Brain Drain: The Most Difficult IB Classes at DAA
By Natalie Chamwada, Staff Reporter, The Pawprint
The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme is a course designed for students to take during their 11th and 12th grade of high school. As of January 2023, this programme is offered worldwide, across 5,600 schools in 159 countries (ibo.org). It’s known to be extremely challenging and rigorous, but is highly recognized by higher education and governments. Despite this, students are still determined to achieve their IB Diploma in order to make it into some of the highest ranking universities in the world. While the question “Is IB harder than AP?” lingers in the thoughts of many, I’ll begin by saying that they are both considered college-level courses, since students pursuing either course are encouraged to think critically and solve some very elaborate questions.
Students pursuing the IBDP are required to take 3 higher level classes and 3 standard level classes. It is necessary that students study in language and/or literature, an additional language than that of their native language, experimental sciences, and mathematics. Courses for individuals and societies and the arts are also offered to fill the other two class spaces. Besides this, IB candidates must also write an independent research paper called an extended essay (EE), study a course called the Theory of Knowledge (TOK), and achieve a minimum of 150 creativity, activity, and service (CAS) hours.
To summarize, the programme is very demanding. Curious about the classes that weigh most on candidates’ minds, I did a little bit of research into what classes are most difficult. According to collegebasics.com and testprepkart.com, HL Math, HL Chemistry, and HL Physics are the topmost difficult classes in the entirety of the IB course. For further confirmation, I did a serial interview on several IB second-year students to find out their thoughts on the matter.
The hardest class, in the eyes of DAA IB students, is Math AA HL! HL Physics and HL Chemistry follow closely behind, and there’s also HL Biology and HL Economics in 4th and 5th place. Other common mentions are HL Visual Arts, HL computer science, HL history, HL math AI, HL Language and Literature, a language ab initio, and HL psychology.
It’s clear that IB is absolutely ruthless to those who take it, but that’s exactly what it was designed to do; To challenge its students. I then went on to ask a couple more students about how they cope with all the stress and hardships of the IB, in which one student, Omar El Araby, shared some advice. He said, “I think in order to survive in the IB, you need to stay on top of your work and remain organized, which will help with meeting deadlines.”
This advice has been shared by many, but is never followed all the way up to the second year. Most seniors experience senior burn-out around their last winter break, and end up procrastinating to the absolute maximum, making it difficult to keep up with the continuous workload. Following up on this question, I asked another senior, Zeid , what he does to try beating IB senioritis. He does not take full IB but is pursuing 3 classes. “I spend 2 to 3 hours of my spare time a day, getting on top of my things. It gets hard sometimes, but I’m motivated to beat senioritis.”
In recap, we know that the IB can be physically, mentally, and socially burdening, but it’s important to remember the reason you took it. As long as you look after yourself and keep on top of things, you’ll be sure to come out feeling more relieved than anyone else.
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