Advanced Placement vs IB Classes


Kaitlyn Xu

AP vs IB

Extra Benefit >Extra Stress – Adele Sands

   Advanced Placement classes at a total International Baccalaureate school may seem like a waste of time and effort to students, but adding an AP class to a student’s schedule adds an extra layer of both work and reward. Whether or not to take an AP course is completely up to the student, however current AP US History teacher Tracy O’Neill said, “Anyone who has been recommended for the program should take it because you have been recognized in having the skills to succeed in a higher level class, AP classes build on the skills you already have.” Everyone recommended by a teacher to take the AP course has been seen as someone who can handle the curriculum. 

   The AP classes at CDS were added for students who wanted more options in their course selection. In the IB program, students “focus very specifically and [do] a much deeper dive into topics. But [they] won’t be covering as many topics,” O’Neill said. There is payoff in the future for those who chose to challenge themselves further than the IB courses. US Humanities Teacher and MYP Coordinator Sabrina McCartney said, “with at least an extra four hours of extra work a week [students] have extra reading and writing papers.” For a student to make that commitment it would have to be for something they are really interested in. If someone is more math and science oriented, taking college level courses in history might not be the best option for them. However, McCartney added, “the course is never a loss, it just needs to be something you want to do.”

   While people might say that for a student getting an IB education, adding an AP class is going to add to stress. Another problem that has been talked about is the fact that students are only taking the class to add extra fluff to their weighted GPA and college applications. While this is true in many instances, AP classes add even more benefits.

   Overall, taking AP classes is more difficult than regular MYP program courses, but they give those willing to put in the extra work a chance to develop skills that will benefit them both in DP and in college.

   After having a year of taking an AP class, students have an option of taking the AP exam. If a student passes the exam with a 4 or 5 out of 5 they have the ability to earn college credit. Even if a student chooses to take the AP course, they have an option to opt out of the AP test at the end of the year. Doing this would not get the student college credit, but they would have gained skills necessary later on in their school careers.

More Work = No Reward – Finlay O’Connor

   One of the most challenging parts of a high school student’s career is being able to  balance a rigorous and manageable schedule. The presence of AP credits may seem like an appealing element on a college transcript, but there is no need for it when at an IB school. According to the American Foreign Service Association, “IB is taught much more like a college or university class, some schools believe that the IB offers a more seamless transition to higher education. Further, an IB diploma stands out because a student has had in-depth study in all types of subjects, not just the ones in which a student is ‘strong.'”

   An AP class is taught and graded very differently than an IB course. An IB course rewards high-level thinking, whereas the AP learning model is inflexible and rigid in its curriculum. IB teaches students to think, question, and wonder about the topic at hand. AP students need to memorize and recite information for a test, which is something that will not benefit them later in life. And at least in the 2021-2022 school year students will not be awarded any extra weight to their GPAs for taking the AP classes at CDS. Why should students take a class where they don’t get rewarded for the extra effort put in? 

   The AP program doesn’t add much value to the class offerings at CDS; it duplicates classes already offered. Considering most of the students enrolled in the AP classes intend to take the full DP program in 11th and 12th grade, they will have the opportunity to take challenging courses in their chosen areas of study.  Additionally, CDS could offer more DP options or additional electives, such as geography, anthropology, or philosophy.

   Although colleges hold both programs in high regard, an IB diploma tells college admissions that a student is more well-rounded compared to a student who only completed AP courses. CDS is already rigorous, so taking AP courses just adds unnecessary strain, especially if you plan on continuing IB on the DP level. And the extra strain can impact grades in other classes. Overall, the drawbacks of AP learning far outweigh the benefits.