Option Internationale du Baccalauréat (OIB)
What is the OIB (British version)?
- The British version of the OIB is an integrated Franco-British school-leaving certificate based on the French Baccalaureate. It combines the breadth and rigour of the Baccalaureate with extra subjects taught and examined in English to A-Level standard, in a single certificate.
- It is run in partnership between the French Ministry of Education and Cambridge International Education (CIE).
- It provides students with a university entrance qualification valid in both France and Britain.
- It makes academic and linguistic demands to an equal level in English and French.
- It prepares students equally for university study in Britain or France, through exposure to the pedagogy and methodology typical of both A level and the French Baccalaureate
- It requires students to use both English and French in an academic context at first-language level
- It can be taken in any of the three streams of the baccalauréat general: L (Languages and Literature), ES (Economics and Social Sciences) and S (Sciences).
The British version of the OIB represents a long-standing partnership between the French Ministry of Education and Cambridge International Education. Examinations in two subjects, English Language & Literature and History–Geography, are added to the full syllabus of the French Baccalaureate (the Baccalauréat Général). These extra subjects are examined in English at first-language level and certified by Cambridge as equivalent to A Level in standard. The bicultural nature of the OIB is illustrated by the fact that History–Geography is taught in both English and French.
Students taking the British version of the OIB are taught in schools that run a dual, Franco-British curriculum. Through this dual programme, OIB students develop a capacity for hard work, and an intellectual and cultural flexibility, that give them the potential to become excellent undergraduates in Britain, France and elsewhere.
The standards of the French Baccalaureate are well established, and permit successful students to pursue the full range of subjects for undergraduate study in the most selective British universities.
Despite the breadth of the Baccalaureate, and the number of subjects studied, the OIB courses in English Language & Literature and History–Geography are substantial in depth and coverage and provide a secure foundation for undergraduate study in those subjects. The standard of the examinations in English Language & Literature and History–Geography is equivalent to that of the final year of A Levels; the breadth and depth of the programmes are validated by Cambridge International Education.
The written examinations assess knowledge, understanding, skills and response comparable to those of A Level examinations. The Oral examinations assess the candidate’s ability to present, analyse and evaluate literary texts or historical–geographical content, and to defend a point of view before two examiners.
OIB students go on to read the full range of subjects, from sciences to humanities, at the most selective UK universities. An unusual feature of the OIB is that all students, whatever their future undergraduate subject choices, are examined to A-Level standard in English Language & Literature and History–Geography.
What do the ‘OIB subjects’ involve?
Language and Literature
The OIB English Language and Literature examinations are first language examinations. The literature component is examined and assessed at a level equivalent to A level English Literature, and is based on the study of texts with a similar level of challenge to those set for A level. The language is assessed by reference to appropriate educated mother tongue usage. The linguistic demands of these exams are focused on the use of English in an academic context; this makes them an excellent preparation for university study in any subject. The levels of linguistic achievement for successful candidates are C1 or C2 on the CEFR, or ‘educated native speaker/writer’.
In terms of reading, the OIB English written and oral examinations assess the student’s response to and analysis of at least six complex whole literary works, including a Shakespeare play. The study of texts includes a synoptic unit (currently either ‘Writers and Writing of the Romantic Age’ or ‘Postcolonial Writing’). The texts are similarly challenging to those set for A level English Literature, and are studied in a similar fashion.
In terms of writing, the OIB English examination demands responses in essay form to A level-style questions about works of literature. Qualities of argument, control of formal and critical language, structure, and clarity of expression are assessed, as well as the analytical and personal response to literature.
The 30-minute OIB oral examination gives a full assessment of the candidate’s speaking and listening through an analytical, reflective response to literature.
The specificity of the OIB History-Geography programme is that it is bilingual and bicultural and therefore taught in partnership between French and British Section teachers.
The history-geography exam assesses the student’s ability to:
- exploit, organise and compare information
- construct and clearly express a well-reasoned argument using appropriate knowledge
- analyse and critique documents from different sources
- understand, analyse, and compare different historical and geographical interpretations in a bilingual and bicultural context
- synthesise , think synoptically and develop reasoned arguments.
More information about the OIB including the OIB Examinations Handbook and past examination papers are available on the Documents page.
Bac 2021 (the new reformed Baccalauréat, first examination 2021):
- Arrêté du 20 décembre 2018 relatif aux sections internationales de lycée
- Évaluations spécifiques de l’option internationale du baccalauréat (langue et littérature et histoire-géographie) à compter de la session 2021
English Language and Literature:
Arrêté du 6 janvier 2015 fixant le programme de l’enseignement de langue et littérature britanniques dans les sections internationales britanniques conduisant au baccalauréat général option internationale
The International General Certificate of Education (IGCSE) is an international version of the GCSE qualification taken by all students at the end of compulsory schooling (Year 11 / Seconde) in the UK. IGCSE programmes are generally taught over two years – in 3ème and Seconde – although some schools teach the courses in one year, in Seconde. IGCSE examinations can be taken in June or November.
The IGCSEs demand the same standards of knowledge and skills as British GCSEs but their syllabuses are designed for an international context. Results are expressed in Grades A (A* for outstanding work), B, C, D, E, F, G, or U (unclassified); A-C are considered to be a “pass” and indicate a standard which would allow the pupil to continue to study at a higher level.
The benefits of taking IGCSEs include:
- Providing a curriculum structure and teaching resources that enable teachers to provide an authentic age-appropriate first-language teaching programme
- Providing students with the opportunity to measure their progress against UK national standards through external assessments in preparation for OIB courses
- Enabling students to study OIB subjects through English rather than studying English as a foreign language (as is the case with English Language Proficiency courses and qualifications)
- Providing a qualification that can be used to demonstrate English Language Proficiency when applying for places at British or Anglophone universities, and when seeking employment
- Supporting the transition from collège to lycée, especially where schools and teachers work together to implement a two-year teaching programme in 3ème and Seconde
- Supporting teacher development through engagement with UK approaches and standards. Schools offering IGCSE are part of a network of schools within France and the wider world working towards common standards, allowing fruitful exchanges and communication, and making available shared resources. Knowledge and experience of British methods and standards also helps teachers to become more effective teachers and examiners of the British OIB, and therefore plays an important role in quality assurance.
GCSE is referred to as a point of reference in terms of linguistic standard and curricular content for English Language and Literature in official French texts. See here.
How does a school register to offer IGCSE?
IGCSEs, or International GCSEs, are offered by three UK examination boards: Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), Edexcel, and AQA.
ASIBA has become an Associate of Cambridge International Examinations – the partner authority of the British OIB – in order to help schools set up and run IGCSE courses and examinations. ASIBA coordinates the administration of Cambridge IGCSE examinations for member schools, which enables these schools to benefit from bilingual support as well as significant reductions in the cost of running IGCSE examinations.
For more information about registering your school to be able to offer Cambridge IGCSE courses and examinations, please contact Catherine Sagne at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brevet “mention internationale“
The brevet is a French state qualification taken by pupils at the end of troisième (Year 10) comprising written examinations in French, Mathematics and History-Geography. In order to qualify for the ‘mention internationale’, students must also take oral examinations in English Language and Literature and History-Geography. These examinations are examined in English and organised by schools locally. Students must achieve over 10/20 in both the oral examinations to be awarded the ‘mention internationale’.