A topic of conversation which usually predominates conversations is the board of education one studies at: ICSE, CBSE, ISC, HSC or IGCSE, A level? There are so many possibilities which students can go for, including not only Indian Boards but International ones as well, which is what makes the choice of which Board to study at pretty confusing. As for me, I’m a student from Mumbai, studying the IBDP programme at B.D Somani International School and I’m here to tell you about my experiences studying in the IGCSE and the IB programme, two international boards, which are well recognized across the globe. The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) is a programme which most students study in Grades 9 and 10. One thing I really love about the IGCSE programme is the vast and diverse range of subjects I was given the opportunity to study. Usually, a student can study 7-9 subjects, depending on the subjects offered by the school, ranging from sciences to foreign languages. My school allowed me to choose 9 subjects, 4 of which were obligatory: First Language English, Literature in English, International Mathematics and Coordinated Sciences (Double Award). For the other four, I was allowed to pick any subject that I wished, which allowed me to experiment with my interests and explore subjects that I’d might be interested in pursuing in the future. I ended up choosing Business Studies, Geography, French and Spanish as Foreign languages. Choosing both of these two foreign languages was one of the biggest advantages which the IGCSE gave me because it made me realize my love and passion for the same. The IGCSE programme, in general, did push me a lot. Studying 9 subjects as well as trying to keep healthy and have a social life was quite challenging . Early on, I realised that the programme laid greater emphasis on understanding concepts and applying these concepts into solving questions while discouraging the practice of rote learning and mugging up. More than that, there was so much collaborative work, essays and projects, which helped me hone my research as well as my collaborative skills. Overall, while it was a stressful programme, it did help set up a preliminary base for the skills I’d be requiring in the IB and it was nice that I had a small advantage under my belt before I stepped into the hurricane that is the IB. The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP or IB ) is a program which most students take during their last two years of high school. It is internationally recognized as one of the most challenging, yet one of the most preparatory for higher education abroad. The IB requires you to select 6 subjects: These six groups are studies in language and literature, language acquisition (foreign language), individuals and societies (Business, Economics etc.), sciences, mathematics and the arts. If you’re not artistically inclined, you can also select any subject from the other groups, instead of the arts. The IB calls for focus on another aspect, called The Core, which comprises The Extended Essay, as well as Theory of Knowledge, a subject which addresses the fundamental question How do we know what we know? Lastly a great emphasis is placed on CAS- Creativity, Activity and Service, which involves helping the community and volunteer service. I’ve only really been in the IB for a good 2 months, so I haven’t really experienced the stress which most of my seniors have felt but I can safely say that it has pushed all of my capabilities as a student. I’ve had days when I’ve been drowning in so much work and all I wanted to do was cry into my pillow. However, I’m able to see how the IB makes you a more well rounded individual. It equips one with skills that cannot be acquired through a textbook; it helps in the
development of critical thinking and exploration skills, while also helping one become more empathetic and open minded through different experiences and volunteer work. Through various research projects and more, it allows one to realise the importance of academic honesty and writing through your own unique voice. I feel very fortunate that I was able to study both programmes because usually they can be quite expensive and financially taxing for a lot of people. A lot of people talk about the international boards being extremely difficult in terms of the application part. But what I will say is that while they both do challenge students to buckle under pressure, they allow for them and push them to be the best versions of themselves.