Preferred IB program in Germany

Many Hong Kong parents of my age are still influenced by the British education system and prefer to send their children to British International Schools. Considering that Hong Kong parents were once under the same education system and are more familiar with IGCSE and A Level than the current DSE or the increasingly popular International Baccalaureate (IB), it is only natural that they should have a strong attachment to the British way of education.

In Germany, the opposite is true: full British international schools are not common. Most international schools in Germany use the IB curriculum, or the IGCSE curriculum in junior high school and the IB Diploma as preparation for university entrance. Many Hong Kong parents are surprised to learn that 90% of international schools use the IB Diploma as an entrance exam preparation, so why do Germans prefer the IB Diploma?

The significant differences between the IB Diploma and A Level are not only in the content and structure, but also in the subsequent selection of universities and subjects. In Hong Kong, parents are more familiar with A Level subjects, but they require in-depth knowledge of the subjects and students may choose the same type of subjects based on their A Level subjects. As a result, the Ministry of Education and Culture of Germany also has very different assessments for IB and A Levels.

Unlike the German A-level system, students are free to take four to five subjects in the first year of the Sixth Form and three to four subjects in the second year of the Sixth Form. In Germany, the “Fachgebundenes Abitur”, as it is called in Germany, is a university entrance qualification with a limited number of subjects, and students can only take courses related to A-level subjects.

In contrast, the IB Diploma programme is very similar to the German Baccalaureate in that it is a two-year programme with specific compulsory subjects, the IB Diploma requires five compulsory subjects: Language and Literature, Foreign Languages, Science, Mathematics and Computer Science and Social Science, with a sixth subject optional. Unlike the GCE A-levels, the IB Diploma gives equal weight to all subjects. Students can score up to 45 points, with 24 points representing a pass. The IB Diploma is recognised in Germany as an equivalent higher education entry qualification to the German GCE A-levels, and applicants with the IB Diploma are free to study any subject at a German university as long as they meet the requirements.

The high similarity between the IB Diploma and the German Abitur makes the IB Diploma the most popular alternative to the German university entrance exam. For parents looking for a German international school or for students planning to apply to a German university in the future, IB schools are worth considering.

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Alby W. S. Wong

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