What is the IB Program?

Toronto Schools / Friday, October 18th, 2013


IB, short for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, is a 2-year program of study for academically-oriented high school students. It is a rigorous program offered to students entering grades 11 and 12 who are seeking a challenge. The curriculum introduces a higher level of thinking and is designed to prepare these students for university. The IB Program is known mostly for its internationally recognized standards, which allow students to travel abroad and attend schools all around the world, after graduating from high school.

The IB Program is different from the regular high school curriculum. Students are required to take six prescribed courses at either higher level (HL) or standard level (SL), which cover different subject areas, including: English, French, Mathematics, Science, History and Art. In addition, there are three admission requirements, including: writing an extended essay, taking a Theory of Knowledge (ToK) course and completing community hours for Creativity, Action and Service (CAS).

Entering the IB Program

Students who wish to enter the IB Program must go through an intensive application process. It helps to have high marks and good teacher references, however, many students also find that taking a pre-IB Program in grades 9 and 10 helps immensely. The earlier program prepares you for IB’s high academic expectations and arguably gives you a higher chance of getting accepted into the program. However, many of the best high schools in Toronto still open the IB Program to those who have not taken pre-IB, and any student who works hard can get in just the same.


The IB Program is held to a high standard and is widely recognized by schools and employers around the world. A well-established reputation is one of the many advantages of enrolling in the IB Program. Employees and post secondary admission boards recognize the name, even on an international level. Students who have completed the program automatically stand out on resumes and applications, when applying for universities and even jobs.

It provides thorough preparation for university.There are not many programs available that can prepare you better for university than the IB program can. With such a rigorous curriculum and heavy workload, students will be able to adapt to the university learning style much faster than those who do not take the program. The courses themselves are also more challenging than regular high school classes, often reaching into first year university content. Some universities and colleges even award first year credits for IB HL exams with scores of 5 or higher.

It is an opportunity for students to enrich their learning in a challenging environment. Many students find their regular classes to be boring or slow. The IB Program gives students a chance to excel beyond the norm, and achieve academic success sooner and at a much higher level. The program helps you challenge your way of thinking and teaches you how to think critically and effectively. Students are also surrounded by peers with a similar passion for learning – an important factor to consider in one’s education.


Though the IB Program has its many benefits, it requires students to invest a lot of time, work and effort. The IB program can sometimes get a bit too rigorous—this is where time management and good work habits are a must. IB students undergo extreme amounts of stress and pressure everyday, and those who can’t handle it often end up dropping out of the program entirely. This isn’t an uncommon scenario; depending on the school, IB dropout rates can range from 10% all the way up to 75%.

One of the biggest disadvantages is the limited number of courses students get to choose from. There are few electives that students can fit in, after taking the prescribed courses, and this lack of variety may not appeal to students who want to pursue other interests. Once you enrol in IB, your path is, for the most part, set in front of you.

For schools outside of the TDSB, under boards like the TDCSB or YRDSB, the IB benefits come a cost. Schools can charge up to $3,000 for their IB Programs. The fee has sparked much debate in the TDSB, who is now seeking to balance their 2013-14 school budget without cutting programs like music. As of now, TDSB schools do not charge a tuition fee for the IB Program, but the decision is wavering.

If you are looking to move into the boundaries of one a school in the TDSB to take advantage of free IB tuition, contact us now for more information and home listings.


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