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Our IB Advantage
Diploma Programme

IB Diploma FAQ

List of 10 frequently asked questions.

  • Q: Is the IB Diploma Programme a Strong Predictor of Success in University?

    Yes! A recent study examined the success of International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) graduates across two of Canada’s largest high-school-to-university pathways: specifically, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) to the University of Toronto (UofT), and public high schools in the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) to the University of British Columbia (UBC). The results showed that DP graduates:
    • Consistently achieved higher university averages than their peers from traditional high school programs
    • Had the lowest university drop-out rates
    • Complete their university degrees in a timelier manner
    • Tend to perform at substantially higher levels than typical Canadian undergraduates
    Graduates of this two-year programme, considered the gold standard in university preparation, are accepted enthusiastically into universities around the world, who often reward our students’ hard work by honouring IB Diploma Higher Level credits as first-year university credits.
  • Q: Do universities offer advanced credit to students in completing a partial IB Diploma?

    Yes, for HL courses in which student obtains a final grade of 5, 6 or 7, most universities offer transfer credit for both full Diploma and Course (partial) candidates.
  • Q: How does the IB Diploma differ from other university preparatory programs such as Advanced Placement?

    The IB Diploma is a two-year comprehensive curriculum with a culminating set of externally graded final exams. Advanced Placement (AP) is also an university preparatory, academically rigorous program. There are important differences, however, in the content and exams. The DP is a cohesive and comprehensive program, not a collection of individual courses as is the case with Advanced Placement. Compared to AP classes, IB classes and assessments tend to involve more research, writing, and hands-on evaluation over rote learning and standardized tests. The most important distinguishing factor is the core of the Diploma Programme (CAS, TOK and the extended essay).
  • Q: What is CAS?

    The CAS programme is one of the three key elements found at the core of the IB Diploma Programme that allows students to develop breadth and depth within the activities they pursue outside of their academic programme by providing a framework for their co-curricular endeavours.
    There are three strands that make up the CAS programme:
    • Creativity can link to involvement in the arts but can include other experiences that involve creative thinking. For example, students could be involved in debate or Model United Nations as part of this strand.
    • Activity is to ensure students look after their physical well-being. They may choose to do this through individual pursuits such as personal workouts or yoga, or by participating in a team-based activity like soccer or basketball.
    • Service sees students get involved with their communities either at a local, national or global level.
    Students must have ongoing involvement in each of the three strands throughout their two-year programme, but this ongoing involvement can take many different shapes and forms. It could mean the length of an athletic season or the length of a theatre production including rehearsals. It could also be the length of the term or the entire school year. Students can continue with experiences in which they have already been involved for many many years, or they can choose to try something completely new or a combination of both.
    Involvement in the CAS programme is personal and individualized. No two CAS portfolios look alike. And each student works with a CAS supervisor who is there to guide and support them. Students are not required to document a certain number of hours, but they do need to meet seven learning outcomes and complete one project.
    An additional benefit of being involved in the CAS programme is that when students apply to universities and for scholarships, they may be asked to provide information about their lives beyond the classroom. The CAS programme and the portfolio that goes along with it allows students to draw on those experiences and for many that is worth its weight in gold.
  • Q: What is Theory of Knowledge?

    Theory of Knowledge is a unique course where students explore ideas from a variety of disciplines and perspectives. The emphasis is on exploring real-world knowledge issues, with the goal of helping students learn to question their own assumptions so they become flexible problem solvers. The course is organized around a series of Big Questions related to topics such as values, spin and biases. These are explored in the context of different areas of knowledge, including the arts, history, and the natural sciences. Because the course is focused on critical questioning and team learning, rather than upon the mastery of a defined body of knowledge, student-led discussion and journal entries drawn from their personal experience form a major part of the program. The final assessment involves writing a 1600-word essay an IBO-prescribed topic that explores a chosen Big Question.
  • Q: What is the Extended Essay?

    Another of the three key elements found at the core of the IB Diploma Programme, the Extended Essay (EE) is an independent, self-directed, 4000-word academic research paper. It provides an opportunity for students to research a topic of personal interest that is related to one of their six DP subjects. Each student works with an EE supervisor throughout the process to focus their research and hone their writing. The EE provides practical preparation for undergraduate research as it enables students to develop the capacity to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate knowledge.
    Some examples of EE topics:
    • To what extent does rapid urbanization impact the standard of living of citizens of Vancouver, British Columbia? (Global Politics)
    • When drawing a chord to a random circle in spherical geometry, what is the probability that the chord is longer than a side length of an inscribed equilateral triangle in the circle? (Mathematics)
    • How does water purification function in a disaster relief setting and is PUR or SODIS more effective in this context? (World Studies: Chemistry and Geography)
    • What aspects of Indonesian traditional theatre did Julie Taymor take inspiration from in creating her Midsummer Night’s Dream with the theatre for a new audience in 2014? (Theatre)
    • In what ways can pancreatic islet cell transplantation improve the quality of life of persons with Type 1 diabetes in comparison to intensive insulin therapy in the United States? (World Studies: Biology and Economics)
  • Q: What is the difference between IB Diploma SL and HL courses?

    The difference between the two levels is subject specific, but Higher Level courses require 240 class hours and Standard Level courses require 150 class hours over the two years of the DP. In each subject area, there is core content that is common to bother levels; however, in Higher Level courses, additional content is studied at a deeper level. Teachers use subject-specific and level-specific rubrics to assess student work as required by the IBO. Universities around the world often reward our students’ hard work by honouring IB Diploma Higher Level credits as first-year university credits.
  • Q: Would it be too difficult for a student to start full IB in Grade 11 with no previous IB experience?

    No, it would not be too difficult. In fact, we have a number of students who join us each year in Grade 11 specifically for the Diploma Programme. There may be a period of adjustment as students get used to different teaching styles and the assessment rubrics, but generally, this is not an issue.
  • Q: Do IB Diploma Students have time for anything beyond academics?

    Absolutely. GNS IB Diploma students lead very full lives. They are often members of athletic teams and involved in a wide range of activities. Time management and organisation are key skills the IB develops in students, which are valuable at preparing them for success at university and life beyond.
  • Q: Do you offer French or any other languages at an advanced level?

    As part of the Diploma Programme, students will take 3 courses at Standard Level and 3 at Higher Level. For most ex-immersion students, the HL course is a good fit. We also offer Spanish and Mandarin (the latter depending on student request numbers) at SL and HL. Neither of these courses is designed for beginners. If a student currently doesn't have a second language, they could take Spanish ab initio as part of the Diploma Programme, which is for students who have never studied the language before. It is a fast-paced course that allows students to reach quite a high level over the two years of study.
If you have other questions about completing the IB Diploma Programme at GNS, please contact Angela Girard, our IB Diploma Coordinator (

Glenlyon Norfolk School

Junior School (JK to Grade 5)

Middle (Grade 6 to 8) and Senior (Grade 9 to 12) Schools

We wish to acknowledge and respect the Lekwungen-Speaking Peoples on whose traditional territory we stand, and the Songhees, Esquimalt and Wsáneć Peoples whose historical relationships with the land, where we live, work, play and learn, continue to this day.