What to Expect and How You Can Best Prepare for your IB Maths Exam

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Since the spring of 2020, the world of IB exams has been on a rocky road. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2019-2020 exams were effectively canceled. It was the first time that this decision had ever been made and students didn’t know what to expect. As we continue to navigate the twist and turns of an ongoing global pandemic the IB is currently using a dual-route option for 2021 and 2022.

Given the global differences in pandemic mitigation efforts that can be in place at any one time, school administrators and the IB are providing new alternatives that offer a little bit more flexibility. Here is what IB maths students can expect this year.

Option 1: IB Written Exams

Written, in-person exams have always been the default mode of examination for IB programs. However, social distancing requirements forced some schools to close and others to limit services which severely affected the availability of written exams during the pandemic.

As of 2022, about two-thirds of schools offering IB programs plan to offer a written exam option with appropriate COVID mitigations like social distancing requirements, masks, or vaccinations, as determined by local governance where the exams are held.

These exams include a combination of essays, short-response questions. Case studies, and multiple-choice questions. When we get to spring of 2022, many students will have the option to take these traditional written exams which leaves past papers from prior to 2020 as the best option for studying up.

Option 2: Internal Assessments and Teacher-Predicted Grades

If testing is not yet an option for a particular school, the IB is currently accepting an alternative method of calculating final grades for IB maths courses which relies heavily on coursework. The internal assignments usually graded by teachers will be reviewed and moderated by the IB and factored into a student’s final grade.

Using this method, the coursework isn’t the only consideration. Teachers are also asked to weigh in with predicted grades based on a student’s performance over the school year. Ultimately, final grade assignments are calculated using an algorithm that weights the different components with a focus on global consistency.

How to Know Which Option Applies to You?

Unfortunately, there is no way to predict the future. At the beginning of this school year, most schools anticipated offering in-person exam options. Since then the world has seen at least three more persistent variants that continue to spread illness. The pandemic and all related mitigation efforts are in constant fluctuation.

Students should maintain open communication with their schools regarding plans for exams. Revising for exams with the intention of taking in-person exams is strongly advised, including routine revision with past papers. This will help keep students on track and performing well throughout the year. That way, if exams are again canceled and final scores are determined by coursework and teachers, each student already has strong proof of academic success.

The Bottom Line

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything it’s that anything can happen in the future. IB maths students should not allow disruptions of the pandemic to interfere with their study habits or plan to take in-person exams. We recommend preparing for the exams regardless of whether or not they are currently scheduled for your school because learning more math is never a bad thing!


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