Home » Curriculum » IB Diploma Programme (11th-12th)

About the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme

At West Sound Academy, all 11th and 12th-grade students take IB courses.

The DP curriculum

The Diploma Programme (DP) curriculum is made up of six subject groups and the DP core. The six subject groups are:

Studies in language and literature

Language acquisition

Individuals and societies



The arts

The DP core consists of:

Theory of Knowledge (TOK) in which students reflect on the nature of knowledge

The Extended Essay (EE) during which students complete independent research

Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) where students undertake a project that involves community service.

Frequently Asked Questions

While there are some similarities in that they are both eligible for college credit, there are many differences between the two programs.




Emphasizes process and integration of content across subject areas Content driven
Comprehensive course of study encompassing six areas: language and literature, history, language acquisition, science, math and the arts. Students choose AP courses that fit their strengths and that are independent of one another.
Students also take a class called Theory of Knowledge, write a senior research project called the Extended Essay, and complete 150 CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) hours. No additional requirements
Asks why more than what Asks what more than why
Assessments are graded world-wide with global standards Exams are graded in the U.S. with American standards
Final score (1-7) is determined by many factors, such as papers, orals, and projects, in addition to the written exams. Final score (1-5) hinges on a single written, largely multiple choice, exam.
Only students at approved IB World Schools taking IB courses can register for IB exams. Students not enrolled in AP courses can register for AP exams

International Baccalaureate Diploma candidates are expected to do IB coursework in six major areas:

  • Literature
  • Language acquisition
  • History
  • The experimental sciences
  • Mathematics
  • The Arts
  • or an additional course from one of the other subject areas.

Three subjects are taken at Higher Level and three at Standard Level. 

The Diploma Programme has three core requirements intended to broaden the educational experience and challenge students to apply what they learn in personally and socially meaningful ways. 

These core requirements include

  • The Extended Essay (4000 word limit) on a subject of the student’s choice
  • The Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course that examines the nature of knowledge and different ways and kinds of knowing
  • CAS (Creativity, Action and Service) which includes 150 hours of personally and socially relevant activity beyond the classroom and, in many cases, beyond the school.

IB examinations are taken at the end of the two-year program and are marked by external examiners around the world. Internal assessments are administered and marked by classroom teachers over the two years; samples of those are “moderated” by external examiners to assure consistency and quality of assessment. West Sound Academy students may choose to participate in the full IB Diploma Programme, earn certificates in individual subject areas, or focus on completion of the West Sound Academy diploma, which continues to be highly regarded by college and university admissions officers. See: May 2024 IB Examination Schedule

The IB Diploma Programme option is available to all West Sound Academy students enrolled in the 11th and 12th grade years.

The IB diploma and certificates are awarded to students who sit for and pass comprehensive exams in May of their senior year and complete all other requirements. IB diplomas and certificates are issued by IB and sent to the candidate and a college of the student’s choice in the summer after graduation.

Ways to be a Supportive "IB Parent"

If you’re wondering how best to help your student through the rigorous International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP), you’re not alone. Many parents find it hard to get a grip on the program and its countless assessments.  Listed below are ten ways parents can help their student manage their stress while meeting the high IBDP demands.

If your child is stressing about their EE (Extended Essay) or an IA (Internal Assessment), and asks you for your opinion or a proofread, don’t ask “What does that acronym mean?" The added frustration of having to explain every second word before finally getting to the crux of the matter will just add to their stress.

Instead, do a little research on the course by flicking through the school’s IBDP Information or browsing the International Baccalaureate Organization website. You’ll then know what they're talking about and be able to have a constructive discussion with them about their work without taking up too much of their precious study time.

The workload in the IB program can be overwhelming. Support your student in developing a good study schedule that includes breaks for relaxation and social activities. This can prevent burnout and promote a healthy work-life balance. Teaching your child the importance of prioritizing tasks can also be a valuable life skill.

The IB program emphasizes independent thinking and self-learning. Try to foster these qualities in your child. For example, instead of directly providing solutions to their problems, guide them to resources where they can find answers themselves. This nurtures problem-solving skills and a sense of autonomy.

While some students regularly ask their parents for advice or feedback, many prefer taking a more independent route. If your student is the latter, let them come to you. You may only want to help, but combined with the stress of meeting IBDP course expectations, your questions and advice may actually add to the pressure and hinder their progression.  Best advice - only give feedback and or advice when asked for.

It’s best, in fact, to let your student know you are there for them by providing a caring and supportive home environment. If, as a parent, you trust your student enough to give them some space, do it as it could be just what they need to make some headway and achieve their goals.


It’s completely normal for students to feel the need to vent when frustrated about a certain task. As a parent, if you notice your student getting frustrated, ask them if they want someone to rant with or vent to.

It may feel like an odd question to ask, but such an emotional release can feel very cathartic. IBDP students are, after all, not quite adults and therefore take comfort in the fact their parents understand.

Remember, this venting session is just that.  A time to listen and not be a sounding board and offer feedback.  If they want your advice or opinion they will ask for it.

Students naturally feel pressured to perform well in front of their classmates and teachers, and most already want to make their parents proud.  Parents should only push as much as necessary. Completing the IBDP is a challenge in itself, and as a Brown University admissions officer said “I don’t think there is anyone who doesn’t respect the IB.”

Having said this, every student is different. Observe yours, get feedback from their teachers and set your expectations based on what they are capable of rather than pushing for a particular score. And if your child does feel they underperformed in a task and they ask for your feedback - encourage them to go over the task with their instructor first, to see where things went wrong and how to avoid the pitfall next time. Then be willing to be a sounding board if they ask you for advice. It’s discussions like this that will give your student the confidence to push on and succeed.

All of this is combined, of course, with receiving the praise they deserve when they do exceed your expectations.

The IB curriculum is challenging and may sometimes lead to stress and frustration. Encourage your child to persevere in the face of difficulties and remind them that challenges can be opportunities for growth. Encourage them to seek out and use stress-management techniques and assure them that it's okay to ask for help when needed.

Open Book - Pixabay

IB can be intense, and it's important for your child to maintain balance in life. Encourage them to take part in non-academic activities they enjoy, maintain their social life, and look after their physical and mental health.

The CAS component of the IB diploma program encourages students to engage in creative activities, physical activities, and community service. Help your student identify opportunities for CAS hours that align with their interests and passions.  This does not mean you should organize and arrange these activities.  It means brainstorming ideas with your student.

Life isn’t just a string of successes.  We realize there are stumbling blocks in the road.  The trick is to pick yourself up and keep going. Now that may sometimes mean getting help and support from others, which is why West Sound Academy staff are always available to listen should a student need help or advice. Encourage your student to set up a consultation time with a spericific teacher to help them get to grips with course content or to organize a Thursday afternoon subject-specific study sessions with their peers.

WSA students also know that the IB Coordinator and Dean of Students are available by email or in person should the issue be more of a personal one.

So whatever it is, do not hesitate to reach out. The West Sound Academy team is here to work with our students to make the IB Diploma Programme journey as smooth and enjoyable as it can possibly be. 

For more information about IB education at West Sound Academy, contact Gretchen Nordleaf, IB Coordinator, at gnordleaf@westsoundacademy.org