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Considering your options: What to do if your IB results are below expectations

IBDP results are released around lunch-time on 6th July (depending on your time-zone) and are available on https://candidates.ibo.org.  At some schools they might be available before this time via direct contact with the school.

There is always a lot of variability between predicted grades and results achieved.  This is inevitable as Diploma Programme students are taking six subjects plus the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge (ToK), and the narrowness of the grade bands.  Some students will benefit from this and achieve a higher than expected points total, others unfortunately will be disappointed.

If you fall into this second group here are a few things you might like to consider.

UK University Applications

One big advantage UK IBDP students have is that their results come out long before A level results so they have plenty of time to plan their next steps.

It is not unusual for UK universities to accept students who have only just missed their offer by one or two points.  Universities realize that missing by one IBDP point is not the same as missing by one A level grade.  If you are in this situation you should certainly phone or email the university applications office to let them know that you are still interested in being considered by them.

It may be possible that your school’s careers advisor, your tutor or the IBDP Coordinator could also email offering their support. 

If you are lucky they might well accept you immediately.  Otherwise they might say you need to wait until the A level results come out (15th August 2013).

If your chosen universities reply to say they cannot offer you a place then there are still things you can do.  There may be courses with places still available that appeal to you.  To find out, conduct a course search on the UCAS website and this will show up any courses with vacancies (a ‘c’ indicates the course is closed to new applicants).  This list is updated every two days.  If you see one that you like and which fits the profile of your results, call the university and see if they will offer you a place.

If you do not see a course you like then you can wait for Clearing, where there will be more choice available (but also more competition).  A level students cannot apply through clearing until they know their results and this gives IB students a slight advantage. Universities will receive A level results a few days before they are released to candidates and will then make their decisions about how many places they still have available.  So if there are particular courses you would like to apply for and you have the required grades then calling on Tuesday 13th or Wednesday 14th August is a good idea.  Don’t forget if you are interested in a Scottish university, clearing for these begins on the 5th August (2012).

Passing on your results

If you are successful with an application to a new university and if this university needs confirmation of your IBDP results from the IB then you need to request this yourself (it will not be possible for your coordinator to do it for you once the results have come out). You can find the necessary transcripts request forms on:

 http://www.ibo.org/informationfor/alumni/transcripts/ 

The IB will charge a fee for this service.

Re-marks

If you apply quickly for re-marks then it is very likely the outcome of the re-mark will be issued before the A level results come out.  If you are intending to do this do make sure your university knows that you are appealing your results.

Before you decide whether or not to have a paper re-marked you will need to find out how close you were to an upper boundary.  The component marks are issued to the schools on the 7th July. 

As a very rough rule of thumb we have found that if you are within 1% of an upper boundary your chances of moving up a grade are about 40%.  If you are 2% below, it is 30%, for 3% it is 20% and 4% only a 10% chance.  These figures will depend of course on the subject.  Mathematics, for example, is less subjective in the way it is marked and so there is likely to be less variation.  Do note that in all cases the most likely result is for there to be no change.

Of course do not apply for a re-mark if you are closer to a lower boundary than an upper one.  Grades can go down as well as up.

When you apply for a re-mark the IB will only re-mark externally marked work (all exams, ToK essays, Extended Essays, World Literature Essays etc. If you do apply for a re-mark all externally marked papers are looked at again, you cannot request a remark of a single paper.

Internally marked coursework is not re-marked on an individual basis.  Your school though can ask for the whole moderation sample to be re-marked, but only if the moderation process has reduced the average mark by more than 20%.

The cost of re-marking is £62 per subject.  If your grade changes, the IB will not charge you for the re-mark.

The only way to request a re-mark is via your IBDP Coordinator.  Because you have officially left your school it is very likely that he or she will need to have received the payment in advance of putting in the request.  To avoid delaying your application make sure that the school receives the money as soon as possible.

The results of the re-marks will be sent to the IBDP Coordinator who will pass them on to you.  In addition your results page on https://candidates.ibo.orgwill be updated if there has been a change of grade.

Your IBDP Coordinator can apply for re-marks on your behalf from 6th July until 15th September.  But please remember that even IBDP Coordinators take holidays, so he or she will not be available for all of that time period.

Re-takes

November

It is possible to re-take exams in the November session but note the deadline for registering for this session is very early: 29th July.

The costs if you register early are £85 to register for the session plus £59 per subject.

You can still register after this date, up to 15th October, but the costs go up to £248 for registration and £135 per subject!

If you are waiting for the result of a re-mark before deciding whether or not to re-take then your best option to avoid the high fees is to register for the re-take.  If your marks do go up and you decide not to take the exam again the IB will not charge.

Remember your school is under no obligation to offer re-take exams and those that do are likely to add on an administration charge.

Though some schools will also allow you to re-take internal assessment, many will not as they are unable to provide the necessary supervision.  In this case your internal assessment marks from the May session will be carried forward.

You do not have to re-take the exams at your old school.  If you wish to re-take in a different school it is up to you to contact the IBDP Coordinator of this school to see if it is possible.  He or she will then arrange with the IB for you to be registered with them.  A list of IB schools in your area is easily obtained from the IB website http://www.ibo.org/school/search/

If your school does not allow you to redo your coursework then you need to check your component scores carefully.  If your coursework is pulling your grade down or if you need to improve every component in order to achieve the grade you desire then you will need to seriously consider re-taking at a different school if you can find one that allows this option.  Do note that if you are submitting new coursework it is a requirement that you are attending some lessons in that subject in the school.

Before you do decide to re-take bear in mind that the majority of people re-sitting do not improve their grades.  The ones that do are largely those for whom the higher grade is essential for a particular university course and who are able to arrange tuition. Those who re-take simply because they wish to do better often do not find the necessary motivation to revise sufficiently.

May

You may also re-take exams in the following May provided you have not already been registered for three exam sessions.  This means if you have already re-taken an exam in November this will be your last chance.  If you took a subject early (as an anticipated candidate) and re-took in November then you would not be allowed to take any further re-takes.

Normally, if you are considering May re-takes it would be because you needed considerable improvement to reach the grades necessary for a chosen career.  In this case repeating the second year of the diploma would be advisable.  This would not have to be at the same school as previously. 

Note, for the 2014 exam session Mathematics syllabuses have changed. This means you will have to comply with the new curriculum, including submitting coursework that fits in with the new criteria. Before considering re-taking these you should check with your teachers in these subjects.

How OSC Can Help

If after reading this document you feel you require some assistance weighing-up your options or preparing to sit for re-takes, OSC is happy to help.

If you are considering what university or career path to follow, you can sign-up for a one-to-one online University Consultation with one of our highly experienced counsellors. The session can help you to assess your higher education and professional options, allowing you to make a more informed decision.

For those students who have decided to re-take their exams, OSC can also offer you one-to-one tuition support online. These sessions, lasting one hour, are led by our highly experienced IBDP teachers and cater to your specific educational needs. You can sign-up for as many sessions as you need across a wide range of subjects at times to best suit your schedule.

To take advantage of either of these options, please visit http://www.osc-ibonline.com/to learn more or email osc@osc-ib.com. Tuition sessions are dependent on teacher availability so if you are interested be sure to contact us as soon as possible.

Re-take candidates may also find our re-take guides to be of use. We offer a variety of titles across a range of IBDP subjects. For more information regarding our titles or to place an order, please visit http://www.osc-ib.com/ib-revision-guides/default.asp

About the Author

Peter Gray is a highly experienced teacher having taught the IBDP for 21 years. For the past four years, he has served as the IBDP Coordinator at Malvern College. Peter is also Deputy Chief Examiner for Higher Level Mathematics.

OSC is fortunate to count Peter among the cohort of teachers who teach on our revision and summer courses.

You can find more OSC articles at osc-ib.com/ib-resources.