Applying for University Using the IB Diploma!

University library

If you’re considering university applications using the IB, you might be wondering how best to go about it. Today, I’ll run you through how it might look, using my own personal example. 

(A quick disclaimer: Of course, one blog post is not enough to cover the entire world of university applications with the IB, and my experience and perspective is unique within that. It’s a topic we will keep revisiting on this blog in the future!)


My own experience applying to university with the IB

When I started the IB, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do after I finished. Only around 6 months in did I work out that I wanted to study abroad, ideally in a German speaking country. 

It was only then that I found out what the entrance requirements would be. My first choice university would have been in Berlin, but my subject choice didn’t line up with their requirements: I took Maths Studies at the time, they wanted Math SL, and Biology, Chemistry or Physics instead of ESS. As a result, I switched from Maths Studies to SL, however found it difficult to catch up with the harder maths, and ended up not switching to Biology at all. 

I ended up going to the Uni of Vienna (where I still am now!), who were fine with ESS and Maths Studies, and for whom my score was high enough (based on overall points total). But, that was by far the easy part…


Studying abroad

If you want to study abroad after the IB, you’ll want to carefully plan as far in advance as possible. As a UK national, I had to contend with the changing rules due to Brexit. This certainly wasn’t easy, and involved a lot of long nights searching web forums and emailing different offices. Be clear on the legal requirements first and foremost. 

You’ll also want to think about the language you’ll be taught in. The Uni of Vienna doesn’t offer any Bachelors degrees in English, but does offer Masters programmes. Therefore, in order to start studying I had to prove my German proficiency. Try to find courses offered in your native language to make it easier.

I ended up paying 1200 Euros (and a semester of time) just to prove my German was good enough. For me, not getting the C1 certificate beforehand was a mistake – don’t fall in to that trap!


Doing the research

As I just mentioned, the earlier you take steps the better – not least with research. Create a bookmarks folder filled with the courses you’re interested in and their entry requirements. Often, universities will expect a certain combination of scores from your HL subjects – perhaps a 7 6 6, or at least a 5 in all three, as examples. Others will demand a certain points total in order to give you an offer. Click here to see the example of my degree programme!

Most important among this info is the deadline. Those who have Oxbridge aspirations will have to act much sooner than I did going to Vienna, for example. Much, much earlier, in fact! If applying to the UK, then UCAS is most important  – but a post on that will have to wait for another day.

If the information you find on the university’s website isn’t clear, or not shown at all, email the admissions office. Naturally, they get hundreds of emails every day likely asking similar questions. Therefore, to get good answers you have to pose good questions. Try to make your questions concise and unambiguous. 


Open the conversation

Inform your DP co-ordinator of your plans – they might be able to offer advice, or point you in the right direction. Perhaps your school has a careers guidance councillor – if so, inform them of your situation. As with all these things, the earlier the better.

Ask to see if any previous IB students from your school have been to that university – they could hold plenty of useful advice for you in making it there, and for once you are there too!


Stay proactive, and don’t be late!

Deadlines can really sneak up on you, not least as an IB student. Even when it seems as if there’s nothing more you need to do for your university application, remain vigilant and keep double-checking. Do you have your documents in order? If you’re able to get it, is your student finance sorted out?

Ultimately, though, in a post like this it would be impossible to give a complete overview, as each university is unique. Applying to university with the IB is honestly deserving of a textbook in and of itself… 

But, if you’re struggling to work your way through the process, Lanterna can help! 

As part of our online tuition offering, we can also help out with university admissions tests, personal statements, and interview preparation for specific subjects. If you’d like to find out more about how we can help, click here!

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