A-level and the IB Educational system:
What is the best system for your children?

For decades, many have been torn between A-Levels and IB Diplomas when it comes to offering the best preparation for success at university. Each qualification has a long history, strong advocates, and political influence, making selecting one difficult for parents and students.

However, today we’re going to unravel all the misconceptions and discover which is best based on a variety of different factors. But, before we get into that, let’s discuss how each of the education systems works.

How do A-Levels work?

Advanced Levels (A-Levels) is the UK’s national “end-of-school” qualification most students take after their GCSEs. Students can freely choose three to four subjects ranging from biology to business studies when participating in this education system.

A-levels take two years, which are split into AS-Levels and A2-Levels. AS-Levels are during the first year, and they allow students to prepare for their officially-graded work in the second year (AS-Level). At the end of this year, they’ll be given the option to drop subjects they don’t see a future in. The second-year (A2-level) is the most important. Here, they’ll be working towards their official A-Level qualification.

How does International Baccalaureate (IB) work?

An International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma is for the same age group. The only primary difference is how it’s structured. With an IB, they offer a broad curriculum that’s made up of six subject groups: arts, mathematics, sciences, individuals and societies, language acquisition, language and literature.

Students lack freedom within an IB education because they must fulfil the six subjects mentioned above. The system itself is structured this way to target community, action, and service (CAS). By having a broader range of expertise, students feel more academic.

To pass an IB, you’ll be scored on points. A minimum score of 24 (260 UCAS points) is required for a pass, consisting of the essays themselves and activities such as music, sports, or fundraising.

Which Education system is better for your children?

Now you have a broader understanding of how A-Levels and IB qualifications work, let’s break them down into three significant factors: university acceptance, expertise, and flexibility. These are undoubtedly the most vital elements that need consideration when selecting either option. Here’s what you need to know:

1. University Acceptance

A student’s likelihood of attending university after either education system is remarkably high. Therefore, the most important factor is University acceptance. But, which offers the highest recognition within this field?

Each qualification is recognised globally as higher education. Both are the main reason why students attend specific universities. However, there are many misconceptions based around UK universities and A-Levels. Many worldwide believe that the UK favourites their A-Level qualification, but this isn’t true. Both are looked at the same if they’ve studied the correct subjects.

2. Expertise

Additionally, expertise is another vital element to consider when selecting either A-Levels or IB. Each will offer a higher-level education that’ll provide enough information for the university. However, because each education system is structured, there are undoubtedly advantages and disadvantages when it comes to this sector.

When selecting A-Levels, students can freely choose their subjects which are then later developed in university. By having the freedom of studying whatever they like, the expertise is much more in-depth and allows them to be specialised within a specific area.

An IB diploma is slightly different. We mentioned above that’s it’s mandatory to choose between six other topics. Because of this, they become less specialised in their future self. But this isn’t necessarily a complete negative. Enrolling in this education allows participants to have a broader, more global outlook with inquiry-based situations.

3. Flexibility

The essential part of further education is enjoyment and flexibility. Your son, daughter, and other students must enjoy their extended years of education to maximise success. Although many adore flexibility, some individuals don’t. Therefore, either education will be suitable, but it highly depends on the individual.

An A-Level education will allow students to select the subjects they desire to develop knowledge within. However, because the IB system mandates the six subjects mentioned above, it restricts flexibility tremendously.

Although the A-Level education system is more flexible, it doesn’t mean it’s more beneficial. Typically, students select subjects which they already excel within. But, because the IB system forces pupils to educate themselves on six chosen subjects, it can improve weaknesses in education.

After reading the above, you should understand that both education systems are considered higher education. Because of this, either is superb to obtain. However, it does depend on the individuals learning styles and what they want to achieve in the future.


The above details the main three areas of concern for both parents and students. However, there’s various more, depending on the reader. As a result of this, we’ve broken down a quick-to-read advantages and disadvantages tables, which will allow you to have a broader perspective of each system.

Advantages of A-Level and IB


Students are allowed to study any subject they like in the curriculum, allowing for optimal flexibility.

Pupils studying A-Levels have the option to choose between three of five subjects, allowing them to decide how much they’d like to study.


With an IB education system, it’s mandated to study six subjects. Undoubtedly, this broadens knowledge in various essential areas.

Because students are forced to learn about more subjects, knowledge increases considerably and supports weak areas.

Disadvantages of A-Level and IB


Because of the in-depth studying required by A-Levels, students usually only select three. Doing this lowers to overall knowledge acquired by the pupil.

If the student has selected topics they thought they liked but don’t, they can be unmotivated.


Flexibility doesn’t exist with the IB curriculum, as students are mandated to study subjects they might not even enjoy or want to excel within.

To achieve an IB qualification, it’s considered to be the much harder option between the two.


After reading the above, you should have a more comprehensive idea about which education system might be a more favourable option for yourself or your child. Undoubtedly, both are considered higher education, and it depends on the individuals goals.

Abrir Chat
💬 Necesitas ayuda?
Bienvenido a LMI College 👋
Somos el único colegio británico en España con clases en grupos reducidos.
¿Cómo podemos ayudarte? 🎓