IB students have mixed emotions about exam cancellation


Photo courtesy of Katina Marx

Senior Kupai Marx studies off campus during Mid-Pacific virtual learning. He is an IB Diploma candidate and won’t have to take exams this year due to the organization’s decision to cancel all examinations worldwide.

By Althea Lutz, Mid-Pacific Institute

Students who have spent the last few weeks preparing for the International Baccalaureate exams can breathe a sigh of relief as they have officially been canceled.

Although various events are being called off left and right because of the virus, the IB exam cancellation was unexpected for Mid-Pacific students and teachers.

“The IB is a world organization that has been in existence since 1968 and this is the first time ever in its existence that the exams have been canceled, so it’s certainly unprecedented,” said Kymbal Roley, Mid-Pacific’s IB coordinator and IB physics teacher.

Mid-Pacific was scheduled to deliver 111 exams to students this year, Roley said.

IB exams are written tests typically held throughout the month of May scored on a scale of one to seven. A score of four is considered passing and could allow students to skip courses in certain colleges, according to the IBO.

“I was really surprised because I didn’t think they would just cancel all of them like that, because we had so many of them,” said Annika Alcon, a Mid-Pacific senior in the IB Diploma Programme. Because some of her tests were split up, she was going to take more than ten exams.

Although the cancellation of exams may have seemed sudden to some, there was a lot of thought put into the decision. The IBO released a statement on March 23rd regarding the cancellation.

“Our students, their well-being and their progression in future stages of life have been at the forefront of our thinking as we respond to this extraordinary pandemic,” according to the statement.

“I think IB felt like, especially because we’re a worldwide program that includes schools in China and Japan, that it wouldn’t have been fair to even try to do any sort of exam,” said Roley.

The International Baccalaureate Program cancelled its examinations this year, which were originally scheduled from April 30 to May 22.

Even with the absence of exams, students will still receive scores and credit for their IB classes.

“The student will be awarded either a diploma or a course certificate which reflects their standard of work. The achievement will be based around the student’s coursework and the established assessment expertise, rigor and quality control already built into the programmes,” according to the IBO.

The IBO is consistently updating their website as the coronavirus progresses, which is accessible here.

“The IB has come up with an idea about how to take your internal assessment, your lab or whatever you produce plus teacher recommendation scores plus the history of the school, so they have an algorithm, a math equation, that they’re going to use to figure out people’s scores even though they haven’t taken the exams,” said Roley.

IB students said they had mixed emotions once they learned the exams wouldn’t be happening.

“I’m definitely relieved, but the first reaction you get when you’ve been preparing for something for two years is kind of upsetting,” said Pele Leau, a Mid-Pacific senior in the IB Diploma Programme.

Other students had similar reactions, feeling temporarily alleviated, but overall disappointed.

“Now that it’s canceled, yes, I feel relieved, but I also think it kind of sucks,” said Kaia Hutchison, another Mid-Pacific senior in the IB Diploma Programme.

IB teachers said they are  determined to keep a positive outlook during this tough time by adjusting their assignments to fit the extra time they now have.

“The cancelling of exams actually opens some other doors as well and it gives teachers a little more freedom to explore areas they might not necessarily do,” said Roley.

Some students said they are struggling to maintain the motivation they once had now that they’re not working toward exams.

“Our fourth quarter is really dedicated to preparing for the exams, so now that we don’t have them, classes have been a little more chill and about learning things for fun,” said Alcon.

However, the strong will of IB students allows many of them to maintain their high levels of motivation, even from home, said Roley.

“I’d say, for me personally, having all this time motivated me a little cause there’s less stress and a lighter workload […] there’s nothing else to do, so why not involve yourself fully into what you’re learning?” said Alcon.

In these times, students are maintaining a positive outlook by remembering that everything’s relative.

“Exams aren’t anything,” said Leau.

This story was originally published on Na Pueo on April 16, 2020.