IB Diploma compared with other qualifications

By encouraging students to develop intellectually, emotionally and ethically as well as academically, the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) differs from other education frameworks for 16 to 19-year-old students.

Read about how the DP works here. You can also learn about assessment in the DP, in order to compare this with other examination systems. 

Higher education institutions requiring TOEFL, IELTS or CEFR 

The IB is aware that universities are required to have clear evidence in support of international students’ language proficiency. The report benchmarking language courses to the CEFR and supplementary document [58KB]  are intended to support universities in reaching a decision on a student's English proficiency level.

Equivalence of the DP to other qualifications

Many national and state systems, as well as individual universities, have their own equivalencies for DP performance.

These include the UK’s UCAS conversion, the Australian ATAR conversion, and India’s AIU conversion, among others.

 

What does international research suggest? 

Over the last 10 years several qualification bodies and research institutions have compared elements of DP course curriculums and assessments with others courses of study.

Overall findings from the research have been very favourable for the DP.

The Education Policy Improvement Center undertook a four-year project [1.2 MB]  to create a set of academic-content standards in eight DP subject areas and determined the degree to which these standards aligned with accepted college-readiness standards.

In 2012, the UK’s Ofqual compared A levels to 19 other curriculums/examinations, including the IB Diploma Programme. The DP material was highly regarded in a number of areas.

In the US, a comparison of four DP standard level (SL) courses (biology, mathematics, language A and world history) and similar Advanced Placement (AP) courses assigned the DP SL courses equal or higher grades than the AP courses.

The University of Delhi’s comparative analysis of course materials and assessments from the DP, the Indian Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) found that, in comparison, DP courses were often more comprehensive and exhaustive than other courses; that they encouraged multiple perspectives; and that they developed analytical, critical and evaluative abilities. 

What has IB research shown so far?

Several studies commissioned by the IB have concluded that, compared to their peers, IB students tend to go to university at higher rates, go to more selective universities, and perform better once there. For example:

  • Former DP students in the United States (US) are significantly more likely to attend a ‘selective’ or ‘highly selective’ institution compared to the average US college-goer.
  • In the UK, they are more than twice as likely attend a top 20 university than the average A level student.
  • Minority and low income IB students from Chicago Public Schools were shown to go on to university at significantly higher rates than a matched control group of their non-IB peers of similar academic ability.
  • Feedback collected from a wide range of IB graduates suggests that IB students have an easier time adjusting to university studies.  
  • Surveys of university and college admissions staff in the US, the European Union (EU) and Australia show that these professionals are both familiar with the programme and hold it in very high esteem compared to other qualifications.
  • An analysis of the recognition policies of the top universities in the US reveals that most of these institutions grant credit or advanced standing for high performance in DP courses. 

For more detail on these findings, please explore our research