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IB Diploma Program

IB Full Diploma FAQ

Baccalaureate Program Frequently Asked Questions

The IB Learner Profile

theory of knowledge, extended essay, creativity, action, service

Group 1-6

Language A1, Individual and societies, Mathematics and computer science, the arts, experimental sciences, second language

What does it mean to “do Full IB”?
Students who enroll in IB classes in six subjects for the duration of their junior and senior years, may consider pursuing a diploma from IB.  They register for exams as an “anticipated” candidate in November of their senior year, and commit to complete three other elements which are detailed below.

What is Full Diploma coursework?
Students must take six IB classes, one each from groups 1-5(see the IB hexagon below) and the sixth from either group 6 OR a second subject from the other groups.  Most IB classes are considered two-year courses and span junior and senior year.

Are all the course exams the same?
Many course exams are offered at different levels.  Exams and courses are either standard level (SL) or higher level (HL).  For a diploma, three courses must be taken at the HL. No more than four HL exams are recommended.  In foreign language there is a third level, ab inito, for students just beginning to study a world language in their junior year. There are two different math courses: IB Applications and Interpretations SL and IB Analysis and Approaches SL/HL.

What’s the difference between exams and assessments?
Exams are a form of assessment, but all courses have assessed work that varies in its format and scoring (experiment, paper, and demonstration of skills), and who assesses it.  Internally assessed (IA) work is scored by the teacher of the course with scores sent directly to the IB Organization.  In some cases, only a sample of the scores will be requested by IBO for external evaluators to review.  When this happens, the external evaluators may recalibrate or readjust the scores given by the teacher to better match the IB expectations. Some work is submitted directly to the IBO and is assessed in another country, or externally assessed (EA).  In some cases, the teacher or advisor is required to submit a predicted grade (PG) that is used to help the external assessor in determining a score.

When do the exams take place?
The exams take place world-wide in May.  The exams are conducted at school in the morning and afternoon and students are expected to attend their classes during the non-testing period.  The exact start times, locations, and directions will be available prior to testing.

What are those three other requirements for an IB Diploma candidate?

CAS (Creativity, Activity and Service)

Service learning is a required and unique component of the IB. Diploma students must complete CAS activities over the 18 months they are in the diploma program (starting September of Junior Year and continuing through May of their senior year). Students must keep a portfolio of their CAS experiences and show evidence of their achievement of seven learning outcomes. Students may earn the Seattle Public Schools Service Medal, but all hours must be reported to the student’s counselor by April 1st of senior year. Failing to meet the CAS conditions is a failing condition for the IB diploma.

Creativity: arts, and other experiences that involve creative thinking.

Activity: physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle, complementing academic work elsewhere in the diploma program.

Service: an unpaid and voluntary exchange that has a learning benefit for the student.

TOK (Theory of Knowledge) – This two semester course investigates the question; how do we know what we claim to know? The teacher leads students in an examination of how different domains of study establish what is accepted as knowledge.  For example, how does knowledge in mathematics differ from knowledge in history or in the sciences? What different ways of knowing contribute to our shared and personal knowledge? The course has some reading homework and some practice essay writing. There is no formal IB exam for ToK. However, there is an externally scored exam based on IB published prompts and score guides, and there is an internally scored small group presentation, due in January of senior year. Failing the ToK essay or presentation is a failing condition for the IB diploma.

EE (Extended Essay) –This is a 4,000-word research paper is done in consultation with a staff member who agrees in advance to supervise the student’s choice of topic and research question, as well as their search for sources.  The topic must come from one of the student’s IB courses. The EE is begun in earnest during the second semester of junior year, and is due September of senior year. It is externally moderated by the IB and failure in completing the EE is a failing condition for the IB diploma.

How is the final diploma awarded?

In order to receive the IB Diploma, candidates must:

  • Earn a minimum of 12 points from their Higher Level exams
  • Earn a minimum of 9 points from their Standard Level exams
  • Earn a D or above on both their TOK exams and their Extended Essay. A score of an E in either will automatically disqualify a candidate for the IB Diploma
  • Successfully complete CAS by demonstrating a commitment to CAS experiences over the course of their 18 months in the program and achievement of the seven learning outcomes