language is easy to learn because we speak and use it everyday, but for academic purposes, it's harder than you can imagine. In the language subjects, we learn literature and most of them are older works. So our analytical and communication skills is being tested here.

For Science and Social, I recommend you to choose the subject that you are good the most, not the one you like the most. I like Chemistry than Biology, but my brain was drained memorizing those formulas and all those chemical chains. Same thing with the social studies. If you're not good at memorizing theories, do not take psychology. 

For those who really really like art, don't hesitate to take art rather than doubling your science or social subject. ART is FUN! Even though you have to conduct your own exhibition for the final exam but it's FUN! You'll get lots of great experiences in art.

If you are thinking of doubling your Science or Social and not taking art, well, it's better that think about it like 10 more times. Taking 2 Science or Social is a big challenge, which means taking this decision will decrease your sleeping or refreshing time. I'm not kidding. And it also applies to those who want to do 4 HLs. It requires a lot of brain work to complete the assignments given. So, CHOOSE WISELY!

4. Choose the RIGHT EE topic! Before you submit your EE proposal, do research about your topic FIRST! If you can find enough information to write about that topic, then go ahead. But if you know that maybe someday you'll get stuck, it's better to change your topic before it's too late. 4000 words is a LOT! Actually you can write at least 3700-ish and it's also fine too. 

5. Choose the RIGHT title for TOK paper! Same with EE but TOK paper seems harder because you'll have to talk in detail, sharp, deep enough but short! It's only 1500-1800 words required to complete the paper. For the TOK presentation, it's better to choose a topic you're familiar with than having something new and requires more research. You might end up speechless when your friends (as the audiences) asking you critical questions.

6. Prepare for the worst! I mean you MUST prepare your mental health and physical condition. You'll be get stress, frustrated, mad, tired, insomnia, migraine, fever, depression, and all those things easily in 2 years of IB Diploma.

7. Choose the RIGHT friend! This is no joke. It's not about backstabbing or what but choosing the right friend is a good way to finish IB with good result. Look for a fun and diligent friend, not the one who always stay awake in the night PLAYING GAMES all night long!

8. Well this is not exactly an IB stuff but PLEASE BACKUP your DATA often! 
This happened to me near the end of the program. So, a week before my EE submission deadline, my HD broke down and I lost soooo many data: some of my art exhibition stuffs, my EE (I wrote almost 3700-ish! FML!), some of my IAs (Including Bio lab report, Psychology IA, English IA, etc). Sadly, it can't be restored. I got really depressed and almost quit everything. However, I've decided to write my EE again right away from the beginning and start all over again almost everything that I've lost. Luckily, I finished it ON TIME (Even though it's not quiet what I was expectating) with all my strength.

So, my conclusion is:
1. Make some strategies on choosing your 6 subjects (wisely and rationally),
2. Manage your time well between study and rest,
3. Choose the perfect topic for your TOK paper and presentation, also your EE,
4. STUDY HARD for the exams!

I think this is too long but I hope this help you going through IB Diploma Programme. 

Any questions or thoughts, feel free to comment here :)


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1 notes

  1. Your article is very nice!! I am an IB student too and I find this so helpful. I would like to share you something I got from the teacher at the first day I started IB Diploma. It's an Idiot's guide to the IB Diploma. Here's the link http://www.poomiepoom.com/how-to-succeed-the-ib-diploma-in-nutshell/


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