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Choosing your subjects

Our advice is that students should choose subjects that they enjoy whilst at the same time preserving a pathway to further study in Higher Education.

Although typically Universities base their course offers around the Higher IB subjects, they are also interested in the ‘whole’ person. IB students have an advantage because of the additional elements that make up the diploma and which link the six subjects together. This gives our students an edge over students with similar grades who are competing for the same university course.

Recommendations When Choosing IB Subjects

The curriculum for this international post-16 qualification is broadly based in subject groups. Students choose one subject from each of the groups 1-6 but in group 6 may select a further choice from groups 2, 3 or 4 instead of those offered in group 6. Choices should follow your interests and enjoyment of a subject. The IB structure encourages a balanced choice which includes the essential further study of English and Maths but also the depth required through the Higher Subjects. A student may, in effect, choose two subjects from groups 2, 3 or 4 instead of group 6. Thus a student may study two sciences or two languages, for example.

The following three areas offer particular flexibility:


Some students find it difficult to decide which Mathematics option to follow: Higher, Standard or Studies. The rule of thumb is that Maths Studies is probably best suited to anyone who is not planning to study a Mathematics-related subject at University. The points awarded are the same as those for Standard and even Higher, yet the course is far more accessible to most students and is the natural choice for those not planning to study mathematics after the IB.

Beginners' Languages ('Ab Initio')

The majority of BGS students continue studying one of their languages to standard or higher level. However, students from other schools may not have studied a language to GCSE and some of our own students are ready for a fresh start in a new language or a second chance in a language if they struggled at GCSE. A Beginners' ('Ab Initio') course allows the study of a language without any previous experience of it. Like Maths Studies, the points earned are exactly the same as those for standard or higher subjects.

Environmental Systems

Environmental Systems is  a trans-disciplinary subject in that it fulfils the subject requirements for group 3 and group 4. Students taking this subject can have greater flexibility in their subject choices for their Diploma. Thus a student may choose four subjects as follows: group 1 (English), group 2 (languages; 3 levels available), group 3/4 Environment Systems and group 5 (Maths; three levels available). This allows the student their remaining two choices from any of the other subject groups e.g  two science subjects, two arts subjects, etc.