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We have just moved to Dubai and are overwhelmed by the various school curriculum available. Can you tell me about the IB?

‘To IB or not to IB’ is the question and you are not alone. With the plethora of curriculums available in UAE along with increased competitiveness in university admissions choosing the correct curriculum becomes even more important.  

To begin with, each curriculum has its own merit and there is no single ‘right’ curriculum. It is an extremely personal choice, unique to every student based on a host of issues and can be different even between siblings. A lot depends on what are your future plans – what and where do you want to study.

The International Baccalaureate is often considered the epitome of education and the greatest highlight of the program is its international recognition and acceptance. The IB has three levels – primary, middle and diploma but it is not uncommon for students to pursue other academic curriculum and only do the final two years (Diploma) of IB.  IB is broad based, holistic education and while being academically strong it goes beyond academia to include community service, research and extracurricular activities.

At the Diploma level students take three High level (HL) and three Standard level (SL) courses, which must include Math, a science, English, and at least one foreign language.  While this offers comprehensiveness and breadth of curriculum it also means that the student will be pursuing more subjects in IB than other curriculums. Apart from this, there are three vital components- theory of knowledge (TOK), a 4000- word extended essay and 150 hours of CAS (Creativity, Action and Service) which separates the IB from all other curriculums. One important point to note is that the TOK and the extended essay involve large amounts of time spent on research and working on a wide range of subjects.  


As far as university admissions are concerned, though IB is viewed favorably as one of the most demanding and comprehensive curriculums globally, it does not drastically impact the assessment of an applicant. Of course, good grades in IB will facilitate admission into the top universities in the world.

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