Ask A Nerd!

Q: What is the International Baccalaureate Program?

Brief: The International Baccalaureate, or IB, is an educational foundation to help students ages 3 to 19 learn in a global environment. IB works with 3,968 schools in 147 countries to serve over 1.2 million students worldwide.



Students who enter the Middle Years Program are ages 11 to 16 and can receive a curriculum and guidelines for academic and life skills that requires them to go above and beyond the traditional school subjects.

Students ages 16 to 19 can enter the Diploma Program, which is a highly competitive two-year curriculum that culminates in rigorous final examinations. Students who complete the IB Diploma Program can use it to enter top-tier universities across the globe.

IB students are encouraged to be internationally minded. They’re expected to have a deep understanding of their own culture and national identity while at the same time learning a second language and developing social and academic skills that will enable them to work with people of all nationalities. The IB Program is also research oriented and requires students to use critical thinking skills and ask questions rather than just listen. Community involvement and service is also a large part of IB (READ: “College Application Crunch Time”).

The Typical IB Student

So who is the typical IB student and what type of student will benefit from entering the International Baccalaureate program? According to the IB learner profile on the official website, IB learners strive to be inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk takers, balanced, and reflective. As you’ll notice this is not a short list. Students who successfully complete the IB program go above and beyond the traditional school environment in multiple ways (READ: “Ask a Nerd! ‘Taking the AP Exam'”). Someone who is naturally curious and wants to know about the world and others is considered to be an inquirer. A student who is knowledgeable will want to explore a range of fields and learn about many different subjects and their global significance.

IB students must also utilize creative thinking and be able to express themselves confidently and successfully in at least two languages – our Irvine foreign language tutors can help with that. IB students are also expected to act with integrity and honesty and have a sense of justice, fairness and dignity. The IB student should be open-minded by nature and appreciate both their own values and the values and traditions of other cultures and nationalities. The IB student is expected to be caring and show empathy. IB students are meant to be leaders, not followers, and be able to take a risk and show determination to reach their goals. IB students are also encouraged to be reflective and think about their own ideas and examine their own strengths and weaknesses to aid in self-improvement.

Encouragement To Be Balanced

The most unique aspect of the IB educational program is that it encourages students to be balanced. IB students are inspired to learn how to balance their lives: the intellectual, physical, and emotional. They’re expected to recognize that their personal well-being and happiness is important. This is not often found in the fast-paced, sink or swim traditional school system.

Students who are part of families who move frequently from country to country may find that it’s very difficult to adjust to new school systems multiple times. Attending an IB World School can help a multi-national student maintain a streamlined curriculum and be eligible to attend college or university in almost any country.

Students who wish to learn more should visit the website:

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