IB Diploma Programme (IBDP)

IB Diploma Programme (IBDP)

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A premium entrance qualification

The IB Diploma Programme is an academically challenging programme of education, with final examinations, that prepares students aged 16 to 19 for success at university and in life beyond. It addresses students’ intellectual, social, emotional and physical well-being. The programme has gained recognition and respect from the world’s leading universities.

IB Diploma students gain competitive offers for further study from prestigious universities around the world.  Higher education institutions in more than 90 countries admit students based on their IB credentials, and many US public and private colleges and universities offer credit or accelerated courses of study for successful DP examination results. A growing body of evidence documents higher rates of college-going, the wide range of institutions to which IB students gain admission, their preparedness for university-level study, and their successful adjustment to university life.

The DP is ACS Hillingdon's most demanding and most frequently chosen academic programme. It requires commitment, academic resilience, good time management, and sustained determination to achieve challenging goals.

The IB Diploma Programme continues to set the global standard in High School education.

Programme requirements and model

The IBDP has six groups of subjects

  • Studies in Language and Literature
  • Language Acquisition
  • Individuals and Societies
  • Experimental Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • The Arts/Electives


Students study six courses – usually three at Higher Level (HL) and three at Standard Level (SL). Students must choose one subject from each of groups 1 to 5 – ensuring breadth of experience in languages, social studies, sciences and mathematics.

The sixth subject may be an arts subject chosen from group 6, or the student may choose another subject from groups 1 to 4.

Knowledge depth is ensured by requiring three or four subjects at Higher Level.


University Recognition

Since 2002, ACS Hillingdon graduates have won places at a wide range of universities and colleges around the world. Every university in the UK now accepts the IB Diploma, and our students regularly enter top-tier institutions including Imperial, UCL, LSE, as well as many within the Russell Group. In the US and Canada, the IBDP and Course Certificates (Higher Level) are increasingly recognised, with many universities conferring credit or advanced placement of up to one year for them.

IB & A Levels grading compared

IB & A Levels grading compared

The percentage of students achieving a Diploma each year has remained constant over the last decade which indicates that, unlike the A Levels, there has been little grade inflation.

The highest possible score for the IB is 45 points – only 0.2% of students worldwide are able to achieve this each year. The pass mark is 24 points, which is achieved by 79% of students. Compare this with the A Levels where hundreds of schools are able to report a 100% pass rate each year.

According to the UCAS tariff, 45 points is the equivalent of five grade A* at A Levels, 40 points is the equivalent of four grade A* at A Levels and 35 points is equivalent to two grade A* at A Levels, and one grade A.

IB Diploma Grades and Assessment

Each examined subject is graded on a scale of 1 (minimum) to 7 (maximum). The award of the IB Diploma requires a minimum total score of 24, based on the principle that a grade 4 represents a passing level in each of the six subjects. Excellent performance in the six subjects results in a grade 7 for each, or a total score of 42 points. Students can earn an additional 3 points for superior work on the Extended Essay and Theory Of Knowledge. 

Theory of Knowledge (TOK)

This course is focused on developing interdisciplinary and critical-thinking skills. TOK explores the interdisciplinary nature among subject disciplines and encourages critical reflection and analysis.

Extended Essay

Students must select, research, and write an in-depth, independent research work of 4000 words in one of their six subjects areas. The Extended Essay requirement offers IB Diploma candidates the opportunity to become familiar with the independent research and writing skills expected at university.

Creativity, Action, Service (CAS)

All IB Diploma students get involved in Creativity, Action, Service (CAS) work. CAS is a fundamental part of the Diploma experience (and one that sets it apart), helping students to grasp the importance of extracurricular activities as an integral part of life, and as a healthy counterbalance to the world of pure scholarship and study. These initiatives and activities are a key part of our student’s education, and include:

  • local and global community outreach projects
  • Model United Nations
  • Charity drives
  • Model United Nations
  • Sports
  • And many, many more.

To earn an IB Diploma, students are required to study six subjects – at least three at Higher Level (HL), and three at Standard Level (SL)

IB courses at ACS Hillingdon

Group 1 - Studies in Language and Literature
  • English A Literature and Performance (SL)
  • English A Literature (SL/HL)
  • English A Language/Literature (SL/HL)
  • Japanese A Literature (SL/HL)

Other Group 1 native / mother tongue or self-taught languages are sometimes available on request, depending on availability of Tutors.

Group 2 - Language Acquisition
  • French B (SL/HL)
  • Spanish B (SL/HL)
  • English B (SL/HL)
  • Italian ab initio (SL)
Group 3 - Individuals and Societies
  • History (SL/HL)
  • Economics (SL/HL)
  • Psychology (SL/HL)
  • Business & Management (SL/HL)   
Group 4 - Sciences
  • Biology (SL/HL)
  • Physics (SL/HL)
  • Chemistry (SL/HL)
  • Environmental Systems and Societies (SL)
Group 5 - Mathematics
  • Mathematics (SL/HL)
  • Mathematics Studies (SL)
  • Mathematics - Applications and Interpretations (SL/HL) from August 2019
  • Mathematics - Analysis and Approaches (SL/HL) from August 2019
Group 6 - The Arts
  • Visual Arts (SL/HL)
  • Film (SL/HL)

Or a second Science/Individuals in Society


*The school reserves the right to add or delete courses according to student demand and staff availability.