international baccalaureate graduates

International Baccalaureate (IB)

The International Baccalaureate, also known simply as the IB, is an internationally recognised programme for students aged 3-19. The IB programme aims not only to develop students’ knowledge in a range of subjects and disciplines, but also to help them become confident, self-motivated, and resilient global citizens.

Through the IB, they’ll come to understand different perspectives and join a community of learners who want to make the world a better place.

The IB inspires students to learn in a holistic way, with equal importance placed on many different yet interconnected subjects.

We’ve summarised the IB's three core components and six subject groups to help you decide if it’s the right choice for your child.

ib graduate

Theory of knowledge (TOK)

TOK is a course designed to help students develop critical thinking. Your child will be asked to reflect on the nature of knowledge through open-ended discussions, with the central question being: “How do we know?” Throughout, they’ll develop their sense of reasoning, as well as their judgement around what really counts as evidence.

They’ll also examine different areas of knowledge through a lens of curiosity, and apply critical thinking to subjects such as history, ethics, and science.

ib student at nord anglia

The Extended Essay

As one of the most ambitious components of the IB, the Extended Essay is an externally assessed piece of independent research where students can engage in a topic that interests them. High-level research skills are needed too, so they can get familiar with the skills they'll use when writing academic papers at university.

Students will need to write an essay of up to 4,000 words in which their conclusions are articulated in a well-developed and coherent manner. They’ll also reflect on the entire essay writing process to assess their knowledge and understanding.

children studying the international baccalaureate

Creativity, Activity & Service (CAS) 

CAS sits at the heart of the IBDP and encourages students to get involved in activities outside of the classroom centered on creativity, wellbeing, and social awareness. The goal of CAS is to help them become well-rounded individuals with the skills they’ll need to succeed in the world beyond the classroom.

In the creativity strand, students work on developing their artistic appreciation through music, art, drama, or dance. Within the activity element, they’ll develop an understanding of physical health and wellbeing. And for the service element, they‘ll volunteer or get involved in community outreach, learning about the value of dedication, empathy, and hard work.

The CAS element asks students to reflect on their experiences too, including how it’s improved their sense of teamwork and their leadership and communication skills.

image of an international baccalaureate dance student


image of ib language and literature student
There's more to the study of language and literature than simply understanding the constructed nature of meanings generated by language. 

In the IB’s Language and Literature courses, students embark on a journey through reading material from all around the world. Alongside honing their literary analysis skills, they’re encouraged to explore the philosophical, psychological and socio-historical contexts of different works of fiction and nonfiction.

We give students the opportunity and tools to analyse complex ideas and express thoughts both verbally and in writing, so they develop an even deeper appreciation of the power of the spoken and written word.

Students can choose two course options, either pure literature or language and literature. In the Language and Literature course, they’ll consider a range of literary and non-literary texts—from print advertising to political speeches. This gives them analytical and critical thinking skills that’ll help them come up with independent opinions alongside the ability to appreciate different points of views and perspectives.

young student learning language
Studying an additional language goes beyond basic communication. Learning a language builds bridges between other cultures and societies, and it opens the door to a diverse perspective of the world. 

While learning about the world and becoming more globally minded, students will also benefit from acquiring an understanding of foreign languages, particularly in future studies and career opportunities.

Students can learn a new language through two courses: Language B and Ab Initio.

In the Language B course, students go deeper with a previously-learned language — for example they may have learned French in primary school and can continue studies in that subject. By the end of the course, they’ll be able to communicate effectively in different situations and scenarios, express ideas and concepts with fluency, and analyse written material with clarity.

Ab Initio, a Latin phrase that translates to “from the beginning”, is a course developed for students who are just starting to learn a new language. This will open students’ eyes to the diverse communication happening all around them and help them improve their comprehension.

image of nord anglia student
Humans experience life through a diverse variety of physical, economic and social environments, meaning every individual experience is vastly different from another. 

In Individuals and Societies, students’ understanding of human nature is gained through the study of human behaviours and societies. Students dive into theories, concepts and arguments relating to the nature of human society across history.

It’s the perfect way to study the past, present and future of societies, and gives students a better understanding of their place in the world by looking at the experiences of others.

Students at international schools in the Nord Anglia family will have the advantage of studying this course alongside peers from different nationalities, leaving them better prepared for life in our increasingly global world.

image of young science student
The IB science courses provide students with opportunities to theorise and challenge their understanding of the world around them through the engagement of scientific inquiry.

As the basis of this course, students gain the skills to develop and test a hypothesis, including the ability to analyse data, answer technical questions, and refine their thought processes. They’ll learn how the sharing of scientific theories empowers society to continue progressing.

By the end of this course, students will the skill to question the world around them.

child learning maths
From artists mastering perspective, musicians finding rhythm, economists searching for trends and engineers reading patterns—mathematics plays a role in everyone’s everyday life. 

There are two course options for studying Mathematics in the IB. They are Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches (AA) and Mathematics: Applications and Interpretation (AI).

In Maths AA, students develop a mastery of mathematical arguments and thinking, and implement these skills through both real and abstract applications. In Maths AI, students take a practical approach to mathematics and harness the power of technology and mathematical models.

child learning cello
THE ARTS                      
In the study of the arts, students can dive into creative expression through a variety of courses, including Music, Visual Arts, Film, Dance and Performance courses. 

Study of the arts allows students to nurture all sorts of important skills, including not only creativity but also confidence, discipline, empathy, and interpretation.

Students will cultivate an appreciation for creative expression, learn to perceive and reflect upon a range of creative mediums, and see first-hand how art and creative practices are central to human expression. The IB helps students ignite their imagination!

International Baccalaureate (ib) Programmes

The International Baccalaureate is a continuum of educational programmes for students aged 3 to 19.

For each of the six chosen subjects, students receive a grade of between 1 and 7, with 7 being the highest. The Theory of Knowledge and Extended Essay can collectively contribute another three points to a student’s total score. To pass the IB, students must receive a total score of 24 or above out of 45 potential points.

The minimum IB Diploma Programme score required for admission varies by university; however, the minimum admission score to attend the world’s best universities generally ranges from 37 to 42.

IB Primary Years Programme (PYP):

For pupils aged 3 to 12, this formative programme gives students the best possible start to education, helping them become active and lifelong learners.

IB Middle Years Programme (MYC):
For students aged 11 to 16, this course builds a solid academic foundation for students, turning them into confident learners who approach problem-solving with a broad, holistic method.

IB Diploma Programme (IBDP):
For students from 16 to 19, this programme inspires and sets up students to excel at university and throughout the rest of their lives, both personally and professionally.

IB Career-Related Programme (IBCP):
This course is specifically aimed at students in their final years at school and gives them all the tools they need to succeed, no matter what career path they choose to embark upon.

ib curriculum guide and stages
image of an international baccalaureate science student


These key skills help students 'learn how to learn'. It’s this 'how' that is critical to understanding the strength of the IB. Students are taught to challenge how they know what they know by applying a practical and holistic approach to problem-solving. The core set of Approaches to Learning are:
  • Communication skills
  • Research skills
  • Self-management skills default title
  • Social skills
  • Thinking skills
ib teacher


As well as the students themselves, we also hold our teaching to the highest standards, which is why we have Approaches to Teaching pedagogical principles that underpin all IB programmes. All teaching is:
  • Based on inquiry
  • Developed in local and global contexts
  • Differentiated to meet the needs of all learners
  • Focused on conceptual understanding
  • Focused on effective teamwork and collaboration
  • Informed by formative and summative assessment


  • What are the benefits of the International Baccalaureate (IB)?

    The benefit of the IBDP over other post 16 routes is centered around the way the programme prepares students for life after school, both at university and beyond.

    While traditional qualifications often focus on developing a deeper understanding of a limited number of subjects, students in the Diploma Programme study a wide array of subject groups. This means that every student acquires a broad understanding, whilst the interdisciplinary nature of the programme enables students to cultivate well-rounded, global-minded observations.

    Having a broader grounding across multiple subject groups means students don’t limit themselves when it comes to applying for university places. When, throughout their time studying the Diploma Programme, a particular subject or area lights a passion within students and encourages them to want to pursue it in higher education, they can do just that and aren’t limited by taking a smaller number of subjects.

    The IB Diploma Programme also gives students transferable skills when it comes to university. The extended essay is an excellent blueprint for university essays and dissertations, in terms of independent research skills, the longer form of the essay itself and the process of presenting and defending their essay orally. Activities like this also increase students’ confidence in presenting, which is a vital skill when they are interviewing for a place at Oxbridge, Ivy League or other world-leading universities.

  • What is International Baccalaureate equivalent to? 
    The IB Diploma Programme is an alternative to Advanced Levels (A Levels) in the UK and Advanced Placement (AP) in the US for students aged 16 to 18.
  • Is IB same as GCSE?
    No, the IB Programme and the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) are two different qualifications. The IB offers educational programmes for students aged 3 to 19, and the GCSE offers a secondary education certificate. A GCSE level education is required for students who want to enrol in the IB Diploma Programme. A student who completes GCSEs can complete the IB Diploma Programme to increase their chances of admission into competitive universities.
  • How many hours do IB students study?   
    In the IB Diploma Programme, students will take some subjects at higher level (HL) and some at standard level (SL). Each student takes at least three (no more than four) subjects at higher level, and the remaining at standard level. Standard level subjects take up 150 teaching hours over the duration of the two-year programme, and higher level comprises 240 teaching hours.
  • How hard is the International Baccalaureate Programme? 

    The perceived level of difficulty of the IB Programme will vary from student to student. The IB Programme is an academically challenging programme that is best suited for students who are willing to dedicate themselves to advanced courses, work well in a structured environment and  can address areas of improvement.

  • Does Harvard accept IB?

    Yes, IBDP students should send their results when applying to Harvard University in order to be considered for admission. IB admission requirements are often not detailed on US university websites. It’s best to speak with a university representative to understand the level of performance needed to gain entry.

  • Does Oxford accept IB?
    A total score of 38, 39 or 40 points (depending on the course) including core points, with 6s and 7s in subjects taken at the higher level, is required by applicants to meet the qualifications of Oxford University courses. The University does not accept the IB Career-Related Programme.
  • Is the International Baccalaureate worth it?

    While the IB Diploma Programme is widely recognised to be the most challenging course of study, universities worldwide respect the IB Diploma Programme as a prestigious and desirable qualification and look for this credential on applications. This demanding programme offers students the opportunity to go above and beyond in their education and study anywhere in the world. Additionally, the IB Diploma Programme offers students the potential to earn university credits.

nord anglia campus

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