AP vs. IB


J. Ayuk-Takem

Junior Mia Claire Vitale in IB chemistry class focused on completing her portion of a group test. She is working collaboratively with peers to complete a graded assignment.

Chandler Mason and De’Zaria Lucas

The Advanced Placement Program (AP) was created by the College Board in the United States. The program allows students to take college-level courses. This is similar to the International Baccalaureate Program (IB), a high-level program that prepares students for college. Both programs benefit  students in numerous ways, but which program is the better fit? 

  Due to AP courses requiring an advanced curriculum, several students would say there are things that they enjoy and do not enjoy. Junior Lucas Schwinger takes AP Language and Composition And states,” I like the fact that I can get college credit and give my GPA a boost by being in AP. I like the way that the curriculum is all focused on one test, it makes the entire class feel useful. I don’t dislike anything about AP. I knew I was signing up for a lot of work.” Lucas enjoys his AP classes and how they help him in the future and has nothing negative to say about the class.  Tori takes AP Physics and AP Environmental Science. She states, “I wanted to join AP to get a more in-depth understanding of the courses I am currently taking. The work in the classes is not hard, but applying the material you learn to abstract problems on the test is the hard part. Also, I don’t like the stress that comes with taking AP classes; especially during midterms.” Tori likes to be challenged and likes a deeper understanding of the topic that is not just surface level. Tori and Lucas both have several things that they  like about the program. This is the way the program improves their learning experience.

 Despite this, Tori feels that the classwork with the tests and other things causes her to feel a little overwhelmed. This differentiates from Lucas, who feels that the work is manageable and acknowledges that he signed up for the challenge. All students have varied opinions about AP. Their opinion influences whether they want to continue taking AP classes in the future. With all the challenges of AP, several students would agree that they would rather stay.

Sophomore Elizabeth Finn does not want to stay in AP and would rather go into the IB program. She says, “I like being in AP because it boosts your GPA and you can surround yourself with more school-focused people. I am not planning on taking AP classes next year as I am doing the IB program. I am planning on going into IB because I do not like the particular way that the AP classes are set up. It feels very corporate; A lot of teachers use the questions available in AP classroom, a website by the College Board with resources explaining the curriculum with multiple-choice and free-response questions. This is done instead of making interactive classwork activities. So, I am hoping the IB classes focus more on activities rather than just taking notes.” 

 This differs from junior Tessa Leung who takes AP Physics and AP Environmental Science. Tessa states, “I like meeting new people and do not like to commit to things, so I prefer AP. If you are someone who is ok with the commitment, I would recommend IB. I would stay in AP but improve the layout of the AP classroom.” Tessa feels the IB program takes a lot more dedication than AP. Due to this opinion, she established that she would continue taking AP.  Not only because it challenges her, but also because it improves her grade. Elizabeth differs because she feels the AP class is good for her grade, but she prefers a more comprehensive and fun learning experience. While all students who take AP have different classes and experiences, what can be agreed on is that AP offers rigorous courses that come with challenges.

  The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program is a big part of Millbrook; it is a community among students and teachers. Cat Talk spoke with a group of IB students about their feelings towards this program. Junior Christopher Caroll says, “What I like about IB is how chill the teachers and students are; the teachers I have had are real people who understand that things happen in life and who try not to shame you for things you’ve done; to add to that the students are all in IB together, we struggle together and when times get tough we look out for each other. If I had the chance to leave IB, I don’t know; the class style is nice and as I said earlier the people are nice, so I’d say the only bad thing is the work that needs to be done. At times it feels like there is almost no work, and other times there are multiple assignments due for multiple classes which can stress you out; all and all there are a lot of pros and cons about IB.”

 Junior Sheridan Ely is also a part of the IB program, and she discussed the things she favors about the program and the things she dislikes., “My favorite thing about the IB program is the flexibility of the teachers and their dedication to their students’ conceptual understanding,” she says to Cat Talk. She and Christopher both admire the teachers and how they understand the students. Sheridan also talks about her History of Americas class (HOA); “Our class will get into moral and historical debates instead of listening to lectures, and we are encouraged to write down our honest misunderstandings during the homework to discuss in class. In physics, we added 15 minutes in our class after the second quarter to go over homework more thoroughly so that everyone feels more comfortable.” Sherdian also shares something she does not enjoy about the program: “I do not like that IB can be such a large workload at times because of the five to six classes that everyone must take at a time.” When asked which was more challenging between the AP program and the IB program, junior Sheridan Ely replied, “I take two AP classes currently and have taken five others in the past; My IB classes operate at a much higher level but do not necessarily have more homework, they just require more thought and reflection.”

 Cat Talk spoke with senior Saira Sadhwani,and her responses to the same questions were quite similar to Sheridan’s and Christopher’s. She says, “My favorite thing about IB is the people and the teachers, I was able to make lifelong friends; it makes the classes easier because of the tight-knit community, the community we have built over the last two years was so unreal.” Saira continues with the things she dislikes about the program:“The worst part about IB is probably the number of long-term assignments and trying to time manage around those assignments.” When she was asked which of the programs is more challenging, she says, “Both AP and IB are challenging in their ways, AP gives more worksheets, and there is a lot of memorization involved while IB is more discussion-based. It prepares you for the real world, and we have discussions that will come up in college. So personally, when it comes to having to be prepared, I would say IB is harder.” 

  Finally, junior Ellie Kane says, “My favorite thing about IB is the in-school field trips, we get to meet new people in the program and do fun activities around the school.” When asked what the worst part about the program is, Ellie responds, “The worst thing about IB is that we get a lot of work piled up during some weeks and then hardly any in others, so it can be hard to keep a consistent schedule.” Her response is similar to some of the other students Cat Talk spoke with above. The conversation progressed with her comparing which of the two programs are more challenging, and she says, “It depends on the specific class, but in general, I would say AP classes are easier individually, but six IB classes are easier than taking six AP classes because IB classes intertwine and work together.

 Both AP and IB students are dedicated individuals that enjoy challenging themselves academically. Overall,  it is one’s personal opinion on whether AP or IB is the best program. Whatever one’s opinion is, it can be concluded that both programs are beneficial in a lot of ways; Both programs are challenging in their own ways specific to the person.