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: 20 April 2021, 14:00 CET

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May 2021 Diploma Programme and Career-related ProgrammeMay 2021 Middle years ProgrammeNovember 2021 examination sessionsCOVID-19 Fund

May 2021 Diploma Programme and Career-related Programme

Understanding assessment during COVID-19

Schools, teachers and students around the world continue to experience tremendous challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These challenges are at the forefront of our minds as we prepare for awarding results during the May 2021 session using a dual assessment model. Read more about the dual assessment here.  

The IB has prepared videos and one-page documents to explain the principles and processes that will enable us to award results for both routes, how we will maintain fairness across both routes and how we will consider the impact of the pandemic throughout the awarding process. 

Update: March 2021

The IB continues to work with schools and government regulators to determine the best assessment route for each region during the May 2021 session. 

Recently, the IB has conducted a series of school webinars in English, Spanish, and French outlining the May 2021 assessment process. To learn more, please contact

We understand that schools, teachers and students around the world continue to experience tremendous challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic – these challenges are at the forefront of our minds as we prepare for this summer’s exams. Grade boundaries have been set for each route, building in generosity that reflects this disruption while taking into consideration how grades are likely to be assigned by other large-scale qualifications.  

For those schools who are unable to administer exams, the IB has provided guidelines for teachers to award predicted grades. The IB also offers an exceptions process that allows schools to award higher marks by providing evidence that supports their request.  

Update: February 2021

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.


COVID-19 Fund

The COVID-19 Fund, established in May 2020, is a firm step towards protecting our schools from the effects of this health and economic crisis.

The aim of the fund is to support candidate and authorized schools that are financially impacted by the pandemic.

Find out more