The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme is designed to provide all students with a well-rounded, internationally regarded programme of study.

This rigorous, global approach to study prepares students exceptionally well for university and the working place, creating confident young people who have the skills and passions to create a better world.  

The student-centred approach to your individual programme of study ensures that IB is an accessible and rewarding path for every student. However, we know many of you are less familiar with it than A Levels so we have pleasure in answering some of the most frequent enquiries below.

How does the IB Diploma Programme work?

You will study six subjects to give you a great breadth, these must include English, Maths, a language, a humanities subject, a science subject and one other subject. You study three at a Higher Level and three at a Standard Level. You work towards a final score out of 45 points but need a minimum of 24 points to be awarded your Diploma.

All students also follow a Core skills programme which includes an extended essay; community and service work (CAS), and a theory of knowledge course all of which contribute to your final score.

Our average point score over the last 5 years is an impressive 37.6%. Our IB students go on to top universities in the UK and overseas to study a variety of subjects such as:

  • Medicine
  • Veterinary
  • Journalism
  • Languages
  • Liberal arts
  • Environmental sciences
  • Fine art

The IB Diploma programme opens doors to an exciting future.

Is the IB Diploma harder work than A Levels?

Yes, the IB will take commitment and effort but so will A Levels if you want to achieve good grades. It is true that with IB Diploma you have less “free periods”, but remember free periods are not meant to be spent relaxing; they should be used for independent study, or pursuing activities, which will broaden your skill sets.

The IB Diploma course builds independent learning time into your timetable, often you are spending lesson time working independently but under the guidance of a teacher.

CAS and extended essay guidance time is also built into your IB Diploma timetable so you are covering all elements of your Sixth Form experience through your timetable and all of it is counting towards your final qualification.

Putting in consistent effort and hard work will help you prepare for the independent nature of study at university and the working world. You learn how to balance competing deadlines and manage your work load under the supportive guidance of teachers. It will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses and ease the transition to the next stage of your life.     

How you manage your workload with the IB Diploma?

At the start of the Lower Sixth, some students find this a challenge, but for many the structure of the IB Diploma programme helps as they have a structure to work to. Self-managing competing deadlines is an important life skill and one you will need to master. It is better you make mistakes whilst in school where you are in a supportive environment rather than at work or university. Interestingly, from feedback we have had from past students, IB alumnae adapt to the multitasking nature of university much easier than A Level students.

Do you have to be very clever to do the IB?

This is a common misconception.

You just have to be open-minded and willing to work hard. At BGS the criteria for entry onto the IB Diploma courses is the same as A Level. The flexibility of the IB Diploma means that you can play to your strengths, so you can create a combination of subject that will collectively help you achieve the overall point score you need rather than being reliant on just three subjects.

The IB Diploma makes me continue with six subjects, what if I do not enjoy one of them?

Maths, English, Science and a Foreign or Classical language are compulsory when studying the IB Diploma, but these are all skills that you will be using throughout your life.

Research shows that by honing these key skills until the age of 18 you are a much more likely to maintain a lifelong proficiency. You need to look beyond the content of the courses and think about the skills these subjects will enhance. If you are weak at Maths there is even more reason to do the IB, you will need the ability to manage your finances as an independent adult and name a job that does not require some element of mathematical skill.

Studying English will give you the opportunity to develop your presentation, research, reflective and writing skills. You will be expected to demonstrate all of these at university as well as in the working world. Developing them whilst still at school is the sensible thing to do. At BGS, all students have studied at least one language until GCSE. Why throw away all the knowledge and hard work for just 18 more months of study? Fluency in a second language is a big advantage for employability and will help you stand out from the crowd. Studying a second language demonstrates that you have cultural sensitivity, intellectual understanding and a global-outlook; they are key skills for operating in a global workforce.

Do IB students study in very small groups?

The nature of six subjects means that students often work in small groups and sometimes in individual tutorials, however this is the same with many A Level subjects as each programme is individualised. The students work in wider groups for many projects and core subject as well as collaborating with IB students at Bedford School. They spend plenty of time with students across their year groups in the common room, taking part in sports, co-curricular, community work, social outings and trips.

How do you prepare for the IB exams?

Sixth Form is a step up and preparing for A Levels or IB exams is a very different process than preparing for GCSE exams.

Part of the role of your teachers in the Sixth Form is to help you understand and develop the skills you need to be exam ready. You will need to work hard in the Sixth Form and there is no such thing as easy revision! An advantage of the IB is there is ongoing course work so you are not very reliant on final examinations. The mix of Higher and Standard subjects means that you do not have to put the same level of effort into all the subjects, planning where to focus your priorities really helps students manage both the workload and the assessments.

The final IB exams take place in May, so you will be finished well before your A Level counterparts and ready to enjoy a relaxing long summer. 

I know what I want to study at university, so why study six subjects?

Most importantly, the IB Diploma is preparing you for life beyond university. It is giving you skills for the job market and in doing so will enable you to approach your degree with confidence. The IB will open doors, not close them. Even if you are already very fixed on one subject for a degree course, it will still require you to have proficiency across a number of skills; you will need to work independently, research, write, present and communicate your expertise in your chosen field. The IB Diploma helps you develop competency in these skills.

In addition, if you are passionate about a certain area you can develop this before going to university and use it as a basis for your extended essay, and explore it in the Theory of Knowledge, so that you arrive for your course ahead of the curve.

Do UK universities give lower offers to IB Diploma students?

Universities endorse the IB Diploma and in our experience some universities do give lower offers to IB students because students come prepared and able to study independently, juggle priorities and understand the roots of knowledge. For example, Birmingham offers Medicine on 32 points; Exeter humanities degrees are often offered at 36 points and Oxford offers places at 38 points.

The IB has been existence for over 50 years, it a exceptionally well regarded international organisation with a network of students studying at world class universities across the globe.    

Do employers understand the IB Diploma?

Employers understand the IB Diploma and the benefits the wider programme bring to the students. Employers often tell us that they want students who can communicate, problem solve, be creative, independent and reflective. The IB embeds these skills.

An important benefit of the IB Diploma is that it is an internationally recognised qualification. You will be competing on a global stage for jobs and the IB Diploma offers a level playing field. It is well regarded internationally, making it easier for multinational employers to benchmark against international candidates. You also become part of a global community of IB alumnae, the opportunities for networking and support from this community should not be underestimated.