What’s IB like in Australia

The IB is a curriculum that is taught in countries around the globe. While the core basis of it is the same, individual countries and schools applications of the IB differ.

I’ve been lucky enough to get to know IB students from around the world, and through our interactions, I’ve noticed how my IB experience has differed from theirs. Within this article, I’m detailing some of the interesting traits about IB in Australia. 

The 3rd and 4th aspects are indicative of my individual school, and aren’t wholly representative of IB throughout Australia.

1. The IB isn’t well-known in Australia

Australia has 215 IB schools – which each offer one or more of the four programs. However, the majority of these schools offer the PYP, or PYP and MYP. Of the 81 schools that do offer the DP, most also offer their state’s high school curriculum as well – so only a handful of schools only offer the IB. As a result of most Australian schools having their state curriculum, the IB is pretty uncommon in Australia.

2. IB scores convert to ATAR scores

When we get our IB results, our scores are converted to ATAR scores, which is the rank that Australian universities use when admitting students and that students who do regular curriculum get when they complete high school. Australian universities like IB students because of the curriculum taught, and especially CAS and EE.

Doing the IB also works to our advantage with the ATAR conversions – as for example, IB students have to achieve a minimum of 24 points, and that converts to the average student’s ATAR score of 70.

3. Subjects that are offered

The amount of schools that offer IB means that there are a variety of subjects offered around Australia.  

In my school, we have:

Language A:English Language and Literature (SL + HL)

Language B:French (ab initio, SL, HL)Spanish (ab initio, SL, HLMandarin (ab initio, SL, HL)

Humanities and Social SciencesBusiness Management (SL + HL)Psychology (SL + HL)Global Politics (SL + HL)
Natural SciencesBiology (SL + HL)Chemistry (SL + HL)Physics (SL + HL)Design Technology (HL)ESS

MathematicsMathematics Applications and Interpretations (SL)Mathematics Analysis and Approaches (SL + HL)

The ArtsDance (HL)Visual Arts (HL)Theatre (HL)Music (HL)Film (HL)

At my school though, students can also take IB subjects that aren’t offered on campus, on the online platform ‘Pamoja’. Having all 5 Arts is rare – other IB schools in Australia have one or two (usually Music or Visual Art) – but my school is the only one in Australia that has them all (and one of two in the world).

4. Schedules

Australia has 4 school terms, starting the school year in late January and finishing in late November – so we do the November exam session. However, if you take a Pamoja course, you have the option to do that subject’s exam in May instead.

At my school, if we have an ‘early start’ we begin school at 8.30am, and if we have  a ‘late start’ we begin at 9.30. Students also either finish school at 2.40pm or 3.40pm – and some students whose classes and spares line up well will finish at 12.50pm one day a week.

Overall, IB in Australia doesn’t differ much in the implementation of the curriculum than other countries. The prominence of it is still small compared to other countries – however, interest is growing.

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