COVID-19 (coronavirus) updates

Our students, their well-being and their progression in future stages of life have been at the forefront of our thinking as we respond to this extraordinary pandemic. As an organization, it is critical for us to ensure that the options we provide for our IB community, students and teachers are fair and compassionate during these difficult circumstances. We are updating schools regularly with guidance and updates, please contact your school for more information about IB education and assessments during the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools can contact their IBWS manager or IB Answers for support.

Last update: 06 January 2021, 14:00 CET

Topic links:

November 2020 Diploma Programme and Career-related ProgrammeNovember 2020 Middle Years ProgrammeMay 2021 Diploma Programme and Career-related ProgrammeMay 2021 Middle years ProgrammeNovember 2021 examination sessions


These FAQs will no longer be updated. Further updates will be provided directly to schools regarding implementation of IB Programmes and assessments.


November 2020 Diploma Programme and Career-related Programme

Due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic the IB provided a dual assessment model for the November 2020 examination session.

Results for this session were released on 2 January. You can find out more information about the issue of results here.


November 2020 Middle Years Programme

Regardless of schools’ closure status, all students registered for the MYP eAssessment will be able to participate in both the on-screen and ePortfolio exams and receive a grade for all subjects.

If at any time local or regional government restrictions prohibit schools from being able to administer examinations in school, schools can choose one of three options below:

  • Switch to a remote on-screen assessment known as the “alternative task assessment” for grade awarding.

  • Defer at no extra cost to the May 2021 examination session, dependant on subject availability.

  • Withdraw from the November 2020 session with full refund from the IB.

Candidates’ results are released on IBIS from 12:00 noon GMT on 1 February 2021.


May 2021 Diploma Programme and Career-related Programme

The IB has confirmed that it will offer a dual route for the May 2021 Diploma Programme and Career-related Programme examination session. 

This follows a January survey of over 3,000 schools in 152 countries indicating that many schools and students continue to face huge challenges nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and the successful roll-out of a similar model in our November 2020 exam series.  

The IB understands the impact of this crisis on education and is dedicated to providing the best possible assessments for all students in these incredibly difficult circumstances.  

The IB is working with schools to determine which of the two pathways is best for their region: written examinations, where they can be administered safely, or an alternative route using a combination of internal assessment coursework and teacher-predicted grades, where they can’t. Further details will be released in the coming days. Schools can also consider deferring to the November 2021 or May 2022 session with no additional cost or withdrawing from the IB May session with full refund from the IB.  

As of today, roughly 71% schools (61% of students) have indicated that they will be able to administer the exams. 

During grade-awarding, appropriate grade boundaries will be set for each route, building in generosity that reflects the disruption experienced in teaching and learning around the world and considering how grades are likely to be distributed in other large-scale qualifications.  

IB grades will be distributed between schools and students to ensure each individual qualification is an accurate reflection of achievement and that they can be fairly compared with one another. Unlike some other systems, the IB's extensive use of coursework allows for this. 

Reflecting the fact that May 2020 predicted grades were higher than in previous years, the IB will recommend generous guidelines within which teachers will be asked to submit their predictions. Where teachers feel these predicted grade distributions are not aligned with student performance, the IB is developing a process that will allow schools to request a different grade distribution and provide evidence that supports their claim. This will form part of the predicted grade process in February and March.   

We will be updating universities and colleges on our plans for May 2021 shortly. Results from the dual route model in November 2020 were treated with equal validity. We have confidence that the same will be true for May 2021 results. 

For each assessment session, the IB works with government regulators across the world regarding local context, restrictions and the impact of COVID-19 on students. With regard to the United Kingdom, last week the IB submitted a response to a DfE/Ofqual consultation. We expect the DfE/Ofqual response to the consultation to be published on 22 February. Once we have reviewed the outcomes of the consultation, the IB will write promptly to all UK schools (and those in the Crown Dependencies) confirming whether IB examinations will be held in the UK.  

For more details on the May 2021 session, students and teachers are encouraged to talk to their school’s IB coordinator.


May 2021 Middle years Programme


eAssessment comprised of the on-screen examinations and coursework ePortfolios will be offered in 2021 as scheduled.

On-screen examinations

If a school is unable to administer examinations due to government restrictions, students registered for the MYP eAssessment will be able to take a version of on-screen examinations, known as the ‘alternative task assessment’ remotely.

Coursework ePortfolios

The IB will continue to offer schools the ‘adapted partially completed unit plans’ (PCUP) for ePortfolio subjects (Arts, PHE, and Design), which we introduced in May and November 2020 to support students facing learning disruptions.

Personal Project and Service as Action

During these unusual times of social distancing and lockdowns, we understand that completing a robust Personal Project or Service as Action programme may be difficult for many students.

For Personal Project, we understand that students might not be able to conduct primary research, investigations or activities that require physical interactions. We will take these circumstances into consideration during the grading process.

For Service as Action, while we will still require schools to indicate a student has completed this requirement, we will be flexible in how this looks for students. We have every confidence that schools will guide your students in making their best endeavours to meet service requirements with modifications so as not to compromise their health and safety.


November 2021 examination sessions

We understand that learning and teaching has been challenging during the pandemic. We will continue to provide detailed guidance for schools to ensure they can thoughtfully prepare and support students.

Whilst the November 2021 Diploma Programme and Career-related Programme examinations are currently scheduled to take place, we're listening to schools, monitoring the global situation and planning for a variety of scenarios.

To address the disruptions caused by the global pandemic the IB has made adaptations including adjustments to learning, teaching, and assessment; the examination schedule for November 2021 has been updated to reflect these adaptations. Schools can access these adaptations via the Programme Resource Centre.

Our teams are working together to ensure that exam administration and grade awarding for the 2 November 2021 assessment session are informed by principles of fairness and compassion to avoid putting undue stress on students during this challenging time.

The IB will continue to update schools with timely guidance ahead of the November 2021 session.