Spanish or International Baccalaureate (IB)? | BSS

During secondary education, students receive broad educational training through diverse thinking abilities and skills, which will enable them to choose what type of Baccalaureate best conforms to their learning style and to the type of life plan they have chosen for their university and professional training.

The Spanish and International Baccalaureates have the same 2-year duration and the same certificate, both corresponding to the same syllabus; they are an essential requirement for students who want to go to any university in the world. Although that stage is not mandatory, one of the principles of the schools which belong to BSS (Best Schools in Spain) is that this latter stage represents in itself an intermediate process between non-university education and university education as such, so it is essential to encourage students to continue with their upper secondary education.

Choosing what type of Baccalaureate to study will depend mainly on the style of work, methodology and the thinking skills and strategies which conform more to a Spanish or International Baccalaureate, based on the students’ expectations, preferences and needs.

Some differences are summarised below:

Spanish Baccalaureate


Students must take 8 subjects and 4 optional ones per year, which will be chosen based on their specialisation: arts, science & technology, humanities and social sciences.

Development of thinking skills/abilities and strategies

Students are encouraged to learn the skills for and contents of the mandatory and optional subjects. The aim is to enable students to have a high academic level so that they can obtain good grades and access a university.

Education system policy

The Spanish educational model depends solely on factors such as political changes, institutional restructuring and economic models.

Student autonomy

In general, the topics are set out in class, many times with the help of teachers who permanently supervise the students and set the way forward. The main idea is that schools are the main source of knowledge.

Educational model

– This focuses on teachers, and students are understood to essentially receive the education.

– This fosters knowledge acquisition especially based on memorising and comprehension.

– The methodology used is generally by presentation.

International Baccalaureate


Students must take 6 subjects, 3 at higher level (HL) and 3 at standard level (SL). The differences between HL and SL are the amount of class hours and the work to be carried out. Students can choose science & technology, humanities & social sciences, and arts. In addition to the subjects, students must also:

– Take a course on Theory of Knowledge (KOT), with an interdisciplinary approach and without an exam.

– Carry out CAS (creativity, activity, service) activities, with 150 hours. This fosters experiential learning and voluntary work.

– Draft an extended essay where students research a subject of their choice in depth.


Development of thinking skills/abilities and strategies

A high academic level is built through the interaction of diverse thinking abilities and skills such as analytical, reflexive and creative thinking as well as an open mind and communication skills, among others.

Education system policy

The international educational model does not depend on the governments or on their educational policies. Here the concept is internationalisation, which provides a more global and international view of knowledge.

Student autonomy

More investment is required in class hours for personal work, lab or field work, projects, lectures and presentations. Students are responsible for their own learning, so they are more involved.

Educational model

– This focuses on students, encouraging more involvement, activity and prominence.

– This provides different methodologies, techniques and strategies in a specific way.

– This fosters students’ autonomy in their work as an essential learning vehicle.

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