Both Advanced Placement, or AP, and International Baccalaureate, or IB, classes provide high school students with a rigorous set of courses that can help them prepare for college. These courses allow students to earn college-level credit while still in high school, helping reduce the time and cost to complete a college degree. While the concept of these programs is similar, there are some differences between the two, including outside classroom expectations and the final examination.

AP Courses

The College Board administers the Advanced Placement program. These are college-level classes taught in high schools. If a student passes an end-of-course exam, he may earn college credits. There are 35 college-level AP courses available in 19 different subject areas, including art history, biology, calculus, chemistry, foreign languages and history. AP exams are scored on a scale of one to five. Colleges set their own policies regarding class credit for AP exam scores.

IB Courses

The International Baccalaureate Organization administers the International Baccalaureate program. These are college-level classes taken during a high school student’s junior and senior years. If a student passes the IB exam at the end of a course, he may earn college credits. Students can choose to take an IB course program in which they can earn an IB diploma upon graduation, or they can just take individual IB classes. The six core subject areas covered in IB exams are art, English, experimental sciences, foreign languages, individuals and humanities, and mathematics. IB exams are scored on a scale of one to seven. Colleges set their own policies regarding credit for IB exam scores.

Outside Classroom Expectations

Unlike the AP program, in which there are no expectations for a student outside of the classroom, the IB program requires students to complete community service, write a 4,000-word essay and take a Theory of Knowledge course. If a student successfully passes all subject exams and completes the community service, essay and theory course, he receives an IB diploma. A student can receive certificates for individual exams if he does not choose to complete the full IB program.


A student must take the IB course to sit for the IB examination. A student is not required to take an AP class to sit for the AP examination. This allows IB students to take both the IB and AP examination. An IB teacher can advise students when this is recommended. Additionally, there are several review books for AP exams commercially available. There are no commercially available IB review books.

Related Articles