AP vs. IB: Why Chose It?


Maura Mulholland, Managing Editor

It is a universally acknowledged assumption that to get into a distinguished college or university, one must take either AP (Advanced Placement) or IB (International Baccalaureate) courses. These are the highest courses offered at Albany High. But what are they, and which one is better?

The Advanced Placement program allows students to select their own classes and potentially gain college credit. Each class is an individual credit and the qualifications for college credit are determined through an end of the year test graded from 1 to 5. Most colleges accept a three or above as passing, or you can receive credit for the course. Each test costs $94 and now you can’t get the distinction of AP listed on your transcript without taking the test.

The International Baccalaureate program, or “le bac” in France, does not focus on individual classes, but rather a well-rounded approach to education that requires a student to take a full schedule of IB-affiliated or approved courses. One exits the IB program with an International Baccalaureate diploma, which isn’t typically given at US high schools but is widely accepted as the standard internationally. If you want to attend college out of the country, this is the option for you. The IB diploma costs $174 to register each year and an additional $119 for each exam taken.

Which is superior? Well, the AP program allows choice and focus on specific interests, like history or science. There is also a more regulated system of college credit for AP than for IB.  AP classes are generally accepted as replacements for a full college course (of course dependent on where you apply), while the IB diploma can be accepted as anything from a semester to a full freshman year of college credit. The IB program allows less deviance than AP course-wise and doesn’t really allow for cultivation of specific interests. Of course, money is always a factor.

When it comes to college admissions, they’re pretty much weighted equally according to NYU, SUNY Binghamton, Columbia University, Yale University, and Harvard University. If you want to get into any of these schools or ones on their level, you should take either the AP or IB program, and make an informed decision about which one is right for you.