Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about IB

Is IB for “gifted” students?

At Luther, IB classes are open to all students regardless of past academic performance. We believe that the best predictors of success in IB courses are not marks, but eagerness to learn, willingness to accept a new challenge, and the ability to critically reflect on one’s learning experience. This is especially true in standard-level courses. Higher-level courses extend into a university-level coverage of the subject, so students may wish to consider their level of ability in any discipline for which they would like to take a higher-level course.

What other skills do I need in order to be successful in the IB Diploma Programme?

The Approaches to Learning emphasized in IB courses are essential for success in the Diploma Programme. Successful students will possess and develop thinking and questioning skills, research skills, communication skills, social skills, and self-management skills like organizational skills, resilience, and self-motivation.

Can I take just a few IB courses instead of the full diploma?

Yes. Students are free to choose up to five IB courses without pursuing the full diploma. We do ask interested students to take at least two IB courses so they can benefit from IB’s cross-curricular connections.

Can I “challenge” IB exams?

No. Every IB course has a required number of in-class hours as well as performance-based assessment tasks that cannot be undertaken outside the context of a class.

What steps does my grade 9 or 10 student need to take to enter the IB Diploma Programme?

Grade nine and ten students should, first and foremost, consider the traits of the IB Learner Profile, and work to exemplify those traits. These traits are what are most likely to help you to be successful in the Diploma Programme, even more than focusing on achieving high grades. Students should also ensure that they have taken the required and recommended courses in grades nine and ten.

Recommended and required courses for students entering the IB Diploma Programme at Luther College:

                English Literature
                    Required: English 10

                    Required: Core French 20 or Immersion French 10

                    Recommended: German 10

                    Required: History 10

                    Required: Science 10, Recommended: LCHS Pre-IB Science 10

                    Required: Science 10, Recommended: LCHS Pre-IB Science 10

                    Required: LCHS Pre-IB Science 10

                    Required: Pre-calculus 20, Recommended: LCHS Pre-IB Pre-calculus 20

                  Required: Film 10

                Visual Art
                    Required: Art 10

                    Corequisite: Choir or band

Will my marks drop?

Our long-term analysis of student performance shows that students often see a drop in their grade 11 marks. However, we see no difference between IB students’ performance in grade 12 when compared against their non-IB peers. (See below “How are IB courses graded?”) This is easily explained. When students begin an IB course, they are called to a higher standard. It is to be expected that students would initially score lower against these new standards. As they grow and adjust within the IB program, their marks typically reflect their growth. Our top graduating students are usually IB students, and we do not see evidence of IB students being disadvantaged in any way by their grades in university -- or scholarship -- application processes.

How are IB courses graded?

IB students receive two marks in each course. A grade is reported to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education on the conventional 100-point percentage scale. They also receive a grade on IB’s 7-point scale. When external bodies (such as universities) interpret grades, the government transcript grade, despite the IB designation on the student’s transcript, is not interpreted differently from a non-IB grade.

For this reason, Luther teachers make every effort to ensure that a student’s final percentage grade in a course reflects how they would have scored in a non-IB class. Different courses achieve this through different methods (e.g. mark adjustment scales).

The IB mark on the 7-point scale is the mark that usually determines for universities whether transfer credit is awarded, and is determined based on both internally assessed (marked by the teacher) performance tasks and externally assessed assessment tasks (such as IB exams).

Will I have time to participate in co-curricular activities?

We believe that IB learners are balanced, and it is our goal as a school to facilitate that balance. Therefore, you should not have to eliminate involvement in activities outside school hours to enroll in the Diploma Programme. In fact, co-curricular activities are an important part of the Diploma Programme as part of the CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) requirement. However, achieving balance may mean making choices if you are already heavily involved in a large number of activities and wish to pursue the IB Diploma.

When are IB exams?

IB exams take place during the first three weeks of May each year. The exam dates are posted roughly a year in advance on our website.

Do I still receive a Saskatchewan high school diploma?

Yes. It is required of us by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education that we ensure the coverage of Saskatchewan curricular outcomes. Of course, IB classes routinely go beyond these requirements, and therefore, there is no issue with students achieving graduation status, provided they successfully complete their classes.

What is the difference between IB and AP? Why does Luther offer IB instead of AP?

At Luther, our mission and vision are very closely aligned with that of IB. IB’s vision is a holistic model of education, educating the whole person while emphasizing the connections among disciplines.

AP is primarily intended to get students a head start on university. We believe that IB is more in line with our vision of university preparation, as it is academically rigorous while maintaining a focus on developing and enriching the learner beyond their knowledge. In short, IB’s focus is on enrichment over advancement.

While AP is a collection of courses that allow a student to earn advanced credits, IB is a cohesive, unified program that emphasizes connections among the disciplines and includes courses that unify the disciplines, like Theory of Knowledge and CAS.

IB features world-class, robust, authentic assessment tools. In every course, an IB mark is based on a variety of assessment tasks, and at least one performance-based task in every course (e.g. labs in science classes, oral activities in languages, recitals in music). IB exams are marked by real people and are graded based on pre-defined criteria, not based on percentiles or other norm-referenced measures.

IB courses are taught separately from our other courses, allowing us to focus on the skills and applications needed in an IB course. In some AP schools, students take the regular courses offered by the school and study independently for their AP exams.

IB places an emphasis on global-mindedness, understanding issues from the perspective of other cultures and worldviews. IB’s philosophy is that education is first for the good of the world, then for the good of the learner.

IB programmes are taught and recognized worldwide, whereas AP is primarily an American program and is not well-recognized by universities outside North America.