IB vs. HSC: Which pathway is the best for you?

By Sargun Bhatia

At the start of a new school year, thousands of year 11 students across Australia will have to make a choice about which school-leaving pathway to take; the world-renowned International Baccalaureate or the local HSC? Both courses qualify students to graduate high school, yet each in very different ways.
The International Baccalaureate (IB) was founded in Switzerland in 1968 and aimed to create globalized, well rounded students. This philosophy has since been adopted into the IB learner profile, which each IB student must identify himself or herself with. The profile outlines IB students to be inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principles, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective.

The IB is a globally recognised course that is offered at many private schools across Australia, and shares its syllabus with the world. The IB is considered to have higher intensity and workload than its local counterpart, the HSC.

In addition, the IB shapes its students as all-rounders. Unlike the HSC, IB students must choose a subject from each category; literature, maths, science, language, humanities and arts. Additional subjects which must also be taken are ‘Theory of Knowledge”, “CAS- Creative, Action, Service”, and “EE”- a four thousand word extended essay. The aim of these additional subjects is to encourage sports and community service so that student life is not only focused on academics. The overall score for the IB Diploma is out of 45, and the course is graded over two years.

In comparison, the HSC is a more localised, specialist-based course. The HSC gives students the freedom to choose any subjects they wish, with the only compulsion of English. HSC students must study a minimum of twelve units in their preliminary year of study (year 11) on which they are not graded towards their atar. In their final year, they must study a minimum of ten units. HSC is also based on rankings and scaling, unlike the IB.

Each course of study is recognised in institutions across Australia and the world, yet both courses cater to a very different type of student. The IB attracts all-rounders who have no qualms about studying each category; meanwhile the HSC attracts students who wish to have the freedom of choosing any subjects according to their interests and specialisation. The NSW and Indian community perform well in both courses.

At the end of the day, the choice is up to you, but consider working habits and whether you would like more freedom to study subjects of your choice, or whether you would like a structured, global approach to learning. Hard work and dedication in both courses will yield positive results. Good luck for 2016!


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