How can I pass the IB exams

International schools
in Germany

The IB diploma program has been offered since 1968. Originally intended for the children of diplomats, it is now accessible to everyone in many schools. The exam languages ​​are either English, Spanish or French.

The Diploma Program of the International Baccalaureate (IB) is one of four offers

  • IB Primary Years Program (PYP) for students ages three to twelve
  • IB Middle Years Program (MYP) for students aged 11 to 16
  • IB Diploma Program (IBDP) for students aged 16 to 19
  • IB Carerr-related Certificate (IBCC) for students aged 16 to 19

The four programs are offered by so-called "IB World Schools". In principle, any school can acquire the status of such a "World School". In order to get into the status it is necessary to go through an authorization process lasting several years. In addition to structural and spatial requirements, personnel requirements are also necessary in order to be recognized as a fully-fledged "IB World School". In Germany, the majority of IB schools are privately owned. In some federal states (Hamburg / Saxony, etc.), however, there are also state schools that offer the IB Diploma in addition to the state Abitur.

Curriculum and learning content of the IB Diploma program

The curriculum includes the following six academic subject areas:

  • Group 1: Literature "Studies in Language and Literature"
  • Group 2: modern and classic foreign languages ​​"Language Acquisition"
  • Group 3: Social Sciences "Inpiduals and Societies"
  • Group 4: Natural Sciences and Technology "Experimental Sciences"
  • Group 5: Mathematics and Computer Science "Mathematics and Computer Science"
  • Group 6: Art, music, theater, film, dance "Arts"

Each student takes a total of six subjects and must choose a subject from each of groups 1 to 5. This ensures a broad spectrum of learning and avoids one-sided specialization. The sixth subject can come from group 6 or alternatively from one of the areas 1 to 5. In the latter case, the student takes two subjects from one group. With regard to the level of the courses, a distinction is made between the "higher level" and the "standard level". Usually three subjects are completed at the higher level and the remaining three subjects at the regular level. The language of instruction and examination at "IB World Schools" can be: English, Spanish or French. Foreign languages ​​can of course be taught in the respective foreign language.

In addition to the six subjects, there are three further requirements for the students of the "IB Diploma Program". These are referred to as the three "core requirements" and are considered part of the curriculum. Within the two years, each student writes a detailed essay ("Extended Essay"), i.e. a longer written piece of work with a content related to one of the six subjects or to the subject "World Studies". Among other things, this instructs the students to work independently. All students also attend the "Theory of Knowledge" course from the field of philosophy. CAS (creativity, action and service) stands for the opening of the school to the outside world and makes the pupil responsible for society. The young people get involved for at least three hours per week in addition to the actual lessons in the artistic, creative, sporting or social-voluntary area.

Exams and IB degree

The "IB Diploma Program" ends at the end of the program with central written exams which, like in France, are assessed by external examiners. Oral contributions in foreign language classes, work in the natural sciences or appearances in the field of theater or music are included in the assessment. Each subject is graded on a scale from 1 (worst grade) to 7 (best grade). To acquire the degree, at least 24 points must be obtained (4 points per subject, which are equivalent to a "passed"), the maximum achievable number of points is 45 (per subject the number of points of 7 points plus one point to be achieved per "core" requirement "). Per exam block, held twice a year worldwide (May and November). The results are published on the websites of the schools and the IBO.

Recognition of the IB Diploma

The spread of the IB diploma is currently increasing worldwide. As a result, young people around the world can obtain a comparable qualification. From the universities' point of view, this of course makes it easier to filter the appropriate student profiles. Universities around the world recognize the IB Diploma as a university entrance qualification. Depending on the countries in which you intend to study, it is advisable to inquire in advance with the local universities. Details of what is recognized as a university entrance qualification in Germany can be requested from the KMK (Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs). Detailed information on individual countries can be found on the IB organization's website.


A level

The Abitur as a »general higher education entrance qualification« like in this country does not exist in England. Those who spend their upper school years at an English school (Lower and Upper Sixth Form) usually graduate with the so-called A-Level. The Advanced Level (General Certificate of Education Advanced Level), usually A-level for short, the highest qualification in the school system in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Germany this roughly corresponds to a technical diploma. In order to be accepted into the selection process of universities, certain minimum grades of the A-level are required. With the educational reform in 2001, the two-year course has a modular structure. The first three modules are assessed after the first year and form a separate qualification (AS level), the three modules of the second year are assessed as A2 level. The A-level is obtained when one has completed an AS and an A2 level in the same subject. It is possible to repeat the courses on AS modules in the second year if the examination results in the first year did not meet the student's expectations.

The assessment does not take place as in Germany with grades 1-6 (where 1 is the best grade), but from A to E. An A is awarded if at least 80% of the maximum possible points are achieved. You still pass with an E, for which you have to reach 40%. From the 2010 exams there is also an A *, for which 90% is required. The introduction of this “Supernote” was deemed necessary because too many A's had been achieved in recent years, which made it difficult to differentiate between top candidates. This grade is only awarded for A2 and the AS modules do not apply to this.

The IB is offered by more and more schools in Great Britain and serves as a model for a reformed school leaving certificate, which is intended to replace the A-Levels, which have come under criticism because of their one-sidedness.

German universities see the GCE (A-Level) as a subject-related university entrance. In order to obtain a university entrance qualification, the certificate must be recognized by the central certificate recognition office of the respective federal state.


IGCSE: International General Certificate of Secondary Education

Just as schoolchildren in Germany acquire the secondary school leaving certificate, British pupils also receive a similar certificate via the IGCSE. The IGCSE is a one to two year program for students between the ages of 14 and 16.

Recognition in Germany at the end of secondary level 1 (MSA) takes place via the certificate recognition offices of the federal states.


General information on exam procedures in England

All exams are designed and graded by Examination Boards. These boards are partially privatized, but are subject to state control with regard to the teaching content. Core curricula are established by the government to ensure that board curricula remain comparable. The curricula differ in detail. Each school can freely choose an Examination Board to hold the exam at the school. This is to ensure that the teaching concepts and content that the school considers most suitable will prevail.

The major examination boards are:

  • AQA, the English Examination Board,
  • OCR (Oxford, Cambridge and Royal Society of Arts Examinations),
  • Edexcel, the only privately organized board to date,
  • (NI) CCEA, the Northern Irish Board and
  • WJEC, the Welsh Board