S.T.E.A.M. Day

IB or HKDSE – finding your child’s best fit

What are the main differences between the IB and HKDSE curriculum? Is one superior to the other? What is the IB? What subjects does the HKDSE offer and how is this relevant to my child? A looming factor when choosing between local and international schools is, of course, curriculum. We’ll break down what we think are the 4 main factors to consider when choosing between the IB and HKDSE.

University Admissions 

At some point, someone is going to ask which curriculum will get my child into a good university. Both the IB and HKDSE are recognized internationally, but the IB is recognized by more schools in the US (which you can get college credit for). The DSE on the other hand has a direct path to many Hong Kong Universities. 

Course Requirements 

In the DSE, there is a strong focus on 4 core course requirements (English, Chinese, Math, Liberal Studies) which makes it more suited to those who have a clear specific interest. In contrast, the IB has an interdisciplinary approach to education and is more suited to students who want to explore different disciplines beyond outlined syllabus material. 

Learning Style 

The broad nature of the DSE syllabus content prioritizes the quantity of set knowledge over exploring different topics. The approach necessitates rote memorization and lecture-based passive learning to do well in the final examination. The DSE approach (although traditional) often trains students to be very disciplined and systematic.

IB subjects still cover a wide range of topics, but there are more opportunities for students to pursue their interests (such as during internal assessments or the extended essay). Being an IB student also requires a high degree of self-motivation and time-management skills to manage workload. 

Workload & Exams 

The crucial difference is exam weightings. DSE final grades are based solely on exams whereas IB final grades take into account in-class performance. In the IB, the workload is heavy but it is distributed across two years; in class assessments can account for up to 30% of the final grade. 

The School Readiness Pathway 

Tutor Time’s School Readiness Pathway provides a well-rounded education to ensure students are prepared for any primary school they choose. By focusing holistically on the whole child, children are not only academically prepared, they also build a positive attitude towards learning that will continue in their future education.