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IB and AP Comparison


  • Both offer a challenging and robust introductory college-level course of study.

  • Both have a standardized comprehensive assessment at the end of the course. Scoring well on these assessments can result in college credit.

  • Cost for these assessments for MISD students are both $40 for AP and IB. 

  • Both receive the same weight when it comes to ranking GPA. 

  • Both look great on a transcript. 



AP courses are designed as stand-alone courses with a deep focus on a particular subject area, preparing a student for success in that subject at the university level.

IB courses, while having a deep focus on the subject matter, also seek to acknowledge the interrelated aspect of knowledge between subject areas. 


Students may choose individual IB courses, similar to AP, or choose to participate in the IB Diploma, an intensive, comprehensive, holistic college preparatory program. 

AP course content and exams can be typified as having a great deal of depth with an emphasis on detail.

IB course content and exams can be typified by having a great deal of breadth and is more conceptual in nature. 

The AP end of course exam is only given at one level. 

The IB end of course exams are given at two levels: Standard Level (SL) and Higher Level (HL). 

AP exam scores are derived from performance on the AP exam alone. These exams are taken in a single sitting, either morning or afternoon.

IB exam scores are derived from performance on the IB exam (about 70%) as well as research specific to the subject conducted throughout the course (about 30%). IB exams are over two days.

AP instruction leans more towards the traditional, direct instruction model. 

IB instruction leans more towards an inquiry, discussion based model of instruction. 

AP courses are one year in length. 

Some IB courses are one year in length (these are exclusively SL exams), most are two years in length. (These can be either SL or HL exams). 

AP course curriculum does not call for research methodology or research writing. 

Every IB course curriculum calls for research methodology and research writing specific to the subject. This research culminates in a research paper called “Internal Assessments”, and constitutes about 30% of the IB exam score. 

AP utilizes multiple choice and essay writing as assessment tools for exams both in class and on the AP exam. AP focuses more on “thinking your way through” answers to multiple choice questions. 

IB utilizes essay writing and research writing as assessment tools for exams in class and on the IB exam. IB focuses more on writing and justification of arguments presented. 

AP students cannot take IB exams. 

IB students can take AP exams, increasing the amount of college credit.