International IB exams canceled for 2020 Diploma, Course Certificate candidates

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Shriya Vanparia

International Baccalaureate (IB) exams have been canceled internationally due to the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting over 200,000 students worldwide. The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) will release FAQs and additional details regarding the cancellation to IB schools and coordinators by Friday.

By Shivi Sharma, Coppell High School

Today, the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) announced the cancellation of all IB exams internationally that were scheduled from April 30 through May 24 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision affects over 200,000 juniors and seniors worldwide who were signed up to take Standard Level (SL) and Higher Level (HL) exams for their Diploma or Course Certificates.

“Before we had online school, I was studying for the exams, and now I’m kind of at a loss,” Coppell High School senior IB Diploma Candidate Tharani Muthukumar said. “Cancelling those exams after many of the deadlines for the Internal Assessments (IAs) have passed has made me second guess myself and doubt whether my IAs are as good of a representation of the skills that I’ve gained from IB as exams would be.”

The IB Diploma is a two-year program available to students for the duration of their last two years in high school in which they can earn international accreditation for college. Unlike Advanced Placement (AP) classes, most IB classes take place over two years, and the Diploma requires additional components such as a Theory of Knowledge (TOK) class, the Extended Essay (EE), and Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS).

Coppell High School also offers a Course Certificate program, in which students have the option of taking one or more IB classes without the additional requirements that go with the Diploma.

For Diploma candidates, the cancellation of exams puts more emphasis on the research components of the program: IAs done in class, TOK, EE and CAS. The IBO has also extended numerous deadlines for this coursework, including the CAS completion entry deadline and the IA deadline for certain subjects.

“If there’s any silver lining to this, it’s that we are at the point where all classes were supposed to start reviewing,” CHS IB Diploma Programme Coordinator Michael Brock said. “Now, instruction will mostly be focused on helping the students work through what they need with their research components. The decision to give the diploma or not will be based on that research work.”

College credit for current IB Diploma candidates will still be dependent on the criteria of the colleges they apply to, though colleges have not yet released information on how the score-specific requirements will be adjusted.

“In the U.S., your exam scores don’t affect your admission the way that it does in a lot of other countries,” Brock said. “But they do determine whether or not you get credit, and that’s going to be up to the college. I hope the colleges will also understand that this is an extreme circumstance.”

The IBO will provide additional details to schools and coordinators by Friday, including how the decision to cancel exams will affect other students in the IB program.

“One of the big questions we have is how do we handle this for our juniors who still have another year of the program,” Brock said. “Will they test in November, or next May because they have another year? Will the organization say that the same rules that apply to the seniors also apply to them? Those will be some special case considerations because some schools like Coppell allow some IB classes to be taken for a year, and some schools require every class to be taken for two years no matter what.”

This story was originally published on Coppell Student Media on March 23, 2020.