Is IB a better fit for Singapore students?

Some 160 students from the School of the Arts receiving their International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme and IB Career-related Programme results at the school on Jan 4, 2019.
Some 160 students from the School of the Arts receiving their International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme and IB Career-related Programme results at the school on Jan 4, 2019.PHOTO: SCHOOL OF THE ARTS

The Singapore students who aced the International Baccalaureate (IB) exam must be congratulated (Why Singapore students consistently ace IB exam; Jan 21).

According to British newspaper The Telegraph, there is a general acceptance that 35 points in the IB is equivalent to an AAA score in the A levels in Britain, and 40 points to A*A*A* (there is no A* grade for A-level H2 subjects in Singapore).

Based on this standard, Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) achieved an 80 per cent distinction rate for all subjects, when 357 out of 444 of its students scored more than 40 points in the IB, compared with Raffles Institution's 46.3 per cent distinction rate, where students scored distinctions for four of their H2 subjects in the A levels.

Without taking away credit from the students who put in hard work at the IB, this disparity makes me wonder if the IB route is easier than Singapore's A levels.

However, since 2006, Singapore's GCE A-level examinations have been delinked from the United Kingdom examinations, and the Ministry of Education (MOE) has taken greater control of these national examinations, so the Singapore A-level results cannot be accurately compared with IB results as there is no conversion table.

Nonetheless, as the IB is based on international standards and a larger percentage of students seems to be doing well based on its syllabus, it makes me wonder if MOE is setting too high a standard for the A levels here.

Hence, will IB be a better fit for all Singapore students? Will MOE consider getting more schools to offer the IB programme?

Ivan Goh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 31, 2019, with the headline 'Is IB a better fit for S'pore students?'. Print Edition | Subscribe