IB vs. AP

AP-peasing the f-IB-s about the rivalry

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Have you ever had a heated conversation with a Fairview kid about course difficulty, fighting the  “IB is SO much harder than AP” edict? Throughout our time at Boulder High School, we will all have a confrontation of this nature, likely adamantly negating the statement. But after reading this article, it will unfortunately become clear that IB is truly more rigorous. 

The most distinct difference between the two programs is that the IB diploma can help students get into a competitive college not only in the US but also in many colleges around the world. While this may not interest all students, IB additionally requires community service experience (100 hours worth), a 4000-word essay on a subject of choice between junior and senior year, and 6 long tests over junior and senior year. Fairview staff member Tracy Brennan, who teaches both AP and IB English, contests that the “[IB] diploma students learn many things that an AP student might not.” 

When asked what kind of students thrive in the various programs, Brennan explains that “students who do best in AP are the ones who work hard, but maybe want to do the course one step at a time and get more specific help with their writing skills. And the ones who do best in IB are the students who are already pretty high-level thinkers and writers who want to learn how to write more analytically and with more freedom of interpretation.” While both AP and IB are college-level courses that help prepare for the rigor of college, IB has more emphasis on writing and developing critical thinking skills, which arguably fosters a student body that is more informed and analytical. In general, both AP and IB courses make the transition to undergraduate and graduate studies much smoother compared to students who may not have taken these advanced courses. Yet the difference in difficulty between AP and IB is undeniable. So when faced with the heated argument of whether IB classes are in fact harder than AP, we Boulder High Panthers should probably swallow our pride and adhere to the facts — IB is a whole other beast.