Is IB more Difficult than AP? What Does this Mean for an International Student?

Is IB more Difficult than AP? What Does this Mean for an International Student?

Students can consider two internationally recognized high school course tracks as they prepare for college in the United States. International students planning to attend undergraduate programs in the U.S. are often concerned about which is the best path. Which is the most impressive? And which is most difficult?

Don't Wait to Learn More About ECPI University's Degree Programs!

AP and IB

Asking the right questions is critical to logical thinking. International Baccalaureate (IB) programs are designed for students up to age 19, and they focus on fostering independent, critical-thinking skills. IB curricula are available in 5,000 schools and over 150 countries globally.

AP (Advanced Placement) was developed in North America by U.S. and Canadian college boards. It has long been the established standard for U.S. high school students wanting more academically challenging courses than standard curricula. More than 100 countries now offer AP courses and exams. Students may focus on AP classes in specific areas: math and science, for example.

Distinct Differences: AP and IB

Alexandra Pannoni says, “AP courses tend to focus intensively on a particular subject, while IB courses take a more holistic approach.” AP classes deeply examine an issue from multiple perspectives. In an IB class, you might be looking at the same issue, but may scrutinize its long-term implications from a global perspective.

You could earn college credit with AP and IB exams. This means you’ll save money by not being required to take some classes at the undergraduate level. But to take the IB exam, you must be enrolled in an IB class. You can take an AP exam without taking its class equivalent.

Both programs have strengths.

AP FYIs and Benefits

Stanford alumnus Halle Edwards says, “If you’re taking an AP class just because it's AP, you should reconsider taking it.” Too many things can go wrong when you don’t have a real interest in the course subject, not the least of which is a low grade can trash your GPA (grade point average). AP program and course FYIs (for your information) and benefits include:

  • AP classes are usually taught at a college level.
  • AP classes reinforce your choice of major and/or minor. High scores on tests demonstrate advanced skills in your subject of interest.
  • Because the schedule is so rigorous, it usually impresses college admissions professionals.
  • In 2017, the most taken AP exam was English Language and Composition with 579,426 students.
  • Many high schools give extra weight to AP grades when calculating your GPA. Taking an AP class and getting a B is often a better choice than getting an A in a regular course.
  • Students’ AP specialized classes can open doors to a whole new world of interest. Specialized courses can include:
    • AP Micro and Macroeconomics
    • Art History
    • Computer Science
    • Human Geography
    • Psychology
    • Statistics
  • The AP agenda can improve study skills and time management, both of which are essential for success in college.
  • Universities and colleges may give credits if you get a minimum score of 3 on an AP test.

To learn if the AP program classes and exams are available in your country, go to:

IB FYIs and Benefits

Here are some FYIs and benefits regarding the IB curriculum:

  • Community service and a research paper are IB program requirements.
  • High schoolers can take a standard set of courses and corresponding assessments during the IB program.
  • IB programs are offered in English, French, and Spanish.
  • IB students can earn an IB diploma, which is recognized by universities and colleges worldwide.
  • IB’s global educational philosophy works well for international students.
  • If you’re not interested in the IB diploma program, you can pick and choose IB courses just like students in the AP program.

To learn if IB is available in your country, go to:

Which is ‘More Difficult?’

Both programs are recognized by U.S. universities and colleges. Students say the IB program is more difficult. Here’s why:

  • You must score three or higher on your AP class final exam.
  • You should be enrolled in the IB program plus complete the 4,000-word Extended Essay and 150 hours CAS (creativity, activity, service) requirements. Internal Assessments must be passed and you need a score of 4/7 to pass IB exams.

Is IB more Difficult than AP? What Does this Mean for an International Student?

ECPI University Values International Students

Are you interested in studying abroad? If you want to study technology, health science, business, or more, consider ECPI University. For more information on this exciting program, connect with a helpful admissions counselor today.

It could be the Best Decision You Ever Make!

Learn more about ECPI's College of Technology TODAY!

DISCLAIMER – ECPI University makes no claim, warranty, or guarantee as to actual employability or earning potential to current, past or future students or graduates of any educational program we offer. The ECPI University website is published for informational purposes only. Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of information contained on the domain; however, no warranty of accuracy is made. No contractual rights, either expressed or implied, are created by its content.

For more information about ECPI University or any of our programs click here: or