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IB offers best preparation for university says new research

The latest annual research from ACS International Schools exploring the qualities US university admissions personnel look for in applications to their institutions, highlights how the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IBDP) remains the highest rated qualification across a number of key factors including the preparation of students to thrive at university.

Mark London, marketing manager, ACS International Schools, looks at the key attributes delivered by the IBDP that the research suggests are so highly prized by universities.

Our latest research invited admissions personnel at US universities to rate the extent to which specific attributes are developed in students studying the three different pre university exam systems available to students in the US – the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IBDP), Advanced Placement (AP), and the High School Diploma.

Interestingly, in nine of the 10 attributes listed, the IBDP achieved the top rating from US admission officers, the highest rating being given to ‘encouraging independent inquiry’, ‘developing in-depth subject expertise’, and ‘developing global awareness and connectivity’, with 95 per cent of respondents rating the IBDP as developing these qualities well or extremely well.

The IBDP was also rated especially highly for ‘nurturing an open mind’, ‘nurturing communications skills’ and ‘encouraging creativity’ – 85 per cent of admissions officers agreeing that the IBDP develops these attributes well or extremely well.

In fact the only attribute where the IBDP was not given the highest score outright but shared top place with the AP, was ‘developing self management skills’, where 80 per cent of admissions officers scored both exams systems equally.

When asked to consider which exam system provides the best preparation to thrive at university, well over a third, 37 per cent, rated the IBDP most highly while 32 per cent cited all exam systems equally.

Perhaps though, we should not be too surprised at these findings. The IBDP is, after all, specifically designed with higher education in mind. The qualification’s final year, 4000 word extended essay requirement is not unlike a university dissertation, testing a student’s individual research and analytical skills, and ability to present a coherent and compelling argument. Similarly, CAS, the IBDP’s creativity, action and service component, calls for lateral thinking, leadership and a thorough appreciation of the world and an individual’s ability to affect it.

ACS International Schools has seen a marked increase in the number of its students applying to US universities this year and, while the IBDP is a globally recognised qualification, the extent to which it is highly regarded in the US will inevitably serve our students well.

ACS International Schools offers both the IB and AP qualifications.