I figure there are two vital pieces of information in order for you to understand what I'm writing about from day to day.
The first was my background. Hopefully that's somewhat cleared up. (I swear I did my best.)
The second is my high school program.
In Sweden, you apply to high schools in a much, much simpler version of college applications. In your final year of junior high (ninth grade), you send in these applications to different high schools you're interested in, and are accepted or rejected–kind of incredible, at fifteen. There are different programs you can take depending on what your interests are, like science programs or human behavior programs. I chose the International Baccalaureate.
Basically, the IB is a college-preparatory program that lasts two years. In it, you choose six different subjects along with a three-course core, which you then study for these two years. Lemme take out my trusty bullet-points again.
- Six subjects. Each student chooses one social science, one natural science, one A language (native), one B language (non-native) or another A language, one math course, and either an artistic course, such as Visual Arts, Theater, or Music, or another social or natural science, etc.
- Out of these six chosen subjects, three are standard level (SL), and three are higher level (HL), a much more in-depth study course.
- A three-course core. This consists of a philosophy-type course called Theory of Knowledge, an extracurricular course called CAS (Creativity, Action, and Service), in which you have to have 50h of each component done by the time you graduate, and a 4,000-word Extended Essay, written in a subject of your choice.
- Final exams. The program culminates in exams in all of your six subjects in May of your final year. These exams cover all the material learned over the two years (eek!).
- Those are what are ahead of me this May.
The subjects I've chosen are:
- Biology HL
- History HL
- Visual Arts HL
- Swedish B HL
- English A Language & Literature SL
- Math SL
Some practical lingo:
- TOK - Theory of Knowledge - assessed by a final presentation on a controversial issue, and an essay.
- E.E - Extended Essay
- IA - internal assessment, meaning graded by our own teachers at school, as opposed to being externally graded by IBO, like most of our work is
- IBO - International Baccalaureate Organization, the notorious examiners everyone knows about but no one's ever met.
- Paper 1, 2, 3 - each subject has two "papers", or exams, in May. HL classes have three.
There's a popular culture around IB that it's the social death of its students.
While it is a lot of work and can get really stressful at times, usually the procrastinators are the ones who create that culture.