IB vs. AP: What’s The Difference?

Program Differences

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Program challenges students to develop skills in a wide variety of areas by providing a well-rounded curriculum.  IB student are expected to combine academics with school involvement and leadership in order to develop the whole person.

Advanced Placement (AP) students only take classes and exams in their areas of strength.  Students are not committed to a full comprehensive program, but can rather choose which AP courses they want to take.

Earning College Credit

In order to earn a diploma in the IB program, students are required to submit papers, projects, and complete various exams that are graded by their high school teachers, as well as national and international moderators appointed by the IB organization.  The cumulative grades (or scores) that students receive in each subject matter are how the college or university determines if the student earns college credit or not.

In order to earn college credit for AP courses, students are required to take an AP test after they have completed an AP course.  Colleges and universities use the score on each individual AP test that is taken by the student to determine if they will grant college credit.


International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) courses are all about high levels of academic achievement.  Each high school spends a considerable amount of time planning IB and AP courses in order to help students achieve high levels of success.  The teachers who instruct these classes are passionate and well-trained.

When colleges and universities admit student who have taken rigorous IB or AP courses, they feel comfortable that the student is ready for college-level work.  Additionally, this also pays off for the student because he or she may not have to take many entry level college courses and can complete his or her degree requirements more quickly.

Final Thoughts

IB and AP courses are not for every student, however if you are truly excelling academically in high school, then you should consider enrolling in these courses if they are offered at your school.

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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