Which is better? IB vs AP programs

Both are rigorous programs with benefits reaching beyond high school, and here is what you need to know about each.

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In today’s world of high achievement, high school programs are not one-size-fits-all anymore. Students in the area have choices to make when it comes to what type of high school program to get a leg up on in college: Advanced Placement programs (AP) or International Baccalaureate programs (IB). Here’s a breakdown of what each has to offer.

Advanced Placement Programs (AP): The AP program is the more common program found in area high schools, and it is a challenging program of college-level academic classes.

International Baccalaureate Programs (IB): The IB program is growing in popularity in the area and is a pre-college, international-perspective program with a focus on six subject areas. IB students not only focus on college-level academic classes, they are also required to participate in community service, individual research and a holistic approach to learning, focusing on how subject matter works with each other.


AP: Teachers develop their own curriculum based on course requirements and AP standards that are approved by the College Board as part of the AP Course Audit process. University and college professors review the course syllabi to make sure it matches college standards. All AP courses are one-year classes.

IB: The curriculum is developed by an international committee of professors and teachers. There are two levels of programs: the standard level requires 150 hours of teaching and focuses on breadth of learning while the higher level courses, requiring 240 teaching hours, focus on specialization of subject matter.


AP: Students take an exam at the end of the AP course. AP tests are scored on a scale of 1 to 5.

IB: Students take internal exams, which are assessed by the teacher, and external exams, which are moderated by international standards. IB tests are scored on a scale of 1 to 7. 

College Credit:

AP: Many colleges offer college credit for AP exams with scores of 3, 4 or 5. Universities and colleges list the credit policy on their websites.

IB: Many colleges offer credit for higher level exams with scores of 5, 6 or 7. Some colleges offer additional credit to students who complete the IB diploma, and some colleges offer credit for standard level exams with scores of 5, 6 or 7.

(March 2018)