Students select 1 subject from 6 groups (any subject can be taken to Higher Level*):
Group 1: Native Language. There are some variations on the type of course offered in this group (e.g. English Language and Literature, English and Drama), but most schools will just offer standard English Literature. The IB English Literature course is much more flexible than its A-Level counterpart, with a broader, more global syllabus.
Group 2: Foreign Language. If you have not studied a foreign language before, it is possible to take a language ab initio (*this can only be taken to Standard Level), which will teach the language from scratch to a standard somewhere between GCSE and AS.
The languages offered will depend on the school. Youre likely to see some of French, German, Spanish and Italian. Classical languages like Latin and Greekmay also be a pos-sibility.
Group 3: Individuals and Societies. Here you can pick from humanities subjects such as Economics, Business & Management, Geography, History, Philosophy or Psychology (though its unlikely that a school will offer all of these options, so if a student has a particu-lar interest in one of these subjects its a good idea to check with the school).
Group 4: Experimental Sciences. Usually just the standard Biology, Chemistry or Physics.
Group 5: Maths (and Maths Studies*, which can only be taken to Standard Level).
The option to take Maths Studies may make the IB more appealing to students who are put off by the prospect of studying maths. Maths Studies is only slightly above GCSE level, and is more applied and less theoretical than just Maths at Standard Level.
A quick note on Maths at Higher Level. The IB is international, and its curriculum is de-signed this way. As such, it has been found that many British students struggle with Maths Higher Level (which is closer in difficulty to the Further Maths A-Level), as their maths knowledge at 16 is often behind those from other countries. For this reason, students should be wary taking Maths at Higher Level unless they are considering a maths heavy course at university afterwards, such as Maths, Physics etc.
The knowledge provided by Maths at Standard Level is often considered by teachers to be somewhere between AS and A2 level, and may therefore by a very good option for those considering somewhat numerical degrees such as Biology, Psychology etc.
Group 6: Arts or Elective. Students can either study an Arts (most schools do not offer much choice, but Visual Arts, Theatre Studies and Music are typical options) or select a second subject from the other groups. For students wishing to study a science at university after it is important to select a second science.
Breadth is an in-built part of the IB, and this is partly what makes it so appealing for employers and universities, but may be off-putting for students with specific interests.