To earn an IB diploma, a student must take one course from each of the six groups with at least three higher level courses and no more than four. Each course earns them a point out of 7 for a maximum of 42 points. They can also recieve up to 3 additional points for their extended essays. A student must earn at least 24 points to get their diploma. They may also take a certificate program which specifies that they took certain IB courses.
Examinations form the basis of the assessment for most courses because of their high levels of objectivity and reliability. These are held in May of the Grade 12 year. They include:
- structured problems
- short-response questions
- data-response questions
- text-response questions
- case-study questions
- multiple-choice questions (limited use of these).
There are also a small number of other externally assessed pieces of work, for example, theory of knowledge essays, extended essays and world literature assignments. These are completed by students over an extended period under teacher supervision instead of examination conditions, and are then marked by external examiners.
Teacher assessment is also used for most courses. This includes:
- oral work in languages
- fieldwork in geography
- laboratory work in the sciences
- investigations in mathematics
- artistic performances.
Assessments are checked by external examiners and normally contribute between 20 and 30 per cent of the total mark.
Some of the arts courses, for example, music, theatre arts and visual arts, have assessment of a major practical component, which can account for as much as 50 per cent of the total mark.