FAQs

General FAQs

Which universities recognize the IB diploma?

Annually, DP students request transcripts sent to over 3,300 institutions of higher education in nearly 90 countries. The degree to which these and other institutions recognize the IB diploma and DP courses varies widely. Even institutions with no formally published recognition policy often still consider DP performance in admissions decisions.

Recognition comes in many forms, but the most common are:

  • recruitment—actively recruiting Diploma Programme students
  • admission—the IB diploma is fully recognized in the admissions process, addressing Diploma Programme students specifically in documentation and publications
  • placement—acknowledging the rigour of IB courses and establishing prerequisites for IB courses that are fair and equitable in comparison with those for state,
  • provincial and/or other examination courses; understanding and acknowledging the English language proficiency of DP students who undertook the programme in English
  • credit—providing detailed information on the courses for which credit is possible based on DP scores; specifically understanding and recognizing theory of knowledge, the extended essay and the content of both standard and higher level courses
  • scholarships—providing scholarships or scholarship opportunities specifically for IB diploma students

For information on universities that recognize the IB, and details on their recognition policies, please contact the IB Recognition Team. However, for the most accurate information, it is always best to check directly with the institution(s) you are interested in.

How is the Diploma Programme different from other pre-university academic programmes?

The Diploma Programme is a comprehensive and balanced two-year curriculum and assessment system that requires students to study six subjects and core components across all disciplines. Within this structured framework, the DP provides a great deal of flexibility, accommodating student interests and abilities. Through careful subject selection, students may tailor their course of studies to meet their needs.

Regardless of the subject selection, all students explore the connections between the six major subject areas, study each subject through an international perspective, reflect critically on aspects of knowledge, pursue one subject in great detail through independent research, and have the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills through local and community service.

The assessment of student achievements happens in a variety of ways throughout the course of the two-year programme. It includes the assessment of student work both by external examiners as well as the students’ own teachers. Internal or teacher assessment normally contributes between 20% and 30% of the subject assessment, but can account for as much as 50% in some of the arts courses. The assessment itself undergoes careful review and moderation to ensure that a common standard is applied equally to the work of all students internationally. All students’ work, regardless of which school they attended, are subjects to the same assessment principles.

The IB diploma is widely recognized by colleges and universities around the world as superior preparation for students to succeed at post-secondary institutions.

You can find more information on the Diploma Programme here.

How do group 1 and 2 course scores translate to TOEFL or CEFR?

(In the UK reference is often made to UK Home Office's Knowledge of English visa requirements and the Secure English Language Test Provider list )

The IB has produced a letter explaining the different courses provided under groups 1 and 2 and relative demands of these language studies.

  • Group 1 courses (Studies in language and literature) are designed for students whose best language for academic work is English. A student registered for one of these courses will have no trouble with studying in English. Many will be applying for English literature or linguistics courses. English A courses meet the criteria for CEFR level B2 in the four domains of reading, writing, listening and speaking. They are also both comparable with IELTS/TOEFL requirements
  • Group 2 courses (Language Acquisition) – the main emphasis of the modern language courses is on the acquisition and use of language in a range of contexts and for different purposes while, at the same time, promoting an understanding of another culture through the study of its language. English B Higher level and English B Standard level are highly likely to meet the criteria for CEFR level B2 in the four domains of reading, writing, listening and speaking. They are also both comparable with IELTS/ TOEFL requirements.
  • English ab initio is a beginner’s course and universities may wish to check the level of English of any student offering it.

The IB has also provided an accompanying information pack Information on language use in the IB Diploma Programme English courses which provides:

  • Short descriptors of Studies in language and literature (Group 1) and Language acquisition (Group 2),
  • Descriptors of performance for students achieving grades 4, 5, 6 and 7 in Group 1 and Group 2 and
  • Sample examination questions from the May 2013 papers for language courses.

What is the difference between the IB diploma score and IB diploma courses results?

The IB Diploma Programme (DP) is a rigorous, academically challenging and balanced programme of education designed to prepare students aged 16 to 19 for success at university and life beyond. To ensure both breadth and depth of knowledge and understanding, students must choose at least one subject each from five groups:

  • language and literature
  • language acquisition
  • individuals and societies
  • sciences
  • mathematics.

Students may choose either an arts subject from group 6, or a second subject from groups 1 to 5. At least 3 and not more than 4 subjects are taken at higher level (240 recommended teaching hours), while the remaining are taken at standard level (150 recommended teaching hours). In addition, three core elements—the extended essay (EE), theory of knowledge (TOK) and creativity, action, service (CAS)—are compulsory and central to the philosophy of the programme. The diplomais awarded to students who achieve a minimum score of 24 (out of a possible total of 45), and fulfill other minimum requirements.

Students not enrolled in the full Diploma Programme may choose to take only particular DP subject courses offered at their school (eg Mathematics HL or Economics SL). From 2012/14, the DP core components (TOK, EE and CAS) will also be standalone offerings. A student may take as many or as few DP courses as they wish and their school allows. The award for each of these courses is not the diploma, but a series of scores from one to seven. Students can therefore take any combination of elements as a portfolio of separate qualifications. These individual subject results are referred to asDiploma Programme course results (formerly called a certificate of results). Many universities in North America, and several other parts of the world, recognize isolated DP courses alone or in combination with other programmes of study (ie national curricula).

Additionally, students who enrolled in and attempted the full Diploma Programme, but did not meet all the requirements, also receive Diploma Programme course results (DPCR). Consequently, the DPCR can include all the Diploma Programme components but due to one or more failing conditions the diploma was not awarded. The student has, however, been examined and assessed according to the same DP standards and principles and has in fact completed a secondary school programme. The difference between the award of the diploma or the DPCR can depend on 1 point (eg 23 instead of 24), or a student failing to fulfill one of the minimum conditions for being awarded the diploma (eg a failing grade on the Extended Essay or non-completion of the CAS component). Thus, a student with a total score far exceeding 24 points may not necessarily be awarded the diploma.

Are DP course exams and DP exams the same?

Yes. Whether a student enters the full Diploma Programme or simply opts to take one individual DP course, both the course content and assessment are the same for that course.

What is a passing DP course score?

The IB does not assign passing scores for individual courses. A student simply receives a course score between one and seven. The grade descriptions for each course give an indication of the level of achievement a student reached for any given score. However, many universities often use a score of “four” or “five” as the minimum for granting admission or advanced placement.

For the full Diploma Programme, which is different than an individual DP course score, the minimum passing score is 24 points, assuming all other passing conditions have been met.

How many points is the DP core worth?

Students can earn up to three additional points for their combined performance on the extended essay and theory of knowledge. No points are awarded for creativity, action and service, but the successful completion of this component is a mandatory requirement for the receipt of the IB diploma.

What is the DP exam schedule and when are assessment results issued?

Assessment results for IB exam sessions ending in May are issued on 5 July each year. For IB exam sessions ending in November, results are issued on 5 January. For more information, visit our assessment page.

How can one obtain a transcript from the IB?

An IB transcript of grades is an official copy of an IB candidate’s results that is sent to an institute of higher education (university) directly. These documents are not sent to candidates or other organizations; they are for institutes’ records only. An official copy of an IB candidate’s results is sent to a university directly from the IB. When results are released, they will be made available to institutions via a secure IB website, or via a mailed paper transcript of grades if the institution does not use the electronic service.

Before results are released (5 July for a May examination session and 5 January for a November examination session) candidates can request to have their results sent to six universities free of charge (of these six only one can be requested for the USA and one for Canada). Before results are released, all requests must be submitted by the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme coordinator of the school. Additional transcript requests can be made and will incur a transcript request fee.

All requests should be processed within 14 working days of receipt of the request form. During the peak months of December and January, and from July through to September, transcript requests may take longer to process. The IB is not responsible for delays in the postal service or for the processing of your transcript at the university.

To obtain IB transcripts for individual students, universities can register for an International Baccalaureate Information System (IBIS) account. IBIS is a password-protected secure website.

To submit your transcript request electronically, please visit: https://rrs.ibo.org/replacement_orders/.
The IB cannot provide results to candidates by e-mail.e

Read further information on requesting a transcript from the IB at our transcripts and replacement diplomas page.

What does “anticipated” mean on student records?

The anticipated registration category means the candidate is in the process of completing the diploma and is taking one or two SL subject assessments after the first year of the programme.

What are predicted grades?

The predicted grade is the teacher’s prediction of the grade the candidate is expected to achieve in the subject, based on all the evidence of the candidate’s work and the teacher’s knowledge of IB standards. Predicted grades are also required for theory of knowledge and the extended essay. It is important that each prediction is made as accurately as possible, without under-predicting or over-predicting the grade. The IB takes measures to work with schools that consistently under- or over-predict student grades.

What is a re-mark (enquiry upon results)?

The externally assessed components of a candidate's work are re-marked by a senior examiner at the school’s or student’s request. The grade can go either up or down. Re-marking is not available for multiple choice components (MCQ) or internal assessments.

What are grade boundaries?

IB assessments are comprised of a number of components. Each of these components is assigned a number value and weight. After these points are aggregated to total scores they are divided along the IB one to seven point marking scheme. These ranges are known as grade boundaries.

Great care is taken to ensure grading reliability in determining grade boundaries through the application of consistent standards supported by statistical background data. Grade standards are documented and exemplified, and judgments made about grade boundaries are checked by a number of statistical indicators. The setting of grade boundaries is an extended matter requiring considerable deliberation and the reconciling of information from different sources: the experienced judgment of senior examiners, statistical comparisons and the expectations of experienced teachers.

The principal means of setting judgmentally determined grade boundaries is by a review of the quality of candidate work against grade descriptors. Grade descriptors are generic descriptions of the standard of work expected of each candidate for a given grade. Descriptors are also intended to give some guidance to classroom teachers on how to prepare their students and how to make candidate grade predictions.

The grade boundaries for the points that have the greatest impact on candidates’ progression into higher education (ie four, seven and three) are determined judgmentally in that order. Thus, the boundaries for a “four” are determined, then a “seven”, then a “three”. The remaining boundaries are determined arithmetically by interpolation from these judgmentally set boundaries.

How often can students retake exams and how can these changes affect DP points?

Students can retake exams a maximum of two times. A diploma candidate has a maximum of three examination sessions in which to obtain the diploma. This can either be anticipated > diploma > retake or diploma > retake > retake.

A school can feasibly deliver an SL course in one year, and the student can take the exam for the course at the end of that year. Because DP students are not technically labelled as diploma candidates until their second year, students who take exams in their first year are labelled “anticipated”. “Diploma” is the normal exam session at the end of the two years. “Retake” is any time a candidate takes exams after the session at the end of their two years.

This is the schedule regardless of whether exams are taken in the May or November session.

Where and when can I see curriculum and assessment material, including exams from previous sessions?

Curriculum and assessment material, including exams from previous sessions, can be found on the OCC (for DP teachers and school staff), purchased from the IB store (for parents, students and other interested parties), or on the IB’s secure portal for university and government staff. University or government staff can log in to the portal, or register if they do not yet have an account.

Where can I find a complete list of DP courses/assessments?

Information on all DP groups and subjects can be found on the DP section of the IBO website.

University FAQs

Where can I find an example of an admission policy?

Find a sample model admission policy as well as many other useful items in our resources and document library.

How can universities update their records (passwords, contact info, policies, etc.)?

First, select your country and then institution from the drop down list here to verify your institution’s currently available contact and policy information.

To view, update or create your policy and contact details, please log in or register here for the IB’s secure portal for universities and governments. After logging in, follow the on-screen instructions to update your institution’s information.

We will display all public information on university recognition through the country pages.

Where can I find information on changes to DP curriculums and assessment?

The latest developments to DP curriculums and assessment can be found here.

How are DP courses and assessments developed?

All DP subjects are reviewed on a seven year teaching cycle to ensure that each is fit for purpose and incorporates the latest educational research and lessons learned from the implementation of the existing curriculum. The process for curriculum review and development is spread across three phases: evaluation, development and implementation.

Representative and comprehensive feedback from DP teachers, students and universities about the course, an analysis of the effectiveness of the assessment instruments and a thorough review of subject-specific and broader pedagogical literature is incorporated into the evaluation of the existing curriculum. The DP utilizes both internally and externally assessed criterion-related components to assess student performance.

Assessment in the DP measures the extent to which students master basic and advanced academic skills, such as:

  • critical-thinking, reflective, research and independent learning skills
  • retaining knowledge
  • understanding key concepts
  • applying standard methods
  • analysing and presenting information
  • evaluating and constructing arguments
  • solving problems creatively
  • intercultural skills and understanding and an international outlook.

To ensure that student work is assessed fairly and consistently, nearly 8,500 trained examiners worldwide, many of whom are experienced DP teachers, are involved in the assessment process. Reliability of marking is ensured through: 

  • appointing and retaining only appropriately qualified and experienced examiners who have demonstrated they can mark consistently and objectively according to set standards
  • providing examiners with comprehensive instruction and training on how to mark
  • checking the standard of examiner marking through “seeding” every examination session.

School, parent, student FAQs

What impact will a student’s choice to pursue the DP have on college admissions?

The answer to this question depends greatly on the student’s performance in the DP and their post-secondary aspirations. Literally thousands of higher education institutions have published polices recognizing the DP—however, most also have minimum entry requirements. In some cases the courses students select while in the DP can have nearly as much impact as their overall performance.

However, evidence does show that DP students tend to go on to tertiary study at higher rates than their peers, are admitted more often to selective institutions, and tend to perform better in their post-secondary studies, including higher rates of post-secondary completion.

Is “recognition” the same as “acceptance”?

Not necessarily. A university may have a fair and comprehensive policy recognizing the achievements of DP students—however, they may still have very high minimum requirements for entry into their institutions. This is especially the case for very competitive universities. It is best to check the minimum admission requirements at the institution you are interested in to determine how a student’s DP performance will be recognized.

Does failing to earn the diploma make a student ineligible to attend university?

No, not necessarily. Many universities recognize students’ achievements in individual DP courses and in the core components. In some countries, DP achievements are seen in the context of curriculum enrichment rather than as the main means of admission. In others, universities give credit or tariff points for individual DP courses and also the extended essay and theory of knowledge courses. Students should check admission requirements with individual universities.

In most countries in Europe the official ministry recognition statement applies to the full IB diploma. The DP courses are not regarded as a complete secondary leaving certificate and therefore do not meet the minimum requirements for university admission. There are, however, many universities in the UK that will accept DP courses provided they are relevant for the programme the student applies to. Norway also accepts DP course results provided the full diploma has been attempted. In Africa and the Middle East there are also countries and universities that accept DP courses—for example Jordan and South Africa.
In the United States and some other countries, community colleges and similar institutions can provide pathways into undergraduate studies for students who fail to earn the full diploma.

Is there any advantage to taking four HL courses?

There may be an advantage for certain courses, but in the majority of cases three HL courses is sufficient for admission to first degree courses at university. Students should check admission requirements with individual universities to see if there is any advantage to doing a fourth HL course.

Outside of purely admissions considerations, taking four HL courses could mean a head start for students in their first university year and could contribute to advanced placement in the USA. Costs and benefits of learning and workload should also be considered.

What is the advantage to doing the bilingual diploma?

There could be advantages for non-native students applying to study at universities who require evidence of proficiency in the language of instruction. There are also the general benefits of demonstrating proficiency in more than one language.

Where can I find information about language requirements for university admission?

Each university has its own unique policy. For more information, please use the search tool in the left-hand column to select the country you are interested and then find the university of your choice on that country page to see their specific policies. It is always best, however, to check directly with the university of interest.

What is legalization?

In some countries, the IB document “diploma results” will not be valid unless it is legalized in Geneva, Switzerland, by the relevant embassy or consulate. It is the responsibility of the Diploma Programme coordinator to inform students of this requirement. The diploma itself is only legalized in exceptional circumstances when required. For further information, please contact legalization@ibo.org.

The only country to date that has required legalization of both documents is Argentina. Mexico and Egypt may also require legalization of both documents

For each candidate requiring the legalization service, the Diploma Programme coordinator should submit a request to the IB no later than 15 June for May examination sessions or 15 December for November examination sessions—about three weeks after the examinations. Legalized diploma results will be sent to the appropriate schools and normally arrive by the end of September (May sessions) or March (November sessions). The IB charges a fee for this service.

What is the relationship between the DP and German national requirements?

The agreement with the German authority KMK recognizes the IB diploma as equal to the national Leaving Certificate Abitur in providing access to universities, but only with prescribed subject and level stipulations. It is therefore essential that students are well informed of these before making their diploma subject choices. Generally German universities do not accept self-taught students, as the terms of accepting a student is that they have 12 years of full-time education according to the KMK Agreement. However, we recommend that you contact the university for further details.

Why does my university/college not accept my IB credits/grades?

Each university has its own system of accepting a candidate, so please check with the university first before requesting your IB transcript.

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