May IB exams are cancelled

3 min readApr 9, 2020

By: Liza Ilin

For the first time in history, the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) has decided not to hold a May exam session due to the spread of COVID-19, impacting more than 200,000 students world-wide.

This two-year IB diploma program, aimed at students in Grade 11 and 12, provides an internationally accredited qualification for enrollment in post-secondary institutions. The IB global community is found in approximately 158 countries, which rendered the decision all the more crucial and difficult to make. Direction general, Siva Kumari, spoke on this matter: “As an organisation, it is critical that the options we provide our world-wide community of IB schools are based on compassion for students and teachers, as well as fairness for the difficult circumstances imposed on students and educators”.

The impact of the pandemic on IB students and their ability to go through a fair assessment was one of the central points to examine, when attempting to make the right decision for teachers, examiners and students. As such, IB reached out to various stakeholders, such as universities, qualification bodies, examiners, and schools, to acquire feedback as well as their professional and ethical judgement on the matter at hand.

Schools will be required to submit the coursework of all their IB students (normally graded by the teachers), to be externally marked. This coursework, as well as the student’s predicted grades, is expected to be uploaded by April 20th. Ultimately, IB’s end goal remains to release these results to both institutions and schools on 5 July 2020.

Students will be awarded either a diploma or course certificate, reflecting their standard of work. This will be assessed through their coursework marks, predicted grades and subject grades these candidates would have received if the May examination session was to occur. Moreover, data from previous exam sessions and the school’s results will be analyzed to conclude a fair and unbiased score for each student.

Universities will still want DP students, as the program is accredited for shaping students to become critical thinkers and learn at a higher level. Furthermore, universities are also in the stages of acknowledging and adjusting to the extraordinary circumstances, and so students can be assured that there will be more flexibility and support during the application process.

In response to the decision, there has been a lot of optimism amid the IB community of schools, students and teachers, as they recognize the fairness and empathic side of the judgement. Along with these positive outlooks, there is still some frustration, disappointment and fear. Nonetheless, students should remember that this decision came from much deliberation and reflection, ultimately being recognized as the best plan moving forward. Students are ensured success in all of their future endeavours, as everyone, most notably IB, is here to support them in these difficult and uncertain times.

References :

News, T. P. I. E. (n.d.). International Baccalaureate May 2020 examinations will no longer be held. Retrieved from




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