Grades 11 & 12 / Introduction to the IBDP Programme

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The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) is a rigorous academic programme offered at ISH in Grades 11 and 12.  It is the most widely recognized international qualification for university.  A good performance in the IBDP generally improves a student’s competitiveness for admission to universities around the world, particularly to universities in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K.  Some universities also offer credits for college level courses if students achieve certain scores on the IBDP. Click here to view the ISH IBDP Handbook.

In the IBDP programme, the student must take 6 subjects, 3 at Higher Level and 3 at Standard Level. The IBDP is internally and externally examined.  Subjects are graded 1 through 7, with 7 being the highest level of achievement and 1 being the lowest.

A student can earn an IBDP if she/he meets the criteria below.

  • Meets the base standards on the Internal Assessments and externally assessed exams in 6 subjects, 3 taken at Higher Level & 3 taken at Standard Level.
  • Meets the requirements of Theory of Knowledge.
  • Successfully completes an Extended Essay (a long research paper).
  • Successfully completes the IBDP Creativity, Activity, & Service (CAS) requirements.

Assessments for the IBDP include coursework, practical exercises, oral and listening tests, and written examinations. During their course of studies, IBDP students carry out Internal Assessments (IAs) in their subjects and take a series of externally assessed exams at the end of their two years.

At the core of the IB Programme is the student learner who, in the course of her/his studies, develops each of the following traits of the IB Learner Profile.

  • Principled
  • Caring
  • Courageous
  • Balanced
  • Communicator
  • Thinker
  • Inquirer
  • Open-minded
  • Reflective
  • Knowledgeable

The IBDP Program of Studies

The IBDP has many of the strengths of a broad, traditional curriculum, with three important additional features: Theory of Knowledge (TOK), the Extended Essay (EE); and the Creativity, Activity, & Service (CAS) Programme.   Those features are indicated at the center of the programme model pictured below.


Theory of Knowledge (TOK)

The aim of TOK is to   teach students to think more about the Ways of Knowing (WOKs) and Areas of Knowledge (AOKs) and to be more critical thinkers about knowledge claims, values, and biases.

The course considers ways in which we gain our understanding through sense perception, language, reasoning, emotion, intuition, memory, imagination and faith. It examines the approaches to knowledge taken by mathematics, the natural and human sciences, history, the arts, ethics, indigenous knowledge systems and religious knowledge systems, then encourages students to examine them in relationship to one another and in relation to the students’ own experiences. TOK explores the difficulties that arise in justifying assertions, establishing certainty, and ascertaining the truth. TOK is a key element in encouraging students to appreciate other cultural perspectives.  The course is unique to the IBO, which recommends at least 100 hours of teaching time spanning the IBDP’s two years. Successful completion of TOK is a requirement for the award of the IBDP.

Assessment: Students give an oral presentation (internally assessed) either as a group or individually and write an essay of up to 1,600 words (externally assessed). TOK assessments are given a letter grade of A-E, with “A” being best.  The marks earned in TOK are considered in conjunction with the Extended Essay to determine bonus points for the IBDP.

Creativity, Activity, & Service (CAS)

The Creativity, Activity, & Service (CAS) Programme involves students in a range of activities alongside their academic studies.   CAS enables students to enhance their personal and interpersonal development through experiential learning.   CAS also provides a healthy counterbalance to the academic pressures of the rest of the Diploma Programme. A good CAS Programme is both challenging and enjoyable, a personal journey of self‑ discovery.   CAS activities continue on a regular basis for at least 18 months.  Successful completion of CAS is a requirement for the award of the IBDP.  The three strands of CAS are:

  • Creativity: Arts, and other experiences that involve creative thinking.
  • Activity: Physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle.
  • Service: Unpaid and voluntary efforts that have learning benefit for the student. The rights, dignity and autonomy of all those involved are respected.

The Extended Essay (EE)

Each student has the opportunity to investigate a topic of special interest for his/her extended essay.  The Extended Essay acquaints DP students with valuable independent research and writing skills. The IBO recommends that a student devote a total of about 40 hours of private study and writing time to the essay.  The Extended Essay permits a student to deepen her/his understandings of a topic already studied or to add breadth to the academic experience by writing on a subject not studied.  ISH requires that students write their Extended Essays in subjects in which they are enrolled.   The student is guided in her/his work by an Extended Essay Advisor.

The EE is an essay of 4,000 words.   The marks earned on the EE are considered in conjunction with performance in TOK to determine bonus points for the IBDP.  The Extended Essay is externally assessed and along with TOK can contribute to three bonus points.