A-level or I.B: which one suits you best?

Most schools in the UK offer students a choice of two acceptable high school programmes at the end of their GCSE/iGCSE examinations: A-level or International Baccalaureate. Students themselves sometimes find it difficult to choose between the two, and some parents do not understand the difference between these programmes.

The question: "Which one should I choose?" comes up year after year, so we provide you with a comparative overview of both programmes.

What is an A-level?

The A-level programme lets you choose any combination of subjects you like (as long as your school or college can provide them). It is a specialised course, which gives a thorough grounding in the chosen academic field. For example, if you only want to study humanities subjects, you can easily do so. In that case, your curriculum will be quite narrow, becausemore or less only three subjects are studied and it would be very unusual to study more than four.

You can choose the subjects yourself
Deeper knowledge

Specialised learning
You can only study 3 or 4 subjects

What is an I.B.?

The IB programme gives students the opportunity to study a wide range of subjects (usually 6). The main difference from A-level is that you can't choose the combination of subjects you like yourself. Subjects are divided into five groups: Languages, Literature, Science, Modern Languages, Humanities and Mathematics.) The student must choose one subject from each category, and the sixth subject may be a subject from any category given. I.B. is great for students who want to study a wide range of subjects. If, however, you want to study a narrowerpathway in subjects, this programme is not suitable for you.

You can study more subjects.
Builds a wide range of knowledge.

You do not have the freedom of subject choice.
Generalised subject knowledge

Which is harder: I.B. or A-level?

Actually both programmes are challenging in their own way, but if you choose I.B. you are likely to have less free time between classes, as the programme is quite intense. As well as academic subjects, you'll have extra classes such as Theory of Knowledge, Extended Essay writing and more. You may think that this programme takes longer at first, but you will definitely do better if you manage your time well.

Students who choose A-levels might have more free time between classes and have a more flexible timetable, but bear in mind that during these "free periods" students need to work on improving their knowledge on their own, as there is a big emphasis on independent study.

What do universities prefer?

University admissions committees rate IB and A-level equally, as both programmes are academically challenging in their own ways. Therefore the final choice depends solely on you and your results.