What to do if your IB results are below expectations

IBDP results are released around lunch-time on 5th July (depending on your time-zone) and are available here. At some schools they might be available before this time via direct contact with the school.

There is always a lot of variability between predicted grades and results achieved. This is inevitable as Diploma Programme students are taking six subjects plus the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge (ToK), and the narrowness of the grade bands. Some students will benefit from this and achieve a higher than expected points total, others unfortunately will be disappointed.

If you fall into this second group here are a few things you might like to consider.

UK University Applications

One big advantage UK IBDP students have is that their results come out long before A level results so they have plenty of time to plan their next steps.

It is not unusual for UK universities to accept students who have only just missed their offer by one or two points. Universities realise that missing by one IBDP point is not the same as missing by one A level grade. If you are in this situation, you should certainly phone or email the university applications office to let them know that you are still interested in being considered by them.

It may be possible that your school’s Careers Advisor, your tutor or the IBDP Coordinator could also email offering their support.

If you are lucky they might well accept you immediately. Otherwise, they might say you need to wait until the A level results are released in the middle of August.

If your chosen universities reply to say they cannot offer you a place then there are still things you can do. There may be courses with places still available that appeal to you. To find out, conduct a course search on the UCAS website and this will show up any courses with vacancies (a ‘c’ indicates the course is closed to new applicants). This list is updated every two days. If you see one that you like and which fits the profile of your results, phone the university to see if they will offer you a place.

If you do not see a course you like then you can wait for Clearing where there will be more choice available (but also more competition). A level students cannot apply through Clearing until they know their results and this gives IB students a slight advantage. Universities will receive A level results a few days before they are released to candidates and will then make their decisions about how many places they still have available. So, if there are particular courses you would like to apply for and you have the required grades then calling on the 11th or 12th August is a good idea. Don’t forget, if you are interested in a Scottish university, Clearing for these begins in early August.

Passing on your results

If you are successful with an application to a new university and if this university needs confirmation of your IBDP results from the IB then you need to request this yourself (it will not be possible for your IBDP Coordinator to do it for you once the results have come out). You can find the necessary transcripts request forms here.

The IB will charge a fee for this service.

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Re-marks

If you apply quickly for re-marks then it is very likely the outcome of the re-mark will be issued before the A level results are released. If you are intending to do this, do make sure your university knows that you are appealing your results.

Before you decide whether or not to have a paper re-marked, you will need to find out how close you were to an upper boundary. The component marks are issued to the schools on the 6th July.

As a very rough rule of thumb, we have found that if you are within 1% of an upper boundary your chances of moving up a grade are about 40%. If you are 2% below, it is 30%, for 3% it is 20% and 4% only a 10% chance. These figures will depend, of course, on the subject. Mathematics, for example, is less subjective in the way it is marked and so there is likely to be less variation. Do note that in all cases, the most likely result is for there to be no change.

Of course, do not apply for a re-mark if you are closer to a lower boundary than an upper one. Grades can go down as well as up.

When you apply for a re-mark, the IB will only re-mark externally marked work (all exams, ToK essays, Extended Essays, World Literature Essays etc). If you do apply for a re-mark, all externally marked papers are looked at again, you cannot request a remark of a single paper.

Internally marked coursework is not re-marked on an individual basis. Your school can ask for the whole moderation sample to be re-marked, but only if the moderation process has reduced the average mark by more than 20%.

There is a cost for re-marking; the IB can confirm what these costs are, however, it is likely to be £65 per candidate/subject/level. If your grade changes, the IB will not charge you for the re-mark.

The only way to request a re-mark is via your IBDP Coordinator. Because you have officially left your school it is very likely that he or she will need to have received the payment in advance of putting in the request. To avoid delaying your application make sure that the school receives the money as soon as possible.

The results of the re-marks will be sent to the IBDP Coordinator who will pass them on to you. In addition, your results page will be updated if there has been a change of grade.

Your IBDP Coordinator can apply for re-marks on your behalf from 5th July until 15th September. But, please remember that even IBDP Coordinators take holidays, so he or she will not be available for all of that time period. So, the motto is, don’t leave it until the last minute.

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Re-takes

November

It is possible to re-take exams in the November session but note the deadline for registering for this session is very early: 28th July.

There are costs to register for re-takes which vary depending on when you register. The IB can confirm these.

If you are waiting for the result of a re-mark before deciding whether or not to re-take then your best option to avoid the high fees is to register for the re-take. If your marks do go up and you decide not to take the exam again the IB will not charge.

Remember your school is under no obligation to offer re-take exams. Those that do are likely to add on an administration charge.

Though some schools will also allow you to re-take internal assessment, many will not as they are unable to provide the necessary supervision. In this case, your Internal Assessment marks from the May session will be carried forward.

You do not have to re-take the exams at your old school. If you wish to re-take in a different school, you have to contact the IBDP Coordinator of this school to see if it is possible. He or she will then arrange with the IB for you to be registered with them. A list of IB schools in your area is easily obtained from the IB website.

If your school does not allow you to redo your coursework then you need to check your component scores carefully. If your coursework is pulling your grade down, or if you need to improve every component in order to achieve the grade you desire, then you will need to seriously consider re-taking at a different school if you can find one that allows this option. Do note that if you are submitting new coursework, it is a requirement that you are attending some lessons in that subject in the school.

Before you do decide to re-take, bear in mind that the majority of people re-sitting do not improve their grades. The ones that do are largely those for whom the higher grade is essential for a particular university course and who are able to arrange tuition. Those who re-take simply because they wish to do better, often do not find the necessary motivation to revise sufficiently.

May

You may also re-take exams in the following May provided you have not already been registered for three exam sessions. This means if you have already re-taken an exam in November, this will be your last chance. If you took a subject early (as an anticipated candidate) and re-took in November, then you would not be allowed to take any further re-takes.

Normally, if you are considering May re-takes, it would be because you needed considerable improvement to reach the grades necessary for a chosen career. In this case, repeating the second year of the diploma would be advisable. This would not have to be at the same school as previously.

How OSC Can Help

If after reading this document you feel you require some assistance weighing-up your options or preparing to sit for re-takes, OSC is happy to help. Please explore our website or email OSC with your questions.

For re-take candidates, OSC’s IB Revision Guides, both online and in print, might be of use. We offer over 50 titles across 13 DP subjects. For more information, please visit our IB Bookshop.

About the Author

Peter Gray is a highly experienced teacher having taught the IBDP for 21 years. For the past four years, he has served as the IBDP Coordinator at Malvern College. Peter is also formerly the Deputy Chief Examiner for Higher Level Mathematics.

OSC is fortunate to count Peter among the cohort of teachers who teach on our revision and summer courses.

4 Comments
  • KK
    April 16, 2016

    I didn’t get the part ‘Internally marked coursework is not re-marked on an individual basis. Your school though can ask for the whole moderation sample to be re-marked, but only if the moderation process has reduced the average mark by more than 20%.’ Our math teacher has marked our IA extremely low. At the first draft, he suggested 12 points and some improvements for each category. For the final IA, I only received 10 points out of 20. I was told from the teacher that he marked severely for the final IA. I would like to ask a third person to remark my IA but is this possible?? I called the IB answer but I could not get a sufficient answer.

    • Mike Meads
      April 21, 2016

      Hi,

      Individual IA are not remarked – it is done for a whole school in that subject. You should go to your DPC or teacher and ask about how much the whole group was down-graded. 10% down-grading is pretty good. If the downgrading was considerable (say, 4-5 marks) the school can ask to have the whole sample remarked, but honestly, the chances are slim to get a better grade.

      Moderation of IA marks happens in two steps: the teacher’s marks are moderated, but the moderator’s marks are also moderated; and both steps can affect the final IA mark.

  • Vera
    September 7, 2016

    I decided to retake two of my exams (Maths and swedish) this November, however it is apparently not possible to write a Language B (Swedish) exam in November.

    Do you know whether I am allowed to write my Maths exam this November and then only retake swedish next May?

    Thank you for all this helpful information.

  • Paul
    January 6, 2017

    My son did go for the retake in November. Two exams Math and Economics. He improved his grade in Math, but in Economics his level remained the same. However, to get to his dream university he needs to improve in Economics.
    Would it be possible that he retakes Economics again in May?

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