To IB Or Not IB

The Expectations and Realities of the IB Program


When I learned about the IB program in freshman year, I was unmoved. I didn’t know much about IB, but I was set on taking the mainstream route and loading up on AP classes as an upperclassman. My mindset changed at the end of my sophomore year, when Mr. O’Brien (the IB coordinator) spoke to my English class about the IB Program. During his presentation, I did not have any sudden lightbulb moments. Only after a couple of weeks of consideration did I discover that IB seemed to be a good fit for me. 

I was driven towards the IB program mainly because of its approach to learning.  I wanted to learn in an environment that would not only be academically challenging, but also provide me with a sense of community. I knew that I would enjoy learning in a smaller group, and IB could provide this for me.

I asked several other IB students why they chose the program: “I chose IB because my sister did it and really enjoyed it, so my parents encouraged me to do IB as well. I also personally wanted to do IB because I liked the teaching style of IB more than AP,” said Erika Kurre (11th grade). Another student, Sarina Goyal, responded, “I like how IB is an applied learning style, and I thought it would prepare me well for college and future opportunities.” 

Deciding to do the IB program meant taking a risk, but I was sold. After a couple of months as an IB student, here’s what I’ve learned. First, the workload is what I expected: a lot, but manageable if you manage your time well. Second, from just a few months I already feel as though I have made many new friends and I’ve certainly found the community I was looking for. I expected junior year to be a smack in the face, a wake up call, but thankfully, IB has helped to pave a smooth transition between this year and last. 

This past week was midterms and was very stressful for me as an IB student. For all but one of my IB classes, we needed to recall everything that we have learned this year, which adds up to a lot of information. However, all of the teachers provided us with many resources to make our studying easier.

Additionally, the midterm studying helps us indirectly review for the IB exams that we take at the end of this year or our senior year, depending on whether the classes are one year or two years. Tests in IB are different from typical test because they are all open ended questions, physics being the exception with a 50-50 split between multiple choice and open ended questions; our midterms followed this same format. 

While I can’t predict what lies ahead in the future, I hope that IB will continue to meet and exceed my expectations during my time at Harriton.