AP vs IB

AP versus IB - What's the difference?

  • What is the difference between AP and IB?

    IB is a program of study that includes the core of IB--the extended essay (a 4000-word independent research project), CAS (creativity, activity, and service hours), and completion of a course entitled Theory of Knowledge (TOK).  

    Additionally, IB scores extend over the length of the course and include projects, presentations, one-on-one oral commentaries with the teacher, and out-of-class essays in addition to the final IB exam, an open-ended, essay-based exam.

    AP scores are based on the final exam, which consists of multiple-choice questions and open-ended questions/essays.






    Program requirements

    Students must take 7 IB courses (6 academic courses and TOK); must complete the Extended Essay and CAS; take a range of HL and SL courses; take courses in all content areas

    Students can take as many or as few college-level courses as they want.

    College Credit

    Beginning in 2020-21, IB students attending UNC System universities will automatically receive credit for IB Higher Level examinations with a score of 4 or higher and IB Standard Level examinations with a score of 5 or higher.

    On average, NC colleges accept scores of 4+ (3 is considered passing), but like IB, universities vary in their awarding of credit.


    Range of topics and content areas in-depth, with a focus on skills used in obtaining content

    Specialize in certain areas to gain content mastery for introductory college classes


    The score range of 1-7; Includes written and oral assessments during the year and an open-ended final exam in May; Exam components completed over multiple days

    The scores range from 1-5, including one multiple-choice and essay-based test in May; exam components are completed in one day.

    College Preparation

    IB Core focuses on teaching skills: balancing all program components develops time management; research and writing are a focus in all areas. It teaches advanced-level courses and content.

    Taking multiple courses develops time management; some form of writing and free response is required in all areas; teaching advanced-level courses and content.