The IB Diploma Programme

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english version
IB – International Baccalaureate Deutschlandflagge

deutsche Version

What is the IB

Lessing-Gymnasium was appointed an IB World School by the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) in Geneva after having successfully concluded the application procedure in February 2007. It is one of currently 27 public schools in Germany where students may obtain the IB Diploma, an internationally recognised degree of secondary education, in addition to the German Abitur. This dual degree (Abitur and IB Diploma) is a valuable asset for our students which will be useful for their academic futures and professional careers in Germany and abroad. The IB Diploma Programme is a course of studies designed according to standards set by the IBO Geneva. Its internationally standardised curricula and assessment procedures ensure eligibility for universities all around the world.

Beginning in the Qualifikationsphase 1, the students enter the two-year course of studies. During this time, they are offered up to 22 lessons per week in English, which prepare them not only for the Abitur but also for the internationally standardised IBO exams. In May 2009 our first students successfully concluded the IB Diploma Programme and received their IB Diplomas.


IB and Abitur – integrating two curricula

The educational programme integrating Abitur and IB Diploma needs to fulfil the requirements of both the NRW guidelines for the Sekundarstufe II (including the requirements for the Zentralabitur) and the requirements set by the IBO.

The compatibility of both courses of studies is supported by restricting the possible combinations of subjects. Whenever possible, students’ work will be used for both IB and Abitur requirements.

For the Qualifikationsphase, IB students need to choose six IB subjects plus Theory of Knowledge and World Literature. One Leistungskurs is English, by default, the other one can be chosen from the course offer available that year.

Additional lessons are offered in subjects in which the IB requirements cannot be fulfilled within the regular course structure. In part, these can be counted as Projekt-, Vertiefungs- or Zusatzkurse for the Abitur.

Students in the Abitur course of studies typically take 34-35 lessons per week, whereas IB students usually have 38 hours of tuition per week. The required number of lessons per week has risen for students aiming at the Abitur because of changes in the curricular requirements for the Zentralabitur due to the transition to G8 (Schulzeitverkürzung), whereas, all in all, the workload for students in the dual course programme (Abitur plus IB) has remained roughly the same.

Students whose successful graduation in the Abitur course of studies appears uncertain will be advised to leave the IB programme at any stage of the programme.


Organisation of the IB Diploma at Lessing-Gymnasium

In the IB Diploma Programme, students have to take three subjects as higher level courses and three further subjects as standard level courses. English, History (in English), Social Sciences/Economics (in English) and German are offered as higher level subjects (HL subjects; these are comparable to the Leistungskurs in the Abitur system). English and German must be chosen as HL subjects. For their third mandatory HL subject, the students can choose between History and Social Sciences/Economics.

The following subjects can be chosen as standard level subjects (Grundkurs): Mathematics, Biology and either Social Sciences/Economics or History (in English) or an additional foreign language. Italian or French can be chosen by beginners, and students with previous experience in French or Italian may also pursue their studies in an advanced course.

Additionally, all students are required to take the courses in Theory of Knowledge (TOK) and World Literature, and have to commit to extracurricular activities (creativity, activity, service: CAS).

The IB Diploma courses, and therefore the preparation for the IB exams, takes place exclusively in the Qualifikationsphase (years 11 and 12), but necessitates a compatible choice of subjects in the Einführungsphase (year 10) by students interested in pursuing the dual degree.


Additional lessons

Additional lessons are provided to cover IB requirements beyond the Abitur curriculum. In these lessons students are also given the chance to improve their English terminology in the respective subjects, to practice methods and to familiarize themselves with the specific requirements of the IB exams.


IB Diploma at Lessing-Gymnasium – range of subjects

HL: higher level, SL: standard level, G: group (see image below)

Blue: subject taught in English


G1 (language A, native language):

German (HL)

G2 (second language):

English (HL)

G3 (individuals and societies):

History (HL) or Economics (HL)

G4 (experimental sciences):


G5 (mathematics)

Mathematics (SL) (partly in English)

G6 (electives)

Italian (SL),

French (SL),

Economics (SL) or

History (SL)



Additional Requirements

Theory of Knowledge course (TOK)

Course in epistemology, following the lead question “How is knowledge created and obtained?“

Extended Essay, 4000 words

Comparable to the German Facharbeit.


Transdisciplinary project in which students of different courses or even schools cooperate in a scientific inquiry.

Literature in Translations (formerly “World Literature”)

Course which deals with studying outstanding examples of world literature in German translations.

CAS activities, 150 hours

Activities that aim at personal development beyond the purely academic realm. Examples are social commitment at the school itself or in community services, charitable projects or commitment in clubs. CAS activities can be undertaken continuously but can also be organised en bloc, in Germany or abroad, even during the holidays.

Internal Assessment

No exams are necessary for the IB subjects until the final exam, apart from the exams required for the Abitur throughout the Qualifikationsphase. Instead, the students have to write papers, essays or lab reports, prepare presentations or pass short oral exams in all their IB subjects (internal assessment). The results are part of the final grade. The required student work is distributed evenly across the two years to make sure that the workload remains manageable.

Final Exams

The final exams take place at the end of April or during the first three weeks of May at the end of Q2. They are designed by the IBO and externally graded by IBO representatives. Unlike the Abitur, the IB Diploma entails exams in all six subjects. These are independent from the exams needed to obtain the Abitur. If a subject is chosen both for the Abitur and the IB Diploma, there will be significant overlap in the subject matter.


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