Due to COVID-19, this article will be from the perspective of two virtual IB Schools in the Philippines.
Even if the IB program is something many students around the world take, the experience that comes with it often varies in different countries and school environments. Here’s what it’s like to take the IB Program in the Philippines from our own personal experiences! (Please note that this is not representative of all IB schools in the Philippines.)
For context, Caitlin’s IB subjects are HL English Literature A, Biology, and Psychology, along with SL Chemistry, Chinese B, and Math Analysis. Daphne’s subjects are HL English Language and Literature A, Business, and Psychology, as well as SL Chinese B, Math Analysis, and Physics.
1. Is the IB a highly regarded program in the Philippines?
Yes! The IB is one of the most highly regarded and sought after programs by students in the Philippines. It can be used as an exemption or substitute for university entrance exams to the top universities in the Philippines.
Currently, there are 21 different IB world schools in the Philippines that offer at least one of their three programs. It is mostly offered in international schools, but it is also available in some local schools.
2. How many subjects did your school provide? Were you able to choose all of them?
Depending on the school, the subject options may vary. However, you may end up with schedule conflicts while picking your subjects, which may affect the courses you decide to take. Based on the two different schools we both go to, these were the subjects available:
- Language A
- English Literature
- English Language and Literature
- Filipino Literature
- Korean Literature
- Language B
- Humanities and Social Sciences
- Business Management
- Natural Sciences
- Computer Science
- Mathematics Analysis and Approaches (AA)
- Mathematics Applications and Interpretation (AI)
- The Arts
- Visual Arts
Some schools in the Philippines do not offer all the subjects at different levels (e.g. Ab Initio). For languages such as Filipino A and Korean A, you may be required to be a citizen of the Philippines or Korea respectively in order to take the class. Additionally, you can substitute taking a Group 6 subject for another subject from Groups 1 to 4.
3. What does CAS look like in your country?
Most schools often have a diverse range of clubs with various leadership opportunities, so make sure to take advantage of what your school offers to make the most of your CAS experience. In the case that nothing caters to your interests, there are always so many opportunities to start clubs or organizations on your own whether inside or outside school!
The Service component of CAS in the Philippines is usually composed of charity work because there are many underprivileged communities that need help and assistance. In our experience, many schools have a huge focus on service learning, and everyone is encouraged to start their own initiatives and projects that will be beneficial to the Filipino community.
4. Did culture/environment influence your IB experience?
Definitely! The Philippines is a multicultural and highly diverse country due to being a colony of various countries. There are different international schools in the Philippines such as Australian, British, Chinese, Singaporean, and more!
Some international schools can have a bigger international or Western population, while others can have a bigger Asian or Filipino population depending on their locations and target markets. Some international schools can be located where there is a bigger international community, while some are located where there is a bigger Filipino community.
With the Philippines being a religious country, some international schools may also have a religion which could influence the type of students who attend.
5. What advice would someone give to someone studying in this country?
In Person School:
The Philippines is known to have the most national holidays and typhoon days during the rainy season. As an IB student, we would advise you to take advantage of these ‘rest days’ while at the same time making sure to give yourself time to rest and destress.
Secondly, make sure to pick the right school which suits you the best! Visit the school’s website and look into the school’s location, curriculum, facilities, and extracurriculars. If you have the chance to talk to some of the school’s alumni or students, ask them about the pros and cons, school culture, and student life. If you have the chance, attend their open house or school tours to see whether or not the school is the right fit for you.
Thirdly, most IB schools in the Philippines have expensive tuition fees, so it is wise to be sure about taking the IB before applying.
All schools are currently not holding face to face classes and have completely shifted online due to the coronavirus pandemic. There are some difficulties that come with taking the IB in distance learning. First, laboratory experiments for Group 4 subjects prove to be very difficult. Teachers have tried their best to adapt by only requiring equipment and materials that can often be found at home. However, some students may have a hard time finding these basic materials needed. This can then have a negative effect on your grades and more, however, you can always make sure to communicate your struggles with your teachers so that you will be able to work out something that is best for your individual situation.
Another struggle is the lack of interaction and connection with both classmates and teachers. Moving to a new school in a pandemic is quite daunting and difficult, and adjusting to the IB program can add on to the mix of emotions you may be feeling. However, putting in the extra effort to talk to classmates and teachers will help make your IB experience so much better. Many are very open to new students, so don’t be afraid to reach out to people! Having a great support system will definitely be a huge benefit to you for the two years of IB.
6. Was IB your only choice for your final two years? What is the outline of IB?
Based on my experience, I had 3 options to choose from for the last two years of high school. Students were allowed to take a regular High School Diploma, IB Course Certificate, or IB Diploma. Most students opted to take the IB Diploma.
Most IB Students in the Philippines take the May examinations since we follow the American school calendar. Your first year of IB is usually when your teacher helps you adjust to the different markschemes and command terms of each subject. They also prepare you for the IAs, mock exams, and college applications. These are mostly completed by the first semester of your second year in preparation for external exams.
7. In general what is your experience/personal experience?
I moved to my current IB school during my 1st year of the IB as a scholar. Most schools that offer the IB are private schools with expensive tuition fees, but don’t let that deter you! Many schools also offer scholarships, so if you really want to take the IB, you can definitely try to apply! Taking the IB has been such an eye-opening experience for me, and learning subjects that I am passionate about encourages me to be curious about everything. The IB is a difficult program, and it requires tremendous discipline and time management, but being open with your teachers and classmates can make it so much easier for you.
I moved to an IB world school during my sophomore year (10th grade) of high school, just one year before the start of my IB journey. Based on my experience, I noticed that most of my teachers are very flexible and lenient with deadlines since they know IB students have a lot on their hands. As long as you can effectively communicate your situation to your teachers and make an effort to submit work on time, your teacher will be more than willing to help and will appreciate the heads up.
I personally felt like the workload was not as heavy as I anticipated it to be, but that could be since I am still a Year 1 student or because of the subjects I choose and the teachers I have. My biggest advice is to stay on top of your work by submitting homework on time, consistently writing notes and attending all your lectures. This will help you in maintaining motivation throughout the semester because once you lose your stamina, everything else will fall. Another tip is to try your best to finish all your schoolwork before dinner time. Once you finish your meal, you can use that extra time before bed to relax by catching up with friends and family, watching the latest shows, reading a book, and overall making sure to schedule in time for yourself.
For more insight into the day-to-day of an IB student in the Philippines, check out our video A Week In the Life of an IB Student EP. 1! (Philippines)!