A-levels or IB: Which is Better for Your Future?

A-Levels or IB

Embarking on the journey of advanced studies often feels like standing at a crossroads, with two different paths beckoning towards academic excellence: A-levels vs International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme.

Choosing the right educational trajectory is a pivotal decision that can shape not only your immediate academic experience but also the course of your future endeavours.

That said, many face the same question – IB vs A-Level: which is better for you and your future?

In this article, we unravel the unique characteristics of A-Levels and the IB, providing you with insights to help navigate this critical decision-making process.

A-Levels: Preparing Students for Specialisation

students sit for exams

A-Levels, short for Advanced Levels, are a traditional British education system that offers a deep dive into specialised subjects for 2 years.

Renowned for their academic rigour, A-Levels allow students to focus on a narrower range of subjects, typically three or four subjects, allowing for an in-depth exploration of chosen disciplines.

Content-based Subjects

A-level students are required to complete 3 H2 + 1 H1 subjects. If the student would like an in-depth understanding of particular subjects, they can also take up to 2 H3 subjects for more exposure to the content.

Learn more about JC subject combinations here!

Core Subjects

In addition to their chosen elective subjects, there are 2 core subjects in the A-Level programme:

General Paper (GP)

Designed to develop students’ critical thinking, communication, and analytical skills, GP covers a wide range of topics, including current affairs, social issues and general knowledge.

Project Work (PW)

PW emphasises collaborative and independent learning, research skills, and project management. Students work in groups to investigate and address a real-world issue, and they are assessed based on their project report, presentation, and individual reflection.

Scoring

The scoring system for the A-Level exams is based on the Cambridge International A-Level grading system. Students’ results are determined by their exam performance in individual subjects, graded on a scale from A to E, with A being the highest grade and E being the lowest.

They also receive a rank order (percentile rank) based on their overall performance relative to other candidates who took the same subjects.

International Baccalaureate (IB): The Holistic Approach for a Well-Rounded Education

IB schools

On the other side of the academic spectrum is the International Baccalaureate, a globally recognised program that emphasises a holistic and interdisciplinary approach to education.

The IB programme is known for its broad curriculum that focuses on academic, personal, and social development. In Singapore, it is typically offered by international schools and IBO-authorised government schools.

Content-based Subjects

The IB program comprises six subject groups, including

  • language and literature;

  • language acquisition;

  • individuals and societies;

  • sciences;

  • mathematics;

  • the arts

Students taking the IB diploma need to complete 3 HL (Higher Level) and 3 SL (Standard Level) subjects. Additionally, instead of art courses, IB students can opt to study additional sciences, individuals and societies or languages courses.

Core Subjects

Theory of Knowledge (TOK)

TOK encourages students to reflect on the nature of knowledge and its implications in different disciplines, aiming to foster critical thinking and an awareness of the interrelatedness of academic subjects.

Extended Essay (EE)

An independent research project where students choose a topic of personal interest and conduct in-depth research, allowing them to develop research and writing skills.

Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS)

Despite its informal structure, CAS provides students the opportunity to engage in creative pursuits, physical activities, and community service to foster personal and interpersonal development.

Scoring

Following the same grading system used by the IBO, students are assessed on a scale from 1 to 7 for each subject, with additional points available for the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge components.

The maximum score a student can achieve is 45 (42 points from the six subjects and 3 points from TOK and EE).

Unlike the 100% exam-based A-Level, IB’s final exams account for about 70-80% of the final grade for each subject, with the remaining contribution coming from assignments.

What are the factors to consider before choosing your path?

ib or a levels

Career Aspirations

If you have a clear career path in mind, A-levels offer the specialisation needed for success. However, if you’re drawn to a broader, international perspective, the IB might be the better fit.

Learning Style

Reflect on your preferred learning style and ask yourself this question: Are you more inclined towards depth and specialisation, or do you thrive in a holistic, interdisciplinary environment?

If you prefer the former, the A-level programme might suit you better, while the IB diploma may be more appropriate if you resonate with the latter.

University and Country Preferences

Different universities have different sets of admissions requirements!

Always research your target school’s criteria, as some universities may favour A-levels, while others highly value the comprehensive nature of the IB program.

Extracurricular Interests

Take into consideration whether you prefer being active in extracurricular activities throughout your education journey.

If you value a balance between academics and holistic development, the IB’s CAS component may align more with your interests.

Choose LevUp for a Smoother A-level Journey!

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You don’t have to go through it alone as you embark on this new learning journey. Our dedicated team is here to guide and support you every step of the way in your JC journey!

At LevUp, we provide outstanding JC tuition classes, where a significant 70-80% of our students attain As or Bs and enjoy round-the-clock support as well as personalised 1-on-1 consultations from our experienced tutors.

Want to access exclusive A-level-aligned notes and get your groove going?

Contact us and decide what your academic future will look like today!

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