The questions and answers listed here came from the staff, and parents of current or past IB students at Westerville South HS.  Much of this information can be found at www.ibo.org and the Westerville School District web-site.

Q: What is the IB Program?

A:  The International Baccalaureate® (IB) aims to do more than other curricula by developing inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who are motivated to succeed. 

We hope our students will help to build a better world through intercultural understanding and respect.

In order to teach IB programs, schools must be authorized. Every school authorized to offer IB programs is known as an IB World School.

Q: What are the benefits of an IB education?

A: Students at IB World Schools are given a unique education. 

They will:

  • be encouraged to think independently and drive their own learning
  • take part in programs of education that can lead them to some of the highest ranking universities around the world
  • become more culturally aware, through the development of a second language
  • be able to engage with people in an increasingly globalized, rapidly changing world

IB Students Often Perform Better

IB World School students develop strong academic, social and emotional characteristics. They are also likely to perform well academically – often better than students on other programs.

There is more information about the performance of IB students on the IB program pages. For example, students on the IB Diploma Program (DP) are likely to enroll at top universities.

Q: What's the difference between the IB Diploma and AP?  

A: The Diploma Program is a comprehensive and balanced two-year curriculum and assessment system that requires students to study six subjects and core components across all disciplines. Within this structured framework, the diploma program provides a great deal of flexibility, accommodating student interests and abilities. Through careful subject selection, students may tailor their course of studies to meet their needs.

Regardless of the subject selection, all students explore the connections between the six major subject areas, study each subject through an international perspective, reflect critically on aspects of knowledge, pursue one subject in great detail through independent research, and have the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills through local and community service.

The assessment of student achievements happens in a variety of ways throughout the course of the two-year program. It includes the assessment of student work both by external examiners as well as the students’ own teachers. Internal or teacher assessment normally contributes between 20% and 30% of the subject assessment, but can account for as much as 50% in some of the arts courses (http://www.ibo.org/diploma/curriculum/group6/index.cfm). The assessment itself undergoes careful review and moderation to ensure that a common standard is applied equally to the work of all students internationally. All students’ work, regardless of which school they attended, are subjects to the same assessment principles.

The IB diploma is widely recognized by colleges and universities around the world as superior preparation for students to succeed at post-secondary institutions.

You can find more information on the Diploma Program here: http://www.ibo.org/diploma

Q: Why would anyone do IB over AP/Honors?

A: Please refer to this document posted on the WCS web-site:  http://www.westerville.k12.oh.us/docs/district/depts/22/ib-and-ap.pdf   In addition, it has been our experience (IB graduate parents) when admissions counselors at colleges and universities compare credit from IB vs AP or Honors it is ranked in the following order if all three are offered at that school: 

  1. IB

  2. AP

  3. Honors

The counselors typically review if a child took coursework to challenge themselves.

Q: How are IB classes different than other high school classes?

A: The IB is different from other curricula because it:

  • encourages students to think critically and challenge what they are told
  • is independent of governments and national systems, and therefore able to incorporate best practice from a range of international frameworks and curricula
  • encourages students to consider both their local and international environment.

Q: How difficult is IB?

A:  When considering the Diploma Program, the curriculum is made up six subject groups and the Diploma Program core, comprising theory of knowledge (TOK), creativity, action, service (CAS) and the extended essay.  So there is more “work” involved but the difficulty is no different than AP coursework.

IB courses are offered in two levels of difficulty, Higher Level (HL) and Standard Level (SL).  Classes listed as “HL” will challenge even the most academically inclined student, and are considered college level difficulty courses.  Students can choose between HL and SL level classes, according to their interests and comfort in each subject area.  For more detail about which courses are offered HL and SL, see the Westerville IB website, or talk to the IB Coordinator at Westerville South High School. 

Q: When do I have to decide?

A: Students will HAVE to decide during scheduling their Sophomore year.  However, it is recommended to plan the High School coursework as early as 8th grade.  Since the IB program is only offered at Westerville South High School it is recommended all candidates for the program attend South throughout their entire High School career.

Q: What does it cost to participate in IB?

A:  The IB assesses student work as direct evidence of achievement against the stated assessment objectives of diploma program courses.

There are two assessment fees. The student registration fee is paid once for each student to take one or more examinations in a particular school year. The candidate subject fee is paid for each subject taken by an individual student. There is no fee for theory of knowledge or the extended essay assessment for full diploma category students.

Currently, the cost per examination is $100.00-$118.00 and the registration fee is $175.00. This would mean an approximate cost to the diploma candidate of $800.00.

Q: What course should my student take in middle school and in their freshman and sophomore years to be prepared for IB?

A:  It is recommended that students should first look at the Junior/Senior course selections to determine which IB courses they are planning to schedule. These courses are the end goals. After determining the course, look back to the freshmen and sophomore years to determine which courses are suggested to prepare the students for their end goals. These selections are recommendations only. Students have successfully taken different paths to each the same end goal.  Please find a chart with this information on page 19 of this year’s High School Course Description Book: http://www.westerville.k12.oh.us/docs/district/depts/22/15-16%20course%20desc%20guide%20final%20copy.pdf

Please check with your guidance counselor or the IB coordinator if you have questions about course selections. Here is the criteria for participation in the IB Program:

  • Pass all or subject specific OGT tests in the spring of the sophomore year.

  • Meet with the IB coordinator to sign and adhere to a contract agreeing to the terms of the program as established by the school and the IBO.

Q: My home school is North (or Central), can my student just take the shuttle to South for their IB classes?

A:  IBO states that all students participating in the program must be enrolled at the approved IB school. Therefore, any student who wants to participate must be enrolled at Westerville South High School. Enrollment at South can occur through the following procedures:

  1. IB Administratively Placed – Any student who wants to participate in the IB program and satisfies the criteria for participation and is assigned a home school other than South can be enrolled at South by being administratively placed to participate in IB. Students who are not enrolled in an IB course offering beginning their Junior year will be required to return to their home school of residence.

  2. Lottery/Open enrollment – All students who are assigned a home school other than South but are enrolled at South through the lottery may participate in IB. Students who are not enrolled in an IB course offering will not be required to return to their home school of residence.

Q: Do IB students get weighted grades?

A:  Yes. 

  • HIGHER LEVEL (HL) Higher Level IB courses are two-year courses that receive 1.250 weighted grades.

  • STANDARD LEVEL (SL) Standard Level IB courses are one or two year courses that receive 1.125 weighted grades.

IB Grade Awarding:

An IB grade is awarded based on two types of assessment, internal and external assessments. The end of course examinations are the external assessments. IB exams are prepared by the International Baccalaureate Curriculum and Assessment Office (IBCA) in Cardiff, Wales. They are administered during a three-week period beginning on the first Monday in May. They are assessed by IB examiners world-wide. Each subject exam has from one to three “papers” (or “parts”) and each paper is assessed by a different examiner. The exams are primarily essays, and the assessment is criterion based.

Internal assessments are assessments completed during the course that are based on specific criteria. Students worldwide are held to the same standards based on this criterion. The internal assessments are evaluated by the classroom teacher and then are externally moderated to ensure that the criterion based scores are accurate.

IB then awards a final grade for the course by weighing the results of the examinations with the internal assessments in a course. Typically, the external assessments represent between 70 and 80% of the IB grade. Results are sent to both the student and to the University of Choice in the summer after the senior year. The results are given to the university as a single culminating grade from 1 to 7 (7-Excellent, 6- Very Good, 5-Good, 4-Satisfactory, 3-Mediocre, 2-Poor, and 1-Very Poor).

Q: What are the classes and requirements to get an IB diploma?

A:  The following information explains some of the curriculum and requirements of the IB diploma program. For further information, contact Mike Hinze, Assistant Principal at Westerville South High School, at 797– 6000.


The International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Program (DP) curriculum sets out the requirements for study of the diploma program. 

The curriculum is made up of the diploma program core and six subject groups. 

Made up of the three required components, the diploma program core aims to broaden students’ educational experience and challenge them to apply their knowledge and skills.

The three core elements are:

  • Theory of knowledge, in which students reflect on the nature of knowledge and on how we know what we claim to know.
  • The extended essay, which is an independent, self-directed piece of research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper.
  • Creativity, action, service, in which students complete a project related to those three concepts. 150 hours of CAS activities, divided evenly among the 3 areas, during their diploma years. (Candidates can begin logging activities during the summer before their junior year). CAS activities do not have to be school related.

The six subject groups are:

There are different courses within each subject group.

Q: Does a person have to get an IB diploma, or can they just take some IB courses?

A: Students may participate in the IB program as a diploma student or as a certificate student. A diploma student will enroll in a course in each of the 6 content areas and complete the requirements for the center of the IB hexagon including the Extended Essay, the Theory of Knowledge course and the Creativity, Action and Service components of the program. A certificate student may select individual courses for participation.

Q: What happens if my student is administratively places at South for IB and decides not to take IB?  What is the impact on extra-curriculars?

A: IB Administratively Placed – Any student who is enrolled at South by being administratively placed to participate in IB and is not enrolled in an IB course offering beginning their Junior year will be required to return to their home school of residence. Any athlete will lose a year of eligibility during this transition. 

Q: What if it's too difficult?

A:  There is an IB Coordinator as well as the trained IB staff available to work with the students who feel it is too difficult.  If s student is struggling with the IB diploma it is best to reach out to the staff first.  The staff have experience and training to help the kids through the program.  If the IB coordinator and the student conclude that the program is not a good fit for the student options will be explored.  Option include changing from a diploma program to a certificate candidate.  But these options will be determined on a case by case basis.

Q: Can I get college credit for IB?

A:  1680 Universities in the United States recognize IB with official policies for admitting IB students to their courses.  Each university will have standards for what the student must score on the IB course in order to receive credit. 

Q: What do colleges think of IB?

A: There are IB World Schools in countries throughout the world. The majority of universities in these countries recognize and value the diploma program.  The IB program focuses on personal, professional and academic development and is globally recognized by universities for the holistic and rigorous education it provides.

The IB works hard to make sure the diploma program is globally recognized by universities, with its students gaining competitive offers for further study.

Q: Will IB help me get into better colleges or earn scholarships?

A:  There are no guarantees for acceptance into colleges or earning scholarships.  It has been our experience (IB graduate parents) when admissions counselors at colleges and universities compare credit from IB vs AP or Honors it is ranked in the following order if all three are offered at that school: 

  1. IB

  2. AP

  3. Honors

The counselors typically review if a child took coursework to challenge themselves.  In our experience it has given our graduates an edge over other AP graduates.  There are still counselors out there with little experience with IB students, in most cases though we recommend asking to speak with someone else at the University as not all counselors are trained in IB.  We have seen the number of universities offering automatic scholarships to IB students growing every year!