Difference Between AP and IB Courses- What's Better for You?

IB and AP programs are both quite similar, however with all their similarities, there is a stark difference between them. Read on to know the difference between IB and AP courses, the benefits, drawbacks, and more.

TCM Staff

10th November 2021

International Baccalaureate (IB) programs are similar to Advanced Placement (AP) programs, in the sense, both offer a rigorous set of courses. Despite all their similarities, there is a stark difference between them. 

Most high schools offer either of the advanced courses- Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB). These advanced programs train students to adjust to the college-level. Ranging from Spanish literature to complex Computer Science programs, students get a fair idea of the competency of these courses. 

There is also the provision of earning college credits by appearing for the AP and IB exams in high school.  

This article explores the various differences between AP and IB courses and helps you decipher which one is better for you.

What is Advanced Placement (AP)?

Propelled/Advanced Placement (AP) is a program in the United States made by the College Board which offers a school-level educational program and examinations to secondary school students.

Also, the students who scored high checks in the examination may concede for position and course credits by American Colleges and Universities.

Quick facts

Here are a few facts on Advanced Placement courses :

  • The Advanced Placement program is a United States initiative.

  • It started in the 1950s.

  • AP program started in response to Cold War concerns. It was believed that American high school and college students were not sufficiently trained for the professional world.

  • AP also began with the dictum of reducing the redundancy of the first few years of education in Ivy League colleges. 

  • According to the statistics provided by The CollegeBoard, 22,169 schools initiated AP classes in 2017.

  • There are 38 available AP courses in 7 subject areas, namely :

    • AP Capstone

    •  Arts

    • English

    • History and Social Sciences

    •  Math and Computer Science 

    • Sciences 

    • World Languages and Cultures

  • The AP program is administered by the College Board, a non-profit organization. It has two main objectives: 

    • 1. It provides a more competent and challenging coursework to students.

    • 2. It caters to the interests of ‘eager students’ by helping them secure college credits and skips the introductory lectures to dive straight into deeper waters once they graduate high-school.

How are AP courses scored?

AP tests are scored on a 1 to 5 scale as follows: 

  • Extremely well qualified

  • Well qualified

  • Qualified

  • Possibly qualified

  • No recommendation

The computer scores the multiple-choice components of the exam, while the free-response and essay portion are scored by trained readers. In the next step, the scores are combined with raw materials.

What are the different Advanced Placement courses?

Several advanced placement courses are mentioned below:

  • AP Biology

  • AP Computer Science Principles

  • AP English Language and Composition

  • AP English Literature and Composition

  • AP European History.

You may also read: List of AP classes

Benefits of Taking AP

Advanced Placement courses regularly accompany typical confusion that they are just accessible to high accomplishing students. Actually, any student can enlist in an AP course paying little mind to physical or psychological barriers that the student may believe might keep them from taking AP. 


  • Decreasing the school's education quality

  • It is found that after completing AP courses some students failed in an exam of their respective subjects which devalued their academic achievement

  • And there are some students who pass there AP test but they are still not ready for college-level work

What is IB?

The IB offers training and education for students in the age group of 3 to 19, involving four projects which focus on instructing students to think according to the basics and act freely.

The IB prepares students to prevail in reality as we know it where actualities and fiction converge in the news and were asking the correct inquiries are a vital aptitude that will enable them to thrive long after they've left their projects.

They are upheld by IB instructors and facilitators who create and advance the IB's educational modules in about 5,000 schools all-inclusive consistently, in more than 150 nations around the globe.

Quick facts

Here are a few facts on IB courses-

  • The IB program is an initiative by the United States.

  • It was launched in 1971. However, it began in Geneva in 1968. 

  • IB is an international program, with a primary focus on global education, catering to students wishing to contribute in a globalized society.

  • IB programs at American high schools are an indication of the IB Diploma Program, which is the IB curriculum tailored for high school juniors and seniors.

  • As many as 945 schools offer IB Diploma Program across the nation.

  • The IB diploma program constitutes 6 subject areas, namely-

    • 1.Language and literature

    • 2. Language acquisition

    • 3.Individuals and societies

    • 4.Sciences 

    • 5.Mathematics

    • 6. Arts

A set of disciplinary approaches such as the theory of knowledge (TOK), creativity,  service (CAS), activity, and the extended essay also form the IB program. A student can enroll in IB courses at “standard level” (SL) or “high level” (HL). To earn the IB diploma, a minimum of three HL courses are required.

How is IB unique?

The IB programs are unique as they:

  • Energize students of any age to think fundamentally and challenge presumptions.

  • Grow freely of government and national frameworks, fusing quality practice from a look into and our worldwide group of schools.

  • Empower students of any age to think about both neighborhood and worldwide settings.

  • Create multilingual students.

You may also read: Benefits of an IB Diploma

Drawbacks of IB

  • The course tenure is quite lengthy, requiring up to 2 years of vigorous hard work. 

  • It involves a heavy workload.

  • IB is not as flexible as AP and has a rigid curriculum.

Key Difference between AP & IB: Which one is better for you?

  • AP is more popular than IB.

  • They both have different program goals.

The projects have diverse objectives, too. IB has more accentuation on composing and creating basic reasoning aptitudes and not simply on the exams themselves. The IB certificate likewise requires the expanded exposition, a long, college-style examine paper. The IB program additionally has an extracurricular requirement.

Interestingly, the AP is a program that is centered around showing students a particular substance and testing their insight on the exams. There are progressively various decisions and accentuation on meeting certain substance objectives.

  • IB is more expensive than AP

  • To enroll in classes IB is required

You can take AP exams without being selected in a class, yet you must be enlisted in an IB class to take an IB exam. On the off chance that you have the capability in a dialect not offered by your school, or on the off chance that you need to self-consider for a specialty subject like Art History, the AP program gives you greater adaptability.


As you consider secondary school arranging choices, ensure you comprehend the scholastic program, and in addition the extracurricular open doors you can get to. Since universities don't have an inclination between the projects, and it's possible that the university credit and propelled situation you gain will be comparative paying little heed to the program you seek after, this is a choice to make in light of your learning inclinations and your instructive theory.

Recent Articles

How to get the highest possible ACT score: A complete guide

Do College Credits Expire ? : College Credit Guide [2024]

What Is a Good SAT Score?

How to Get a Scholarship in 6 Easy Steps?

Undergraduate vs Graduate: What Is the Difference?

Time Management for College Students: 8 Helpful Tips