What are the primary differences between the Cambridge GCE A Level and the IB Diploma programmes?
They are both popular qualifications for high school education and are both strong attainment indicators for university admission. Whilst the IB has adopted a broader approach, the UK Education system has adopted the narrower approach with the GCE A levels often referred to as the ‘gold standard’. Choosing the best path for your child can be a daunting task, so let’s look at the basic differences:
- The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma (IBDP) continues the broad and balanced learning approach to subjects until High School graduation.
- General Certificate of Education (GCE) Advanced level students, become more specialised and focus on three of four subject areas that reflect the direction that they are likely to take at university level. Students with good grades are often awarded college credit in the USA.
- The IB students need to successfully complete six subjects, three at higher level and three at standard level, plus core components in the Theory of Knowledge (TOK), an extended essay and Creativity, Action, Service (CAS).
- At Tarabya British Schools our Cambridge A level programme addresses both the TOK and the extended essay through the Cambridge AS Global Perspectives and Research qualification. The CAS programme is also covered by the prestigious Duke of Edinburgh International Award and becomes part of the student’s University Portfolio.
- Additionally, in Tarabya British Schools, we value the university’s admissions preferences and the ever-globalization of the world and therefore insist that all students take a foreign language until graduation.
- As the IB has a broader approach to education, all students take all the subjects, regardless of their talent in the subjects.
- A level students, by choosing three or four subjects, can work with their strengths and therefore their interest, motivation and achievement is greater.
- IB and A Levels are assessed differently. All IB examinations are at the end of the course. In contrast, A levels has two distinct phases; AS and A2. This not only allows a student the opportunity to have an incremental assessment system, (rather than have all examinations at the end of 2 years) but can also achieve a stand-alone qualification at the AS level.
- IB students receive a single grade that gives an average on all subjects taken. A levels give individual grades for each subject taken. In this way the student overall grade is not lowered by their weakest subject.
At Tarabya British Schools we are conscious that not all students know definitely what subjects they want to study at the university level. For this reason we have a variety of routes that can be chosen from that will keep doors open to the best universities around the world. For those students who know what they want, A Levels and our high school are ready to support them on their journey.