What to expect from IB grades in 2023

It’s most definitely been a chaotic few years, not least for those who have taken part on the IB during this time. The effects of the pandemic were hard felt, starting with the cancellation of the May 2020 exam session. Since then, the IB has had to adapt, meaning that making predictions is yet more difficult. But, how might the IB grades look in the N22 and 2023 sessions?

Today, I’ll guide you through the pattern of IB results, and give you an idea of what to expect  in the upcoming sessions. To do so, I’m using the IB’s 2022 Provisional Statistical Bulletin.


IB Grade Inflation

The May 2020 results were, I think it would be fair to say, slightly improvised, due to the rapid worsening of the global pandemic. Grades were calculated using IAs (marked coursework) and other input from the teacher. This may well have disadvantaged those who felt they underperformed in their IAs, and were banking on the exams to raise their grade.

In 2021, as a result, we’re able to see the clear effects of grade inflation. Not that I would claim to be able to fully understand the IB’s decision making process, however I believe it’s quite fair to assume that grade inflation was increased in order to accommodate students through an incredibly tricky year. Essentially, the marks were given more generously than previous years.


Total IB Points Average

From 2020 to 2021, the number of candidates achieving a full 45 nearly quadrupled, increasing up to 1,351 from 341 in 2020. Then, in 2022, it’s more than halved back down to 651. This is still a significant increase on pre-2021, but does perhaps indicate the effort to return to “normal”.

2021’s mean total points (32.97) is more than 3 points higher than 2019 (29.65). This may not sound like much – but considering there are only 45 points up for grabs, it’s plain to see the disparity.


IB Pass Rate

The pass rate was also, as may be expected, highest in 2021 – in the 2 years since 2019, the pass rate increased by more than 11%. 2022 then saw a return to a level comparable to 2020, however not entirely back to “normal”.

Fluctuations, natural increases and decreases in the pass rate are to be expected. As such, it wouldn’t usually be a useful metric to try and predict next year’s results – but such a meteoric increase over two years is certainly significant enough to take in to account.


What should we expect from 2023’s IB Grades?

Ultimately, of course, we won’t know exactly how 2023’s grades stack up against previous years until we see them. Given the large effect of grade inflation in 2021, I would expect the total points average to keep decreasing.

As the severe effects of the pandemic begin to fade, the IB is working hard towards a return to normality. This, in my opinion, means that we’ll see grades similar to those of 2019. They will most likely also still be comparable to those of 2020. But, because of the difference in how those were calculated, it’s most sensible to compare to 2019.

So, why is this important? Without this knowledge, 2023’s IB grades might look disappointing compared to 2 years ago.  For 2023, managing expectations is the name of the game. Like before, it’s likely that the number of 45-point achievers heads towards the below-1% scarcity level.

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