After canceling exams last year, IB eases requirements for full diploma candidates

IB teachers, students react to changes


Image used with permission from Anika Madan.

Then-junior Ella Eseigbe (center) cuts paper during a classroom simulation of a tent-making company in her IB Economics Higher Level 1 class last November. The class’ corresponding exam is just one of the many assessments that IB is modifying for the 2020-21 school year.

Tyler Pak, Editor-in-Chief

To mitigate the educational challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, the International Baccalaureate [IB] program has modified its curriculum and exams, which many SH students believe will ease their ability to pass their exams in May 2021. 

I feel [the changes] are mostly adequate,” IB coordinator Brian Wall said. “I feel that some subjects needed more modification or reduction in material … and in other cases I think just the right amount of modification was made.”

Wall sent an email to SH students and teachers in the IB program on Aug. 15 with a PDF from IB outlining the “learning, teaching and assessment” changes. 

In the PDF, IB divided the amendments into six different sections: language and literature, language acquisition, individuals and societies, sciences, mathematics and the arts. 

Wall, who also teaches IB Visual Arts, said the updated curriculum reduced the number of work his students must submit for their exhibition — in previous years, the range was eight to eleven, this year it’s seven to ten — and the number of art mediums his students must employ for the Process Portfolio, which is a project designed to showcase the student’s artistic experimentation and development.

“These are both reductions, and while the students didn’t really break out in cheers, I’m pretty sure they are not complaining about a lighter load of work,” Wall said. 

Additionally, IB English Higher Level [HL] teacher Teresa McCarty said that the IB exam, which all 32 IB seniors will take in May of 2021, now only includes one essay instead of two. However, other than the class’ reading schedule, she does not plan on making any modifications to her teaching plans. 

“IB’s doing a great job adapting,” McCarty said. “They made some good decisions last year, and I like that they’re changing the test to help students. I think my IB students will do extremely well on their test.”

IB council president senior Anika Madan, who plans to take the IB Art HL, History of the Americas HL, English HL and Spanish Standard Level [SL] exams in May 2021, said she doesn’t mind any of the changes. 

“The changes mean that at the end of the year, I have more study time to distribute between each test, which will be advantageous,” said Madan, who was supposed to take the IB Math SL and Biology SL tests last school year before IB canceled all April and May exams. “I’m also just thankful that they’re being so lenient this year and recognizing the struggle of taking certain tests given our situation.”

Junior Max Lopez, who is taking the IB Math SL and Spanish SL exams, said he wasn’t familiar with the new IB curriculum, but thought it would help his classmates. 

“With what I’ve observed, I like that it was simplified,” said Lopez, referring to the IB Spanish SL exam. “I think it’ll be easier since people who learn [a new language] can get startled by the verbal and listening comprehension since [the speakers] speak fast or with thick accents.”

The IB program has created a COVID-19 updates page on their website in which it will notify the IB community if there are any additional changes. 

“We understand that the situation for many is very difficult at present and wish to offer our empathy and support during this time,” according to a statement on IB’s coronavirus updates page.