Blog Parents Key Decisions The Integrated Programme or The International Baccalaureate: Which is the one for your child?

The Integrated Programme or The International Baccalaureate: Which is the one for your child?

Much has been said about these 2 pathways. However, both tracks are basically different when considering rigor, curriculum, the range of subjects, and importantly, the kind of students that are best for each domain.

The Key Differences

The Integrated Programme is a system that lets high-performing secondary school students in Singapore skip the Ordinary Level exams. The Integrated Programme is a scheme that is focused at the top 10 percent of the students who have done the PSLE.

The International Baccalaureate is generally considered to be a better route when the students are planning to study abroad in future. Integrated Programme benefits students in that they do not have to take their ‘O’ levels to meet the requirements of ‘A’ levels or IB (International Baccalaureate).

In addition, the IB lets students take both science and arts subjects, philosophy courses as well as extensive research papers. Also, note that A-level exams are normally taken by students after their year 2 or year 3 in junior college.

With this in mind, how can parents decide the best study option for their children? Below is a look at some things that you need to take note of as you make this decision. Let’s get started!

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Understand our children’s learning style

Parents should not pick out each programme depending solely on the institutions ‘success rate’. instead, it is important that you understand your children and the learning style that s best for them. This way you will be able to make the right choice for them.

It does not help much to have a closed mentality and assert that the more ‘traditional’ pathway gives a safer option and another ‘experimental’ route entails a higher risk. This is like stating that a mountaineer performs better than an F1 driver simply because one ‘sport’ was in existence much earlier than the other.

So, what can parents do in such a situation? As you make this important decision regarding your child’s education, make sure you take into account those things that work best and support your child in learning.

Which is better to enter university?

In order to ease some of the fears that parents might have regarding the two pathways and set the record straight. You need to realize that A-levels and the IB (International Baccalaureate) are both suitable qualifications for joining undergraduate degrees in Singapore.

Thus the two qualifications should not be weighted as ‘better’ than the next since both qualify for entry. Additionally, all applications are carefully considered based on the individual merits.

None of the programmes should be considered as ‘elitist’. So, what should do parents to ensure they select the best programme for their children? Avoid listening to the ‘promotional discussions’ on schools offering the Integrated Programme or IB during their Open Houses. The IB programme is a system that can be run by the international schools and many international students will perform well in.

The key differences overall

In reality, the O-level students have more choices by the end of 4 years in secondary school education compared to those taking other routes.

How is this is so? They have a choice of taking the A levels, take an International Baccalaureate (IB), do a diploma from polytechnics, directly join an overseas university through a bridging course, or pursue a 1-year foundation study course in, say, Britain.

This also means that the O-level students also have the option of switching to the IP programme after their second or third year at secondary school.

How then can you decide which course route is the best one for your child? By providing they show they can do well. On the other hand, IP students have discovered that they would like to follow only one pathway, direct to A-levels, for the following six years.

Keep the following in mind

The IB students normally do a wider range of subjects compared to regular A-level students, taking 6 subjects – 3 at standard level and 3 at a higher level. This then means IB students have fewer restrictions when it comes to deciding what they want to study at university level.

Even then, it is never about the assessments done on the major subjects. But, it is the additional elements that receive praise from teachers, universities, and students. This is what makes IB curriculum stand out.

The extras include extended essays of 4,000 words, as well as “creativity, action, service”. The CAS requires pupils to take part in sporting, artistic, and community pursuits all through the study period.

How does this help your child? The last mentioned element is meant to promote awareness of life beyond the academic arena.

What you need to consider about Integrated Programme

The IP scheme is right for your child when he can adapt fast and easily to new learning styles and are disciplined enough. The curriculum of the IP is flexible making it less integrated and as such it requires a higher discipline level in your child.

Will this help your child fit in easily in an IP school? With this, your child will become a good fit and also succeed in the IP programme.

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But, the IP scheme isn’t a programme for every child and enrolling them in ‘O’ levels may be a better option. There are some schools in Singapore that even have the 2 programmes, which allows students to make a switch from IP to the O-level prep classes.

More so when you notice that your youngster is having a tough time with the Integrated Programme curriculum.

Wrapping up

Much has been said about the two study pathways in Singapore. However, you need to realize that both tracks differ when you consider rigor, curriculum, the range of subjects, and importantly, the kind of students that are best for each domain.

But, before you make the decision on which route is best for your child. It is important that you take into account your child’s study style.

For more articles to assist you to help your child to decide which education pathway is suitable for him:

Choosing IP Or ‘O’ Levels
GCE ‘A’ Level or IB – Which is a Better Choice For Your Education?


Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.