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Are IB Classes Better than AP Classes?

First, IB stands for International Baccalaureate -- an advanced high school diploma program -- and more and more American students are climbing aboard to separate themselves from the admissions pack. But while graduating with an IB diploma is impressive in the European world where it originated, it's relatively new in America.

Thus the question: Is becoming an IB student worth the extra effort? Background: The IB program was created in 1968 in an effort to establish a common curriculum for students moving from one country to another. What it has become is an advanced, rigorous set of courses (similar to AP), in which students are tested at the end of their senior year to see if they qualify for an IB diploma.

In many cases (it varies from school to school), students who pass six exams can enter college as a sophomore, foregoing freshman-year core classes. Did that get your attention?

What it entails: The Diploma Programme -- a rigorous pre-university course of studies for highly motivated high schoolers that leads to exams -- is a comprehensive two-year curriculum (think honors classes to the 10th power!). So while your buddies will be taking the usual high school course fare, you'll be studying world literature, philosophy, and other subject matters usually reserved for the college classroom.

Is it more work? Yes -- a lot more. If you don't pass all six IB exams to earn the diploma, however, you can earn credits for individual courses. Is it worth it? If your high school offers IB classes, start by researching how your choice colleges award credit. By logging on to, you can read each participating college's policy. Example: The State University of New York at Binghamton awards students who earn an IB diploma and meet score requirements with 32 credits (that's the equivalent of freshman year!).

If IB is an option for you, speak to your guidance counselor for more information about getting into the program.