Benchmarking selected IB language courses to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

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A 2023 study commissioned by the IB aims to assist universities in determining the language proficiencies of Diploma Programme (DP) and Career-related Programme (CP) students without the need for additional testing.

While many universities accept IB language courses grades as proof of language proficiency, some require additional assessments from IB students. The study, conducted by Ecctis, examined how grades in selected IB language courses compare to levels on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). The CEFR is widely used in the development and referencing of language syllabus qualifications, assessment and other learning materials.

The findings indicate that DP language courses are comparable to CEFR B2, the level most commonly required by universities. The research therefore provides universities valuable benchmarks for comparing IB student grades against CEFR proficiency levels in Language A and Language B courses in English, French, German and Spanish.


There are common tests that universities ask students to complete in order to demonstrate their language competencies. These tests have been developed with the CEFR in mind or have been benchmarked by other organizations to the CEFR levels. We have collated these findings with the IB results into a chart that will further help universities understand IB grades. A copy of the English chart is below.


View the data used for IELTS and TOEFL comparisons.

A copy of the French and Spanish charts can be found on the French and Spanish language versions of the IB website. Schools can access a copy of the German chart in the Programme Resource Center. Universities who would like a copy of the Germany chart can contact the IB.

View the IB’s subject briefs for more details of the content of IB courses.