FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the IB Diploma satisfy the Nova Scotia Department of Education requirements?
Is there a heavier workload associated with IB Courses?
What is the amount of time that a typical IB student would spend on homework each night?
Do IB students get to take electives?
Can students participate on sports teams and in other extra-curricular activities when enrolled in the IB program?
Is it true that IB students have no life?
Won’t I get lower marks in IB courses than I would in non-IB courses?
If I go into the IB Diploma Programme, won’t I be with the same people all the time?
Is it true that the IB Diploma Programme is geared more towards students planning to pursue liberal arts in university?
Is it true that the IB Diploma Programme is geared more towards students planning to pursue sciences in university?
Will IB courses replace advanced courses at Halifax West?
In what year does the IB program begin?
How is eligibility for the grade 10 Diploma Preparation program determined?
How does one decide which courses to take at the Higher Level?
Do universities recognize IB courses and offer advanced standing to those students who have earned an IB diploma?
Are students required to complete diploma preparation courses before enrolling in the IB Program?
Can I transfer from one IB school to another and still remain in the IB Diploma Programme?
Can I complete my IB diploma if I transfer to a non IB school?
Will IB students have to take classes outside the regular schedule, such as at lunch hour, before or after school?

Does the IB Diploma satisfy the Nova Scotia Department of Education requirements?

Yes. A student who fulfills the requirement for an IB Diploma will be awarded a Nova Scotia Graduation Diploma.

Is there a heavier workload associated with IB Courses?

Yes. The IB program is recognized for its academic rigor. Emphasis is placed on the in-depth examination of a particular topic. Students are expected to commit to independent research, reading, analysis and lab work. This generates a significant work load for IB students, and the development of time management and study skills is an important component of the program. There is, however, support built into the program at Halifax West such as coordinated teacher assignments and sessions on effective study strategies to help students work more efficiently.

What is the amount of time that a typical IB student would spend on homework each night?

It varies among individual students, but one can expect to spend about two to three hours a night on homework assignments.

Do IB students get to take electives?

The IB Diploma Programme is definitely more focused than the non-IB program at Halifax West, but students do have an opportunity to choose a couple of elective courses. All students in the Grade 10 Diploma Preparation program at Halifax West get to choose one elective. Students in the English Diploma Preparation program also get to choose either one Fine Arts credit or Physically Active Living 11. Students in the French Diploma Preparation program get to choose either arts dramatiques 10 or biologie 11I. Students in the IB Diploma Programme have the option of choosing a school elective or having a free period.
Keep in mind that within the IB program, students do have choices of which courses they will take and at what level.

Can students participate on sports teams and in other extra-curricular activities when enrolled in the IB program?

Yes. The IB program emphasizes a well rounded education that includes extra-curricular activities. IB students are encouraged to get involved in the extra curricular life at Halifax West and will receive credit for the CAS component of the IB diploma program for participation in many of the activities that we offer at the school. It is expected that students will learn to manage their time effectively so that they do not get overwhelmed by academic and extra curricular commitments.

Is it true that IB students have no life?

No. IB students do spend a lot of time on their course work, but also become very good at managing their time to ensure they do have a life. The CAS requirements ensure that IB students are physically active and involved in a variety of extracurricular activities.

Won’t I get lower marks in IB courses than I would in non-IB courses?

The IB Diploma Programme is an academically challenging program with internationally standardized assessment. This is why the IB Diploma has such a stellar reputation and is so highly regarded at universities all over the world. Students can be very successful and achieve the IB Diploma and the recognition awarded to it, such as preferred entrance and advanced standing at universities, without earning straight A’s. It is the rigor of the program that is important, not just the marks.
The IB Diploma Programme is so beneficial because it is an excellent international curriculum that gives students the skills necessary to be successful in post-secondary studies, not that it allows students an opportunity to score high marks in all courses.

If I go into the IB Diploma Programme, won’t I be with the same people all the time?

Students in the IB Diploma Programme at Halifax West will be taking classes with other highly motivated students who are also pursuing the IB Diploma. (IB graduates often describe the lasting friendships that have been forged with fellow IB students as they work together and support each other throughout the IB program). Within the IB Diploma Programme, there will be a selection of IB courses from which students can choose. A student pursuing a course of studies with an emphasis on the sciences will be enrolled in different courses than a student pursuing a course of studies with an emphasis on the humanities.
IB students will be actively involved in the larger school and local communities through their CAS activities. This will include membership on sport teams, clubs, Student Government and volunteer agencies. There will be many opportunities for IB students to meet and spend time with students who are not taking IB courses.

Is it true that the IB Diploma Programme is geared more towards students planning to pursue liberal arts in university?

No. While the IB Diploma Programme offers an excellent foundation for those students who are planning to take a Bachelor of Arts upon graduating from high school, the IB Diploma Programme has an excellent selection for students who are strong in the sciences. Halifax West offers three IB science courses at the higher level (biology, chemistry and physics) and a strong math program. Students will have the option taking two higher level IB science courses at more than 240 hours each. As part of the IB curriculum, science students will spend a lot of time developing independent laboratory research skills. Students will also take part in a multidisciplinary science research project and may also choose to do their extended research essay on a scientific topic.

Although not required by universities, students may take a third science outside the IB Diploma Programme by taking a Nova Scotia PSP Grade 11 science course as an elective in their Grade 10 year, and a Grade 12 science course in their Grade 11 year.

A student graduating with an IB Diploma and two higher level science courses will be extremely well prepared for pursuing science at the university level.

Is it true that the IB Diploma Programme is geared more towards students planning to pursue sciences in university?

No. While the IB Diploma Programme offers an excellent foundation for those students who are planning to take a Bachelor of Science upon graduating from high school, the IB Diploma Programme has an excellent selection for students who are strong in the liberal arts. Halifax West offers History, English and Film Studies at the higher level. These courses, combined with the requirement of Theory of Knowledge, provide an excellent foundation for students in the humanities.

At Halifax West we offer both Math SL and Math Studies SL, to give students a choice between a pre-calculus type math course (Math SL) or a statistics based math course (Math Studies SL), which may be of more interest to students who wish to pursue a liberal arts program.

A student graduating with an IB Diploma and higher level English, history and/or a theatre course will be extremely well prepared for to pursue the liberal arts in their post secondary studies.

Will IB courses replace advanced courses at Halifax West?

No, advanced courses will continue to be offered at Halifax West. However, sufficient enrollment is required in any course for it to be staffed and scheduled in the timetable.

In what year does the IB program begin?

The IB Diploma Program officially begins in Grade 11, however students will take diploma preparation courses in Grade 10 in order to prepare for IB courses.

How is eligibility for the Grade 10 Diploma Preparation program determined?

Any committed, conscientious student should be successful in the IB Diploma Programme. Motivated students capable of coping successfully with our regular high school academic courses should also be able to cope with the IB diploma, provided they are willing to put in the extra time and effort required. There is no entrance exam or pre-requisite as part of the selection process at Halifax West High school, but we encourage you to seek advice from your teachers, guidance counselors and parents before deciding to pursue the IB Diploma Preparation Program.

How does one decide which courses to take at the Higher Level?

You must take three of six IB courses at a higher level. Which ones you decide to take will depend on what higher level courses are being offered at Halifax West, your academic strengths, area of interest and future plans. You will meet with the Diploma Program Coordinator and Guidance Counselors when making this decision.

Do universities recognize IB courses and offer advanced standing to those students who have earned an IB diploma?

Universities are strong supporters of the IB Diploma Programme and recognize IB students in their admission policies and scholarships.

Here are some links to specific universities IB admissions policies.

Dalhousie University
Saint Mary’s University
University of King’s College
Acadia
St F X
Mount Saint Vincent
Memorial University
Mount Allison
UPEI
UBC
McGill
Queen’s
University of Waterloo
University of Alberta
University of Calgary
University of Toronto

Are students required to complete diploma preparation courses before enrolling in the IB Program?

It is strongly recommended that students who would like to enroll in the IB Diploma Programme take Diploma Preparation courses so that they have the academic skills necessary to meet the demands of IB courses.

Can I transfer from one IB school to another and still remain in the IB Diploma Programme?

Yes, but one should be aware that while the IB Diploma Programme is standardized, the availability of courses varies from school to school.

Can I complete my IB diploma if I transfer to a non IB school?
No, the IB Organization does not allow students to complete an IB Diploma or certificate courses unless they are attending an IB school.

Will IB students have to take classes outside the regular schedule, such as at lunch hour, before or after school?

No, all IB classes will be held during the regular school day. Most courses at Halifax West meet for six classes per week. In our IB schedule, most IB classes also meet six times a week. However, some IB classes, such as Math, Theory of Knowledge, and SL language courses, meet three times a week, on alternate days. Students complete one IB course in their grade 11 year. A possible schedule for an IB student pursuing a typical humanities program is shown below.

Humanities or Business Administration Student - Year 1
Semester 1Semester 2
A TOK/ Math Studies SLA English HL
B Environmental Systems SL
B French SL / Math Studies SL
C History HL
C Environmental Systems SL
D Film HLD School Elective or Free
Humanities or Business Administration Student - Year 2
Semester 1Semester 2
A English HL/Math Studies SL
A Film HL
B TOK/French SL
B Math Studies SL/French SL
C Film HLC History HL
D History HLD English HL

The schedule for all other paths in the IB program will follow the same pattern, with one SL course finishing in May of the Year 1 (Grade 11) and a school elective or free available in Year 2, Semester 1. An example of a possible physical science program is shown below.

Physical Science Student - Year 1
Semester 1Semester 2
A TOK/Math HL
A Math HL
B History SLB French SL/English SL
C Chemistry HLC History SL
D Physics HLD School Elective or Free
Physical Science Student - Year 2
Semester 1Semester 2
A Math HLA Physics HL
B TOK/French SL
B French SL/English SL
C Physics HLC Chemistry HL
D Chemistry HLD Math HL