SPM - Pre-U: International Baccalaureate Diploma
“Eh, so what you studying in US ah?”
“I’m doing the IB,” I answer.
“Wth is that?”
The International Baccalaureate Diploma, fondly known as the IB, is a pre-university course fairly unknown to many Malaysians. Instead of launching into a tirade about it, having been asked the question so many times, I usually reply with something like, “er, something like A-levels and STPM-lah.”
Truth be told, the IB is not exactly similar to A-Levels and STPM. In the IB, the focus is to create give students a holistic education. One is required to take six academic subjects in six different subject areas; at least 3 in Higher Level and 3 in Standard Level. The six different areas consist of: Group 1 - Language A1, Group 2 - second language, Group 3 - individuals and societies, Group 4 - experimental sciences, Group 5 - math and computer science, and the arts. The arts component can be replaced by options from Groups 1-4 or Further Math or Computer Science in Group 5. To give you an example, in my case, I am taking English Text and Performance for Group 1, Spanish ab initio for Group 2, Economics for Group 3, Chemistry for Group 4, Math Higher Level for Group 5, and Physics as an option for Group 6.
In my opinion, the good thing about the IB is that unlike the A-Levels and STPM, it is not totally exam-based. Coursework in class does count for a significant portion of one’s final grade. In my Text and Performance course, the performance aspect consists of two-fifths of my final IB grade; in economics, essays for internal assessment consist of roughly one-fifth of my final grade. Thus, it takes off some pressure off the candidate in comparison to having everything based on a final exam.
In addition to the subjects, other requirements have to be met as part of the course: Theory of knowledge, Creativity, Action and Service(CAS), and the Extended Essay. Theory of Knowledge(TOK) is a course that intends to teach students how to analyze problems of knowledge in issues we face daily in and out of the classroom. TOK requires one to do a presentation and also to write a 1200-1600 essay on a chosen topic as part of the requirements of the course. For the Extended Essay or EE, IB students are required to do independent research on a topic of interest to them to equip them with independent research and writing skills required in university work. This paper should be about 4000 words and is usually done in one of the subjects that a candidate is taking.Last but not least, and also my personal favorite of the IB course, is the Creativity, Action and Service(CAS) component. The goal of CAS is to produce well-rounded and responsible citizens. As part of my CAS, I get to do Forest Service, be part of the New Mexico Search and Rescue Network, as well as learn new things like Massage and Ballroom Dancing.
According to the official IB website, there are 6 schools in Malaysia that offer the IB Diploma: 4 private and 2 government. The government ones are MARA College Banting and MARA College Seremban. The four private ones are Intl School of Kuala Lumpur, Intl School of Penang(Uplands), Mont’ Kiara Intl School and KDU Smart School Sdn Bhd. As far as I know, Intl School of Kuala Lumpur and Intl School of Penang(Uplands) offer scholarships for the IB Diploma.
Official International Baccalaureate website
International School of Penang(Uplands)
International School of Kuala Lumpur IB Scholarships