Singapore students did the nation proud in the latest International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma examinations – they made up over 50 per cent of top scorers with a perfect score.
A total of 48 students had the maximum score of 45 in the exam in November 2015, out of 81 top scorers worldwide. This is despite a slight dip in the number of perfect scorers from the same exam in end-2014, when 57 students here achieved the full score among about 1,600 students.
In 2013, Singapore had 43 perfect scorers out of 1,400 students.
In the November exam last year, almost all the 1,640 students here – or 98 per cent – who took the exam passed, compared with the global rate of 81 per cent. The pass rate is similar to that of previous years. The average score of students here was also higher than the global average: 38.5 points against 31 points, according to the Switzerland-based IB Organisation that conducts the examinations. In 2014, the Singapore cohort scored an average of 38.06 points.
BEST IN THE WORLD
Singapore fared the best among 107 countries in the exam, beating Australia and New Zealand. Worldwide, more than 11,700 students took the exam. Australia came in second, with 30 perfect scorers among the 2,160 students there who sat the November exam.
Last year, more than 580,780 exam papers were processed in 79 languages, making it the largest number of exams conducted at the IB since its diploma programme was introduced in 1968.
The programme conducts two rounds of exams each year – in May and November. Many Singapore students take the exam in the later half of the year. Students in the international schools here take the earlier session.
JUST AS GOOD AS A LEVELS
Associate Professor Jason Tan, an education policy expert at the National Institute of Education, says it is encouraging that local students are doing well in the IB exam. “It means that they have a core set of academic skills that enable them to have the flexibility to take a different kind of exam,” he says.
“The stakes remain as high as the A levels as it affects university admissions and course choices.” He added that there has been more awareness of the IB programme, which is more broad-based than the A levels.
“At the start, when ACS (I) joined it, parents and students weren’t fully aware of IB’s potential as a viable alternative to the traditional A levels,” he said.
“But as students did well, there has been increased recognition of the programme, and more assurance that its graduates are gaining acceptance by universities locally and abroad.”
IB students take six subjects and Theory of Knowledge, a course that combines philosophy, religion and logical reasoning. They also take a second language, do research, write a 4,000-word essay and take part in a community-service project.
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