Curricula July 30, 2019

3 Key Differences between IB and AP

What’s the Difference between IB and AP? Learn all you need to know about these two courses by reading the answers from the experts from the Best IB Schools in the World !

International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) are two very rigorous courses that offer high school students challenging coursework and excellent preparation for college. Although IB and AP are two of the more known international curriculums in the world, there is a big difference between these two courses. Keep reading this article to learn about the differences between them!

What is the IB?
What is the AP?
3 Key Differences between IB and AP
Read What IB Experts say


What is the IB?

The International Baccalaureate (IB) is a European-based academic program for children and teenagers made of four basic programs: Primary Years Program (PYP -3-12 years old), Middle Years Program (MYP – 12-16 years old) for children, and IB Diploma Program (DP) or the Career-related Program (CP) for international high school students(16 -18 years old). These two programs aim to prepare teenagers for college-level work across key subject areas through a holistic approach. IB encourages interdisciplinary learning by taking subjects in 6 different disciplines interlaced to significant experiences (CAS) and promoting critical thinking (EE). IB has multiple external assessments throughout the last two years of high school.
Experts Say:
The International Baccalaureate Program is a rigorous, balanced approach to preparing students for the social, emotional, and intellectual challenges of a college education.
Experts Say:
The students gain experience in project management through their CAS project, which is an excellent set of skills for their future. The key idea through CAS is that students are able to really take risks with their learning. They are able to try new things without concern that this will impact their academic results, they can fail and learn and try again.

What is the AP?

Advanced Placement (AP) offers college-level courses designed for high-school students. AP goal is to connect students to college success by increasing their academic competency. AP gives students the opportunity to choose between 38 subjects and prepares them to deal with college-level work. AP courses culminate with an external assessment in May of each year.

3 Key Differences between IB and AP

Here below are listed the main differences between IB and AP:

AAvailability

AP classes are available at over 22,000 schools in the USA but can be also found internationally; there estimated to be 4,964 IB World schools in 153 countries (1821 IB Schools in the US).

Experts Say:
Both IB and AP programs offer challenging courses for high school students but IB is more recognized worldwide.

BClasses

AP offers 38 classes are subject-specific and designed to be taken on an individual basis. IB offers 56 classes (counting HL and SL separately) which are generally broader and require a holistic approach.

Experts Say:
The AP approach is compartmentalized content knowledge with some expectation of application. Furthermore, the AP assessment model lacks flexibility and is ultimately literacy based on western contexts. The IB is constructivist and rewards higher level thinking skills.
Experts Say:
The International Baccalaureate offers a continuum of education through the IB PYP, IB MYP and IB Diploma (or IB CP). The difference between the IB Diploma and APs is that the IB Diploma is a full programme in which a student takes 6 subjects and completes the core elements. The subjects, of which normally 3 are taken at higher level and 3 at standard level, include 2 languages, mathematics, sciences, and humanities, and there is the option to do the Arts as well. The core elements are mandatory, and they are Creativity, Activity and Service, a class called Theory of Knowledge, and writing an extended essay. It is possible to do individual IB courses, but the programme is designed to lead to a full Diploma.

CAssessment

AP classes culminate with the end of year exams (open answer and multiple choice, some with portfolios or other assessments); during IB classes students prepare teacher assessments of classwork, lab work, fieldwork, and oral performance, then, at end of year they take final exams (open answers, essays, and data response questions).

Experts Say:
The IB assessment philosophy encourages revision and multiple opportunities to demonstrate understanding. Just as import is the IB program with the embedded core of TOK, the Extended Essay, and CAS. These elements are either absent in the AP or have been added.
Experts Say:
Students have to be enrolled at an IB school to do the IB Diploma, but AP exams can be done without going to school. Furthermore, the AP focuses on content only, where the IB evaluates students based not only on content but also on skills such as critical thinking and writing. A student’s AP grades are based on the exam only, but in the IB Diploma, some course work is included in calculating the final score.

Despite these considerable differences between the two programs, they can both lead to college credit and to placing out of entry-level college coursework. Furthermore, both of the classes they offer are considered college-level.


Read What IB Experts say

We asked the Experts of The Best IB Schools in the World to explain what are the main differences between IB and AP. Read the full answers they gave us!

KIS International School
Bangkok, Thailand


The International Baccalaureate offers a continuum of education through the IB PYP, IB MYP and IB Diploma (or IB CP). The difference between the IB Diploma and APs is that the IB Diploma is a full programme in which a student takes 6 subjects and completes the core elements. The subjects, of which normally 3 are taken at higher level and 3 at standard level, include 2 languages, mathematics, sciences and humanities, and there is the option to do the Arts as well. The core elements are mandatory, and they are Creativity, Activity and Service, a class called Theory of Knowledge, and writing an extended essay. It is possible to do individual IB courses, but the programme is designed to lead to a full Diploma.
Students have to be enrolled at an IB school to do the IB Diploma, but AP exams can be done without going to school. Furthermore, the AP focuses on content only, where the IB evaluates students based not only on content, but also on skills such as critical thinking and writing. A student’s AP grades are based on the exam only, but in the IB Diploma some course work is included in calculating the final score.


The American International School · Vienna
Vienna, Austria

Research suggests that students taking the IB perform better than those taking the AP. Both IB and AP programs offer challenging courses for high school students but IB is more recognized worldwide.


Ruamrudee International School
Thailand

The AP approach is compartmentalized content knowledge with some expectation of application. Furthermore, the AP assessment model lacks flexibility and is ultimately literacy based with western contexts. The IB is constructivist and rewards higher level thinking skills. Assessments are multifaceted and authentic. The IB assessment philosophy encourages revision and multiple opportunities to demonstrate understanding. Just as import is the IB program with the embedded core of TOK, the Extended Essay, and CAS. These elements are either absent in the AP or have been added in a superfluous manner.