Academic Group 4 Subjects

IB Biology v/s AP Biology: What is the Difference?

Interested in Biology? Confused about whether to take IB Biology or AP Biology? Then this article is for you! If you are considering pursuing the IBDP in the United States (or anywhere that AP courses are offered!), you may be confused about the differences between the two. Today, I present to you a comprehensive guide to the difference between IB Biology and AP Biology.

IB Biology vs. AP Biology: The Syllabi Breakdown

Although there is a lot of overlap between the content covered in both IB and AP Biology, IB covers a few topics in more detail than AP, and vice versa. Here is a breakdown of the topics that both curriculums cover:

(credits to PrepScholar and CollegeBoard, respectively)

The AP Biology syllabus tends to focus on the cellular/molecular side of Biology as about half of the topics in their syllabus pertains on how a cell functions. The other half of their syllabus is split along the topics related to genetics, evolution, and ecology. For a more detailed overview of what each unit covers and AP exams, check out CollegeBoard’s AP Biology page!

IB Biology, on the other hand, covers a wide variety of topics in various branches of Biology. These include cellular/molecular biology, genetics, ecology, evolution, physiology, etc.. However, the AP curriculum has a clear focus on the “micro” aspects and goes in-depth on those topics. On the other hand, IB Biology covers some topics that are not in the AP curriculum. (Example: topics related to anatomy and physiology). Hence, IB Biology can be a great fit for students that are interested in pursuing medicine/biomedical sciences. Furthermore, IB Biology also covers four optional topics: Neurobiology and Behaviour, Biotechnology and Bioinformatics, Ecology and Conservation, and Human Physiology.

For a detailed overview of IB Biology check out PrepScholar’s article on both IB Biology SL and HL!

IB or AP?

In conclusion, if you are interested in the intersection of biomedical and biochemical sciences, then IB Biology is for you! If you are interested in learning these concepts in detail, then you could consider Biology HL! On the contrary, if you prefer research and chemical/“micro” aspects, then AP Biology would provide a great foundation! As for the enrollment process for both classes, there are several online AP Biology courses out there than anyone can take. For example, the Johns Hopkins University CTY Program offers AP Biology online! Unfortunately, for IB Biology, you have to attend an IB World School in order to take this course and sit for the exam. However, there are several resources, like BioNinja and BioKnowledgy, that have comprehensive notes on all IB Biology topics, so you can self-study all the content on IB Biology if you are really interested!


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