Changes to IB Exams 2021

The exam session of May 2021 is a topic rife with debate and speculation. The confinement which has affected the world over has had far reaching effects on the IB exams for graduating students. Representatives announced last year that the papers for 2021 are different from previous years- content being reduced and option topics removed. All major subjects are affected- in the Sciences, the option topic is removed meaning that paper 3 will no longer be examined. In A languages, the comparative paper will no longer exist meaning that the entirety of the grade from written exams comes from paper 1 - the unseen. Humanity subjects, like history and geography, have reduced content and less exams. The sole unchanged subject is maths where, with the new syllabus, the IB did not feel it prudent to launch the new examinations without full exams but there has been assurances that grade boundaries will be adjusted accordingly.

There has been much speculation in recent times about whether the IB examinations are going ahead. After the happenings of last year’s exam period, anxiety is mounting at the idea of another graduating class being evaluated based on the infamous algorithm, responsible for so much heartache last year.

It is, of yet, not confirmed whether there will actually be the possibility of sitting exams, but currently, there is no message banning it. From what can be understood by the IB’s publications on the matter, they will be doing their utmost to ensure that exams will be written in person to optimise the chance of the final grade reflecting the student’s ability. Issues will be treated on a case by case basis according to the ability of the school body to host the exams in COVID safe conditions. This is, however, provisional, and the official verdict on the matter has yet to be communicated to the students across the globe who are eagerly awaiting an answer.

Given this uncertainty, and likely reflecting the words of subject teachers everywhere, it is advisable that every student ensure that their IAs are optimised as no matter whether examinations are going ahead or not, they will be externally graded. And if there are no exams, according to some projections made about the algorithm, the IA’s grade will hold much weight in determining the final points awarded. Furthermore, as the exams get closer, stay safe and do not do anything which could result in the contraction of COVID-19.