At the end of year 10, many students are faced with the dilemma – should I do the HSC or IB?
Hours of research can leave you and your child flooded with pages of information - and no clear answers! We have done the hard work for you and have complied an easy to understand comparison between the IB and HSC based on our own expert experience.
What is the IB Diploma?
The IB (International Baccalaureate) diploma is offered as an alternative to the NSW HSC in certain schools throughout Australia. Created in Switzerland in 1968, the IB is known for setting high standards and emphasising critical thinking and creativity.
The IB is an internationally recognised certificate – a feature that is no doubt enticing to both parents and students. With the IB, your child can have a global education experience – the IB is recognised by prestigious international universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Princeton!
If your child chooses to do the IB, they will develop skills that will prepare them for university. Students learn to:
Develop their intellectual curiosity
Improve reasoning abilities
Consider philosophical ideas
The structure of the IB promotes academic diversity among students, rather than the preferred specialisation in the HSC. Your child can get a taste of a wide variety of subjects, thereby opening more pathways for them in the future.
In total, students must study six subjects and must undertake three of these at Higher Level (HL), which are like first year university subjects.
Students of the IB must study one subject of each of the following categories:
The diversity of the program is either a blessing or a curse, depending on your personal taste. On the one hand, it ensures that your child remains an academic all-rounder in all the major fields, and the advantage of learning a second language can make your child a more alluring candidate in global job markets.
However, this also means that your child will not be able to tailor their studies towards preferred streams of study, such as humanities or mathematics.
Furthermore, the IB does not offer vocational courses, unlike the HSC. As part of the HSC course, students can undertake subjects which can count towards traineeships or apprenticeships.
While the HSC and IB are similar many ways, there are some very important differences. These are highlighted in the tables below.
Is IB better than the HSC?
This is a question that emerges time and time again. As an increasing number of senior students are opting for the International Baccalaureate (IB) over the HSC, we must ask - what is it about the IB that makes it so appealing to both students and parents alike, and could it be right for your child?
Why we love the IB
Statistically, the IB seems almost too good to be true, especially given that a perfect mark of 45/45 equates to the top ATAR result of 99.95, where 1 in 30 students will achieve this result, as opposed to the 1 in 1000 students reaching 99.95 in the HSC.
In 2016, Little Geniuses’ top achieving student achieved this perfect score. Studying at MLC, she was coached at Little Geniuses in most of her IB subjects.
“I’ve always wanted a 45 but I never really thought I would get it. When I got my result, I was shocked and I remembered screaming and crying. It was definitely a good surprise!”, she said.
Many students from Trinity Grammar School, who were tutored at Little Geniuses, also appeared on the school’s Outstanding Individual Performance list, which includes students who scored 40+ IB points
(Equivalent to a 98.30+ ATAR).
However, the IB is also highly demanding. Even without the competition fostered in HSC schools, the IB is still a two-year course that requires students to continually build and extend on their knowledge. It is designed for students who are willing to commit to the demands of the curriculum, and for their efforts, they are certainly rewarded.
At Little Geniuses, we target this aspect by focusing on early preparation and revision through the two-year period.
“Starting everything early at Little Geniuses gave me enough time to fully prepare myself for things like the IOP and IOC. I remember starting to practice IOC months before the test and being relatively confident in all the poems that could be tested when it was closer to the exam,” said our top performing student from MLC.
In the IB Diploma, subjects are not scaled. Instead, the IB gives a fantastic ATAR conversion regardless of the chosen subjects.
In 2016, the IB state average among Australian students was 34.56. This is equivalent to an ATAR of 92.9!
For more information, have a look at this ATAR/IB conversion table.
Another bonus for students taking the IB, is that the IB Diploma exams are not until November, which gives IB students an entire extra month of study compared to October exams for HSC students.
This final month can make a huge difference for your child, as they will have much more time to study and to finalise their knowledge. While one month may not seem like a lot, extra study time will unquestionably improve the chance of having a better final mark.
A bit more about the HSC
The HSC also has its challenges. Students must carefully select high-scaling subjects, such as Extension 2 Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. While these subjects can significantly improve a student’s ATAR result, they are intensive and very difficult.
Additional educational services such as Little Geniuses can ensure that your child achieves the best result possible.
“Unlike other classes where the pace of the lesson may be incompatible to you, the Little Geniuses’ tutors always prioritise what you need. Their consistent consideration of your testing timetables, class load and most importantly, your emotional place and how confident you are for your tests, creates a familiar environment where you can solely focus on improving your academics,” said our 2016 top scoring HSC, Reddam House student.
“It is undeniable that all the tutors understand clearly what is necessary to create great marks and amazing students. While I was there, their relentless demand for quality work ensured that I stayed time-efficient and was spreading out my workload rather than cramming,” she said.
Of course, additional educational services are always available to students of both the HSC and the IB Diploma. However, Little Geniuses provide experienced education specialists who will go one step further to create specific resources targeted at what you are learning at school. External help, particularly in demanding assessments such as Theory of Knowledge (TOK) and Extended Essay (EE), will give your child the confidence and help they need to achieve high-range results throughout their study.
“I would definitely recommend Little Geniuses to my friends doing IB. The teachers there are so nice and responsible. They all want the students to get the highest mark they can possibly achieve. I am so grateful for all the encouragement and support they offered me,” said our top achieving IB student.
If this is right for my child, where do I start?
Finding the right school for your child can already be a daunting process. Factor in finding a school with a successful IB program, and it seems nearly impossible.
The IB is offered as an alternative to the HSC in approximately 15 private schools in NSW.
The Top Achieving Schools in 2016 were:
If you are still interested in your child participating in the IB Diploma, but are unsure of how they will cope, consider external assistance, such as Little Geniuses, for your child.
Take it from one of our students.
“At Little Geniuses, you build a genuine relationship with your tutor that makes it easy to communicate both your success and troubles. Such communication was essential in establishing what was required of me, whether it be timed practice essays or speech rehearsals.”
“To be able to have your work marked prior to handing final essays into school was also important for me as it created an opportunity for me to understand what needed refining to attain that perfect mark.”
So now that you know all about the International Baccalaureate, what will you choose?