Interview: International Baccalaureate student Stephanie Davin

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The Independent Online

Stephanie Davin, 17, is currently studying the International Baccalaureate (IB) at North London Collegiate School. She is taking English literature, mathematics, philosophy, history, Latin and physics.

Why did you decide on the IB programme over the national curriculum?

I was intrigued by the content of the courses offered on the IB - studying a certain subject on the IB can be very different to studying the same subject at A-level. For example, I particularly liked the look of the English literature course, since you study a greater number of texts.

Do you enjoy it?

The work we've covered has been interesting and demanding. I particularly like the fact that covering a full spectrum of subject areas has encouraged me to make links between different disciplines. The flipside of this is that the IB requires you to do a wide range of things, which means you will be busy and it can be stressful at times.

What exactly does the course involve?

For each of my six subjects I have had class time each week. Generally, you find that the teaching style is almost exactly the same as it is for studying at A-level. Some lessons are like lectures, while other are more like tutorials. If you take a modern language, there will probably be conversation classes included as well. The IB also contains three core components: the extended essay, the theory of knowledge course, and creativity, action and service (Cas).

How is it assessed?

There are no external exams in Year 12. Instead, all IB students will take their final exams at the end of the course, in the summer of Year 13. However, students generally sit internal exams in the summer of Year 12. These are important because they form the basis of the school's predicted grades, which will be included with your university application. In all subjects there will also be an element of coursework.

Do you have enough support from teachers?

Yes, the vast majority of my teachers have been great. As at any school, some teachers are quite involved while others prefer to let us learn more independently.

Do you feel left out at all?

All of my classes are with other IB students in my year, and there are 22 of us out of a year group of 111. Being part of a small contingent within a larger year group can make you feel slightly isolated at times. I still have many friends who take A-levels, I just don't have any lessons with them.

Something I have found frustrating is that the stressful points during each of the two courses come at different times, since your exams are at different points over the two years. This can mean that when you are revising, A-level students are not.

Are you planning to go on into higher education?

My plan is to go on and study philosophy at university, and I have just applied for a course starting in September 2008. I have no concrete idea of what job I want eventually - my ideas include journalism, consulting or advertising. For now I just want to do a degree in a subject for which I have a passion, and decide on a career path later.

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