Guide to IB Creativity, activity, service (CAS)
Overview of the IB Program
The core of IB consists of 3 points out of the total score of 45, and must be passed in order for getting the diploma, even if you had a high score excluding the three extra points. The reason IB places such a heavy emphasis on the core, is because of their extracurricular system, CAS. CAS stands for creativity, activity and service, and these three components are done alongside your schoolwork and examinations over the two-year duration of the course. Unlike other coursework and examinations with IB, CAS is usually a student/school led program, requiring initiative and personal efforts to do.
The IB program is one of the most recognized high school diplomas/certification in the world. Its academic rigor is a form of proof to colleges, showing IB students are capable of university-level coursework and its pressure. What really IB students apart from other students however, is the requirement of extracurricular activities to get the diploma. Students in IB take six classes, each class being worth a maximum of seven points. Hence the maximum amount of points attainable from classes alone is 42, whereas the highest possible score is a 45. The extra 3 points as mentioned before, comes from the core which consists of CAS, the extended essay and Theory Of Knowledge. CAS asks students to show initiative and skills aside from the ability to complete coursework, proving they are holistic students.
What is Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS)?
CAS can include a multitude of extracurriculars, but IB requests one larger “submission” for actually grading and recording CAS. CAS requires something called the CAS project, which is essentially an idea that constitutes the creative, activity and service components of CAS into a single, deliverable submission. This submission is logged and monitored by a supervisor, who must sign off and verify/supervise your hours of work, and send this log of verification to IB, alongside proof of whatever project you have created. This project can be an individual concept, or something worked on as a group, with other students including up to a whole classroom. Usually, most students pull inspiration and ideas from one or more of the three components, and work on projects that might constitute all three,. But, it’s not necessary as long as you show genuine intention of implementing at least one component thoroughly.
Here are some project ideas for each component of CAS. These ideas are meant to help you jumpstart your thinking of holistic projects you could work on. Keep in mind these are ideas, so a full submission would require more fleshing out.
Creativity can include any form of artistic expression. This goes from paintings to dancing to much more. As long as you can record and submit this art, along with proof of you creating it (such as a recording), it qualifies and meets the requirement for the creative component of CAS. Ideas for this include the following:
- A recording of a dance recital for your school
- Submission of a scan of artwork such as a painting
- Written text or works of literature, such as a book, poems or a blog website
- Inventions and creative constructions, ranging from electronics and circuity to simple homemade tools
Activity refers to tasks and more traditional extracurriculars. Usually IB wants students to pick up something new and challenging, to show their capability to adapt and learn things quickly and efficiently. For example, someone on the high school basketball team might not want to sign up for more basketball classes or intramural basketball, and log these activities for CAS. It would make more sense to seek an activity that proves to be more challenging and foreign, such as a whole new sport. Potential ideas include the following:
- Sports and physical education, as long as it’s not something you already know
- Learning to pick up a new instrument
- Starting a club or organization at school, or joining one and working to improve it
- Teaching and mentoring a known skill to someone else
Service is the component of CAS that all projects should focus on. It’s easiest to combine with the other two components, If you’re applying to college/university, there’s a good chance you’re looking for opportunities to gain service hours and prove that you’re a student who cares about the community around them. Service projects can be a great way to do this. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Waste removal/waste management. This includes something as small as picking litter from the beach, or as big as teaming up with local waste management services to improve their system. The scale of the service doesn’t matter as much as performing and committing to it.
- Fundraising events, with the proceeds being donated to a charity of the student’s choice, this is often well paired with creativity and action, as it can be something like a sports game or a showcase of creativity (like an art gallery). Proof of donation is very important for services like this.
- Volunteering can be a great way to provide service, places such as hospitals, food drives and animal shelters are always searching for any help they can get, and these are relatively easy ways to log supervised service hours, as you can easily volunteer over a weekend.
How is CAS Scored?
As mentioned earlier, CAS submissions require a log of hours and supervision from an appointed supervisor. This supervisor is responsible for double checking you completed your projects and committed to service hours. They also provide feedback on your actions. Usually, this supervisor is a teacher, but if you’re volunteering outside of school, it can be a staff member from the organization you are working with. More importantly than hours, IB checks if you’re meeting their criteria of the following five stages:
- Investigation: Identifying interests early on in the course, your skills and talents and how they can be used for CAS. Investigation also includes how you scout your area for volunteering opportunities.
- Preparation: Creating a plan based on investigations, searching for required resources and opportunities to act on your project plan, and gaining any knowledge and skills required to move on.
- Action: At this point, a plan should be ready and acted up on. This step demonstrates decision-making and critical thinking, such as having back up plans ready in case your CAS project doesn’t end up going the way you hoped for. Accounting for mishaps and situations out of your control is something IB actively searches for when looking at CAS submissions.
- Reflection: After the completion of the projects, you will reflect upon your work, what you could have done better, how you could have improved the overall CAS experience, and how fulfilled you felt from your project.
- Demonstration: Recording logs and documents are submitted to a CAS portfolio, which can be something as simple as a folder with all the proof of work obtained over the course of your CAS experience. This portfolio should contain your reflections and notes from your supervisor.
While CAS isn’t given a numerical grade like anything else in IB, it’s simply decided as a pass or fail grade. Passing CAS is a required component for earring the diploma. Don’t leave your project for the last minute, as it requires time to plan, and could also get in the way of your examinations.
Scoring well in IB doesn’t require extensive and amazing performance in CAS, but performing well in CAS not only ensures a chance of getting the diploma, but also helps you prepare a better college application, especially with all those service hours. Getting the 45 on IB requires determination and perseverance, two qualities taught by sticking with CAS. IB can be difficult but it can be rewarding once you understand how to prepare. For a better understanding of how your current grades, and extracurriculars stack up for college admissions, try out CollegeVine’s free admissions calculator, which is a tool that uses your test scores, GPA, extracurriculars and more to calculate your chances of admissions to your dream schools.