International Baccalaureate



IB Programme Information Evening

Recording of Event

This recording of the IB Programme Information Evening will give you
the overview of the International Baccalaureate Program at Western.

Slides from Presentation (pdf)


For 2024-25 Prospective IB Students:

The CBE has moved towards an online registration system called "School Engage" starting the 2022-23 school year.

All prospective IB Students in the CBE must submit these forms to  


Current CBE students who are designated to WCHS for IB (English or French Immersion):

  • Will be designated (by junior high) to their regular program school for English or French Immersion (or continuation of whatever program they are in)
  • Should fill out the IB transfer process between February 1 and March 15 if WCHS is not their regular program school.   No school engage registration is required.
  • Should send WCHS an IB Expression of Interest with a Grade 9 report card to as soon as the Grade 9 report card is available (no proofs of address, no citizenship documents, no registration forms required)
  • Students who would attend WCHS for the regular program still need to fill out the IB Expression of Interest by the deadline.


Non-CBE students who are designated to WCHS for the English regular program (or French Immersion):

  • Should have at least one non-Catholic parent to be “resident of the CBE”
  • Should go through the school engage registration process with their regular designated English or French Immersion program high school between January 17th and early March (make sure you choose the next school year)
  • Should send WCHS an IB Expression of Interest with a Grade 9 report card to as soon as the Grade 9 report card is available (no proofs of address, no citizenship documents, no registration forms as they should already be done through school engage). Do not wait for a CBE student number.


Non-CBE students who are designated to another school for the English regular program (or French Immersion):

  • Should have at least one non-Catholic parent to be “resident of the CBE”
  • Should go through the school engage registration process with their regular designated English or French Immersion program high school between January 17th and early March
  • Should send WCHS an IB Expression of Interest with a Grade 9 report card to as soon as the Grade 9 report card is available (no proofs of address, no citizenship documents, no registration forms as they should already be done through school engage)
  • Should fill out the IB transfer process between February 1 and March 15.  

Questions?  Please reach out to Susan Rivers, IB Coordinator:


Group 1: Studies in Language & Literature

Courses: English A Literature (SL and HL)

Sequence of Classes
Grade 10
Grade 11
Grade 12
ELA 10-1 Honours ELA 20IB HL ELA 30IB HL
    English Literature 35


Internal Assessments

The HL Essay 

The Higher Level Essay is a 1200-1500 word written assignment that analyzes a work of choice from the syllabus. Candidates may write on any topic they choose, though the essay must be critical in nature. The essay should examine both the meaning the author creates in the text and the means by which that meaning is created. Teachers will guide students during this process, although the emphasis is on student autonomy. It is worth 20% of the final IB grade. This assessment is completed during the English 35IB HL course. 

Internal Assessment –Individual Oral 

The Individual Oral (IO) is a recorded oral analysis of two extracts from literary works the candidate studied in class. One work is originally in English, and one work is translated. These extracts will be representative of a global issue. Candidates will examine the ways in which the content and form of the two works presents the global issue. Candidates will prepare notes and will critically analyze their passages for ten minutes, and the teacher will ask questions about their passages for five minutes. It is worth 20% of their final IB grade in HL and 30% of their final IB grade in SL. This assessment is completed during the English 35IB HL course. 

Final Exams 

Paper 1: Guided Literary Analysis

Candidates will receive two unseen texts and should be prepared to write about poetry, prose non-fiction, prose fiction, and drama. Song lyrics and graphic novels are also possible texts. Candidates will respond to a guiding question and will write a paper that outlines the textual details and critically analyzes the effect and meaning of devices. HL candidates will have 2hrs and 15 minutes to write TWO responses. SL candidates will choose between the two texts and have 1hr and 15 minutes to write ONE response. It is worth 35% of the final IB grade. 

Paper 2: Comparative Essay

Candidates will receive a choice of four guiding questions, to which they will respond to ONE of them. Candidates compare, and contrast, the elements of two texts they have studied in class. Questions will not be specific to any particular literary form, and students may respond using texts in any form. However, students will refer, in their essays, to a range of literary features of the works studied, including those specific to the particular forms of the works chosen. They have an hour and 45 minutes to complete this task. It is worth 25% of the final IB grade. 

Group 2: Language Acquisition

Courses: French (ab initio, SL, HL), Spanish (ab initio, SL, HL), Mandarin (ab initio, SL)*, Cantonese (SL)*

*Mandarin and Cantonese courses are not offered at WCHS; students must take them outside of their timetable at the Chinese Academy. See for more details.

French IB
Grade 10
Grade 11
Grade 12
French ab initio (for beginners)
French 10 Honours French 20IB French 30-3YIB
French B SL (3 years at middle school or French 10H required)
French 20IB French 30-3YIB French 30-6YIB
French B HL (for French Immersion or students with substantial experience)
FLA 10 Honours FLA 20IB FLA 30IB
French 30 - 9Y Challenge French 30-6YIB French 30-9YIB
Spanish IB
Grade 10
Grade 11
Grade 12
Spanish ab initio (for beginners)
Spanish 10 Honours Spanish 20IB Spanish 30-3YIB
Spanish B SL (3 years at middle school or Spanish 10H required)
Spanish 20IB Spanish 30-3YIB Spanish 30-6YIB
Spanish B HL
Spanish 30-3YIB Spanish 30-6YIB Spanish 30-9YIB
Chinese IB
Grade 10
Grade 11
Grade 12
Mandarin ab initio (for beginners)
Mandarin AB 10 Honours Mandarin 20IB Mandarin 30-3YIB
Mandarin B SL
Mandarin B 10 Honours Mandarin B IB SL 20 Mandarin B IB SL 30
Cantonese B SL
Cantonese B 10 Honours Cantonese B IB SL 20 Cantonese B IB SL 30


Internal Assessments

The Oral Interview

  • 10 - 15 minutes

Final Exams

Paper 1 (1 - 1.25 hour)

  • Written Production

Paper 2a (1 hour) 

  • Reading Comprehension

Paper 2b (45 min - 1 hour)

  • Listening Comprehension


Group 3: Individuals and Societies

Courses: History (SL), Philosophy (SL), Business Management (SL)


History IB & Philosophy IB - Sequence of Courses
Grade 10
Grade 11
Grade 12
Social 10-1 Honours History 20 IB European History 35
  Philosophy IB and
Social 20-1
Social 30-1

History SL

Internal Assessment

The Historical Investigation (HI) The historical investigation is a research paper. Candidates will pick a research question based on the History IB curriculum, and then write a research paper answering that question. The paper must include an evaluation of the two main sources used in the investigation, as well as a reflection, in addition to the investigation. Candidates will write two HIs, one in History 20IB and one in European History 35. The maximum word limit is 2200 words.

Final Exams

Paper 1 (1 hour)

Paper 1 is also known as the Document Analysis. Candidates will receive four sources, either pictures or excerpts, and will answer questions based on these sources. At WCHS, history candidates write on the topic “The Move to Global War,” which will be on either German Expansionism, Italian Expansionism, Japanese Expansionism, or a combination of them.

Paper 2 (1 hour and 30 minutes)

Candidates must write two essays, answering two questions from two different topics. The topics studied at WCHS are the Origins and Development of Authoritarian and Single Party States, the Cold War, Causes, Practices and Effects of Wars, and Democratic States (mainly the first two).

Philosophy SL

The Internal Assessment

The Internal Assessment is a philosophical response to a non-philosophical source. A text excerpt or an image, which is not explicitly related to philosophy, is chosen as a “stimulus” for philosophical discussion. Candidates will then formulate a philosophical question based on the stimulus. From there, candidates will answer the question by presenting, analyzing, and evaluating two different philosophical perspectives. Objections to each view and responses from each view must be considered. The maximum word count is 2000 words.

Final Exams

Paper 1 (SL: 1 hour and 45 minutes) 

Candidates will write an essay discussing one of two stimuli in relation to the core theme, Being Human. Additionally, the candidate must write additional essays, based on optional themes. SL requires the candidate to write 1 optional theme essay.

Paper 2 (1 hour)

Candidates will describe and evaluate an aspect of a text studied in class by responding to a prompt.

Business Management SL

Business Management SL - Sequences of Courses
Grade 10
Grade 11
Grade 12
Marketing & Management Multi-level Business Management 20IB Business Management 30IB

The Internal Assessment

Candidates will write a 1500-word commentary about a real problem that an organization is facing, based on three to five supporting documents.

Final Exams

Paper 1 (1 hour and 15 minutes)

Paper 1 consists of 2 sections, A and B. Candidates will answer 3 questions, two from section A and one from section B. In section A, candidates will answer one of three questions, which are based on a case study that is studied in advance. In section B, candidates answer one question, which is based on additional stimulus material related to the case study.

Paper 2 (1 hour and 45 minutes)

Candidates will answer questions in written form. There are 3 sections: A, B, and C. Sections A and B provide stimulus materials that candidates must base their answers upon. Section A requires candidates to answer 1 of 2 questions, and section B requires candidates to answer 1 of 3. In section C, candidates must answer 1 of 3 essay questions, using a case study of their choice (excluding the ones in Paper 1 or in sections A and B).


Group 4: Sciences

Courses: Chemistry (HL), Biology (HL, SL), Physics (HL, SL)

Sequence of Classes
Grade 10
Grade 11
Grade 12
Chemistry HL
Science 10 Honours Chemistry 20IB Chemistry 25/35 (6 credits)
and Chemistry 30IB
Biology SL (with option of HL)
Science 10 Honours
and Biology 20 (cohort A)
Biology 25IB (3 credit)
and Biology 30IB
Biology 35 - optional for HL
(3 credit)
Physics SL (with option of HL)
Science 10 Honours
and Physics 20 (cohort A)
Physics 25IB (3 credit)
and Physics 30IB
Physics 35 - optional for HL
(3 credit)


Internal Assessments

The IA

One science IA is written per course. Candidates will choose a concept from the course, and further investigate that topic. They must design and carry out an entire lab. The lab can be experimental, research-based, or done using simulations.

The Group 4 Project - to be updated for May 2025

The Group 4 Project is unique to Group 4 (ie. Science) subjects. It is a collaborative project that involves candidates from two or more of the Group 4 subjects. At WCHS, it is the Riverwatch trip that takes place in either Biology 20IB, Physics 20IB, or Chemistry 30IB (depending on which one the student is taking first). Candidates will raft down the Bow River, monitor the water quality, write a 50-word reflection about the experience afterward, and do a project that applies the knowledge that they learned in the trip.

Final Exams - to be updated for May 2025

Paper 1 (SL: 45 minutes) (HL: 1 hour)

Paper 1 is a multiple-choice test. At the SL level, it is 30 questions; at the HL level, it is 40 questions. Calculators are not permitted. The chemistry paper 1 also does not permit the usage of the data booklet.

Paper 2 (SL: 1 hour and 15 minutes) (HL: 2 hours and 15 minutes)

Paper 2 is all written response. It contains both short answer and extended response questions.

Paper 3 (SL: 1 hour) (HL: 1 hour and 15 minutes)

Paper 3 consists of two parts: section A and section B. Section A contains data-based questions relating to all parts of the course, as well as questions related to laboratory techniques relevant to the science course (e.g. potometers for biology or finding chemical formulas for hydrates in chemistry). Section B contains short answer questions and extended response questions for the option taught in class, although they can connect concepts in the option to other parts of the curriculum. The options taught at WCHS are human physiology (biology), imaging (physics), and either biochemistry or energy (chemistry).


Group 5: Mathematics

Courses: Mathematics (HL, SL)

Sequence of Classes
Grade 10
Grade 11
Grade 12
Mathematics Analysis and Approaches SL (The SL Mathematics Applications and Interpretations Exam is also Supported)
Math 10C Honours
and Math 20-1 Honours
Math 30-1 IB and
Math 31IB (AA SL)
Mathematics Analysis and Approaches HL
Math 10C Honours
and Math 20-1 Honours
Math 30-1 IB and
Math 31IB (AA HL)
Math Analysis and
Approaches 35

The Internal Assessment

Math IAs are primarily research-based. Candidates can choose any aspects of mathematics that are sophisticated, at an appropriate difficulty for the grade level, and which the candidates find interesting. They explain the concept in detail and input mathematical knowledge within the essay.

Final Exams

Paper 1 (SL: 1 hour and 30 minutes) (HL: 2 hours)

Paper 1 consists of short answer and long answer questions. Calculators are permitted for candidates taking Math Applications and Interpretations but are not permitted for candidates taking the AA course at SL or HL. 

Paper 2 (SL: 1 hour and 30 minutes) (HL: 2 hours)

Paper 2 also consists of short-answer and long-answer questions from the entire curriculum. A graphing calculator is required for this paper.

Paper 3 (HL only) (1 hour)

Paper 3 consists of two extended problem-solving questions. Calculators are required.     


Group 6: The Arts

Courses: Music (SL), Visual Arts (SL) 

Band IB SL
Grade 10
Grade 11
Grade 12

Band 10 Honours
and Band 15 AM

Band 20IB and Band 25AM Band 30 IB
and Band 35 AM
Band 20 AM IB

*AM-only enrollment in Grade 11 is offered only when all 8 available day blocks are filled with core academic courses (no options)


Visual Arts IB SL
Grade 10 Grade 11 Grade 12
Art 10 Honours Art 20IB Art 30IB

The Internal Assessment - Visual Arts (Band to be added for May 2026)

The IA is a final exhibition featuring the candidate’s artworks. 4-6 works are required for the exhibition, as well as rationales for each of them. This assessment is worth 40% of the IB grade.

Final Assessments

The other two major assessments for IB are the Comparative Study and Process Portfolio. 

For the Comparative Study, the candidate will choose at least 3 different artworks by at least 2 different artists and compare and contrast them. Although it is not purely a written assignment, there is a written portion. This task is worth 20% of the final IB grade.

For the Process Portfolio, the candidate will show their development as an artist over the course of study in IB Visual Arts.  This project is worth 40% of the final IB grade.


TOK, the EE, and CAS

These are subjects / tasks called “the core” and are essential for the complete IB experience. The CBE has mandated that all IB students (IB courses and IB diploma students) complete some TOK and CAS outcomes. The EE is only mandatory for IB diploma students.

Theory of Knowledge (TOK)

Theory of Knowledge is a component of the IB diploma in which students study and learn to question the nature of knowledge and the ways in which knowledge is acquired. At WCHS, TOK is taken in grade 11, in tandem with Biology 25IB or Physics 25IB. Both courses only run for 1 term, so either TOK or Science 25IB will be taken for half of the semester, and then the other course will be taken for the other half. IB diploma students who do not take Science 25IB must still register for TOK. WCHS offers on-line modules to partial IB students to satisfy the CBE requirements. Grade 11 and 12 IB courses students will complete a 10 hour on-line TOK module each semester. Successful completion will result in 3 credits on the Alberta transcript.

Assessments - for diploma students only

The TOK exhibition is a 950 word internal assessment assignment that is completed during the Grade 11 TOK class (investigates how TOK manifests in the real world using three objects). The TOK essay is written on one of six prompts, provided by the IBO in their graduating year, regarding the nature of knowledge across all disciplines. Students will answer this question using historical examples and knowledge disciplines. The essay is introduced in semester 1, but most class time is given in semester 2. The maximum word count for this externally assessed essay is 1600 words.

The Extended Essay (EE)

The extended essay is a (maximum) 4000-word essay that students write during their time in IB. Students can pick a topic from any IB subject, not just the ones that Western offers. They will create a research question, and perform academic research to answer it. Depending on the subject chosen, the format of the EE will be slightly different. If a science is picked, the EE will look similar to a lab report. If history is selected, the EE will be a history research paper similar to a historical inquiry. If English is selected, the EE will be an essay analyzing a text, etc. This is an in-depth essay that requires students to apply their skills of analysis, critical thinking, and synthesis of information. This essay is written outside of the timetable from April of Grade 11 to January of Grade 12, and no class time is provided for students to work on it. However, students will have a teacher supervisor who will guide them through the process and facilitate reflections on the process. Students must hold regular reflection sessions with their teachers before, during, and after writing the EE, and discuss the student’s working process of writing it.

Together with the TOK exhibition and essay, the EE accounts for 3 points in an IB Diploma student’s total score of 45.

Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS)

“Creativity, Activity, Service”, is a mandatory component of the IB diploma that requires students to pursue extra-curricular activities related to the arts, physical activity, and community service. Generally, any activities an IB diploma student would like to be included for CAS should be within the time period of the beginning of their grade 11 year and the end of their grade 12 year. A common misconception is that CAS entails a specific number of hours for each component that the student must fulfill (that is, a student needs a certain number of “CAS hours”). This is not true. CAS requires a student to have extracurriculars in all three of “creativity,” “activity,” and “service.” Additionally, CAS has 7 “outcomes” that a candidate must fulfill. They are:

  • Identify own strengths and develop areas for growth
  • Demonstrate the undertaking of challenges, in which new skills are developed in the process
  • Demonstrate initiating and planning a CAS experience
  • Show commitment and perseverance in CAS experiences
  • Demonstrate skill and recognize benefits of working collaboratively
  • Demonstrate engagement with issues of global significance
  • Recognize and consider the ethics of choices and action

As long as the student fulfills all of these outcomes adequately, they will be able to complete CAS. CAS should be thought of as an overall guide for the candidate’s extracurricular pursuits. Its goal is to allow IB students to attain a balanced life in the IB diploma program amidst the academic rigor. Additionally, full IB students must do a CAS project. CAS projects require a student to actively be involved in leading, planning, and executing a CAS experience. Additionally, the time period of the experience (including both planning and execution) must be at least one month. Some common CAS projects that IB Diploma students do include being an executive of a club, participating in Junior Achievement, or running fundraisers.

CAS starts in Grade 10 for ALL IB students. IB students are enrolled in a D2L shell and encouraged to learn about CAS and more about themselves with a series of small assignments throughout Grade 10. IB Courses students will continue with small CAS assignments in Grade 11 and 12 (whereas diploma students will have more rigorous requirements). It is important to note that many valuable CAS experiences can occur through the school or as part of the wider Calgary community.

Why Take IB?

Regular vs AP vs IB

To obtain the regular Alberta High School Diploma, students are only required to pass Social Studies and English 30-1 or 30-2, Math at 20-1 to 20-3 and a Science at the 20 or 24 level, Physical Education 10, CALM 20, and any other non-core courses that will provide them with a total of 100 credits. Regular students generally find they have more free time, but are less prepared for the university workload.

In Advanced Placement (AP), high school students are evaluated solely based on AP exams, which are sold by Princeton University to the AP schools. Students can take as many or as little AP courses as they please. Depending on the results students receive, these exams allow students to earn credit in university. Rather than a scale of 1-7, AP grades are based on a scale from 1-5. AP is generally well-received in American and Canadian universities.

In the IB Diploma Programme, high school students are evaluated in a variety of ways other than by their scheduled classes and the examinations (EAs) set by IB. IAs, CAS, TOK, and the EE are all key components to the IB experience, which provide students a chance to get involved in activities they are passionate about, or research topics by which they are intrigued. As well, the EE and HL courses give students a chance to understand how university papers and courses will be structured. Overall, the IB Programme is a well-rounded learning experience in high school. The curriculum is updated every seven years as well. The IB Diploma is internationally acknowledged and widely accepted in Canadian universities.

Enhanced Learning Environment

IB students will be surrounded by like-minded peers who, like themselves, seek challenge in academic studies and have a thirst for knowledge. Unlike many regular courses, IB students in HL classes will develop alongside their peers over all three years of high school, establishing a sense of community among IB students.


Advice for Incoming IB Students

“Everyone says this, but seriously, don’t procrastinate.”

“Don’t be scared to get involved in other activities you’re passionate about, like band, clubs, or sports. You may be busy, but you’ll learn lots about time management.”

“Ask questions in class if you don’t understand what’s going on!”

“Go to tutorials!”

“Do practice questions, especially for math and the sciences—having an idea of what types of problems you’ll see on tests really helps.”

Last modified on