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The IB Programme: Preparing Pupils for University and Beyond

23 March 2021



The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) is one of the most prestigious pre-university qualifications that a pupil can achieve. It has a reputation for being challenging. That is because it is challenging. The course demands a lot of its pupils. It pushes them, focuses them and, crucially, it opens provides pupils with an invaluable growth experience. This is why it is central to the final years of education at Wellington College International Shanghai.


Learning how to learn




Teachers in the IBDP discourage rote memorisation. They don't teach to the test. Rather, they encourage pupils to use the knowledge and skills they have already acquired to arrive at the answers. "This means we have to learn how to make connections and use deductive reasoning," explains Alice, a year 12 pupil at Wellington.


By engaging more deeply with the coursework, pupils build stronger connections between everything they learn. As year 12 pupil John points out, "We are expected to try and find the answers ourselves, and by doing our own research, the concepts stick in your memory for longer. It's a more active way to learn."


Moreover, pupils learn that there is more than one way to arrive at an answer. This is essential to effective problem solving, a skill that will serve them well in university and almost any career that they pursue after they graduate.


Taking charge of their education




Universities expect their students to take charge of their education. For this reason, the IBDP curriculum is rigorous but not regimented. Pupils are granted more independence in how they pursue their studies, and they soon realise that coasting is not an option. To be successful, they learn to become strategic and organised, keeping on top of their workload. These skills will prove invaluable in their academic as well as their professional lives.


Alice explains, "We get study periods, and the temptation to spend time on social media or catch up with friends on the latest gossip is strong. But the demands of our coursework quickly become apparent and you soon realise that you have to remain on top of your game."


Tanya, a year 12 pupil at Wellington adds, "I have only been in the IBDP for a few months, and I have come to get more of a grip on my learning, being able to manage myself and my goals better."


A network of academic support




Teachers and tutors, of course, are there to provide the appropriate level of support, but this also presents another opportunity for pupils to learn a valuable skill: communication. Asking for help when necessary is not a weakness, it is a strength. In the IBDP, pupils learn to be open about their performance and their experiences with the coursework. They engage with their teachers and take a solutions-oriented approach to any obstacles they may encounter.


Isaac, a year 12 pupil at Wellington, explains, "My weaker subject is English, and I always feel comfortable asking my English teacher for help when I need it. He talks me through everything and is really generous with his time."


"If I have difficulties, I just message my teachers on Microsoft Teams and they reply really quickly," says John. "This is especially helpful when I get stuck on a chemistry problem or something."


A holistic approach to learning




The IBDP's six subject groups allow pupils to explore a greater breadth of knowledge before deciding on what university or career path is right for them. But their study is not just limited to academic pursuits. Coursework in theory of knowledge (TOK) teaches pupils about metacognition, critical thinking and how and why we know what we know. With the programme's creativity, activity and service (CAS) module, pupils explore physical and mental wellbeing and learn what it means to be part of a community. Moreover, before graduating, pupils are expected to produce a 4,000-word extended essay (EE) on a topic of interest to them. In doing so, they put into practice skills essential to higher education, such as research, formulating arguments and communicating ideas clearly.


Year 12 pupil Moksh reflects, "My CAS work helps me in and out of the classroom. I am learning how to better care for my physical and mental wellbeing. I am cultivating better exercise habits by participating in sport and going to the gym. All of this will help me manage the stress and overwhelm I may eventually experience when I am at university."


Stepping into adulthood with greater confidence



Ultimately, pupils who complete the IBDP leave school confident knowing that they have fought for the options they deserve and made the choice that is right for them. With the right support, the IBDP gives pupils the tools they need to succeed in their chosen higher education path and later in life. More importantly, it improves their ability to tackle new challenges and to cope with pressure and failures. They enter the world with grit and resilience. They better understand their inherent strengths. Most importantly, they know what they want and how to go after it.



Does your child exemplify academic excellence? If so, they may be eligible for a Wellington College International Shanghai Academic Scholarship. Every year, Wellington awards exceptional applicants up to 50% of annual tuition fees and up to 100% if they are entering year 12. 


To find out more information about what makes a good Wellington Scholar, please contact the admissions team by email at, by telephone at 021 5185 3885 or by connecting on WeChat: wcisadmissions.


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