Assessment plays a pivotal role in supporting and measuring student learning. The IB approach recognizes the importance of providing students with feedback that encourages them to grow into critical thinkers and global citizens.
IB assessment is built on robust and reliable principles that enable us to offer fair, transparent methods for evaluating students’ academic performance. Today IB assessment is widely recognized for its ambitious standards of academic integrity.
Our academic integrity policies (PDF) outline the duties and responsibilities of different stakeholders across the IB community to ensure robust and reliable assessment.
Assessment in the Diploma Programme (DP)
DP assessment consists of two assessment cohorts a year, in May and November of each calendar year.
The first key component in most DP course assessment consists of written examinations, marked by professionally trained examiners. To ensure that student work is assessed fairly and consistently, nearly 9,000 trained examiners worldwide are involved in the assessment process, including the development, marking and moderation of assessments.
The second key component is the internal assessment which is facilitated by DP students’ own teachers.
Awarding student assessment results
Students may pursue the diploma or enroll in individual DP courses. All students are awarded individual course results (subject certificates), with a mark from 1 (lowest) to 7 (highest) for each subject taken. Diploma students receive additional results for the DP core subjects. Those students who attempt but do not earn the diploma will receive DP course results.
To review summary statistics of this year and past years’ examination sessions, visit the DP statistical bulletin.
Find out more about DP assessment.
What is a passing DP course score?
The IB does not assign passing scores for individual courses. A student simply receives a course score between one and seven. The grade descriptions for each course give an indication of the level of achievement a student reached for any given score. However, many universities often use a score of “four” or “five” as the minimum for granting admission or advanced placement.
For the full Diploma Programme, which is different than an individual DP course score, the minimum passing score is 24 points, assuming all other passing conditions have been met.
What does “anticipated” mean on student records?
The anticipated registration category means the candidate is in the process of completing the diploma and is taking one or two SL subject assessments after the first year of the programme.
What are predicted grades?
The predicted grade is the teacher’s prediction of the grade the candidate is expected to achieve in the subject, based on all the evidence of the candidate’s work and the teacher’s knowledge of IB standards. Predicted grades are also required for theory of knowledge and the extended essay. It is important that each prediction is made as accurately as possible, without under-predicting or over-predicting the grade. The IB takes measures to work with schools that consistently under- or over-predict student grades.
What is a re-mark (enquiry upon results)?
The externally assessed components of a candidate's work are re-marked by a senior examiner at the school’s or student’s request. The grade can go either up or down. Re-marking is not available for multiple-choice components (MCQ) or internal assessments.
What are grade boundaries?
IB assessments are comprised of a number of components. Each of these components is assigned a number value and weight. After these points are aggregated to total scores they are divided along the IB one to seven point marking scheme. These ranges are known as grade boundaries.
Great care is taken to ensure grading reliability in determining grade boundaries through the application of consistent standards supported by statistical background data. Grade standards are documented and exemplified, and judgments made about grade boundaries are checked by a number of statistical indicators. The setting of grade boundaries is an extended matter requiring considerable deliberation and the reconciling of information from different sources: the experienced judgment of senior examiners, statistical comparisons and the expectations of experienced teachers.
The principal means of setting judgmentally determined grade boundaries is by a review of the quality of candidate work against grade descriptors. Grade descriptors are generic descriptions of the standard of work expected of each candidate for a given grade. Descriptors are also intended to give some guidance to classroom teachers on how to prepare their students and how to make candidate grade predictions.
The grade boundaries for the points that have the greatest impact on candidates’ progression into higher education (ie four, seven and three) are determined judgmentally in that order. Thus, the boundaries for a “four” are determined, then a “seven”, then a “three”. The remaining boundaries are determined arithmetically by interpolation from these judgmentally set boundaries.
How often can students retake exams and how can these changes affect DP points?
Students can retake exams a maximum of two times. A diploma candidate has a maximum of three examination sessions in which to obtain the diploma. This can either be anticipated > diploma > retake OR diploma > retake > retake.
A school can feasibly deliver an SL course in one year, and the student can take the exam for the course at the end of that year. Because DP students are not technically labelled as diploma candidates until their second year, students who take exams in their first year are labelled “anticipated”. “Diploma” is the normal exam session at the end of the two years. “Retake” is any time a candidate takes exams after the session at the end of their two years.
This is the schedule regardless of whether exams are taken in the May or November session.
Assessment in the Career-related Programme (CP)
CP students are required to enroll in at least two DP courses, and are assessed in the same way as all DP course students. The CP core is assessed by the school except for the reflective project which is moderated and graded by the IB. Lastly, the Career-related studies (CRS) component is not assessed or awarded grades. The school confirms that the CRS has been completed by the student.
Find out more about assessment in the CP.
Assessment in the Middle Years Programme (MYP)
The MYP leverages both internal and optional external assessment (eAssessment).
The MYP’s award-winning eAssessment provides a rigorous and standardized summative assessment, in which students can participate in two types of examinations, ePortfolios of coursework (including a compulsory ePortfolio for the personal project) or on-screen examinations. This form of assessment provides invaluable support for schools that need external verification of student achievement, or for school districts to measure programme impact. Students must complete at least year 5 of the MYP and complete the eAssessment to obtain official documentation of completion in the form of course results or a certificate. Find out more about grading and awards.
To review summary statistics of this year and past years’ examination sessions, visit the MYP Statistical Bulletin.
Assessment during COVID-19
Since 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives in unprecedented ways, impacting entire education systems – including how we conduct assessments. The IB has developed resources to help our community understand how we conduct assessment in the DP during COVID-19. Read more about assessment during COVID-19 here.