IB Exams 2020-21: What You Need To Know

The IB's November 2020 and May 2021 exams will go ahead as scheduled – but the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) has unveiled a series of changes to help mitigate the loss of teaching time this year.
IB Exams 2020-21: What You Need To Know
By Carli Allan
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The Covid-19 pandemic continues, and it has been nearly a year of disruption to learning, teaching and exams. The May IB Diploma Programme exams were cancelled due to global school closures but now, as schools are reopening worldwide, what can students expect for the November 2020 and May 2021 exams?

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com gets the latest from the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO)...

November 2020 IB exams

The IBO says that the majority of IB schools (73%) will be able to run the exams in November using local guidelines social distancing.

Only 27% of schools will be unlikely to offer the exams as a result of governmental mandate or local conditions; students in these schools are asked to consider deferring to the May 2021 session. Alternatively, if schools are closed due to Covid-19 "an alternative grade awarding approach will be triggered, using coursework and other evidence".

The IBO is running a dual-assessment model for the Diploma Programme (DP)/Career-related Programme (CP) November exam session, and results will be published slightly later than planned – on January 2, 2021.

Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS), in which students complete a project related to those three concepts, is at the heart of the IB Diploma Programme. "During these unusual times of social distancing and lockdowns, completing CAS may be difficult for many students". While students will still be expected to complete this requirement, the IBO says it will be "flexible in how this looks".

"We have every confidence that schools will guide students in making their best endeavours to meet CAS requirements with modifications so as not to compromise their health and safety."

May 2021 IB exams

The IBO has announced several changes to next year's exams for its Diploma and Career-related programmes in response to concerns about loss of teaching time throughout 2020. 

While the core exams of both programmes remain unchanged, 28 exams including science and arts subjects have either had components removed or amended. The IBO will also adjust the marking, standardization and grade awarding processes for some subject.

The IBO said:

"Adaptations are intended to address disruptions associated with COVID-19 (coronavirus) by ensuring more manageable, practical, achievable teaching and learning experiences in advance of the May 2021 session.

"Schools and teachers are encouraged to incorporate these adaptations in their planning and delivery as appropriate to their needs and contexts. This may include, for instance, re-prioritizing time and resources to best meet the needs of their students as well as the different demands of each subject or programme area."

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