An AP & IB Mixed Curriculum

It’s all hands on deck at Shanghai American School’s Puxi and Pudong high schools to open the floodgates to success for our students. There are plenty of pathways to choose from – the Advanced Placement (AP) Capstone Diploma Program, the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP) or even a combination of both. Whichever direction they choose to pursue, our teachers and college counselors guide them every step of the way.

We spoke to a current student, Danielle ’25, and a former student, Jasmine Zhang ’23, to find out what made them choose a combination of both AP and IB. Jasmine now attends Barnard College of Columbia University and applied as a psychology major. But she’s also interested in other concentrations, such as philosophy, anthropology and East Asian studies, specifically Chinese history and culture. Danielle previously attended schools offering AP and IB separately, which is how she became familiar with the unique strengths of both. She is interested in pursuing a double major in international studies and business after graduating from SAS.
 

Why did you take both AP and IB courses?

Danielle: I opted for a mixed course to cater to my academic interests. I appreciate how AP emphasizes content-based learning in math and science, providing a straightforward approach centered on knowledge and understanding. In contrast, the IB program’s focus on English and humanities allows for broader global application of acquired knowledge, moving beyond rote memorization of facts and dates.

Jasmine: I cultivated a mixed curriculum to get both depth and breadth in my education. For example, I took psychology and biology in IB so that I can be exposed to real-life applications and case studies in these disciplines that I am more interested in. For disciplines I am less interested in, like English and math, I took AP so that I could still understand the major concepts while not spending too much time in really slowing down to understand deeper concepts.
 

What have been the benefits of doing both?

Danielle: The AP courses ignited newfound interest in challenging courses. The rigorous and fast-paced nature of AP honed my organizational skills and fostered a sense of independence in my learning journey. On the other hand, IB played a significant role in nurturing my critical thinking. Both are equipping me with valuable skills that will benefit me in my future academic pursuits.

Jasmine: A personalized mix of AP and IB allowed me to still have a rigorous schedule from the perspective of college admission boards while giving me more time for pursuing my extracurricular activities. This way I was able to achieve a great work-life balance.
 

How did taking both AP and IB help with the path you wanted to follow after high school?

Jasmine: AP and IB train different skills that are highly beneficial to succeeding in college. AP prepared me for timed written exams and digesting great volumes of information efficiently. IB trained me to focus on the bigger picture while listening to big lectures, taking notes in preparation for cumulative exams and also gave me the leisure of time to explore study methods that work for me.
 

Do you feel your chosen pathway will help you achieve your goals after high school?

Danielle: Yes. IB is allowing me to pursue the international relations track and AP is equipping me with the knowledge for the business track through rigorous college-level introductory content that I can use as a foundation upon entering college.
 

What advice do you have for students who not sure if doing both AP and IB is suitable for them:

Danielle: Curricula require a very personalized approach. Each course is tailored to a specific type of student, so take courses based on your interests and learning style. Build upon your academic strengths and weaknesses. There is no “best curriculum”, so choose courses that are both interesting and challenging.

Jasmine: I was never certain that my mixed curriculum would work out, but after logically reflecting upon my own study and life habits, I decided to be confident with my choice despite being questioned by others. Listen to advice with an open mind and apply it to your own understanding of yourself. At the end of the day, you are the one who knows best what works for you.
 

We hope this insight directly from our students has shed more light on what a mixed AP and IB curriculum has to offer. At the very least you know that at SAS there are no limits. We offer our students a world of opportunities.

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It’s all hands on deck at Shanghai American School’s Puxi and Pudong high schools to open the floodgates to success for our students. There are plenty of pathways to choose from – the Advanced Placement (AP) Capstone Diploma Program, the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP) or even a combination of both. Whichever direction they choose to pursue, our teachers and college counselors guide them every step of the way.

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