International School Curriculums at a Glance

By Abbie Pumarejo 2023-05-06 15:00:43

Learn the lingo of high school curriculum

When choosing an international school for your child, families should consider the bigger picture and whether they will be returning home or if another international move is in their future. To help parents in selecting the appropriate curriculum for their child, here is a quick guide.

International Baccalaureate

International Baccalaureate Organization (IB) offers programmes at four different levels: PYP (Primary Years Programme, ages 3-12), MYP (Middle Years Programme, ages 11-16), DP (Diploma Programme for secondary school, ages 16-19) and CP (Career-related Programme).

• The IB programme encourages students to think critically and independently, with inquiry-based tasks. IB Diploma candidates will focus on six individual topics for graduation of secondary school.

• IB Diploma graduates, depending on their final test scores, can have classes taken applied to university credits. However, it is important to do your due diligence, as each university will have different policies about credit transfers

• This European-based diploma certification is recognized worldwide.

• Nearly all American and Canadi- an universities accept AP scores for credit. Again, it is important to do research, as each university will have different policies about credit transfers.

Advanced Placement

Advanced Placement (AP) is a program developed and administered by the College Board, the organization responsible for the SAT (formerly known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test), allowing students to obtain college credits while still in high school.

• AP classes give students the experience of an introductory level college class that qualifies learners for more advanced classes upon entrance to North American colleges.

• Nearly all American and Canadian universities accept AP scores for credit. Again, it is important to do research, as each university will have different policies about credit transfers.

• It is not a two-year requirement compared to the IB Diploma programme or A-Levels.

• It is an American-based diploma certification recognized mainly in the USA and select universities worldwide.


The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) is a British curriculum which prepares students for the IB and A-Level examinations. English language is the heart of the curriculum, ensuring students’ ability to communicate fluently in the world’s most widely spoken language.

• The IGCSE programme is a precursor to A-Level, AP, and IB certification, and is completed in the first two years of high school.

• It is an exam-based curriculum that tests the knowledge of individual subjects, awarding one IGCSE qualification for each successful subject exam.

• There are three types of board exams for the IGCSE: Cambridge IGCSE, Pearson Edexcel International GCSE and Oxford AQA. They all take place during different times of the year.


A-Level exams are subject-based qualifications achieved as part of the General Certificate of Education (GCE) offered in the UK curriculum courseware. This is particularly relevant for students in secondary schools.

• A-Levels are required for university entrance, and conditional acceptance by UK post-secondary institutes are based on students’ grades.

• Students can expect to take three A-Levels in order to obtain offers from various universities, and most pick courses based on their desired degree.

• Many of the higher-level degree subjects do require specific A-Levels for acceptance to the programme, so it is important to research university requirements before starting the programme.