• IB Diploma Programme Frequently Asked Questions


    What is the IB Diploma Programme?

    • The Diploma Programme (DP) is an elective set of courses and experiences that students can choose to participate in the 11th and 12th grade. It is a two-year program with rigorous classes in six subject areas, a special class on critical and creative thinking (TOK), a research thesis (Extended Essay), and service-learning (CAS) component.  


    What makes the IB Diploma Programme unique?

    • All DP courses are written to complement each other and integrate into a seamless experience for learners. This means, for example, many of the skills and concepts learned in math are applied in science courses, or that research techniques in history are applied to students’ Extended Essay. 

    • DP students also take Theory of Knowledge, a course designed for developing critical and creative- thinking skills to address key questions across the subject areas. Questions, such as “How do I identify bias?” are considered in each subject area. In this way, Theory of Knowledge serves to connect all subject areas through thinking skills. 

    • DP courses are taught through inquiry. This means that students take an active role in constructing their knowledge by examining authentic sources, discussion, projects and more.

    • The Extended Essay is the DP student’s culminating work. Students research a topic in a subject of their choosing over the two years of the program. The final paper must be between 3,500-4,000 words and should focus on a student-created thesis.


    What are IB assessments like?

    • Exams: IB Exams are almost exclusively short answer and extended response. This allows students to explain what they know without being trapped by what they don’t. Most exams provide students with several questions from which to choose. Consider this Literature exam question: “The words and deeds of a character may contradict or correspond to one another. In at least two plays you have studied compare the extent and effect of such contradiction and/or correspondence.” Not only do students choose which texts they discuss, this question was one of twelve they could choose to answer. The final assessments represent choices within choices. 

    • Internal Assessments: Each IB class also has a challenging task designed and assessed by the teacher and evaluated by the IB. Each subject’s task is a reflection of the way professionals in the discipline build knowledge. In science, students must design, execute, and reflect on an experiment they create. In Literature, students perform a live oral analysis of an unseen passage. In economics, students apply theory to current events, and so on. 


    How do I actually get the IB Diploma?

    • IB Diploma candidates must take courses and test in 6 subjects and 3 or 4 of those courses must be at the Higher Level (HL).
    • Candidates must complete the requirements for TOK, EE, and CAS.
      • There is no grade/score for CAS but you must fulfill all CAS requirements to earn the diploma.
      • You must not score an “E” for either EE or TOK. (“E” is a failing grade.)

    • IB exams are scored on a 0-7 scale.
    • Candidates must earn total points greater than or equal to 24 (out of 45 possible), and they must:
      • Score greater than or equal to 12 points on HL exams (total of 3 best HL scores)
      • Score greater than or equal to 
        • 9 points on SL exams if 3 are taken 
        • 5 points on SL exams if 2 are taken
      • The following will make it impossible to earn a diploma: 
        • Scoring a “1” on any exam.
        • Scoring three or more “2”s on exams.
        • Scoring a total of four or more “3”s, “2”s, and “1”s (any combination).
    • 90+% of Lincoln HS candidates get the Diploma, compared to 65-70% in the USA and 75-80% internationally.

    What is Theory of Knowledge (TOK)?

    • Theory of Knowledge is a unique DP course which seeks to answer questions such as: How do I know what I know? What is truth? How can we assess the quality of knowledge? We explore questions like these in different subject areas such as science and history. By doing so, students develop skills of critical and creative thinking, argumentation, and evaluation. 


    What is Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS)?

    • CAS represents a social-emotional aspect of the program where students practice leadership in our local and global communities. Students must be active participants in three categories: 1) Creativity, which involves making and sharing ideas or art forms, 2) Activity, which is about being physically engaged in activities and can be a sport, and 3) Service, which is giving time and talent to people or organizations in need. Altogether, students want to aim for approximately 50 hours in each category and will reflect on their involvement over the two years of the DP. 


    What are some examples of recent Extended Essays?

    • An Analysis of the Effect of pH Level on Hydroponically Grown Vigna radiata: How does the pH level of the hydroponic nutrient medium influence accumulated bean plant mass?

    • To what extent did the creation of the Algerian national soccer team foster a strong sense of national unity and lead to national independence from 1954-1962?

    • How has police brutality against African American citizens, through the lens of stereotype threat, sparked the Black Lives Matter movement as a result of the country’s exposure to racial bias?


    What do universities like about the IB Diploma Programme?

    • The DP is internationally recognized as excellent preparation for higher education. This means that DP students consistently enroll in exclusive institutions and enjoy significant college credit and financial scholarships. Like most programs, however, student work-ethic and performance in the IB DP is the best determinant of admittance and awards.

    • While US schools keep admission data private, a recent survey found that when compared to the non-DP pool of applicants, “the acceptance rate of IB students into Ivy League universities is up to 18% higher” and “the gap is even more significant for top-ranked universities outside the Ivy League, where it is 22% higher, on average” (Crimson Education Organization).

    • University of Oregon, Oregon State University, University of Washington and the UCs, award credit for IB courses. Students who choose these schools oftentimes receive significant credit or enter with sophomore standing.


    What are the requirements for joining the IB DP?

    • Students entering Lincoln as Freshman should be sure to take a World Language class. Otherwise, any student who begins as a Freshman will have the opportunity to join the IB Diploma Programme. Students entering as Sophomores and Juniors, who have a World Language throughout their HS career, should also have the opportunity to join the Programme without an issue.  Students entering as Seniors will need to discuss options with the IB Coordinator.


    Can I still play sports, have a job, or enjoy a social life?

    • Certainly. In fact the IB encourages it through CAS. That said, the volume of extracurricular activities will be entirely dependent upon the individual student. Many DP students play at least one sport and are active in multiple clubs. 


    How much homework can I expect?

    • IB courses can be rigorous and the DP program includes significant work over the two years. Students report, however, that what makes the work challenging is the amount of self-management required to handle the homework. 

    • One of the benefits of the program is that DP teachers coordinate assignments in an attempt to spread work out over the two years and all courses. There are still times, however, when DP students must juggle several larger assignments at the same time. 


    Do I still get a Portland Public Schools Diploma?


    How much will DP cost my family?

    • Depending on the state’s reimbursement plan, each IB Exam usually costs a little less than $100. As the full program requires that students take 6 IB Exams over two years, families can anticipate a total cost of around $700. Students can take any IB course and not take the exam. But in order to earn an IB score, students must take the exam.

    • Students who experience financial need will have the opportunity to indicate their eligibility for a fee waiver during the exam registration process. All students enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program automatically qualify for fee waivers.


    Where do I go for more information?

    • IBO.org has information on the Diploma Programme, including research on both university recognition as well as how it changes students' outlook on the world. 

    IB Mission Statement

    The International Baccalaureate® aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.


    To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment.


    These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.