The International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) uses both internally and externally assessed components to assess student performance.
For most courses, written examinations at the end of the DP form the basis of the assessment. This is because these examinations have high levels of objectivity and reliability.
Externally assessed coursework, completed by students over an extended period under authenticated teacher supervision, forms part of the assessment for several programme areas, including the theory of knowledge (TOK) essay and the extended essay (EE).
In most subjects, students also complete in-school assessment tasks. These are either externally assessed or marked by teachers and then moderated by the IB.
How DP assessment is scored
In the DP, students receive grades ranging from 7 to 1, with 7 being highest. Students receive a grade for each DP course attempted.
A student’s final Diploma result score is made up of the combined scores for each subject. The diploma is awarded to students who gain at least 24 points, subject to certain minimum levels of performance including successful completion of the three essential elements of the DP core.
The DP core
The theory of knowledge (TOK) and extended essay (EE) components are awarded individual grades and, collectively, can contribute up to 3 additional points towards the overall Diploma score.
Creativity, Action, Service – the remaining element in the DP core – does not contribute to the points total but authenticated participation is a requirement for the award of the diploma.
Higher level and standard level courses
The IB awards the same number of points for higher level (HL) and standard level (SL) courses, reflecting the IB’s belief in the importance of achievement across a broad range of academic disciplines.
HL and SL courses differ in scope but are assessed against the same grade descriptors, with HL candidates expected to demonstrate the various elements of the grade descriptors across a greater body of knowledge, understanding and skills.
Receiving a bilingual diploma
A bilingual diploma is awarded to candidates who complete and receive a grade 3 or higher in two languages selected from the DP course studies in language and literature.
Students who gain a grade 3 or higher in studies in language and literature and a grade 3 or higher in an individuals and societies or science subject, completed in a different language, will also receive the bilingual diploma.
Further information on assessment
For information on other aspects of assessment in the DP, such as how the IB ensures reliability of results, see our detailed guide on the principles of assessment.
Learn more about assessment in a workshop for DP teachers.
Extended essay for IB DP students
Every IB Diploma candidate must submit an extended essay on a focused topic in one of the subjects of the IB curriculum – normally one of the student’s 6 chosen subjects for the IB Diploma. The essay must be supervised by a qualified teacher at the school.
The aim of the extended essay project is to provide the students with the opportunity to pursue independent research as well as to develop research, communication and critical thinking skills. The students will engage in a systematic research process and experience the excitement of intellectual discovery.
Each student is given a separate Extended Essay Guide at the start of the research process. The finished essay must be submitted by the deadline given, usually in Term 1 of the IB2 year. Essays submitted in Language A or Language B (Groups 1 and 2) must be written in that language. Essays in subjects from Groups 3 - 6 must be written in English.
The extended essay must be written in clear, correct and formal academic style, appropriate to its subject. The upper limit for the essay is 4,000 words (not including bibliography, footnotes, appendices, maps, charts, diagrams etc). In addition to the essay itself, an abstract not exceeding 300 words must be included with the essay submitted.
The extended essay is externally assessed by an examiner appointed by the IBO and it is marked on a scale from 0 to 36. The total score obtained will be used to determine in which of the following bands the extended essay is placed.
The band descriptors are:
A. work of an excellent standard
B. work of good standard
C. work of satisfactory standard
D. work of mediocre standard
E. work of elementary standard