Singapore tops Asia-Pac region in IB exams again

Singapore has topped the Asia-Pacific region in the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma exams for the seventh year in a row.

And, globally, it has produced more than half of the students with perfect scores in the exams.

Fifty-seven students here scored the maximum of 45 points in the exams last November, out of 94 top scorers, said the Swiss-based IB Organisation, which conducts the exams, in a media release.

This is an increase in the number of perfect scorers at end-2015, when 48 students from a cohort of about 1,600 here achieved the full score out of 81 students worldwide.

In percentage terms, Singapore had 59 per cent of the top scorers in 2015 and 61 per cent last year.

The island has consistently had the highest number of top scorers since 2012.

In the November exam last year, 97.32 per cent of the 1,849 students here who took the exam passed, compared with the global rate of 70 per cent.

This is a slight drop from last year's figure of 98 per cent.

The average score of students here was also higher than the global average: 38.27 points against 29.21 points respectively.

Worldwide, more than 14,070 students took the exam last year.

Twenty-two institutions here offer the IB diploma.

Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) and St Joseph's Institution (SJI) are among the schools that will release the results to their students today.

The programme conducts two rounds of exams each year - in May and November.

Many Singapore students take it in the latter half of the year but students in the international schools take the earlier one.

The IB programme was first started in 1968 in Geneva, and is now offered by 4,580 schools in more than 150 countries and territories.

IB students take six subjects and Theory of Knowledge, a course that combines philosophy, religion and logical reasoning.

They also study a second language, do research, write a 4,000-word essay and take part in a community-service project.

Associate Professor Jason Tan, an education policy expert at the National Institute of Education, told The Straits Times that one reason local students have done consistently well in the IB may be that it is still an opt-in scheme in many local schools which admit students who are academically stronger.

For example, students at the Singapore Sports School can choose to enrol in the IB programme after secondary school or take up other options, like a diploma offered in collaboration with a polytechnic.

Those who wish to enter the integrated programme leading to the IB programme at SJI have to meet a higher minimum score at the Primary School Leaving Examination than those going for the O levels.

Prof Tan said: "This selectiveness could be one of the reasons that account for the success of our students."

This article was first published on January 5, 2017.
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