IB Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can anyone take part in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program?
A: Yes. All students are welcome! There will be an application process in the winter of the student’s 10th grade year, which includes a written application and interview.

Q: When can a student start the IB?
A: The IB courses are taken over two years – during 11th and 12th grade. However, in order to be prepared to take the academically challenging courses, it is important that students begin to plan their path from the 9th grade.

Q: Do students receive an SBS diploma as well?
A: Yes. After successfully completing all requirements of the IB organization, IB Diploma Program students will have earned an IB Diploma and after successfully completing all Stoneleigh-Burnham requirements, IB students will also have earned an SBS diploma. We have structured our course of study to allow students to pursue both diplomas successfully within the traditional 4-year high school experience.

Q: Can a student take just IB courses and not take part in the full IB Diploma Program?
A: Yes. A student can register to participate in the full IB Diploma Program requiring her to fulfill course requirements and three additional components (extended essay, CAS and Theory of Knowledge), or she can enroll in an individual IB course at the end of which she will pursue IB certificate credit by successfully completing an external assessment. If a student takes a course in order to complete the certificate, her transcript will reflect that she has taken an IB course.

Q: Are exams taken for IB classes?
A: Yes. Students take written examinations in May of their 12th grade year, which are marked by external IB examiners. Students also complete assignments and projects in school, which are either initially marked by teachers and then moderated by external moderators or sent directly to external examiners.

Q: How many courses do I have to take to get the IB Diploma?
A: Six courses are required in addition to completion of the Extended Essay, Theory of Knowledge course and Creativity, Activity, Service requirement. At least three, and no more than four, courses need to be taken at the higher level (HL). See the hexagon graphic. Students must choose one subject from each of the following:

Studies in Language and Literature (English SL, HL)

Individuals and Societies (History HL)

Mathematics (Math HL, Math SL)

Arts (Fine Arts HL/SL, Music HL/SL, Dance SL)

Sciences (Biology HL, Environmental Systems & Societies SL, Chemistry SL)

Language Acquisition (Spanish SL/HL, French SL/HL, Chinese SL)

In addition to the courses, students must also complete the following core curriculum elements:

  • Extended Essay: The extended essay, with a prescribed limit of 4,000 words, offers students the opportunity to investigate a topic of individual interest and acquaints them with the independent research and writing skills expected at the college level.
  • Theory of Knowledge (TOK): The interdisciplinary TOK course explores the nature of knowledge across all disciplines, encouraging an appreciation of other cultural perspectives.
  • Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS): Participation in the school’s CAS program encourages students to be involved in artistic pursuits, sports and community service work, thus fostering their awareness and appreciation of life outside the academic arena.

Q: How much does it cost?
A: At the current time, registration for the diploma program is $135.00. Each exam taken costs an additional $92.00. We are working on scholarship money and no student should let the cost prohibit their attempting the diploma program.

Q: I am an SBS student and I want to take part in the IB Diploma Program. What do I do now?
A: Let your advisor know of your interest. We will set up a meeting with you to discuss your academic path and what courses you will need to take to be prepared for the IB program.

Q: How does the IB Diploma Program compare to the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP)?
A: Both programs offer students the opportunity to be challenged and to engage in college-level coursework. Both programs are considered by college admissions officers to set high academic standards and goals for learning. In both programs, it is the individual student’s motivation and work ethic that will be the driving factors of a successful high school career. Below is a brief comparison of the programs. For more information visit: www.ibo.org

International academic standards U.S. academic standards
Exams are externally evaluated by international educators Exams are externally evaluated by U.S. educators
Teachers are evaluated, monitored and provided with feedback No feedback to teachers other than student test results
IB teachers are required to participate in intensive training to be certified to teach the IB and are required to participate in on-going professional development Though encouraged, AP teachers are not required to receive training to teach AP classes
IB courses emphasize inter-disciplinary thought and exploration AP courses are taught in isolation of one another
In addition to exams, the full IB diploma requires CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service), an extended essay and completion of the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course Exams are only requirement
Upon successful completion of the program, a diploma is issued which is recognized internationally Upon completion of AP coursework, no diploma is issued