IB vs. AP Classes: A Breakdown of Pros and Cons

IB vs. AP Classes: A Breakdown of Pros and Cons
IB vs. AP Classes: A Breakdown of Pros and Cons

I found that when it comes to taking rigorous academic programs in high school, two of the most popular options out there are International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP).

Both IB and AP programs offer students the opportunity to take rigorous, college-level courses and receive college credit for them.

But IB vs. AP Classes, which one is right for you? If you want to gain college credits and planning to study to pursue your studies in the United States of America, choose the AP program. However, the IB program might be the right option if you want a high-quality, stimulating, and challenging education that will equip you with skills beyond college.

IB and AP classes have different approaches. Let’s compare their pros and cons so that you can determine which one is best for you. You might also enjoy reading: A Level and AP Exam: Which One Is right for you; I encourage you to check it out and discover their key differences.

What Is The Advanced Placement?

Advanced Placement (AP) allows students to embark on college-level work while still in high school. The main benefit of taking an AP course is that you are able to earn college credit by passing an exam at the end of the year.

Depending on your score, you may be able to receive up to 8 credits from a single course. Additionally, AP courses often involve in-depth discussions about topics not covered in regular classes, making it a great way for students who want to explore their interests further.

If you wonder whether it is worth taking AP Classes, I wrote a whole article where I discuss the major AP Classes Pros And Cons of taking AP Classes.

Advantages of AP Courses

The primary advantage of taking an AP course is that it allows students to get college credit before they even set foot on campus. Many colleges will accept AP test scores in lieu of taking the required courses, meaning that students can save both time and money by passing the exams.

In addition, many universities will award scholarships based on students’ passing AP test scores. Another pro of taking AP classes is that they can help you save time and money at university. Additionally, it can help free up your college schedule to take more classes.

Another thing I like about AP is that it is a very flexible program. Whether homeschooled or a high school student, you can register and take any AP exams.

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Disadvantages of AP Courses

Like anything in life, taking AP Courses also has some drawbacks as well. Because AP courses are so intensively focused on preparing for the end-of-year exam, many students feel like they don’t get enough time to really dive into the material and understand its nuances.

Additionally, because AP courses involve a lot more work than regular classes, they can be quite stressful, especially if you are also juggling extracurricular commitments or other responsibilities.

AP program is also primarily focused on students who wish to attend universities and colleges in the United States and Canada. Even though, that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from AP classes if you have international ambitions.

IB vs. AP Classes: A Breakdown of Pros and Cons

What is International Baccalaureate IB education?

An IB education allows students to develop a disciplinary and interdisciplinary understanding that meets rigorous standards designated by institutions of higher learning worldwide. I like that the IB programs offer curriculum frameworks and classes that are comprehensive and balanced, conceptual and related.

Unlike AP courses, IB classes do not require an exam at the end of the year in order to receive college credit. Instead, students have to complete an in-depth project that demonstrates their mastery of the material. This can be beneficial for students who want more control over how they learn and demonstrate their knowledge.

If you are interested in learning more about the IB program, I wrote a whole article about the IB Diploma program and everything you must know. I encourage you to check it out.

Advantages of The IB Program

The good news is that IB courses also provide an opportunity to gain college credit ahead of time, although the process is slightly different than with AP courses. Unlike with AP tests, IB exams are graded on a scale from 1-7 rather than pass/fail; usually, a score of 5 or higher will earn college credit at most universities.

One major advantage of the IB program over the AP program is its focus on global education; when completing an IB diploma program, students must take classes in six different subject areas as well as learn another language and complete an extended essay project. I find that this global focus prepares students for success in an ever-changing world where knowledge of other cultures is essential.

Furthermore, IB classes tend to focus more on developing research skills than AP classes do, so if this is something that interests you, then IB might be a better option than AP.

I also like the IB program’s holistic method of educating students, particularly those who want to be challenged academically but want to preserve a sense of balance simultaneously. The IB program typically doesn’t only focus on just academic achievement but also on students’ physical, emotional, intellectual, and ethical development.

Another pro of taking the IB program is that it offers more choices for students. For example, the IB program has 57 classes ( including HL and SL), whereas the AP classes have 38 different courses.

Disadvantages of The IB Program

On the downside, though, completing an IB project can often require more time and effort than simply studying for an exam, which I believe might not be ideal if students have limited free time or low energy levels.

In addition, in some cases, because there is no standardized test associated with IB classes, universities may not recognize them as readily as they do AP courses when awarding credits or placement into higher-level courses.

Do Canadian Universities Prefer IB or AP Programs?

Generally, AP and IB are both equally accepted by Canadian and American universities, but AP is more popular in the US. If you are a high school student looking for a rigorous academic program to challenge yourself, I encourage you to consider both AP and IB.

The good news is that the IB diploma or certificates are predominant worldwide, making it a better choice if you want to attend international universities.

If you’re looking for a way to earn college credit quickly without having to put too much work into it then AP might be the best choice for you; however, if you want more freedom over how you demonstrate your mastery over a subject, then IB would likely be your best bet.

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Final Thoughts

When comparing the two programs side-by-side, it’s clear that both Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) offer unique advantages for motivated high schoolers who wish to pursue advanced coursework.

Ultimately, choosing between Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) depends on what kind of experience you are looking for in your education, whether it is getting college credit quickly or gaining a more comprehensive understanding of global issues.

I encourage you to consider your goals carefully before making a decision about which program to pursue.


I am Altiné. I am the guy behind mathodics.com. When I am not teaching math, you can find me reading, running, biking, or doing anything that allows me to enjoy nature's beauty. I hope you find what you are looking for while visiting mathodics.com.

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