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Should you take an IB or AP exam?

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Many students often face the dilemma of whether they should take an IB or AP exam.

The International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement programs have different goals for students, and both teach different skills to be successful in college and in other aspects of life. Students who plan on attending a four-year college after high school are recommended to take the exams. The AP program involves survey classes while the IB program emphasizes depth of learning and skills.

IB emphasizes writing and developing critical thinking skills, not just remembering information. The IB diploma also requires the extended essay, a long, college-style research paper, and students must complete Creative, Action and Service (CAS) extracurricular activities. Additionally, students must take Theory of Knowledge (ToK), a night class starting the spring of junior year to the fall of senior year. To receive the IB Diploma, students must take a course in language and literature, language acquisition, individuals and societies, sciences, mathematics and a test of student’s choice. Three of these classes must be higher level while the other three must be standard level. Students can also take a particular IB course or any of the core components, and if they pass the exam, they can receive an IB certificate.

Renae Dela Pena, junior, said, “I decided to take IB classes because I am aiming for the IB diploma, and I know that I have to challenge myself in high school to be better prepared for college and for the world.”

Any student who completes an IB course is eligible to take the exam. Completing one exam during senior year allows a student to wear the blue IB tassel at graduation. Even if students do not take the IB exam, they are still required to complete all internal aspects of the course. If students do not earn any college credit, they may be given an advanced standing for their scores and can advance through basic courses faster. Participating in the IB program is also great for students when applying to college. IB students learn critical thinking skills, time-management and writing techniques.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        However, the AP program focuses on teaching students specific content and testing how well they can understand a certain topic. There are more multiple-choice questions and an emphasis on meeting certain content goals.

Mr. Chris Long, IB/AP coordinator, said, “Skills taught in AP classes focus on how well students can grasp a understand a wealth of knowledge. On the other hand, IB teaches students the skills necessary to be successful in college, with an emphasis on writing.”

Reasons to take AP classes and exams are impress college admission counselors, develop college-level academic skills, save money, help with choosing a major sooner, allow for more elective classes in college and be able to add a minor or second major more easily with AP credits. AP classes help students learn time-management skills and how to decipher important information from text while developing critical thinking abilities and essential study habits.

Students can receive college credit because 90 percent of colleges in the U.S. offer credit for qualifying scores. Additionally, students can receive an AP Scholar Award, which is awarded to students who score a three or higher on three or more AP exams. Although the AP Scholar Award does not offer any money, it provides a distinct recognition of a student’s success that can be placed on college applications.

Arjun Mehta, sophomore taking AP Human Geography, said, “Throughout the year, we have practiced mostly on multiple choice questions and how to decipher them. My teacher would like us to be ready for the AP format on the exam. However, since the exam is 50 percent multiple choice and 50 percent free-response questions, writing is also an important component. Just this week we have practicing our FRQs, writing about two models of development and comparing them.”

Each AP exam is $93. Mock exams for AP classes will be held on April 22, 2017.

Although the IB and AP programs both emphasize a different set of skills of students, they are both beneficial for academic success in high school and in college.



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One Response to “Should you take an IB or AP exam?”

  1. Cassie Zambrano on April 11th, 2017 10:29 pm

    This article helped me decide whether to take the APUSH exam or not and also helped me decide if it was really worth it to do IB. Thank you !!


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The student news site of Charter Oak High School
Should you take an IB or AP exam?