The IBO conducted a survey of admissions tutors at selected UK universities. When asked, “96% favored the broader programme offered by the IBO, and 97% were satisfied that IB Diploma students were well prepared for undergraduate courses. 57% thought that the IB Diploma gave students an advantage over A-level students.”

How do U.S. universities view the IB Diploma program? This brief video featuring Stanford University's Assistant Dean of Admission (and parent of a WIS alumnus) offers one perspective.

Grade-level Information

Grade 9

  • Learn to balance your academic demands, social time and extracurriculars.
  • Explore the extracurricular life of the school: try out for plays; join a club that matches your interests or hobbies.
  • Play a sport or exercise regularly.
  • Make an effort to meet with your teachers outside of class when you have questions or want to pursue a topic further.
  • Get to know at least one adult in the school well—find a mentor to help you navigate Upper School.
  • Make time to read more than your assignments. Try to read the newspaper to keep abreast of current events.
  • Select a topic that really interests you for your Grade 10 Project.
  • Take advantage of living in the DC area. Get downtown; go to museums; attend some lectures.
  • Try new things academic—and otherwise.
  • Choose your course options for 10th grade.
  • Do something interesting with your summer...this doesn't have to be a class, or something that you think others would want you to do, just something that interests you.
See the standardized testing section for information on testing in Grade 9.

Grade 10

  • Keep doing the positive things you did in 9th grade.
  • Take the practice PSAT administered at WIS in October.
  • Attend the introduction to the IB Diploma Program event held at WIS in December.
  • Start thinking about your strengths, weaknesses and what you might want to study in college as you explore which subjects to select for the Diploma Program.
  • Meet with the university counselors in the spring to pick your Diploma Program courses.
  • Find something to do for your community service hours that you would continue into the 11th and 12th grades.
  • Again, do something interesting with your summer... this doesn't have to be a class, or something that you think others would want you to do, just something that interests you.
See the standardized testing section for information on testing in Grade 10.

Grade 11

  • Keep making the most of your classes and your time.
  • Over 100 colleges come visit WIS every year. These are important opportunities for students to begin distinguishing between their different options, as well as connecting with admissions officers from universities around the world.
  • Take the PSAT administered at WIS in October.
  • Take the practice ACT given during parent conferences.
  • Review PSAT results (available in December); carefully read the bulletin explaining scores, paying particular attention to suggestions for improvement.
  • Attend the evening College Program in January.
  • Read information in your University Counseling notebook.
  • Begin meeting with your university counselor to determine your college search criteria.
  • Set up a family meeting with your university counselor.
  • Visit some colleges as time permits (spring break is a popular time).
  • Take the SAT in March (occasionally moved to April to accommodate religious holidays).
  • Consider taking AP exams in appropriate subjects.
  • Take SAT Subject Tests in appropriate subjects (usually in May and June).
  • Meet periodically with your university counselor; begin to identify schools that might be on your list.
  • Consider taking the ACT exam if you are not pleased with your SAT results.
  • Think about your potential academic interests at college and explore one in the summer, either through an internship, job, or class.
See the standardized testing section for information on testing in Grade 11.

Grade 12

  • Attend college application bootcamp the week before school starts to get questions answered regarding college applications.
  • Enjoy and continue to do well in your senior year.
  • Work closely with your university counselor throughout the fall as you fill out applications and finalize your list of colleges.
  • Retake ACT, SAT or SAT subject tests as needed.
  • Stay abreast of all deadlines, interviews, meetings, etc.
  • Meet with college representatives here at school; visit campuses.
  • Complete and file all applications.
See the standardized testing section for information on testing in Grade 12.


When do we start meeting with the university counselors?

The university counselors start meeting with students mid-way through 10th grade to help them select their DP subjects for 11th and 12th grade. The counselor that your child is assigned in 10th grade will be with you all the way through to the college application process in 12th grade. Individual family meetings start in 11th grade when students have more of a track record, including grades and PSAT results. Before we start working with you more in depth, feel free to email us with any and all questions: or . Additionally, at a variety of points in your child’s Upper School experience, beginning in 9th grade, the University Counselors will be part of presentations and will communicate with families about important information that parents and students need as they look ahead to the college process.

How do colleges view the IB Diploma Program for admissions purposes?

Many colleges recognize the breadth, depth, and international components of the DP that make a WIS student more than prepared for college work. However, "prepared" does not mean "more competitive" for admission purposes at all universities. The more selective the institution, the more demanding its expectations in terms of course work, grades, interests, and activities. The most competitive colleges expect students to take the most demanding course load they can, while still maintaining their grades and outside interests. (Recognition policies by country are available here.)

What courses should I choose for my IB Diploma Program or Certificate?

The single most important factor in planning your schedule is your individual strengths, passions, and interests. It is not wise to create a program that is so difficult that you have no time to pursue outside interests. As the saying goes, "All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy." At the same time, you should challenge yourself because the rigor of your curriculum will be examined in light of your future goals.

Additionally, depending on where you plan to apply, you must pay attention to the requirements for the program that interests you. The UK has the most prescribed requirements for many courses, whereas the US is much more lenient in terms of your high school preparation. We generally recommend that students applying to the UK and Canada have a full IB Diploma. If you are applying only in the US, the IB certificates are recognized by admissions offices and prepare students for college work. These options are discussed with you in your individual meetings when you select courses for the IB Diploma Program/Certificate.

Does WIS rank students?

Like many other small, independent schools with rigorous curricula, WIS does not rank students. Colleges are familiar with this practice and use the School Profile and their knowledge of the difficulty of the DP curriculum when evaluating our students.

When should students take the SAT and AP exams?

Please see the standardized testing section on this page.

How do colleges make their decisions?

This varies depending on where you apply. See below for a brief description, organized by country, of what is requested as part of the admissions process.


  • Appropriate IB Diploma Program classes for the course selected
  • Predicted IB Exam grades
  • Personal Statement, which is used to evaluate how you have shown interest in your future course
  • School reference


  • Appropriate IB Diploma Program classes for the course selected
  • Predicted IB Exam grades
  • School reference


  • Rigor of high school curriculum
  • Grades on transcript since 9th grade
  • Standardized test scores
  • Extracurricular activities
  • School and teacher references
  • Essays
  • Special considerations such as diversity, legacy, athletic talent, artistic talent, musical talent, and demonstrated interest in the university

Standardized Testing


What is the SAT test?

The SAT, formerly known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, is a test administered by the College Board and designed to assess a student’s reasoning based on knowledge and skills developed through his or her coursework. Many US colleges require the SAT or ACT for admission.

What are SAT Subject Tests?

SAT Subject Tests are hour-long, subject-specific, multiple-choice standardized tests. They are a required credential for admission to many colleges and universities. SAT Subject Tests are available in 20 different subjects across the disciplines of English, foreign language, math (I and II), science, and social science.

How many SAT Subject Tests do students have to take?

Not all colleges require that applicants submit SAT Subject Test results in addition to SAT results. Some colleges permit students to submit the ACT in lieu of these tests. Of the colleges that require SAT Subject Test results, most admissions committees require results from two different disciplines (a few still require three.) Students can take up to three tests on one test date.

What Subject Tests should a student take?

As a general rule, students should take SAT Subject Tests in their strongest subjects. Most colleges do not require test results from specific disciplines, so WIS students should take tests in areas that reflect their relative strengths and interests. However, applicants to undergraduate schools with a focus—such as engineering or nursing—may be asked to share specific SAT Subject Test results. For example, engineering applicants are often asked to submit results in chemistry or physics, as well as in math.

When and where are the SAT Subject Tests given?

Most SAT Subject Tests are offered six times per year—in October, November, December, January, May, and June. However, the foreign language tests with listening are only offered on one day per year (in November). Tests are offered at several test centers (including local high schools) in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. WIS is not a test center.

When should students take Subject Tests?

In general, students should take SAT Subject Tests at a time when they are best prepared to do well on the test; however, we recommend that 11th graders, regardless of the country where they plan to attend University, should take one round of the SAT and Subject Tests by June of Junior year. Admissions officers overseas welcome these test results and they can influence both the type of offer an IB student receives and a student’s eligibility for scholarship opportunities. If you are not happy with your results, you will have the summer to work on any weaknesses, and then you may re-take the exams in the fall. Some Subject Tests (particularly the sciences) are often better to take in the fall of 12th grade because you will have covered more material in class; however, this is a discussion a student should have with their teacher. Students should also keep in mind, that if they are thinking of applying to US colleges under an "early decision/action" program, they may only be able to submit scores up to October testing of 12th grade.

When am I ready to take a language Subject Test?
Students should take these tests as soon as they have reached the appropriate level in their language program at WIS. Students taking a Subject Test in the same subject area as an AP Language exam have found it helpful to take the Subject Test in May or June after the AP exam is over. Students should keep in mind that they can retake tests, if necessary. Obviously, students should always talk over their decision with their Language teachers but below is a general guideline for families:
Grade Language Test Date
10 French A
Spanish A
May or June
11 French B
Spanish B
May or June
12 All October or November*

*The SAT Language with listening test is only given in November. It is similar to the SAT Subject Test in Language, but it has an additional audio portion, which evaluates the student’s ability to understand spoken language. Students are not tested on their ability to speak or write.

Should I wait until November to take the listening test?

There is no difference in level of difficulty between the language tests with listening and the reading-only tests, however, colleges may prefer the listening tests to the reading-only tests for placement purposes (but not for admission purposes); and college application deadlines may determine the choice of test, since the listening tests are offered only once a year in November. In the past WIS students have performed well on both versions of the test so students should check with their teacher to decide which test is best for them, keeping in mind that taking the test in November of Senior year may be too late for some early college deadlines (both overseas and in the US).

How do students sign up?

It is the student’s responsibility to register for the SAT and Subject Tests. Test dates, sample questions, registration, and other details are available on the College Board website. Students should register themselves online using our school code: 090226. There is a general registration fee for SAT Subject Tests, and students are assessed an additional charge for each test they take. Students who receive tuition assistance from WIS may be eligible for fee waivers and should see Ms. Joos or Ms. Tudge.

How do you send your scores to colleges?

Each time you register for the SAT or Subject Tests, you have the option of sending your scores to some schools without charge. Once you have determined a final list of schools where you will apply, you need to make sure that all of your schools receive your SAT scores. You can do this on the College Board website or call (609) 771-7600.

What do I do if I have learning accommodations?
If you have a documented learning difference that makes you eligible for accommodations at WIS, you may be eligible for the same accommodations on the SAT exams. The documentation must be current, from the past three years, and include test results to back up the diagnosis. The approval process can take up to six weeks, so please don't leave it to the last minute. See Ms. Joos or Ms. Tudge about this process.


What is the ACT test?
The American College Test, or ACT, is a national college admission examination that consists of four sections: English, Reading, Mathematics, and Science Reasoning. The ACT also includes an optional Writing section. The ACT is not an aptitude test or an IQ test. Instead, the questions on the ACT are directly related to students’ high school course knowledge. Many selective universities accept the ACT instead of the SAT I and II tests; however, students should keep in mind that while the writing section is optional, students are advised to always take this option, as it is required by most selective colleges. For more information about the ACT visit the website.

How do I register?
It is the student’s responsibility to register for the test on the website. Students should always register for the optional writing section. Students interested in financial assistance should see Ms. Joos or Ms. Tudge to request a fee waiver before registering.

How do I decide which test is right for me?
Colleges that require a standardized tests for admission have always accepted either the SAT or the ACT. Historically, test-takers on the coasts tended to favor the SAT, whereas students in the middle of the country opted for the ACT. Students who have taken both report that the ACT can be less stressful, but it is not necessarily easier. Some students have done better on the SAT, and some have done better on the ACT. The best strategy is to take a practice ACT, which we offer at WIS during parent conferences in the fall of 11th grade, and compare your results to your PSAT results, and then decide which test is right for you.


What are Advanced Placement (AP) exams and should I take one or more?
In May of every year, WIS offers AP exams in languages taught at WIS. WIS registers the students and the exams are held on campus during the school day. In the past, students have taken exams in a variety of non-English languages. If you are particularly strong in these subjects, this additional test can reinforce your aptitude for the material. The results of these tests, if taken in 10th or 11th grade, may be used as a part of the college admissions process. Additionally, many colleges will grant credit and/or advanced standing for high scores on AP exams.

When should I take a language AP exam?
As a general rule, students should take an AP Exam at a time when they are best prepared to do well on the test. Students should always talk over their decision with their teachers, but below is a general guideline for families.

10th Grade: French A (native speakers), Spanish A
11th Grade: French A and French B, Spanish B

WIS offers AP exams in other languages (as requested) and students should talk to their respective teachers for advice on when to sit for one. For more information on the AP exam content and structure, students should talk to their teachers, Ms. Joos or Ms. Tudge, and visit the College Board website.


What is the TOEFL and should I take it?
Students who have previously attended schools where instruction hasn't always been in English or whose primary language at home is not English may want to consider taking the TOEFL test. This test can be used to counteract a lower than expected verbal score on the SAT exam. Information and registration information is available on the website.