When I was in high school, I didn’t have the easiest time. I attended Hvitfeldtska Gymnasiet, which was the only high school in Gothenburg, Sweden that offered an English program: the International Baccalaureate Program. For those of you who didn’t take AP classes or attend the IB program, I want to give you the low down of my high school hell. IB is a two year program where you keep the same classes for the entirety of the two years. At the end of the two years, you take IB exams based on these subjects. You are required to take 3 lower level classes and 3 higher level classes. Of these classes you must take a science course, a math course, 2 elective courses and a language course. (At least, this was the requirement for my school- I believe that some of the requirements are different in other countries). I took lower level Math, Biology and History and higher level English, French and Art. You are also required to take a course entitled Theory of Knowledge. In addition to the exams (graded by the IB organization in Switzerland) you have specific assignments in each class that are graded and added to your final score. You also have to write an Extended Essay in the subject of one of your higher levels. Then on top of ALL that you also have to do CAS- which is Community, Action and Service hours. You need to complete 50 hours in each section and then write an essay about your overall community service experience. If you fail the Extended Essay, CAS or the Theory of Knowledge Essay, you do not get your diploma in the IB program. Grades are from 1 to 7 and get an overall score out of 42.
To apply for college, we took mock exams in February and received a predicated grade that we could send to schools of our choice. My predicted grade was an average predicted grade, and I received an unconditional offer from CSU. My best friend wasn’t so lucky. Her predicated grade was 38, which is VERY high and she applied to Cambridge, who declined her because they didn’t believe that she could reach her predicted grade. She was given a conditional offer at the University of Bristol- and would only be accepted, if she received her score of 38.
The IB exam results are not distributed until early July, meaning that we technically graduated and finished high school on June 2nd, 2012, but wouldn’t know for sure, until we received our scores from the IB program. I received a 28, which is not a high score. My predicted grade was way off. If I had received any lower than 24, I would not have received my diploma. My best friend, received a 40, which was two points above her predicted. She was warmly welcomed into Bristol university. After I finally received my scores, I was able to register for some of my classes. I was worried at first about what my grades meant in the United States. Turns out they meant a lot, but in a really positive way. From my high school IB grades I brought in 27 credits entering CSU.
The IB program really stressed me out. I would work so hard and always do my homework and never got the grade that I expected or felt I deserved. The people who graded my work had no idea who I was, they didn’t know how much effort I had put into everything I did. I felt so frustrated with the system, and at the time, I was constantly worried that I wasn’t going to pass and that I would have to re-do this horrible nightmare. When I received my letter with my grades, I completely broke down.
In my opinion, entering college from the IB program has helped me a lot. I actually enjoy doing homework that I feel will be looked at by someone who cares. I like getting the grades that I deserve and I like putting in extra effort for potentially getting a better grade. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am actually doing well at something. I am proud to say that I survived the IB program and really hope that they come up with something better before our children have to go through the same thing.