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A Level And The IB Diploma at Repton International School

What is the difference between the IB Diploma and A levels?

IB Diploma

The IB Diploma is for students aged 16-18 and requires no specific preparatory classwork, so can be undertaken directly from IGCSEs. It offers a broad curriculum made up of six subject groups – students usually study three at a higher level and three at a standard level.

The six subject groups are Studies in Language and Literature, Language Acquisition, Individuals and Societies, Sciences, Mathematics, and the Arts. Each subject is graded on a scale of 1 (minimum) to 7 (maximum). To pass the IB Diploma requires a minimum score of 24 points (260 UCAS points), and the successful completion of the DP Core requirements, which carry an additional 3 points. The maximum score achievable by any student is 45 points.

Importantly, the main aim of the DP Core is to broaden students’ education experiences and challenge their application of knowledge and skills. The Theory of Knowledge asks students to reflect on the nature of knowledge; Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) requires students to take part in a range of activities and projects such as music, sports or fundraising; while the Extended Essay is an independent piece of research, culminating in a university-level 4,000-word paper.

A levels

A-levels (short for Advanced levels) are UK national curriculum school-leaving qualifications that are taken by many students in the UK. Students usually choose three or four subjects, and take two years to study for these A-levels between the ages of 16 and 18. Pass grades are A* (the top grade), followed by A, B, C, D and E. One similarity between the IB Diploma and A Levels is that both qualifications are assessed by exams at the end of a two-year study period.

The Extended Qualification

All pupils taking three A Levels will also take an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). The EPQ is optional for those taking four A Levels. The EPQ offers students the opportunity to complete a significant piece of self-directed research to encourage more critical, reflective and independent learning. The EPQ is valued by universities and is often explicitly mentioned in university offers to pupils studying the A Level programme.

In Summary

The IB Diploma offers a different assessment method and an alternative philosophy to how Sixth Form should be approached. The A Level programme is made up of specific, separate subjects and extra-curricular activities. The IB Diploma programme is different in that it centres on a set of core competencies, skills and values that are important to the development of every student. The IB’s approach is a holistic one, requiring students to study a broader range of subjects and consider the links between them, within an international context.

Where the A Level benchmark has been adjusted and continues to undergo change, the IB has remained a tried and tested system.


So which one is right for me?

The IB Diploma is suited to pupils who wish to maintain breadth in their choice of subjects, and who are willing to work hard in a structured environment, and tolerate addressing areas of weakness. The A Levels are a good option for pupils with a very clear focus on a particular subject area, who want to play to existing strengths, and are self-disciplined enough to work in a less structured environment.

Ultimately, deciding between the IB Diploma and A Levels must come down to what a student wants to achieve, both academically and in life. Both A Levels and the IB Diploma benefit students who have decided on a specialist degree path. The IB Diploma can be advantageous in keeping options open and providing a broader education, preparing students well for university study and the workplace. Developing all round knowledge on a wider level of subjects until the age of 18 undoubtedly provides highly valuable skills set for the future, and the experiences that the additional DP core elements deliver can give a student a critical competitive edge in their race to get into the university of there choice.

What we currently offer at Repton International School?

IB Diploma subject options 2020-2022

Students should select a total of 6 subjects 3 at SL [Standard Level] 3 at HL [Higher Level] and will also have to study Community Action Service (CAS ) Theory of Knowledge (TOK) and Extended Essay (EE).

and Literature
 Mandarin B  Geography  Biology

 Mathematics -
Analysis and

Visual Arts
   English B  Business
  Mandarin Ab
initio (SL only) 
 Economics  Physics    
   French Ab
initio (SL only)


A level Subject options 2020-2022

The school recommends that 4 subjects and up to a maximum of 5 subjects are selected from one or both subject groups.

 English  Math  Further Math
 Physics  Chemistry  Biology
 Geography,  History  Business and Economics


The number of subjects offered will be dependent on your IGCSE results.

All students will have PE lessons, one lesson of PSHE and an EPQ (International Project Qualification) lesson compulsory during the week.

Belle See

IB Diploma Student Year 12

The IB Diploma Programme (IBDP) is characterised by the difficulty of the program which goes on to prepare its students for university. At Repton International School, we get to choose from a range of subjects and the guidance when selecting it allows us to choose combinations that keep our opportunities open. DP is a rigorous course, but it is also gratifying; every class feels like an adventure, and I continuously learn more that fuels my curiosity. The other aspect of the Diploma Programme is our Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS) requirements: from environmental projects to sports and much more we receive ample opportunities that make us holistic students.

RIS also provides a platform for us to execute our own projects and take on leadership roles which contribute to the overall development of our portfolio. As the year develops, our classes and requirements will get tougher but I am confident that RIS has the resources and expertise to help me fulfil the demands of the programme.


Yu Yien (Annabelle) Khoo

Year 12 A level Student

Deciding to embark on the journey of A-Levels here at Repton Malaysia was one of the most important choices I have had to make. Sure, it is frightening, but now that I've been enrolled in the program for one semester, I can gladly say that it paid off.

The A-Levels program allowed us to study each topic in-depth and trained us to have an incisive mindset; to think beyond the obvious. I had the opportunity to perform hands-on experiments in the science lab each week where each of us was provided with a set of apparatus in order to investigate different theories and scenarios. Other than textbook knowledge, our teachers provide examples to link our content with happenings in the real world. Even though travel is restricted given the current situation, I could still connect with the rest of the world as we engage in open discussions regarding different topics and issues that are occurring internationally. There is a sixth form room where we can complete assignments and conduct our independent study as well as external research as needed when we don't have classes.

Our school not only focuses on academics, but they also acknowledge the importance of a balanced lifestyle and hence stress the importance of physical activities with weekly activities to keep us active and regular house competitions that bring our community closer together. Outside of the course, Repton International School offers many exciting opportunities that can hone our soft skills, including a range of ECAs and student initiatives that will better equip us for life beyond the campus.

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