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Structure and background of the IB Diploma program in Denmark

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme is a 2-year internationally recognized English upper secondary school diploma program developed by Cambridge University. Students can customize their studies according to their future study plans. In 2023, 179,917 young people worldwide completed the program. 179 students passed the program with honor and maximum points, and approximately 20% failed. IB Diploma is only for the most academically gifted students. Many dream of studying abroad, but we don’t want to create unnecessary defeats, and therefore we use our admission program to find the most suitable students. 


IB in Denmark: The program is offered at a limited number of schools throughout Denmark. The schools are typically located in business districts where highly educated international professionals have been recruited, including a need to offer an English-language program to the children of the families. The IB tuition is free, with only a limited cost of a small fee for calculators and notebooks, and the student should only expect to pay the accommodation costs while in Denmark. Several schools offer affordable accommodation with an entire board and adult supervision.


Admission: At Global KnowleX (GKX), we guide our "Support to eXplore" students in determining which High Schools will match the students' future study plans and academic abilities in the best way. Thanks to many years of collaboration with the IB high schools, we have developed knowledge of which school to recommend for which students. In case of doubt of a fair chance of admission, we discuss the student's chances before completion of the student's IB Diploma application to be able to choose another school as their first priority. Still, it is always the school management's final decision whether to accept and admit an applicant or not. GKX cannot guarantee a student's admission, but in case of refusal, we will help our students to find a fair alternative with available places. 


Priority of students to study places: Regarding access to study places, it is fair to mention that foreign students with no relation to Denmark are last prioritized because qualified applicants residing in Denmark at the time of application have priority. Therefore there are a few schools in very popular living areas; we simply decided not to recommend students to apply.  But no worries, there are several available enrollments nationwide, and it is mainly a question about knowing which schools to apply to. As GKX screens applicants thoroughly before recommending them to consider, our students are usually offered to be enrolled in their first or second-priority IB school.


At GKX, we primarily guide and accept students who wish to complete a full IB Diploma. If a student is enrolled in the pre-IB program, we generally expect that the student will continue on the IB Diploma in Denmark the following year.

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Entry Requirements of the IB Diploma Program

  • Years of school: A minimum of 10 and preferably 11 years of completed school attendance at the beginning of the IB program.

  • Maximum 2 academic years left in high school/upper secondary school in the home country.

  • A high level of academically proficient English. 

  • Biology, Math, and English with minimum. grade A (US grading scale)

  • European citizenship

  • An independent and mature behavior


IB Curriculum

 Is equivalent to the second and third year of a Danish upper secondary school. 


Compulsory courses to be completed during the two years of study

  • CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) the student is offered a series of self-created activities, where they discover that personal growth is not only achieved through academic education but also through being an active part of the community they are a part of. 

  • TOK (Theory Of Knowledge) teaching of how knowledge is gained through philosophy, reflection, theories, and different social conditions as well as learning how to think critically about the information presented to you. 

  • ESS (Environmental System & Societies) is an individual, self-chosen research-based written assignment of 4000 words.


Individual Combination of Electives

All students create their school program by selecting one subject from 6 groups.

The schools' subjects within each group vary slightly, so it's important to check if the school offers the specific subjects of your choice. 

The six groups offer choices of 2 levels: SL - Standard Level & HL - High Level 

Generally, students must select 3 subjects in each level, but in some schools, it is possible to choose 4 HL and 2 SL.


  • Group 1: Studies in language and literature (native speaker level). 

  • Group 2: Language acquisition (2nd language, possibly a new language such as Danish)

  • Group 3: Individuals and society (history, social sciences, politics, etc.)

  • Group 4: Natural sciences (biology, physics, chemistry etc.)

  • Group 5: Mathematics

  • Group 6: Electives (a creative subject such as music, video production etc) The subject can typically be replaced with an extra subject from group 2-4. 

In the Danish education system, there is a tradition for high school students to wear a traditional student hat after graduation, where the field of study is read on the ribbon. Students who have completed the IB Diploma exam can wear a student cap with a flag ribbon.

The curriculum of subjects from the six groups is spread over the two academic years, ending with an exam in April/May of the second academic year. 


Grading Scale 

The IB Diploma program has its grading system, where the student can achieve a maximum of 45 points and must achieve minimum 24 points to pass, and from here , minimum 4 points from each elective at High Level. 

Study specialization subjects are completed with a grade between 1 and 7 = number of points transferred to the exam certificate. 

The compulsory subjects, CAS, TOK, and ESS, must be passed and add up to 3 extra points to the total number of points.

Higher education entries: an IB Diploma will allow you to apply for admission to all international universities and higher education schools, including Danish universities with English programs. Admission is subject to a sufficient level in relation to the general entry requirements of the University or school.

Change of IB High School after year one

We advise against planning to interrupt the education after the first year, fx by applying IB Diploma with the intention to use the year as an exchange year and return to the national school system after the first year. 


Due to the two-year academic spread curriculum does not get official grades after the first year. At best, s/he can receive annual grades based on internal annual tests and statements from one or more teachers if the stay is terminated after the first year. In general, it is expected that the student's national school will not approve the year as an academic year, and the student will have to repeat the school year. 


GKX, therefore, encourages the student to carefully consider whether he/she is prepared to study for two years in Denmark to complete the IB Diploma program before applying.

Worth knowing about pre-IB

If the student does not have sufficient school years (total number of school years and/or grades) to be admitted directly to the IB Diploma but has a sufficient level of maturity and good parental support, we encourage the student to attend a pre-IB school year.

  • Pre-IB corresponds to the Danish school system's 1st Year in the Upper secondary school year and is counted as the Danish student´s 11th school year. 

  • Pre-IB is a Danish "invention" that prepares students to study, read, write, argue, and present in English. After pre-IB, Danish students can choose to continue in the 2nd year of upper secondary school if they do not wish to complete their studies in English. 

  • Similar to the 1st year of upper secondary school in the Danish upper secondary school, students attend the same classes and subjects from August to October, after choosing their field of study to start in November. 

  • Schools do not have a fixed curriculum for pre-IB, as it varies according to the school and the student's field of study, starting in November. Therefore, requesting a course description or fixed curriculum to be presented or compared to the curriculum in the student's home country is impossible. 

  • The Pre-IB year is not generally expected as a credit-given year, as it only concludes with annual internal tests, not official exams or Cambridge exams.

  • If an international student wishes to study at pre-IB and possibly return to their current upper secondary school afterward, we encourage them to clarify with their home country´s school student counselor in advance whether credit can be given for the pre-IB course. 

  • GKX does not recommend that students study one or more subjects in parallel with the pre-IB studies as a distance learning course at their high school in their home country as the continued focus on “home activities” may influence not only the academic result but also the social adaption with peers in Denmark. 

  • Students with a Pre-IB year, who wish to continue on the IB Diploma program, are prioritized enrollment over students who want to study for a single year, such as exchange students, etc. 

  • There is no guarantee of admission to the IB Diploma after completing pre-IB, but if the year is completed with satisfactory results and an acceptable absence rate, the student can reasonably expect admission to the IB Diploma.

Please note: Non-EU students can only obtain a study and residence permit for one year at a Danish youth education program unless they reside in Denmark with at least one Danish parent with a permanent residence permit.

Contact Global Knowlex through our European partner and receive our IB program catalog with details of the school´s curriculum, boarding school facts, and opportunities in the different cities of study.

Contact Global Knowlex through our European partner and receive our IB program catalog with details of the school´s curriculum, boarding school facts, and opportunities in the different cities of study.

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