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We understand that CAS can feel overwhelming initially, but once you get the hang of it, we are confident you will realize that CAS is a great way to have fun alongside your studies! However, in order to make the most of the time you invest in Creativity, Action, and Service, it is essential to understand what is not cas and what is required of you. 

The IB wants to ensure CAS is treated as its own core component of your diploma program. Therefore, requirements for your other courses may not be used for CAS—nor can you count your regular extracurricular activities, family obligations, or passive pursuits.  Confused? Do not worry! The following guide is here to help.  

So, how do you verify what does count as a CAS Experience?

We recommend asking yourself the following questions: 

Does this involve one of the 3 strands of CAS

It might fall into more than one category, but it must cover at least one. Ask yourself if your planned experience satisfies the IB’s official definitions of CAS:

  • Creativity – arts, and other experiences that involve creative thinking.
  • Activity – physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle, complementing academic work elsewhere in the DP.
  • Service – an unpaid and voluntary exchange that has a learning benefit for the student.

You should check in with your CAS Coordinator to confirm that your planned activities count before performing the experience. 

Does this experience allow for the development of personal interests, skills, or talents?

Topics or activities that interest you are a great place to start when thinking up activities for your CAS portfolio. This is also where you must be mindful that habitual actions do not count as CAS. For example, it is great if you love playing basketball, but you need to set yourself a new goal or challenge if you want it to factor into your CAS portfolio. 

But you must be active in the process – passive pursuits such as visiting a museum, going to the theater or a music concert or shadowing someone at work, does not count as CAS.

Who is the action benefitting?

Your CAS experiences need to offer a benefit to others. An internship at a law firm that benefits only you and your future career, for example, does not count. But, if you developed a presentation about your experience and working in law for younger students, you could turn it into a CAS experience.

You also cannot be paid for a CAS experience. Financial rewards automatically disqualify it. 

You should be helping others. Do not expect something to count for CAS if you can not easily articulate how it has assisted others or contributed to a larger project. However, religious worship or family duties do not count as CAS.

Also, remember that activities that cause division among communities (such as religious or political activism) does not count as CAS. You must be able to look ahead and see how your experience will bring a positive change to the world around you. 

Can I tie this action to one of the 7 Learning Outcomes?

If you cannot reflect and argue that your CAS experience engaged with one of the 7 Learning Outcomes, there is a strong chance it was not CAS. 

During your 18 months in the CAS program, you must demonstrate that you have achieved engagement with each and every one of the 7LOs at least once.

Can I provide evidence of what I have learned and my contribution?

Through reflection and evidence, you must be able to show introspection and outline the broader impact of your actions. 

You cannot use experiences that you have not documented clearly. Evidence plus pre- and post-activities reflections show that you see the learning outcomes and appreciate the personal growth you are experiencing. 

PRO TIP: When reflecting, think about turning the 7 Learning Outcomes into reflection questions to ask yourself. If you can answer 1 or more of these questions meaningfully, guess what? The experience you’re reflecting on counts as CAS!

Will this activity bring a sense of fulfillment? 

A CAS experience should have real consequences and not be simple, repetitive, or tedious. As such, household tasks and routine chores do not count as CAS. Neither does administrative work like filing papers or photocopying. 

You must show initiative and take steps to create an experience you initiate, plan, and participate in! 

Time to get started on your next CAS experience! 

If you can answer yes to the above questions, you have settled on a great CAS experience and can get to work making a positive on the world around you! 

If any doubts remain, remember to avoid the following when looking to fulfill CAS requirements. 

Examples of things that are NOT CAS include: 

  • Anything for which money is paid. 
  • Anything that is for a grade or needed for high school/IB credit. 
  • Time spent on simple, tedious, and repetitive tasks (ex., filing) 
  • Family duties, religious devotions, or proselytizing. 
  • Passive pursuits (ex. going to a museum or concert will not count alone). 
  • Activities that cause division among different groups in the community. 
  • Any course that is part of your IB Diploma Programme.
  • Learning to drive.
  • An annual skiing holiday with your family.
  • Playing an instrument in the school orchestra/singing in the school choir as you have for many years.
  • Playing in the same sports team that you have for many years. 
  • Informally helping a friend with homework.
  • Asking for donations without doing something.

We hope you will now have an easier time appreciating what CAN be CAS. And indeed, the options and opportunities are endless. Just remember that every CAS Experience should be challenging, involve you undertaking a new role, and have real consequences. 

Aside from that, it is up to you what kind of experience you want to have.

When in doubt, please discuss the experience description and goals with your CAS Advisor or CAS Coordinators before beginning the activity.

If you are looking for CAS inspiration, you will find plenty here. Also, feel free to get in touch if you would like to learn more about more ways CAS Trips can support you on your CAS journey.