IB Frequently asked questions
Q: What is the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program (DP)?
A: The DP is a global standard curriculum designed by the IB for students in the final two years of secondary school. It leads to a qualification that is widely recognized by the world’s leading universities. The program prepares students to learn more than a collection of facts, it aims to develop students who have excellent breadth and depth of knowledge – students who flourish physically, intellectually, emotionally and ethically. Students are encouraged to ask challenging questions, learn how to learn and develop the ability to communicate with and understand people from other countries and cultures.
The DP curriculum is made up of six subject groups and the DP Core. More information can be found on our IB Curriculum page.
Q: Does Oakmont have entry requirements for the IB Diploma program?
A: We have no formal entry requirements. We call the IB Diploma an ‘Open Access’ program.
The single most important requirement for us is a positive attitude. Students will need to have made acceptable progress through to the end of Grade 10, and have a high academic foundation otherwise they will struggle.
Students at Oakmont in grade 9 and 10 follow a program of prerequisite classes that give an excellent foundation for the IB Diploma. The students then start IB classes in Grade 11, but we cannot accept students in Grade 12.
Q: Is the IB only for an academic elite?
A: No, not at all. An IB Student needs to show motivation, a determination to do their best, a willingness to organize themselves so that they can complete the work and lead full and balanced lives at the same time. They need to be willing to work with others, and to participate in class. In our IB program students learn a lot from our teachers, but they learn most by interacting and cooperating with each other. Our experience shows that this is quite sufficient for success in the IB and to reach the required score for the Diploma (24 points out of 45) is very manageable.
Q: What kind of student is a good candidate for the IB?
A: The DP is a challenging course of study. Success throughout the program depends on a student’s dedication to do his or her best, willingness to be organized in order to complete the work while leading a full, balanced life, and a strong commitment to learning in and beyond the classroom. That is more of an indicator of ability to earn the diploma than prior academic success.
Q: I heard the IB is a lot of extra work. What are the advantages of enrolling in the IB Program?
A: Students with IB Diplomas, who now attend universities, report that their involvement with IB has given them the tools needed to succeed at university and to make the most of their post-secondary education. In particular, students comment on their sense of preparedness, their self-confidence, their research skills, their ability to manage their time, and their willingness to be actively engaged in their own learning. Even more importantly, they have developed a sense of the world around them, their responsibility to it, and the skills with which to embrace the complexities of life. The IBO often employs a variety of phrases to describe these traits and abilities: "learning how to learn", "life-long learners", "critical and compassionate thinkers", and, "informed participants in local and world affairs".
Q: What is the difference between IB Diploma Candidate and Certificate Student?
A: IB Diploma students must complete six IB courses in the 11th and 12th grades, as well as complete the core requirements of the program. For the six courses students must choose one class from each of Groups 1-5. For the 6th course students can choose a Group 6 course, or may choose to take a second Group 3 or 4 course. All Diploma students must complete the core elements- TOK, CAS and EE requirements of the program.
Also available at Oakmont is the IB Certificate where students have the option of the more flexible IB Certificate program, which allows you to take IB classes or components in your strongest areas. In this program, the core elements are not required. Students who enroll in individual courses will receive an IB certificate noting the courses they took and the marks they earned.
Q: Does the IB increase your chance of getting into a US university?
A: The short answer: Yes. The more generous a university is with its credit distribution, the more it loves IB students (and the more likely admissions officers are to admit you!). For example in 2018 UC Berkeley had an acceptance rate of 17.5%, the IB Diploma Student survey acceptance rate was 45.5%. For more information please visit our "University Recognition" page and the IB website.
Q: Do IB teachers receive special training?
A: All IB Diploma Program (DP) teachers receive regular professional development in the IB’s approaches to teaching and approaches to learning by certified IB workshop leaders. This is a requirement of IB World Schools implementing the DP.
Q: When are the IB assessments?
A: Once a student enters junior year, IB assessments will happen over the two-year period. Internal assessments begin in January of junior year and conclude in February of senior year. The external assessment (the IB exams) take place in May of senior year.
Q: What is an HL subject and SL subject?
A: HL indicates “higher level” and SL indicates “standard level”.
HL indicates at least 240 hours of study and SL indicates at least 150 hours of study. Students decide at the end of junior year (and confirm at the beginning of senior year) the level for each exam. In general, HL exams are more rigorous than SL exams. The content is the same in most cases, however the expectation of a student’s ability to apply knowledge is on a higher level.
Q: How many IB exams are there, and when do students take them?
A: A student doing the full IB Diploma will take six IB exams.
- one literature course
- one foreign language
- one social science
- one experimental science
- one math
- and one arts course
The arts course can be replaced by a second social science, a second experimental science, or a third language. Of the six exams, three are taken at the standard level (after a minimum of 150 teaching hours), and three taken at the higher level (after a minimum of 240 teaching hours).
IB students take their exams in May of their senior year. However, the IBO permits students to take one or two standard level examinations at the end of junior year, upon the recommendation of the school's IB Coordinator. Higher level exams can only be taken at the end of the senior year.
Q: What are the fees associated with the IB Program?
A: For current testing fees, please see the Testing Information page.
Students who qualify for the Free and Reduced Meal Program will qualify for a reduced fee for the exams and registration.
Financial assistance and payment plans are available to students who are in need of these services. Students should contact the IB Coordinator for more information.
Q: Do students have to attend Oakmont to be an IB student?
A: Yes. The IB permits only students enrolled and attending full time in an IB School to participate in the IB Diploma Program.
Q: Do IB classes earn weighted grades?
A: Yes. All IB classes, except Theory of Knowledge, receive a weighted grade (i.e. A = 5pts instead of 4pts for the GPA). IB classes follow the same guidelines for weighted grades as Honors and AP classes. Also, all IB classes fall under at least one A-G category within the A-G requirements structure.
Q: How is the IB Graded?
A: Each of the IB subjects (from the 6 Groups) are graded from 1 (minimum) to 7 (maximum) and a student must reach a minimum of 24 points to be awarded the IB Diploma. Up to 3 extra points are available for the 'Core elements'. These are the Extended Essay, Theory of Knowledge and Creativity, Action and Service so that the maximum score for the IB Diploma is 45 points.
Q: Can a student participate in Health Academy, IB and AVID programs?
A: Due to the requirements of each program, a student will not be able to fully participate in multiple programs. Instead a student can take a few IB classes with one other program of their choice. This does depend on the number of Diploma Candidates and the space in the classes.
Q: Does a student have to apply in their 9th and 10th grades?
A: We highly encourage it! The earlier students apply the earlier we can carefully monitor their grades and prequisite classes. But it isn't mandatory. Students can wait until the fall term of their 10th grade to apply to IB. Students must still complete the required prequisite courses.
Q: Where can I get further information?
A: The IB Website
Frequently used Acronyms
IB Program Acronyms
PYP Primary Years Program MYP Middle Years Program DP Diploma Program
Other IB Acronyms
CAS Creativity, Action, and Service EE Extended Essay TOK Theory of Knowledge HL Higher Level SL Standard Level IB International Baccalaureate IBO International Baccalaureate Organization
AP Advanced Placement CP College Preparatory Course CSU California State University CAHSEE CA High School Exit Exam NMSQT National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test OHS Oakmont High School PSAT Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test RJUHSD Roseville Joint Union High School District SAT Scholastic Aptitude Test UC University of California