IB vs. HSC – should I do the IB?

The choice between the IB and HSC is often a hard one for students, as it was for me. The two courses are so different: they appear to serve different “types” of students, they have different workload demands, even the individual syllabi for each subject are different!

Here are my top 5 pieces of advice to help make your final decision:

  1. Think about what you are good at, and what you enjoy – if you absolutely despise languages and cannot manage them at all, maybe the IB isn’t suited to you, because you must take a language B. On the other hand, if you find yourself to be very well rounded, the IB may be just the thing for you, because you ultimately get “paid” to do a wide variety of subjects.
  2. Think about the ATAR conversions – the IB does pay well if you are a hard worker. The extra workload eventually convert into points! What ATAR do you need for uni? Do you want to go overseas? Do you like being able to “predict” your score? The IB is more predictable, and the conversions are very high, with any score over a 33/45 converting to a 90+ ATAR. An added bonus would also be the international recognition, it is easier to get recognised overseas if you have an IB qualification. Having said that, you can also make it overseas with the HSC, you just have to do well and stand out!
  3. Think about what is going to make you stand out for potential uni applications– the IB’s CAS component is a great resume booster, and if you are someone who isn’t really involved in your community, the IB is a great way to start that. The EE that you do the the IB is also great for developing skills that universities look highly upon. The IB also prepares you very well for university, and you will definitely be ahead of your HSC counterparts come first year uni!
  4. Think about the individual subjects themselves – have a good look at each of the syllabi for both IB and HSC and think about what you would rather be learning. For example, I couldn’t bear the thought of HSC chemistry learning about chemistry’s impact on the environment, and found the IB syllabus a lot more logical in terms of the way it taught the chemistry itself. Doesn’t hurt to also have a look at the assessment styles – I find that the IB assessments are a lot more predictable and manageable. The 70% final exam weighting shouldn’t play too big a role in your decision making, because after 2-3 sets of practice or “mock” exams that most schools do, you will be very well prepared by the time finals come around!
  5. TOK, EE, and CAS should NOT scare you from doing the IB. They are all very manageable parts of the course and can in fact be very enjoyable and interesting. This is one of the top reasons for not choosing the IB, and it should not be. Although the IB may seem like more work as it covers 2 years, think about how much work it would take in the HSC to receive the same ATAR – getting a 99.75 in the HSC is probably harder than if you were to try for a 43 (=99.75 ATAR) in the IB. However, they are both equally as difficult if you wish to do well!

For me, the decision came down the subjects themselves, the assessment styles and the ATAR conversions. I concluded that for the course that I wanted to do in uni, it would be easier to achieve my goals by doing the IB, having seen others around me do the same. I also found that the content learnt in the IB a lot more engaging, and the assessment styles a lot more manageable, and predictable. I personally didn’t mind the 2 year workload, even though it was frustrating at times to see my HSC counterparts have less work in Year 11. However, I can honestly say that the work I did in Year 11 paid me in year 12. In fact, I felt they were a lot more stressed than I was in Year 12!! You can still have a life in the IB, I promise.

At the end of the day, you should do the course you feel is right for you. No point doing something you hate! Talk to ex-students, current Year 11 and 12 students about their experiences, talk to teachers, friends, family, they can always help with your decision making! But remember, the final decision should be yours, and not somebody else’s.

Good luck!

 

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