Difference Between AP and IB Classes

There are many students who assume AP and IB classes are similar but as a matter of fact, it is not. Read this article to know more about the difference between them in every aspect.

TCM Staff

18th April 2020

Most of you might be thinking that there is no much difference between AP and IB. The truth is there is a huge difference between them which will make an impact on your education. 

In this article, we will be discussing AP and IB classes, describe what each is, and discuss how they differ from one another. To seek more knowledge about these choices you get to make in high school classes, continue reading this piece.

What is College Board?

Since we will be hearing this word repeatedly in this article, it is important for you to know what exactly is a college board and why is it so important. 

The College Board is an American not-for-profit and mission-driven organization that was founded on December 22, 1899, as the College Entrance Examination Board to expand access to higher education. Its headquarters is situated in New York. 

It is important because it gathers information on students to help them obtain appropriate college information which includes scholarship opportunities, student services, student aid, and school life.

What is AP Class?

Advanced Placement abbreviated as AP is a program started in the United States and Canada which is designed by the College Board in order to offer college-level academic skills and examinations to high school students. 

Key Points of AP classes are as follows. 

  • It is a program conducted in order to build a good connection with students to college success by permitting them to take classes of college even before joining one.

  • The main intention of creating AP classes is to let the high school students access a standardized level of exciting and challenging college work related to a specific course.

  • It is considered to be the best way to encourage students to join a good college. 

  • You can graduate sooner and can save money which is invested in tuition fees.

  • These classes can increase your chances of college-specific merit aid.

Are you wondering how AP courses are scored? Here is an answer to it. 

  • These exams are scored on a scale of one to five, one indicates failure and five implies that the student has fared extremely well. 

  • Most of the colleges will expect a student to receive at least three or four.

  • Nearly, 30 percent of college scholarships use AP course scores. 

  • All these courses are designed and administered by the College Board.

What is an IB Class?

The International Baccalaureate abbreviated as IB is a program that offers a standardized curriculum to all upper-level high school students which they can use to get into a well-known university. It is essentially a two-year sequence of classes, projects, and other requirements usually available to high school graders.

Keypoint of IB are as follows.

  • Its aim is to expose high school students to college-level work in the subject fields through a different and unique approach. 

  • To earn an IB Diploma, you have to go to an institution approved by IB and meet the requirements

  • Students who participate in the IB diploma program are expected to complete an independent Extended Essay Project

  • A student with an IB Diploma can completely skip Gen Ed classes and jump quickly into their major. This will certainly save time and money.

  • These courses are known for being interdisciplinary and claiming a good deal of independent thinking.

  • Extracurriculars and community service projects turn out to be the requirements in interest to a series of other educational courses. 

Are you wondering how IB courses are scored and evaluated? So here is an answer to it. 

  • IB classes conclude with a final exam scored on a five-point scale. 

  • If you pass your exam, you may be able to receive college credit or a place out of lower-level college classes that depend on your college’s specific policies.

  • You don't have to earn the IB Diploma to get credit for individual classes.

Difference between AP and IB

While colleges seem to equally value AP and IB programs, students should be aware of some structural differences. Now, let us discuss the key differences between these 2 programs or classes.

Availability and Popularity

  • AP Program is available at over 22,000 schools in the US and in 2019, 2.8 million students took AP tests.

  • Whereas, the IB Program is available at fewer than 2000 schools in the US. and only about 166,000 students took IB exams in May 2019.

Number and Nature of Classes

  • There will be 38 classes in AP and most of those classes are subject-oriented and structured to be taken on an individual basis.

  • There will be 56 classes in IB and classes are generally broader and are most commonly and regularly taken as part of a unique and explained curriculum.

Contents in the Exam

  • AP programs are more about explaining and proving the knowledge you have which is the reason why AP exams have more multiple-choice. 

  • But the IB exams feature more short-response questions, essays, and case studies and it contains more writing and application of ideas.


  • Getting AP credit can be more direct and outward as many colleges in the U.S.  are familiar with it and the College Board officially sets a passing grade.

  • But for IB it is not the same. The colleges will decide on how the Standard Level and Higher Level courses are handled.

Level of Difficulty

  • In the AP Program, all the classes are considered as college-level or school-level.

  • In the IB Program, although all classes are considered as college-level, many have two separate offerings which are Higher Level and Standard Level.

Similarities between AP and IB 

Along with the differences, there are a few similarities between them which are as discussed below.

  • Both the AP and IB programs allow you to take a challenging course followed by an exam.

  • AP and IB are generally the most challenging courses available to high school students. 

  • Both programs will help students in leading to college credit.

  • Both programs will help students leading to placing out of entry-level college coursework.


We have discussed IB and AP in this article and also the key differences between them. Both are well-respected by college admissions committees and both have a program that offers a wide variety of classes to choose from. For both IB and AP, as your passing score increases, the more you get credit for college.

Thus, make the right decision while choosing the program by considering all the necessary factors.

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