International Baccalaureate (IB) Program

IB Diploma Programme Logo

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 life-long learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

IB Diploma Programme Information

IB DP Overview

Circle Graphic Showing IB Subject Areas and Core Components
The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program is a comprehensive option program for any student seeking a rigorous course of studies. This two-year curriculum adds to intellectual rigor and high academic standards by fostering a strong emphasis on the ideas of international understanding and responsible citizenship. Achievement is assessed using international standards.
The IB was born of efforts to establish a common curriculum and university entry credential for students moving from one country to another. International educators were motivated by practical considerations but also by an idealistic vision: students should share an academic experience that would emphasize critical thinking, intercultural understanding and exposure to a variety of viewpoints.

Sunset students may take selected, individual IB courses; they can choose whether or not to take the exams as "IB Course Candidates." Students can also opt for the rigor of completing a full IB Diploma:

  • Full IB Diploma candidates are required to select and complete one subject within each of six subject groups. Those groups include Language A (usually English), Language B (a second language), Individuals and Societies, Experimental Sciences, Mathematics, and Arts (optional -- may swap for a second IB science or social studies course).
  • At least three and not more than four are taken at the higher level (HL) and others at the standard level (SL). HL courses represent 240 teaching hours and SL courses cover 150 hours. This program of study allows students to customize their approach to the IB Diploma depending on their specific areas of interest. IB Diploma Candidates also complete three "core" components (Theory of Knowledge, Extended Essay, and Creativity, Activity, Service).

Link to International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO)

IB Subjects

Group 1: Studies in Language and Literature
Offered at Sunset HS:

  • IB Language & Literature HL

Group 1 is the study of literature in a student’s first language, including the study of selections of world literature. In studying their first language, students are able to develop:

  • personal appreciation of the literature
  • skills in literary criticism
  • strong written and oral skills
  • respect for the literary heritage of their first language
  • an international perspective

The range of texts studied in language A1 courses is broad, and students grow to appreciate a language’s complexity, wealth and subtleties in a variety of contexts. A specific aim is to engender a lifelong interest in literature and a love for the elegance and richness of human expression.

Group 2: Language Acquisition
Offered at Sunset HS:                

  • IB Spanish SL
  • IB French SL & HL
  • IB Japanese SL & HL
  • IB Self-Taught Language A*           

There are several objectives for Diploma Programme (DP) language classes. Students in Spanish, French, and Japanese will be assessed on their ability to communicate clearly and effectively in a range of situations, demonstrating both linguistic competence and intercultural understanding. Through their speaking, listening, reading, and writing, students will understand and use language to express and respond to a range of ideas with accuracy and fluency. In order to prepare themselves for the IB examinations, students will be asked to repeatedly interpret and respond to a range of authentic written and spoken texts. At the HL level only, students will need to demonstrate understanding and use works of literature written in the target language of study. *Students with mother tongue proficiency may opt to do a two-year study of literature in the language.

Group 3: Individuals and Societies
Offered at Sunset HS:

  • IB History SL & HL
  • IB Business Management HL
  • IB Economics SL
  • IB Psychology SL
  • IB Social Cultural Anthropology SL

Studying any one of these subjects provides for the development of a critical appreciation of:

  • human experience and behavior
  • the varieties of physical, economic and social environments that people inhabit
  • the history of social and cultural institutions
  • In addition, each subject is designed to foster in students the capacity to identify, to analyze critically and to evaluate theories, concepts and arguments relating to the nature and activities of individuals and societies.

Group 4: Experimental Sciences
Offered at Sunset HS:

  • IB Biology HL
  • IB Physics SL & HL
  • IB Chemistry SL
  • IB Sports Exercise Health Science SL

Each subject contains a body of knowledge together with scientific methods and techniques which students are required to learn and apply. In their application of scientific methods, students develop an ability to:

  • analyze
  • evaluate, and
  • synthesize scientific information

A compulsory project encourages students to appreciate the environmental, social and ethical implications of science. This exercise is collaborative and interdisciplinary: students analyze a topic or problem which can be investigated in each of the science disciplines offered by the school. It is also an opportunity for students to explore scientific solutions to global questions.

Group 5: Mathematics
Offered at Sunset HS:

  • IB Math Analysis & Approaches SL & HL
  • IB Math Applications & Interpretations SL               

The aims of these courses are to enable students to:

  • develop mathematical knowledge, concepts and principles
  • develop logical, critical and creative thinking
  • employ and refine their powers of abstraction and generalization

Students are also encouraged to appreciate the international dimensions of mathematics and the multiplicity of its cultural and historical perspectives.

Group 6: Arts
Offered at Sunset HS:

  • IB Visual Arts SL & HL
  • IB Theater SL & HL
  • IB Music SL & HL
  • IB Film HL               

(Note: full IB Diploma candidates may opt to study an additional sciences, individuals and societies, or languages course, instead of a course in the arts).

The subjects in the arts allow a high degree of adaptability to different cultural contexts. The emphasis is on creativity in the context of disciplined, practical research into the relevant genres. In addition, each subject is designed to foster critical, reflective and informed practice, help students understand the dynamic and changing nature of the arts, explore the diversity of arts across time, place and cultures, and express themselves with confidence and competence.

Assessments in IB


A variety of assessment methods are used by IB to value both the content and the process of academic achievement and take into account different learning styles and cultural patterns.

The external assessments, evaluated by chief examiners worldwide, include oral and written work, long and short responses, and data-based questions. The internal assessments are evaluated by the classroom teachers working with members of the IB. These assessments are portfolio based, presentation based, project based, or research based products.

Grading for IB Diploma


Sunset High School encourages all students to challenge themselves by taking IB courses or tackling the IB Diploma.

IB Diploma Planning

Informational sessions for students and parents are held during the school year to learn more about the IB Diploma Programme and explore shaping the IB experience that best aligns with students' goals and strengths.

  • Students will be invited to attend meetings before forecasting each year to aid in four-year planning. Students are also encouraged to review the information on the website and invited to schedule meeting time with the IB Coordinator or Counselors.
  • For parents/guardians, there will be informational presentations at Curriculum Night held in February each year.

Below is some "How to Plan My IB Diploma" guidance -- students are encouraged to explore options that best align with strengths and goals.

Here's the Basic Formula: 3 HL + 3 SL + Core = IB Diploma

You must have subjects from at least five IB Subject Groups (see next column)

Choose 3 Higher Level (HL) Subjects -- Choose subjects you rock in!

Choose 3 Standard Level (SL) Subjects

+ Diploma Core Course (This DP cohort course is taken Jr & Sr years and combines required Theory of Knowledge course and support for Extended Essay & CAS)

Choose Your IB Subjects Offered at Sunset:

Group 1: English
IB Language & Literature HL

Group 2: Language Acquisition:
Spanish SL
French SL or HL
Japanese SL or HL

Group 3: Individuals and Societies
History SL or HL
Psychology SL
Economics SL
Business Management HL
Anthropology SL

Group 4: Science
Biology HL
Physics SL or HL
Chemistry SL

Group 5: Mathematics
Math Apps & Analysis SL or HL
Math Apps & Interpretation SL

Group 6: Arts
Art SL or HL
Theater SL or HL
Music SL or HL
Film HL


Check your plan and make sure you've got all the requirements covered:

  • Do you have IB Language & Literature HL?
  • Do you have an IB Math course (SL or HL)?
  • Do you have an IB Language B course? (Spanish, French, or Japanese)
  • Do you have IB History SL or HL?
  • Do you have an IB Science course?
  • Do you have an IB Arts course (OR you can swap this out for another IB science, social studies)?

IB DP Core

Circle Graphic Showing IB Subject Areas and Core Components

Made up of the three required components, the DP core  aims to broaden students’ educational experience and challenge them to apply their knowledge and skills. The three core elements are:


  • Theory of knowledge, in which students reflect on the nature of knowledge
    and on how we know what we claim to know.
  • The extended essay, which is an independent, self-directed piece of
    research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper.
  • Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS), in which students complete a project
    related to those three concepts.

Theory of Knowledge (ToK)

The IB Theory of Knowledge (TOK) class at Sunset is an interdisciplinary course intended to stimulate a student's critical reflection on knowledge and experience gained inside and outside the classroom. The course challenges students to question the basis of knowledge, to be aware of subjective and ideological biases and to develop the ability to analyze evidence.

TOK is a key element in encouraging students to appreciate other cultural perspectives. It links different lines of inquiry and explores similarities and differences in different types of knowledge found in different disciplines. As a core element of the IB Diploma Program, each IB subject course has links to TOK.

While TOK is open to any student at Sunset, it is required by IB for completion of the Diploma. Diploma candidates are encouraged to reflect on all aspects of their work throughout their course of study. They examine the grounds for moral, political, and aesthetic judgments that individuals must make in their daily lives.

For IB Diploma candidates, this course must be taken over two years (Junior and Senior years).

Extended Essay (EE)

Each Sunset IB Diploma Candidate has the opportunity to investigate a topic of special interest through the development of the Extended Essay. This core requirement for the IB Diploma familiarizes students with the kind of independent research and writing skills expected by colleges and universities. The essay may be written on a topic in one of 60 subject areas and allows students the opportunity to explore an area of interest in depth.

For example, selecting a topic in one of their higher level courses allows a student to broaden their knowledge in a highly rigorous academic topic of their interest. They also might add breadth to their academic experience by electing to write in a subject not included in their course of study. While the essay is a student-led project, they are assisted and supported in their efforts by a staff mentor ("Extended Essay Supervisor") who meets regularly with the student.

CAS: Creativity, Action & Service (CAS)

One goal of Sunset's IB program is to help students become responsible and compassionate citizens. The IB Diploma's CAS requirement encourages students to share their energy and special talents with others through Creativity, Activity, and community Service. Students may, for example, participate in theater or musical productions, competitive and non-competitive sports, and community service activities. Students participate in these activities in order to develop a greater awareness of themselves, concern for others, and the ability to work cooperatively with other people.

Creativity is interpreted broadly. It includes a wide range of art activities but can also be defined as the creativity students show in designing and implementing service projects. Activity can include not only participation in individual and team sports but also taking part in hiking and backpacking expeditions and in local or international projects. Service encompasses a host of community and social service activities, such as helping children with special needs, visiting hospitals, and working with refugees or the homeless.

Want a glimpse into some of the incredible CAS experiences IB candidates around the globe are engaged with? Check them out!

Examples of CAS experiences from past Sunset HS IB Diploma Candidates are below -- but this list by no means captures the expanse of CAS experiences Sunset's IB Diploma Candidates engage in.

  • Cross Country
  • OHSU Internship
  • Democratic Mock National Convention
  • Bell-Ringing
  • Car Wash to raise money for landmine removal
  • School wide landmine educational campaign REAL INDIA Day Booth
  • Wild Arts Festival
  • BEF Phone-A-Thon
  • Tennis
  • Piano
  • Marching Band
  • Amnesty International
  • Death With Dignity Volunteer
  • Children’s Museum Volunteer
  • School Newspaper
  • Landmines Project
  • Making Marionettes
  • National Honor Society
  • Hospital Volunteer
  • Boy Scouts
  • Model UN
  • Eagle Scout Project
  • Football
  • Junior Leader YL Camp
  • Choir
  • Theater
  • Teaching Taekwondo
  • ARC of Oregon Convention
  • Youth Camp Leader
  • Racquetball Team
  • Girl Scout Gold Award
  • Mexico Service Project
  • Backpacking
  • Preparation for Developmental Disabilities Council Meeting
  • Fencing
  • National Young Leaders Conference
  • Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp Counselor
  • Missions Trip to Kiemtu, BC
  • DNA Forensics Lab
  • International Language Camp Counselor
  • Club Swimming
  • Link Crew
  • Holiday Sharing
  • Blood Drive
  • Sunday School Teacher
  • Dragon Boats
  • Avamere Assisted Living: Senior Friend

CAS: An Expression of Who You Are

How Do Colleges Regard IB?

Education in International Baccalaureate® (IB) World Schools:

  • centres on learners
  • develops effective approaches to teaching and learning
  • works within global contexts, helping students understand different languages and cultures
  • explores significant content, developing disciplinary and interdisciplinary understanding that meets rigorous international standards.

 An IB education aims to transform students and schools as they learn, through dynamic cycles of inquiry, action and reflection.  Teachers enable and support students as they develop the approaches to learning they need – for both academic and personal success.

 IB programmes aim to help students explore and construct their own personal and cultural identities.
From the International Baccalaureate Organization Website

What Do Universities Say About IB?

"IB is well known to us as excellent preparation. Success in an IB program correlates well with success at Harvard. We are always pleased to see the credentials of the IB Diploma Program on the transcript."

Marilyn McGraff Lewis, Assistant Dean of Admissions, Harvard University

"Send us prepared students ala IB... it is the best high school prep curriculum an American school can offer."

Marilee Jones, Director of Undergraduate Admissions, M.I.T.

"One of the advantages of an IB curriculum is its structure and quality. It's a coordinated program, well established, well known, and well respected. We know the quality of IB courses, and we think the IB curriculum is terrific."

Christoph Guttentag, Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Duke University

"Advanced Placement and IB examinations for most highly selective institutions are the 'gold standard' in terms of quality and in terms of predicting success on our campuses."

Dan Walls, Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Emory University

"The IB is a first-rate program, one we are familiar with, and it prepares students well for a university like ours."

Fred Hargadon, Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Princeton University

"The rigor of IB Diploma requirements meets our recommendation for the strongest high school preparation possible.

The Extended Essay echoes William & Mary's belief in the value of original research as well as the College's emphasis on strong writing skills, and the Theory of Knowledge course fosters active and critical learning and is philosophically akin to the goals of our freshman seminar program.

The CAS component answers our call for students who have been exposed to community service and creative endeavors and who understand the importance of developing the whole person. In sum, the IB diploma candidate who has met the challenge successfully receives strong consideration from the William & Mary admission committee.

Allison Jesse, former Associate Dean of Admissions, William & Mary


The Value of an IB Education: Stanford University's Assistant Dean of Admission
University Skills Created by IB DP
How Familiar Are Universities With the Components of the IB Diploma?

IB Learner Profile

IB Learner Profile Attributes In Connected Puzzle Pieces

The aim of all IB programmes is to develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world. As an IB Student at Sunset High School, you are expected to strive to demonstrate the following characteristics:
IB Learners Are...


Develop your natural curiosity. Acquire the skills necessary to conduct inquiry and research and show independence in learning. You should actively enjoy learning and this love of learning will be sustained throughout your life.


Explore concepts, ideas and issues that have local and global significance. In so doing, you will acquire in-depth knowledge and develop understanding across a broad and balanced range of disciplines.


Exercise initiative in applying thinking skills critically and creatively to recognize and approach complex problems, and make reasoned, ethical decisions.


Seek to understand and appreciate your own culture and personal history, and be open to the perspectives, values and traditions of other individuals and communities. Become accustomed to seeking and evaluating a range of points of view, and be willing to grow from the experience.


Show empathy, compassion and respect towards the needs and feelings of others. Demonstrate a personal commitment to service, and act to make a positive difference to the lives of others and to the environment. Risk-takers

Approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainty with courage and forethought, and have the independence of spirit to explore new roles, ideas and strategies. Be brave and articulate in defending your beliefs.


Seek to understand the importance of intellectual, physical and emotional balance to achieve personal well-being for yourself and others.


Give thoughtful consideration to your own learning and experience. Assess and understand your strengths and limitations in order to support your learning and personal development.


Seek to understand and express ideas and information confidently and creatively in more than one language and in a variety of modes of communication. Work effectively and willingly in collaboration with others.


Act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness, justice and respect for the dignity of the individual, groups and communities. Take responsibility for your own actions and the consequences that accompany them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is unique about the IB Program?

An IB Diploma requires courses in at least five subject areas, including acquisition of a second world language. The Theory of Knowledge course challenges students to explore "how they know what they know," and the 4,000 word Extended Essay, CAS, and the two year commitment to six areas of study, plus tests scored using international standards combine to make the program unique.

How do IB classes compare with AP classes?

IB and AP courses feature college level curriculum. IB uses international standards of excellence; AP uses national standards of excellence. IB is a diploma"program"; AP allows students to take one or more courses which are not necessarily connected. IB Higher Level exams are recognized for college credit; AP exams are also recognized for college credit. As part of the external assessments, IB has an oral component in most classes; AP has an oral component in foreign language only. Full diploma IB students prepare for exams in all areas; AP students generally choose AP exams in their area of strength.

What is a typical IB student profile?

IB honors diversity; what IB students have in common is their love to learn and their high motivation.

How much homework is involved in this program?

On average, Diploma Candidates have approximately 2-3 hours a night; this varies depending on major project and test dates. IB teachers at Sunset coordinate their major project due dates with the goal of minimizing unmanageable "spikes" in workload.

Learning to plan and work incrementally on longer, more involved assessments is key to avoiding overwhelm. This skill is also an essential skill for university studies.

If a student did not take a second language in middle school, will that be a problem?

No: students will be prepared to take a foreign language exam if they start in the 9th grade. Depending on students' progression, IB Language B teachers may encourage/recommend continued independent study during summer, as language acquisition is best achieved through continuous engagement and practice.

What do colleges think about the IB program?

Most colleges recognize IB Diploma students as extremely well-prepared for the challenges of college work. At Oregon State University, for example, IB diploma candidates who achieve a score of receive sophomore standing and a renewable $3,000 Provost scholarship if they receive a score of 30 or higher (out of 45) on their exams. To find out more about college credit, go to the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) information on University Recognition; there is a downloadable, searchable spread sheet with IB recognition and credit award policies available.

Is there research that shows how students who take IB courses and/or the full diploma fare in post-secondary studies?

Yes. From the IB website: "Research plays a central role in the development, quality assurance and assessment of IB programme outcomes. The IB commissions research to leading research institutions and universities around the world, and also conducts a small number of studies in-house." Here is a link to a study on outcomes in the IB Diploma Programme.

Current IB Students: May 2020 Exam Info

Deadline for May 2020 IB Exams: 10/30/19

May 2020 IB Exam Schedule


Juniors & Seniors may take IB exams

HOWEVER, if you are a full IB Diploma Candidate, you may only take up to two (2) SL exams Junior year.* 

If you are taking exams as an IB Certificate Candidate, you may take as many exams as you like (provided you complete the course and all assessment requirements.)

An IB Certificate Candidate is a student who is NOT a full IB Diploma Candidate, but is taking IB courses/exams to earn college credit for individual courses, and/or demonstrate they are taking rigorous courses for admissions consideration.

HL (higher level) exams may only be taken Senior year, and require two years of study in the appropriate HL course. (*This is an IB regulation, not Sunset policy.)




The May 2020 exam session is 5/1 - 5/22 Information on specific dates for each subject exam may be found on the Sunset IB Program website.

Students should note that there are NO alternative exam dates: you must be present on the date(s) of the exam(s) you register for.

The registration deadline is 10/30/19. You can pick up a registration form at the Business Office OR from the IB Office (there is an envelope on the door with forms).  


Great news – starting this year, IB has eliminated a registration fee, so all you pay for now is exam fees.

  • The fee for each subject exam is $94.
  • This reflects a $25 discount, thanks to funding by the State of Oregon.
  • There is also a $6 postage fee per candidate each year
  • For students eligible for free/reduced lunch, the cost of exams and registration is covered via scholarship. 



Yes! All of Oregon University System (OUS) universities grant credit for IB SL and HL scores of 5, 6, or 7. (7 is the highest score.)

New: Juniors taking exams in May 2020 who matriculate at an Oregon public university in fall 2021 will be granted credit for scores of 4 and above (this is due to a bill passed in Oregon to expand credit-award).

The cost for one credit in Oregon is around $200 (plus fees) – so earning credit can result in significant savings.

Some schools grant sophomore standing to students who complete a full IB Diploma with a score of 30 or above.

Here are some examples of credit granted at Oregon public universities with a score of 5 or above:

  • IB English HL: 12 credits (SL = 4 credits)
  • IB Physics, Biology, Chemistry HL: 12-15 credits (SL = 4 credits)
  • IB History HL: 9-12 credits (SL = 4 credits)

Students must complete ALL “internal assessments” (IAs) for a course in addition to sitting for the exams.

Some private and/or highly selective universities may not grant credit, but look highly favorably upon candidates who take IB courses because of the rigor. Some may allow students to advance to higher level courses (such as Harvard) or skip lower level prerequisites.

Students should check the website of each school being considered. Search for “IB Credit” and you will get specific information on the policies.