A Tradition of Excellence and Expanding Opportunity Since 1981

The First IB DP World School in the State of Virginia

Introduction to the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme at Meridian High School (formerly known as George Mason High School)

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Since 1981, the most rigorous course of studies offered to the students of Meridian High School is the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB DP). This program of advanced internationally recognized syllabi and external examinations offers a comprehensive and world-class education during the last two years of high school. The IB DP is designed as an academically challenging and balanced program of education with final examinations that prepare students for success at university and life beyond. The program has gained recognition and respect from the world’s universities. As of 2020, essentially every student in the junior and senior classes takes one or more IB exams; thus our IB DP serves a large majority of students at Meridian.


The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. To this end, the organization works with schools, governments, and international organizations to develop challenging programs of international education and rigorous assessment. These programs encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate, and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.


The IB DP is the most rigorous course of study offered at Meridian High School. Students who wish to undertake the full IB DP must complete courses in each of the groups shown above and earn a total of 24 points on three higher and three standard level examinations. All six examinations are graded on a scale of 1 to 7 so the maximum examination total is 42 points. Diploma candidates also take Theory of Knowledge, write an extended essay, and must complete at least 150 hours in the areas of creativity, action, and community service. Students who complete all of the above IB courses and requirements and satisfactorily pass the related IB examinations receive, in addition to their high school diploma, the IB Diploma. Students may also take fewer than six IB courses from the groups listed below. These students fulfill all requirements in their selected IB classes and receive an IB certificate for each of these classes rather than an IB Diploma. IB courses are offered at either the standard or higher level. Standard level courses explore a range of topics within a subject and typically last one year. In higher-level courses, students study subjects more in-depth over a two-year period.

The IB program is excellent preparation for college-level work. In addition, when making admissions decisions, colleges look very favorably upon the IB program as an indication of a student’s level of motivation and ability to perform in a rigorous and challenging program. Studies on the acceptance rates of IB Diploma students show that these students have higher acceptance rates at colleges in the United States. Like the Advanced Placement program, many American colleges give course credit or advanced standing to a student who earns a satisfactory score on an IB examination. General information about university recognition of the IB can be found at and recognition/credit policies for specific colleges and universities can be found at Students who are interested in the IB DP program should consult the IB Coordinator and their counselor.


Meridian students can seek individual IB DP Course certificates by simply taking an IB DP course and exam. They may also pursue the full IB Diploma. The IB Diploma requires students to study in six core areas: English, a World Language, Individuals and Societies, Science, Mathematics, and the Arts or an elective. For the IB Diploma, a candidate must successfully complete the following: earn a minimum of 24 points on six examinations graded on a scale of 1–7; complete a 4,000-word extended essay in one of the content areas; complete the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course; and reflect upon extra-curricular activities in three areas: Creativity, Activity and Service. In May 2020, 86% of Meridian Diploma Candidates earned the IB Diploma.

Students not wishing to fulfill all of the requirements of the IB Diploma are strongly encouraged to take individual courses in the IB curriculum to help them prepare for future education. These students thus earn IB certificates.


The IB DP is widely praised because of its goal of developing twenty-first-century skills in our students. The skills are reflected in the IB Learner Profile and in Meridian High School’s vision. Assessing twenty-first-century skills such as critical and creative thinking, inquiry, research, conceptual understanding, cross-cultural communication, etc, requires dynamic and complex forms of assessment. Thus, “a variety of different methods are used to measure student achievement against the objectives for each [IB] course.”

An IB exam “score” is the result of both external assessments and internal assessments. Internal assessments are initially assessed by classroom teachers and moderated by IBO examiners. External assessments are wholly assessed by IB examiners and include:

  • essays

  • structured problems

  • short-response questions

  • data-response questions

  • text-response questions

  • case-study questions

  • multiple-choice questions [limited to a small portion of Group 4 (Science) assessments]

(“Diploma Program Assessment Methods,” n.d.)


At Meridian High School, we offer the following IB DP courses (please see the Program of Studies for further details on courses):

Group 1: Studies in Language and Literature (Learn More)

- IB Language A: Literature HL

- IB Language A: Language and Literature SL

- IB Literature Self Taught SL (for a student with advanced native fluency in a language other than English, generally we only offer this program to transfer students)

Group 2: Second Languages (Learn More)

- IB Language B (for students who studied a language for four to six years) – Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese and/or English B (for advanced ESOL students) HL/SL

- IB ab initio (for students after two or three years of study) – this examination is only offered to students who did not have an opportunity to successfully study a second language for four to six years

Group 3: Individual and Societies (Social Studies) (Learn More)

- IB History HL/SL

- IB Psychology HL/SL

- IB Business and Management SL

IB Economics SL

- IB Global Politics SL

IB Environmental Systems SL (an interdisciplinary science course)

Group 4: Experimental Sciences (Learn More)

- IB Biology HL

- IB Chemistry HL/SL

- IB Environmental Systems SL (an interdisciplinary science course)

- IB Physics SL

- IB Design Technology HL/SL

- IB Computer Science HL/SL

Group 5: Mathematics (Learn More)

- IB Mathematics Analysis and Approaches HL/SL

- IB Mathematics Applications and Interpretations SL

Group 6: Arts or Electives (Learn More)

- IB Visual Arts HL/SL

- IB Theatre Arts HL/SL

- IB Music HL/SL

- IB Film HL/SL

Or a second course from groups 2, 3 or 4


CAS, TOK, and the Extended Essay -- required components of the IB Diploma -- stem from the Learner Profile. Students pursuing IB Certificates in individual classes do not have to complete CAS, TOK, or the Extended Essay, but may do so if they choose.

  • "CAS" stands for Creativity + Activity + Service. Across junior and senior years, diploma candidates participate in planned and supervised activities in each category. Such participation is meant to encourage the appreciation of attitudes and values other than one's own, and to enable the student to communicate readily on both a philosophical and practical level. Learn more about CAS.

  • "TOK" is the Theory of Knowledge course. This course is offered during the spring semester of the junior year and the fall semester of the senior year. It stimulates critical reflection on the knowledge and experiences acquired both inside and outside the classroom; evaluates the bases of knowledge and experience; and develops a personal mode of thought based on a critical examination of evidence and argument. Learn more about TOK.

  • The Extended Essay is a 3,000- to 4,000-word research paper on a topic of the Diploma candidate's choice. The development of this essay is guided by a faculty supervisor. Learn more

IB Diploma Programme