International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma

Qualification code

The IB Diploma programme aims to provide an academically challenging and balanced programme of education with final examinations that prepare students for success in higher education and life beyond.

It has been designed to address the intellectual, social, emotional and physical well-being of students.


The grades awarded for each subject range from 1 (lowest) to 7 (highest) at both Higher and Standard Level.

The IBO does not identify pass grades in individual subject courses but does require a minimum of 24 points in total to be awarded to achieve the Diploma.

The award of the Diploma is subject to a number of conditions which are detailed below.

Students are also awarded up to three additional points their combined results in the Diploma Core, consisting of Theory of Knowledge and the Extended Essay. These components are marked on an A to E scale and then converted to numerical points through the application matrix.

The highest total that a Diploma programme student can be awarded is 45 points. (42 from six subjects plus three from the Core).

The IB Diploma will be awarded to a candidate provided all the following requirements have been met:

  • CAS requirements have been met.
  • The candidate’s total points are 24 or more.
  • There is no “N” awarded for theory of knowledge, the extended essay or for a contributing subject.
  • There is no grade E awarded for theory of knowledge and/or the extended essay.
  • There is no grade 1 awarded in a subject/level.
  • There are no more than two grade 2s awarded (HL or SL).
  • There are no more than three grade 3s or below awarded (HL or SL).
  • The candidate has gained 12 points or more on HL subjects (for candidates who register for four HL subjects, the three highest grades count).
  • The candidate has gained 9 points or more on SL subjects (candidates who register for two SL subjects must gain at least 5 points at SL).
  • The candidate has not received a penalty for academic misconduct from the Final Award Committee.

For all subjects, there are three or four assessment components, with one of them being internally assessed coursework.

The examination papers take a variety of forms, short answer, structured response or essay type questions but there are also data analysis papers, text commentary papers and case study papers. Multiple-choice questions are used in paper 1 in the Sciences.

Some subjects have a component that is written in school and then externally assessed.

The Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge essay are produced under coursework conditions and are also externally assessed.

Externally assessed work is marked by examiners around the world, whose marking is moderated by sample re-marking. All assessment is by marked through e-marking.

Moderation by sample re-marking is also applied to internal assessment.

Grade award meetings are held by the senior examiners for each subject to determine final grade boundaries on a component basis.

Further information

Many universities making offers specify both an overall IB point score (or range) and specific points to be achieved in higher level subjects.

A number of universities are now setting the same total points entry requirement for every subject with differing points to be achieved in the higher level subjects.

DfE equivalences published in the 16-19 Accountability Measures indicate that 45 points is equivalent to 5 A* at A Level, 24 points is equivalent to 5 Ds. In the higher level individual courses 7 is equivalent to A Level A* and 3 equivalent to E. In the standard level individual courses, 7 is equivalent to AS Level A and 3 equivalent to E.

IB statistics show that average point scores and pass marks have remained consistent over time (2012 average grade 29.8, 2016 30.0)

About 79% of Diploma students internationally are awarded the Diploma each examination session.

In the May 2016 exam 0.27% of candidates achieved 45 points whilst 7.3% achieved 40 or more.

Internationally 67% of IB students attend state schools; however in the UK the current figure is 40% (May 2016).

The UK network of schools and colleges offering the IB Diploma (IBSCA) publishes an annual guide for universities, available at

All the statistics in this profile have been provided by the IBO. The IB publishes an annual world statistical bulletin following each exam session, which is available at

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