The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

IB Courses by the Numbers


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Every year, WIS sophomores fall into a frenzy when it’s time for them to choose the six courses they will take in the IB. Each student designs their own unique program, built around their own interests. IB choices for each grade reflect the interests of the students and how WIS students are changing over time. Here is a look into what IB courses WIS students choose to take, by the numbers.

Group 1: Studies in Language and Literature

Studies in Language and Literature is just a fancy name for English class. Students at WIS have two options: higher level English and standard level English. WIS only offers IB Language and Literature, whereas other schools around the globe offer a pure literature course as well. At WIS, most students choose standard level. Over the past three years, no more than a third of students have elected to take higher-level English.

Group 2: Language Acquisition

The second group, Language Acquisition, requires every student to study a language in addition to English. Obviously, the vast majority of students take French or Spanish, the two main languages offered at WIS starting in Pre-K. But, some students abandon those languages in the IB and study languages WIS normally doesn’t offer, such as Italian or Russian. It’s usually less than 10 percent of students in each grade who choose this option. In order to study a different language, the student’s family must pay a teacher from outside of school to come to WIS to teach the material.

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Group 3: Individuals and Societies

There are four options for Individuals and Societies courses: Economics, History, Geography, and Psychology. Psychology was just recently added as a Group 3 option for the class of 2021, but it was previously available as a Group 6 course, to take in addition to another social study. Economics is largely the most popular option, partially due to the massive amount of WIS parents who are economists. The popularity of economics is unique to WIS, as history is by far the most popular course globally.

Group 4: Sciences

Group 4 is dedicated to hard sciences. The four options are Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Design Technology (DT), and Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS). In this group, students’ choices start to get limited because of requirements for colleges overseas. “[Colleges in the United States] are very flexible on course choices, but overseas is not,” college counselor Pamela Joos said. Students who want to pursue science, medicine, or engineering overseas tend to be required to take a certain science course.

Group 5: Mathematics

For the class of 2021, the decision of which math class to take is more difficult than it has been for other years. Starting next school year, the IB math program will undergo a drastic change. It will stray from offering one higher level course, one standard level course, and math studies, and instead offer two different courses at either a higher or standard level. The options are Applications and Interpretations, a statistics-based course, and Analysis and Approaches, a calculus-heavy class. The change comes due to the dwindling amount of students opting for higher level math around the world. The IB hopes that the new offering will encourage more students to try higher level math. For the class of 2021, the number of students taking higher level math increased from the two previous years, but barely.

Group 6: Arts (or anything else)

Group 6 offers the most freedom for students. The purpose of the group is the arts, with Visual Art, Theater, and Music being the three arts options. Visual Art always attracts a crowd of students, while Music and Theater are only offered if enough students are interested. Students who are not interested in the arts offerings have the option to take a second social study, language, or science. The majority of students opt to double up in a social study or science instead of partaking in one of the arts offerings.

By Saul Pink

WIS data courtesy of college counselors Pamela Joos and Joanna Tudge

Global data from International Baccalaureate statistical bulletins

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