Senior School

To IB or not to IB?

Not sure whether you'd like to do the IB or the VCE? Read on and find out more.

To IB or not to IB?
To IB or not to IB?

Carey students are very fortunate to be able to choose between the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme and the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) for their final two years of secondary study.

There are some key differences between the IB and VCE and some students naturally gravitate towards one or the other. One important factor is that VCE students can specialise in an area of interest (choosing to study two or three creative art subjects, for example) whereas all IB students study a broader program.

Our experience is that the IB tends, mistakenly, to be seen as a program only for the most able students. This is not the case. At many schools around the world, all students complete the IB Diploma. The IB should be considered as a genuine and worthwhile option for any student who has the ambition to go to university.

While the Carey IB average ATAR and percentage of students who achieve results of 90 and above is higher than our VCE students, the difference between those students’ Year 10 results is less pronounced. Students at Carey who achieve B and B+ results in Year 10 regularly feature among our top performing IB students. The differences in the type of assessment in the IB and VCE and the way they are converted to an ATAR account for much of the difference in scores.

There are many resources and ways we support students to decide if they will select the IB or VCE program, and the subjects they would prefer to study. In addition to discussions with their teachers and mentor, Year 10 students meet with their Career Practitioner and attend a Pathways Planning Day to help determine their next steps.

What is the IB?

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme is two-year program for Year 11 and 12 which is focussed on developing lifelong learners who are committed to excellence in all aspects of their lives beyond school. The IB Diploma is a common curriculum and university entry credential recognised across the world.

Learn more about the IB

What is the VCE?

The Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) is the program undertaken by most students in Victoria for their final years of schooling. It provides a broad range of subject choices and leads students towards tertiary education or employment opportunities.

Learn more about the VCE

What's the difference between the IB and VCE?

• Study a broad program to develop a breadth of skills
• Choose a subject from five or six learning areas designed to develop the whole person
• Pursue a passion or interest through the completion of in-depth research projects for formal coursework
• Prepare for tertiary education with a curriculum built to replicate the university experience
• Dedicate all of Year 11 and 12 to mastering your chosen subject pathway
• Flexibility to study a broad program or specialise in a particular area of interest
• Choose from a wide range of subjects with more specific coursework
• Space the learning out through smaller, more frequent tests and assessments
• The opportunity to choose a VET subject to enhance your skills and kick start your career
• The flexibility to change your subjects after the first or second semester of Year 11

Busting IB misconceptions

‘IB students must be very good language learners.‘

FALSE! In Year 11, IB students can start learning a language at beginners’ level, with no prior knowledge of that language. At Carey we offer Spanish Ab Initio (meaning ‘from the beginning’), and it’s a very successful course! The IB recognises the immense benefits of studying a foreign language, namely enhancing the ability to communicate, developing conceptual understandings of how language works and gaining cross-cultural understanding and an international perspective.

‘IB students study many more subjects.‘

FALSE! Many Year 11 VCE students have the same load as a Year 11 IB student. The expectation is that all students in Year 11 study six subjects and it is not uncommon to find VCE and IB students taking the same subjects!

‘Students have a very demanding load in Year 12.‘

FALSE! The workload is no more demanding than a VCE load. Yes, IB students continue their six subjects in Year 12, but only three of them will be studied at Higher Level, where the content will be greater. The other three subjects are studied at Standard Level and this content is usually finished by May of Year 12.

‘The Extended Essay is too challenging.‘

FALSE! The Extended Essay is an exciting part of the IB and enables students to research an area of interest with the assistance of a school supervisor. Students have over 12 months to work on their essay and gain many skills of research and writing, citing and referencing, which puts them in good stead for university.

‘The IB is not fun.‘

FALSE! Approaches to teaching and learning in the IB make the courses interesting, enjoyable and exciting. Not only do students choose the direction of their own internal assessment coursework, but all disciplines are focussed on teamwork and collaboration and are based on inquiry.

‘In the IB you have to do lots of hours of CAS.‘

FALSE! Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) is one of the core components of the IB and is based on the belief that education does not begin or end in the classroom. Students are supported by their mentors and our CAS co-ordinator to identify learning outcomes which they meet by selecting experiences – most of which are part of Carey student life: music, service work, sports training and games, fundraising, performing arts. Students complete an e-portfolio of experiences which certifies all they do as part of their extra-curricular life.

‘The IB is only for those who want to study overseas.‘

FALSE! The IB is recognised throughout Australia and globally by universities and top employers. The IB is concerned with developing internationally minded students, and all universities hold the IB in high regard because they value the skills and attributes that IB graduates bring to their tertiary studies, due to the learning style and structure of the program.

‘IB students must be excellent at science.‘

FALSE! Whilst you do have to study a science, you could choose it at Standard Level which is accessible to all students. In addition to traditional Science subjects, we offer Sports Exercise Health Science and Product Design and Technology at Carey which may be of interest to a broader audience of students.

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