Differences bilingual and international high schools | BSS

International A levels/ High School diplomas have been offered for half a century in Spanish education centres, yet few are familiar with the characteristics that define this type of accreditation. Beyond the linguistic factor, there are a great number of differences that distinguish an international diploma from a bilingual diploma.

One of the main advantages offered by an International A levels/ High School Diploma is that students are able to apply to university without having to take entrance exams, both in Spain as well as in other countries affiliated with this program. Aside from this, there are a variety of other differences that exist between an international diploma and its bilingual counterpart.

Bilingual education is an aspect that educational centres find to be most valued and demanded by parents. Bilingual education during A levels/ High school years implies that between 30 and 50% of subjects studied by students are taught in a foreign language. In this way, high school level students in bilingual centres study the same amount of subjects as in a non-bilingual centre, with the exception that more classes are taught in English.

An International A levels/ High School diploma on the other hand, focuses its attention on other idiomatic competencies. Students are able to carry out this type of study in a bilingual manner and are additionally obligated to study another foreign language.


How an International A levels/ High School Diploma curriculum differs from a Bilingual A levels/ High School Diploma curriculum

Another difference that distinguishes these two options can be found in their curricula. International diploma students are obliged to enrol in the subject “The Theory of Knowledge” and must dedicate a fixed amount time to creative, athletic and community service activities. In addition, at the end of their studies, students must write a 4,000-word thesis/monograph about a subject chosen by the student. The carrying out of these activities and tasks are essential in order to obtain an International A levels/ High School diploma.

International diploma programs are also known for their ability to adapt to the mobility of their students, in addition to encouraging their participation in creative, analytical, investigative, and autonomous activities, on a personal and academic level. Experience, reflection, and inquiry all play important roles during these two years of study.

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5 key differences that characterise an International A levels/ High School diploma

Bachillerato internacional bilingue diferencias

An international vision

As indicated in its name, this type of diploma allows students to finalise their pre-university studies with an international projection. In this way, academic and professional mobility is guaranteed to graduates, opening doors to universities both inside and outside of Europe


Direct access to university education

Completing an international A levels/ High School diploma affords students access to different universities around the world, without having to take university entrance exams. This includes Spanish universities as well as any other international university affiliated with the program.


External evaluations

The international diploma carries out its final evaluations by examining students based on the knowledge they have learned throughout their years of study. In order to guarantee maximum accuracy and objectivity in the results, exams are corrected by international professors who are experts on the subject.


Autonomy over national education systems

The educational curriculum used in international diploma study is not regulated in accordance with established local governments. In this way, educational planning is granted freedom in selecting the best educational methods used in an international context.


Education based on values

The goal of this program is not only to educate students capable of approaching their future universitary education, but also to educated students about important values. This is achieved through their participation in obligatory community service work.

The International A levels/High School diploma was created in the late sixties in Switzerland. In 2008, it celebrated its 50th birthday, boasting its status as one of the most important educational programs in the world. Its presence throughout the world includes more than 4,000 schools (public and private), a total of 70,000 teachers and more than a million students. In Spain, there are 108 schools, among those of which you can find at Best Schools in Spain, that offer their students the opportunity to enroll in an International diploma program.


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