A Guide for Parents of International Baccalaureate (IB) Students in Singapore

International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes are becoming increasingly popular in Singapore, and it’s not hard to see why. With a focus on developing well-rounded, internationally-minded students, the IB programme is designed to provide students with a challenging and rewarding educational experience. Regardless, it can be tough for parents to navigate this new world of education and understand what their child will be learning and what they can expect from their child’s education. This guide will help parents understand the basics of the IB program Singapore and provide helpful tips for supporting their child’s education.

What is the IB Programme?

The International Baccalaureate offers four programmes for students aged 3 to 19. The IB Diploma Programme is the most well-known of these programmes, offered to students aged 16 to 19. The programme offers students a comprehensive education that prepares them for life beyond the classroom. It strongly emphasises developing critical thinking skills, encouraging students to think for themselves and make informed decisions. The new international schools in Singapore also emphasises international-mindedness, encouraging students to consider the world from multiple perspectives and be active, caring members of their communities.

Why Does Singapore Perform Exceptionally Well on IB Exams?

Singapore has a remarkable record of achievement in IB exams, with over half of the 99 students who received the maximum score of 45 worldwide in the 2020 IB diploma exams hailing from Singapore. This success can be attributed to a few factors:

Accessibility: Only the higher-performing students are eligible to participate in IB programmes in local schools, contributing to the high-performance standard.

Orientation towards achievement: Singapore’s education system is achievement-oriented and has a strong culture of excellence. It leads local schools to prepare their students thoroughly for exams, and students may also seek additional help from tutors or enrichment schools.

Emphasis on Holistic Education: While achieving high scores is not the main objective of the IB programme, local IB schools are shifting towards a more holistic and values-driven approach to learning, downplaying the emphasis on scores.

It is essential for parents to understand the IB scoring system and to seek more information on how it works. It will help parents to have a better idea of what to expect in terms of assessments and grades.

How is the IB programmer different from the A-levels?


The main difference between the IB diploma and the A-Levels lies in how students are evaluated: the IB diploma programme assesses students through a combination of exams and assignments, with the final exams accounting for 70-80% of the total grade for each subject. In contrast, the A-Levels primarily rely on final exams to determine students’ grades.

Subjects offered

In terms of subject matter, the IB diploma programme offers a broader range of subjects, including

  • Language Acquisition
  • Studies in Language and Literature
  • Individuals and Societies (such as economics, global politics, philosophy and history)
  • Sciences
  • Arts
  • and Mathematics

On the other hand, the A-Levels have a more focused curriculum, with students typically studying subjects within a specific discipline and taking one “contrasting” subject for exposure to a broader range of subjects.

The best choice for your child will depend on their strengths and preferences. The IB program benefits students who prefer independent learning, enjoy research and have strong communication skills. 

Ultimately, the IB programme can be a valuable choice for parents who seek to nurture critical thinkers and problem solvers who can work effectively with diverse groups of people towards a common goal of building a better world.

Tips for Supporting Your Child’s IB Education in Singapore

Motivate your child to be responsible for their own learning. The IB programme strongly emphasises self-directed learning, and students are expected to take an active role in their education. Encourage your child to set goals for themselves and to take the time to reflect on their learning.

Stay informed about the programme. Keep up-to-date on what your child is learning and what they can expect from the programme. Attend parent-teacher conferences, and ask questions if you have any concerns.

Encourage your child to get involved in their community. The IB programme powerfully highlights community service and encourages students to make a positive impact in the world. Encourage your child to get involved in local volunteer organisations and participate in activities promoting global awareness and understanding. 

Help your child manage their time effectively. The IB programme is demanding, and students must balance their academic and personal commitments. Encourage your child to create a study schedule and to prioritise their time effectively.

To conclude, when parents enrol their children in an IB program in Singapore, they can expect their child to receive a challenging and rigorous education designed to develop well-rounded, internationally-minded students. The programme is designed to be taught at a high level, and students are expected to take responsibility for their own learning. It can be a big adjustment for some students, but it can also be gratifying. Parents can also expect their children to be exposed to various subjects, including humanities, sciences, mathematics, and the arts. In addition, the programme encourages students to participate in community service and engage in activities that promote global awareness and understanding.

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