The COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive changes to schools around the world, and IB has worked to adapt to those changes. In this guide to IB changes for 2022, we answer the following questions:
- What will the 2022 IB exams be like?
- Will students even be taking IB exams?
- Will students still receive IB diplomas? Will colleges still accept IB credit?
- How can students prepare for IB exams during the pandemic?
What Are the IB Changes for May 2023?
Because of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the IB decided to put adaptations in place for the 2020, 2021, and 2022 IB exams. Over the past three years, IB assessments had two routes, exam and non-exam.
Looking forward to 2023 exams, the IB notes that, while disruptions are still ongoing, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on students and educators are different now than they were in 2020 and 2021. While they will continue to monitor the situation and listen to their schools, the IB has decided to return to offering their full programmes and subjects as initially designed.
Grading of IB exams will look a bit different in 2023 as well. Students will be awarded grades based on all of the components completed for each IB subject. However, the IB will still be taking the impacts of the pandemic into account when awarding exam results, making the following statement about grade accommodations:
"During grade-awarding, appropriate grade boundaries will be set for each route, building in generosity that reflects the disruption experienced in teaching and learning around the world and considering how grades are likely to be distributed in other large-scale qualifications. IB grades will be distributed between schools and students to ensure each individual qualification is an accurate reflection of achievement and that they can be fairly compared with one another."
Basically, even though the impacts of the pandemic are different this year, the IB will still do their best to ensure grades are fair and take the external circumstances of the pandemic into account so that students who take IB exams this year don't receive lower grades, on average, compared to previous years.
What Will IB Exams Be Like This Year?
As mentioned, the IB is returning to its traditional exam format, which was administered to all IB students each year prior to the pandemic. This means that, in 2023, students undertaking the DP, CP, and MYP will complete the full suite of assessments. The non-exam route that was offered in 2020, 2021, and 2022 will not be offered for 2023 IB exams.
Students will take traditional, full-length written IB exams in 2023, and exams will be administered in-person, in schools. The written exams will keep the traditional IB exam format and content that they’ve had in previous years. To get a sense of what IB exams will look like in 2023, check out the exam schedule for May 2023.
How Will These Changes Affect IB Diplomas?
Because the IB is returning to the full exam route for 2023, students who complete the full suite of IB exams and meet the grade boundaries will receive IB diplomas.
However, as mentioned above, the IB will be closely monitoring the ongoing conditions around COVID-19 and staying in close communication with IB schools. If a need for grade accommodations arises, the IB is committed to making changes for the IB diploma requirements so that students receive their IB diplomas regardless of course or exam disruption due to external circumstances.
Will Colleges Still Accept IB Credit?
Yes! While lots of schools accepted non-exam route IB diplomas during 2020, 2021, and 2022, many schools have now returned to only awarding college credit based on the IB Higher Level exam results for 2022-2023. As a random sampling, Georgetown University, the University of California system, and Cornell University will return to requiring IB Higher-Level exam results for course credit in 2023.
At the same time, some schools continue to award college credit for both IB Higher Level exams and based on IB course completion, regardless of exam completion. UT Austin, for instance, continues to award college credit based on both IB exam completion and IB course completion.
In general, colleges try not to penalize students for circumstances beyond their control (such as global pandemics). It wouldn't be fair for students to not get IB credit because of massive upheaval to education systems, and students are still learning in their IB classes, so colleges that have previously accepted IB credit will generally continue to do so, even if the IB has to make accommodations to the 2023 exams in coming months.
How to Prep for IB During and After COVID
IB exams are known for being tough, and taking IB courses and exams during a pandemic hasn’t made them any easier. However, the basic tips still apply: being prepared will help you feel more confident, and it will likely give you a better shot at getting a high score. Follow these three tips to prepare for your IB exams.
#1: Prepare for the Exam Route—But Be Ready for Potential Changes
In 2023, the IB is requiring all schools to return to the exam route. However, the IB also notes that this decision could be reversed if the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic change or worsen again.
Stay in communication with your IB coordinator and teachers about any changes throughout the school year, and in the meantime, begin your plan of attack for the exam route. This means preparing for IB exams the way you normally would.
Also, because the IB will likely provide grade boundary accommodations if there’s a sudden need to offer a non-exam route next spring, it’s especially important to do well on all IB projects throughout the rest of the year. Under the IB’s past score mitigation policy, teachers used those grades to give a predicted score that factored into final IB scores. Prepping hard for exams and doing your best on course content throughout the year will ensure you’re prepared for any scenario–exam or non-exam–by next spring.
#2: Create a Study Schedule
The pandemic has caused upheaval in most people's day-to-day lives. You likely spent some of the past couple of school years learning virtually and had to figure out how to learn over a screen in your own house. With all of these changes, it's more important than ever to create a study schedule to help you be prepared for IB exams.
Planning out a schedule early on helps you see how much time you'll need to devote to IB preparation, and it can make you more likely to stick to studying when the time comes. How many hours and weeks you want to devote to studying is up to you, but we recommend creating a schedule where you study at the same times each week. This makes it more of a habit and increases the likelihood of you sticking to it.
#3: Ask for Help When You Need It
The past few years have been tough for a lot of students. You had to adapt to new technology and new ways of learning, and the pandemic might have caused other challenges for you outside the classroom. Teachers understand how difficult it has been for students, and they want to do what they can to make things easier.
So ask for help when you need it! The sooner you ask for help, the better. With virtual or hybrid learning, it's especially easy to get very behind in a subject because you're not interacting as much as you would in a classroom. That means that, when you find yourself struggling with IB material, ask a classmate or your teacher for help. Doing this early and often will prevent you from being overwhelmed with work you don't understand.
Summary: IB Changes 2023
For 2023, the IB is returning to the full exam route for all IB schools, students, and exams. At this time, there will not be a non-exam route to the IB diploma offered for 2023. This means that schools will hold written exams in 2023.
However, the IB has also noted that if a need suddenly arises, exam and grading accommodations may be made for 2023. If a non-exam route to diploma is offered again, your teacher will most likely estimate what your IB exam score would have been based on your other class grades, and they'll submit that information to IB, who will then award a final score.
IB is still awarding diplomas, and colleges are still following their standard procedures for accepting IB credit. So although recent school years have been full of challenges to completing IB courses and exams, you will still receive the diploma and credit when you complete your IB exams in 2023.
Want more information about the IB program? Read about the different types of IB classes you can take and when IB exam scores are released.
Are you hoping to squeeze in some extra IB classes? Learn about the IB courses offered online by reading our guide.
What classes do you need to take to get an IB Diploma? Learn all about IB curriculum by reading our guide on IB diploma requirements.
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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.