Studying Abroad

International Baccalaureate

Ben Maples  · Nov 29th 2021

We’ve compiled a useful guide, to help you understand everything that you need to know about an International Baccalaureate and how it can help you when it comes to studying abroad


Plenty of students in the UK make the decision to study abroad, whether that be studying in Switzerland, studying in Belgium or studying in America, studying abroad has become a very popular choice.

But it’s not quite as easy as just applying to the university and just turning up on the day. You need a few things before you can study abroad, one of which is an International Baccalaureate UK, which will complement your studies abroad.

We’ve compiled a useful guide, to help you understand everything that you need to know about an International Baccalaureate, including the International Baccalaureate meaning, schools offering International Baccalaureate and how it can help you when it comes to studying abroad. So, let’s jump and find out what is the International Baccalaureate?

International Baccalaureate

What is an International Baccalaureate?

So just what is International Baccalaureate? An International Baccalaureate (IB) is a qualification programme that runs for students below the age of 18.

The programme offers separate modules and interests for people of different age groups, which are:

  • IB Diploma Programme: For students between 15 and 18.
  • IB Career-Related Programme: For students between 15 and 18.
  • IB Middle Years Programme: For students between 11 and 14.
  • IB Primary Years Programme: For students between 3 and 12.

An International Baccalaureate diploma is an internationally recognised qualification and every educational institute in the world accepts an International Baccalaureate, as the grading systems and the marking criteria are universal, and not specific to certain countries, although the curriculum may be.

The International Baccalaureate Diploma is a qualification programme, however, the company that provides International Baccalaureates goes by the same name, which is a little confusing. The company was formerly the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO), but this was changed in 2007.

Does every school offer an International Baccalaureate?

Not all schools or colleges offer the International Baccalaureate as it is only offered by institutions that are registered to offer the qualification. An IBIS International Baccalaureate diploma programme can only be offered by academic institutes that are authorised to do so by the government, and most importantly of all, the International Baccalaureate, these are usually known as International Baccalaureate schools. You can find an International Baccalaureate list schools here, you’ll find some abroad, and you’ll also find some International Baccalaureate schools in the UK as well.

According to facts and figures from International Baccalaureate, there are over 4,000 institutes across the world that are licensed to offer the International Baccalaureate and over 5,000 International Baccalaureate programmes that are offered across the globe.

Why do I need an International Baccalaureate if I’m studying abroad?

You don't necessarily need to have an International Baccalaureate unless you are studying abroad. If you are studying abroad, then studying an International Baccalaureate will give you the chance to have a qualification that is recognised throughout the world.

However, those looking to study abroad cannot solely rely on an International Baccalaureate as a means of getting into a foreign academic institute, those looking to study in America, for instance, will need to also sit the American SAT Exams as well.

An International Baccalaureate merely serves as an international qualification, but you will most likely need to gain the actual qualifications for that country as well.

Can I get into university with the International Baccalaureate?

University admission teams are supportive of students who are currently, or have previously been on the IB course.

Universities also believe that the IB diploma teaches young people transferable skills for like, and many are relevant and helpful to live at university. It’s difficult to say that every single university in the world accepts the qualification, because you can never know for sure, but its exceedingly rare that you will find a university that doesn't accept it.

Does an International Baccalaureate count towards my UCAS points?

An International Baccalaureate does accrue UCAS points, but the points are for the individual elements of the course, and not for the course as a whole. The UCAS points will relate to the theory of knowledge, to higher-level subjects and to essays and so is the International Baccalaureate points system.

While an IB International Baccalaureate will show up on your average UCAS Points Calculator, an International Baccalaureate will accrue its own form of recognition, known as IB Points (or International Baccalaureate points), which work in exactly the same and will be accepted by universities worldwide.

How do I apply to study an International Baccalaureate?

Assuming you are going to an IB World School, you apply for an International Baccalaureate, the same way you would apply for any other school.

If competition is fierce for positions, then the school may ask entrants to sit an entrance exam, but this is unlikely to happen and is only ever done on the rare occasions that places are running thin on the ground.

International Baccalaureate courses

What are the benefits of the International Baccalaureate program?

The IB provides students with a range of transferable skills that they can either utilise at degree level, being undergraduate and postgraduate or through their time during employment. The benefits include:

  • Analysis skills
  • Debating skills
  • Communication skills
  • Research skills
  • Essay writing
  • Understanding different cultures
  • An advantage if wanting to study, work or live abroad

As it offers a range of subjects, it is good for students who feel unsure about what they want to study.

What courses are offered for an International Baccalaureate and how do I select them?

The International Baccalaureate has six groups of subject types that are offered, however, you have to select one subject from each subject group.

The courses offered are:

  • Group: 1 – Language and Literature
  • Group: 2 – Foreign Languages
  • Group: 3 – Individuals and Societies
  • Group: 4 – Experimental Sciences
  • Group: 5 – Mathematics
  • Group: 6 – Arts courses

When it comes to choosing which course you want to study in your International Baccalaureate, you will need to choose one subject from courses 1-5. After you have done that, you then have to select a subject from group 6, which can either be studied in addition to your other subjects or has to be swapped out with one of your other subject areas.

Can I do any International Baccalaureate past papers?

There are International Baccalaureate past papers available online for your perusal, which are split into the six separate courses. You can find plenty of International Baccalaureate past papers here and you can see some useful links and textbooks as well.

Past papers are a great source of revision and are essential when you're trying to gain a foothold into how the programme actually works. This will give you a chance to see what sort of things tend to crop up in exams and what sort of things to expect from revision and classes.

Are there any other International Baccalaureate qualifications?

If a student doesn’t take or pass the full IB diploma, they can still take certificates in specific areas, topics or subjects. This usually refers to a student studying the different six subjects and not the compulsory units (TOK, EE, CAS).

However, if a student doesn’t pass or complete the IB diploma, and receive a specific International Baccalaureate certificate instead, this could hinder their chance at university and affect their application. Students should speak to their chosen universities and higher education colleges about their options if they will not have the full IB diploma during application season.

What if my International Baccalaureate grades are lower than expected?

If a student finds that their International Baccalaureate grades or your International Baccalaureate results are lower than expected, then they are still eligible to contact their university if they haven’t heard from them in over a week.

Some universities may change their offer based on your grades or after having a chat with the individual. Candidates need to plan their time wisely when it comes to their options and can call the universities to discuss what is involved in the course and expected of the student, as well as what can follow.

University International Baccalaureate

What is the International Baccalaureate A Level equivalent?

Ultimately, this depends on the level that you are studying the International Baccalaureate at. These are the grades for each level and A Level UCAS Points below: IBO Certificate in Higher Education:

  • H7 = 56
  • H6 = 48
  • H5 = 32
  • H4 = 24
  • H3 = 12
  • H2 = 0
  • H1 = 0

IBO Certificate in Standard Level:

  • A = 12
  • B = 10
  • C = 8
  • D = 6
  • E = 4

IBO Certificate in Theory of Knowledge:

  • A = 12
  • B = 10
  • C = 8
  • D = 6
  • E = 4

What is the IB Alumni Network?

The IB Alumni is a network situated all around the globe, with previous IB Diploma students connected to each other in many different countries. The cultural aspect of the IB course will come in handy with this, as many people choose to study the IB Diploma abroad or to move abroad after completing it.

The communication skills learnt throughout the course will also prove beneficial when talking with other IB Alumni.

Are there study requirements for an International Baccalaureate?

Yes, depending on the amount of subjects that you have actually picked, you will need to study three of them at Higher Level (HL), while the other subjects that you have chosen have to be studied at Standard Level (SL).

In terms of hours put in, this means that you will most likely have to study around 250 odd hours of instructional work at HL and 160 hours at SL, which may sound like a lot, but for an International Baccalaureate, it's worth it's weight in gold.

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