IB Exams: Should We Have Them?


Sanaya Varma

As March rapidly approaches, seniors begin reminiscing about their junior selves as IB exams and mocks loom over our heads. Yet, this year is different. For a moment, seniors had a glimmer of hope, sighing in relief as A-levels were canceled in the UK, naively believing the IB would show some a similar semblance of compassion. We were gravely mistaken. There are several pros and cons to having exams this year, but does one outweigh the other?

For pros, they’re straightforward. Several students would rather undergo the traditional exams to receive a grade they know they deserve more than that created by the mysterious IB Covid algorithm. Last year, students saw a drastic plummeting in their scores compared to their predicteds due to this exact algorithm, so it is safe to assume that many are worried about history repeating itself. Furthermore, some people may perform better under testing conditions than on their Internal Assessments, thus preferring standard protocol. Surprisingly, some don’t want to forgo the ‘experience’ of taking traditional exams either; they are in the minority, but it’s a pro for exams nonetheless. Then, of course, there is the argument that there is no reason not to take the exams this year since school is open for the second semester, especially for seniors coming in every day. So why even consider canceling exams?

While it seems like the most obvious reason is that students simply don’t want to put in the effort for exams, the issue is more complicated than that. Several seniors feel unprepared because while online learning is effective, it could never truly emulate the education we had received in person. For the class of 2021, more of the two years spent pursuing the IB diploma has been spent online than in person, which has inevitable effects on our comprehension. Multiple people have indicated that they did not absorb any information towards the end of the second semester of junior year due to the rapidly changing circumstances and unstructured school schedule. Besides the glaring educational impairments, there’s the issue of health. Coming to school every day is a choice that students can make with their families, and if they feel unsafe at any point, they can return to online learning. However, with IB exams, if someone is particularly at high risk or lives with someone with any comorbidities, it puts them in an impossible situation: education or family? Going through arguably the most challenging semester of high school under these circumstances has had significant impacts on seniors’ mental health who are burdened with new levels of stress regarding the uncertainty of their futures. Exams being canceled would lift a notable portion of that burden.

So do the pros outweigh the cons? It doesn’t matter. The IB seems insistent on carrying forward with exams despite all of the cons. Perhaps it’s unfair that some students worldwide will be receiving their diplomas without taking exams while some will be receiving diplomas with taking exams, but clearly, fairness is a subjective concept. It seems as though under any circumstance, someone will be at a disadvantage. But under which circumstances will the majority of students be at an advantage? I guess we’ll never know. Until then, start studying!