International Baccalaureate (IB) students: applying to university
The International Baccalaureate (IB) is an increasingly popular qualification in the UK. How will taking the IB affect your university application – and can it put you at an advantage over A-level students?
IB uni application basics
- As an IB student, you apply to university courses through Ucas like anyone else – the only difference is the qualifications you list.
- You'll usually be expected to have taken a higher level in a subject related to the course you're applying for.
- Universities will often ask for specific results in your higher level subjects as well as giving you a total points target.
- While there isn’t a direct parallel between higher level standards / A-level, and standard level / AS-level, it’s safe to assume that if a university asks for a particular subject at A2 level in its entry requirements, they’re likely to require it at higher level as part of the IB.
IB and Ucas pointsUnder the new Ucas tariff being used for applications from September 2016 onwards, the IB Diploma itself doesn't attract Ucas points; however the individual components which make it up (e.g. higher level subjects, standard level subjects, extended essay, theory of knowledge) do. You can read more about the new Ucas tariff and what it means for IB applicants.
However, universities almost always make offers in terms of IB points rather than Ucas points so this shouldn't pose such a problem.
Will my application be treated differently?Your application will go through the same process whatever your qualifications, and admissions tutors will be familiar enough with the IB to judge your application fairly.
Course offers given to IB students may sometimes appear more challenging than offers made to A-level candidates, but that’s usually down to how the IB and A-levels are graded – the points scale allows competitive universities to more keenly differentiate between very able IB candidates.
IB results are released to students on 5 July, so if you’ve got the results you hoped for you’ll receive confirmation of your university place well in advance of A-level students. ‘Near miss’ applicants can face a tense wait until A-level results come out for a final decision to be made about their place - but if you need to go through Clearing, you’ve got the extra time to plan in advance and be first on the phone.
Making the most of the IBSo what are the main benefits of applying to university with IB qualifications?
1. The IB is good preparation for university-level study
2. It gives you a broad study base
The structure of the IB means you study a broad range of subject options. It’s compulsory to take English, maths, a science, a language and an ‘individuals and societies’ subject (such as history, geography or economics), plus a sixth subject of your choice.This should set you in good stead when it comes to making your university choices, especially if you’re not sure what course you want to take, as you’ll be keeping your options open (nearly always better than opting for a narrower combination of subjects).
The IB is also particularly well-suited to subjects like law because of its breadth and rigour.
3. You've got lots of experience to shout aboutStress the extra experience your IB course has given you and how different elements of the course have helped to shape your skills, both on your Ucas form and during a university entry interview.
Picking your subjectsThe subjects you choose will make a big difference to your application – and in particular your combination of higher level subjects – as these will usually determine what you go on to study at degree level. You’ll need to make sure you fulfil the requirements of the degree course you want, but also play to your strengths to ensure you get a good result.
As the name suggests, the IB is recognised internationally, and you should be able to use it to apply to university outside the UK.
Is it easier to study abroad with the IB?
However, other qualifications, including A-levels, are also recognised by universities around the world, so the IB may not be an advantage in itself. More important for studying abroad are good results and being able to speak the language.
Busy making your university application? Don't miss our expert advice on personal statements, admissions interviews and entry tests.
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