IB Experiences IB Overview

Is the IBDP really that bad? (from a Year 1 student)

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably stumbled upon IBlieve’s “Is IB For You?” page and asking yourself that very question. Trust me, I’ve been there — I spent years considering this program, famous for its heavy workload, and now I am two months into the IBDP. So, is the IB really “that bad?” I may not be able to fully answer that question yet, but I’ll do my best to give you an idea of how things have been for me so far.

Disclaimer: I am taking four High Level (HL) subjects, so your experience will probably be a bit smoother than mine! You only have to choose three HLs in the IBDP, which means you’ll likely have a little more time to study than I do.


The homework load is alright. I know it’ll get heavier as I get deeper into the DP, but it’s important to highlight that the work load doesn’t start off as an impossible hurdle from the get-go. If anything, the first two months of IB have given me a boost in confidence! Now that I’ve begun grasping the things I’ll need to do to succeed by the end of my two years, I feel like I can actually do it. Coming in, I had a pretty good idea of how the system worked. But I didn’t know what that would feel like. Now, my perspective has changed.

Study Periods

If your school allows study periods, you’re bound to have a few throughout the school week. In my school, people have three periods on average (I have two). This gives students plenty of time to catch up on work or get cracking on some assignments. Or, if you’re a heavy sleeper and you have a study period first thing in the morning, you could ask your school to come in an hour later! That’s what I do, and it makes the day way more enjoyable for me.

Common Claims

Assumptions and misconceptions about the IB are rampant, and it’s important to know the truth. One of the most common things said about the DP is that students have no social life. This is both true and false, as it entirely depends on how you organize yourself!

Do IB students have less free time than other students in general? Yes. Does it have to be a horrible experience and deprive you of social interaction? No. The IB gives you the power to decide how you want to live your life.

Another claim that IB students don’t really have a higher chance of getting into their college of choice than other students. There isn’t a straightforward answer, since this depends on a host of other factors — the country you’re applying to, extracurriculars, the effort you put into the IB, etc. In the end, it’s the university’s choice whether they hold an IB Diploma to a higher standard than others. The IB has its pros and cons like any other educational system.

The IB is hard. It’s true — I’m not going to sugarcoat it — but my life isn’t a hot mess like a lot of the stereotypes make it out to be. Although I have lost a lot of free time compared to last year, I’m still standing! I don’t want to make it seem like this is a walk in the park, because it’s not. I’m struggling a good amount, especially in Math AA HL. On the bright side, you get to complain about it with your friends and support one another. That’s a pretty significant part of the IB experience, and with the countless IB meme accounts out there, it’s pretty fun!

So, is the IB that bad? As of now, it isn’t, but it is certain to become more challenging. Who knows, maybe I’ll write another post to give an update. I hope this eases your concerns and debunks some exaggerations you’re bound to come across. Don’t believe everything you hear!

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